Searching for a job can be a daunting task for almost anyone looking for a job. Whether you are looking for a long-term career, a change of careers, or just a summer job, you have to know where to look and how to approach your search. I have worked in many fields and have used the strategies outlined in this article as a way to find the companies I would ultimately work for.
Get to Know Your Skills
Whether you’re looking for your first job or your tenth job, you need to first evaluate all your skills. Write or type out a list of all the things you excel at or think you could excel at. I always start my list beginning with my most recent job and jot down anything that I feel I’ve learned in that position. I then move through past jobs and finally write things that I am good at outside of work. Maybe you have only worked in retail, but enjoy solving problems or researching. Compiling a list can make it easy to navigate job descriptions and match yourself with the best possible jobs.
Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter
Before you apply to any jobs, you are going to need to create a resume based on your past job experiences or job skills. You can follow my guide on how to build a resume to help you build the best resume possible. Knowing your skills outlined in the first step can help you beef up your resume to make it more polished. You also may want to create a resume for different types of jobs and save them under different file names for easy use in the application process.
You will also want to write a cover letter for each company. It is important to tailor each of these to the type of job you are seeking, and it will be very obvious if you use the same one for all your jobs. I have had many cover letters come to me with names of other businesses and even the wrong hiring manager’s name on them because someone used only one cover letter. While it is okay to have a template, you need to carefully prepare them for each and every application.
Use Your Resources
When beginning my job search, I always ask friends or family about openings with their own companies that my skills would be a good match for or if they know of any openings at others. Often networking can help you land a job, especially if its a company in a field in which you have little experience. This is also a good time to ask for letters of recommendation or reference information from past employers or teachers so you have them on hand before you apply to a position.
Are you a regular customer at a company? I was a regular customer at a clothing store which I have worked for in the past. I came in often and knew the product, so when I was looking for a job, I already had a good relationship with the staff. If you enjoy a product or service enough to visit it frequently, it might be the perfect place to work.
The next step is to find openings outside of your network. Think of three companies you would most like to work for, and check out their websites. It is becoming more common for companies to have their application process entirely online. On their careers page, you can explore openings and read job descriptions. I also take this chance to read about the company’s history and values so I can use that language when I modify and personalize my cover letter.
Online job boards and career sites like Career Builder or Monster are great sources for job listings as well. You can sign up for a free basic account and upload your resume and cover letter. Some companies even let you apply via this information rather than entering it through their website. This also lets you see openings with companies you may not have considered before.
If you live in a smaller community, you will likely have newspaper classifieds for your area. Check the paper for job listings and follow their instructions on how to apply. Bigger cities have online classifieds that function like newspaper classifieds with similar job listings.
Once you have found positions you want to apply for and prepared your resume and cover letter, it’s time to apply. Be sure if you are filling out online to follow all the directions and include any documents in easy to read formats, such as PDF files. If you need to apply in person, go to the company dressed professionally with hard copies of any documents. In no time, you’ll be prepping for your first call back or interview.