Monday, July 1, 2013

Job Searching is a Full-Time Job

In two weeks I've applied for twenty-four  jobs.

Want to know how many I've heard back from?


I realize I'm probably not the only one feeling a little overwhelmed by the process, so here's several tips that I've realized firsthand or read somewhere that may be able to help someone else.

Realize that job searching is a full-time job.

From everything anyone's ever told me, companies are demanding more and more personalization and specialization when picking candidates.  So editing my résumé so it contains the right information for each employer, writing a new cover letter for each one, and then on top of that going through each individual application process is really time consuming.  I set out a little bit of time every day to apply to jobs.  I keep a running list of postings I come across that I could be qualified for, and then check them off the list one by one.  As long as I commit to doing two to three a day, it's not as overwhelming and I can still feel like I'm getting something accomplished.  Also, when I'm not feeling overwhelmed or rushed, the cover letters and application components are always better quality.

Don't discount personalization.

I write a different cover letter for each job I apply to.  (Although I do admit that I keep the same basic outline for each.)  I always mention the company's name, address it to a real person (if a name is given), and include a snippet that shows that I've done my research and I know about the company.  I also change up my résumé.  For example, I'm interning for a wealth management firm, so having that on my résumé is going to look more impressive to someone looking to hire a business and finance copyeditor.  But if I'm applying to a job in a University Dance Department, that's less important than the fact that I worked for two years in the dance industry.  Add relevant experience based on the needs of that company and you'll look much better.

Keep yourself organized.

I'm staying on top of things by keeping a spreadsheet that says exactly what job I applied for, which company, the date I applied, and any extra notes (like a follow-up phone number or application number to reference).  Once I start getting e-mails or calls from companies, I'll track the date I heard from them, the person's name that spoke to me, interview dates, interview notes, and whether I've sent a thank-you note yet.  I also highlight them based on what I've heard back (so the one I've heard from that said "thank you for your interest" is highlighted in red).  I also save each cover letter that I submit, and a copy of the résumé if it's different than my general one, in a folder with the company's name.  That way, if I get called for an interview, I can remember exactly what I told them.

Just do it.

Studies show that women tend to shy away from promotions, believing that they have to know 80-90 percent of their current job before they can consider a promotion.  Men, on the other hand, tend to believe that number is between 40 and 50 percent.  The same goes for applying for jobs.  Do you have all the characteristics listed on a job description except for one or two?  Drop your name in the pool anyway, and make sure to clearly highlight the skills you do have.  You never know, you may impress someone.  For example, a lot of jobs I've looked at require experience in Photoshop and InDesign.  Do I know a little about those programs? Sure.  Do I have the capability to learn them better?  Of course I do.  If I have all of the other skills or requirements on the position description, I apply anyway.  The worst thing they can say is no.

Don't get overwhelmed.

Even though I've been super organized, looking at my spreadsheet is really overwhelming.  Looking at my list of positions to apply for is overwhelming.  Not hearing back from companies right away is frustrating.  Not hearing back from companies after two weeks is even more frustrating.  There are times when I actually have to talk myself down and say, "It's okay, you're doing everything right, stop worrying about it."  Take some deep breaths and keep working--the right thing will come along.

I'm sure I'll keep my lovely audience updated as my job search continues.  To all of you in the same boat as me--happy hunting!

Got any other job-hunting advice?  I'd love to hear it, so please comment below!

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