How can I learn to do an effective job search?
August 27, 2017 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I've never had a great methodology for searching, finding and applying for jobs. How could I learn to do this effectively?

Career wise I have lucked out through some combination of persistence, opportunity and availability. My tools and process for locating and applying for jobs is out of date given the new tools available online.
I have had a fairly eclectic job path. My current employer is looking a bit shaky and now would be a good time to update my process and start some inquiries.
How can I learn to do this effectively? When I last tried an online employment search tool, I was quickly inundated with an avalanche of unhelpful searches and systems trying to sort me into some form of employment algorithm. I need a process I can control from start to end. Consider that I am looking for training on an effective job search process and steps that leads to the end result, that I need to assess my skills and market value and then apply that into a job search pattern that is manageable and that I can do while full time employed.
I'm seeing this thread on AskMeFi which has some useful tips.
It would certainly help to have some form of support or accountability going on as well.
posted by diode to Work & Money (3 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The first step is to invest a lot of time (and possibly money) into your resume. I've had great success using a resume service (MeMail me if you want a rec). They don't do the work *for* you, but they help you figure out how to present your experience in a way that makes you most attractive to employers. Same goes for your cover letter. Lots of great advice on applying, resumes, cover letters, interviews, etc. on Ask a Manager.

You may find that you need several versions of your resume if you're applying to different types of jobs. I had 2-3 versions, and then for each application I'd often quickly tweak it to match the language/focus of the job posting. Save that specific version as a separate file so if you get an interview, you know what resume you used. You'll also want to create a general cover letter (or two) that you customize for each application.

As you've noticed, the job search alerts from sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed are not super fine-tuned. However, it's way more efficient to have those jobs come to you via email than to have to run regular queries on your own. I found that Indeed had the most customizability in searching--you can exclude keywords/companies, which really helped me. (I kept getting results for a few big companies that I did not want to work for, plus the company that had just laid me off!).

Keeping track of everything on a spreadsheet was really helpful. For starters, it allows you to separate the tasks of reviewing the job postings and applying to them. And then it allows you to keep track of where you've applied and what the roles are. I also took notes on whether I had any LinkedIn first- or second-degree connections at the company.

One trick I've learned it to save the actual job posting text once you've applied. Sometimes companies take them down once they've stopped accepting resumes, and it can be really helpful to have it to reference if you get called for an interview.

Every interview is going to be different, but there are some standard questions you're going to encounter a lot, so you can practice (out loud) your answers to those. Also the process of developing your resume is going to bring out some key experiences in your work experience that you're going to use a lot as answers to interview questions.

Beyond that, some of it is just going to be setting aside the time to search for a new job. There are certainly ways to optimize the process, but you can't avoid just putting in the work.
posted by radioamy at 1:59 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Update you resume on LinkedIn, Monster, etc. Do this *before* you have your finished, better resume - employers can see who's recently updated their resumes, and they send offers to those first.

(Expect a deluge of insurance sales offers. Ignore them. If you're feeling testy, reply with, "I am potentially interested in working for your company, but my experience is not in sales. It is in [FIELD]; please let me know if you have any openings related to my skillset." They will not reply.)

When you get calls/emails about specific jobs, send them back a resume that's optimized for that job: make sure the skills most relevant to it are the top 1-2 bullet points of each previous job, regardless of whether they were the most important part of those jobs.

Set up a spreadsheet of jobs you apply for - website, URL, job title, date applied, etc. If you really believe you're a great fit for something, and they don't reply, wait one week and send a followup note letting them know you're still interested.

Expect to need to take calls during business hours. Feel free to ignore any staffing agency that is hard to understand, gives incoherent instructions, or is rude - jobs that are farmed out to staffing agencies are usually sent out to several agencies at the same time, and if it's the perfect job for you, there's a good chance you can work with a different organization.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:14 PM on August 27, 2017

To avoid repeating my past advice, I'll just link to it. I would say network and also freelancing/consulting in the meantime.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:29 PM on August 27, 2017

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