This article was co-authored by Alyson Garrido, PCC. Alyson Garrido is an International Coach Federation accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Facilitator, and Speaker. Using a strengths-based approach, she supports her clients with job search and career advancement. Alyson provides coaching for career direction, interview preparation, salary negotiation, and performance reviews as well as customized communication and leadership strategies. She is a Founding Partner of the Systemic Coach Academy of New Zealand.
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Maybe your current job just isn’t working out, or maybe you just graduated and are trying to get employed for the first time. The job market can be hard to crack in either case, no matter your age or experience. Start by networking and searching online for job openings, tailoring your resume and cover letter to match what employers are seeking, and then sending in stand-out applications. The process may seem daunting, but going in with determination and a plan will carry you through until you find the perfect opportunity.
Part 1Part 1 of 3:Applying for Jobs
- 1Carefully read the job description. Your first step in applying for a job is to find out what the job entails. Give the job description a thorough read. Focus on what qualifications are required and what the job duties are.XResearch source
- Don’t apply for jobs that you are absolutely not qualified for. For example, if you do not speak Spanish, do not respond to an ad that states, "Spanish required."
- 2Highlight keywords. Pay attention to what the description emphasizes. For example, if it is a job in marketing, you might see terms such as "digital marketing", "SEO", and "Google Analytics". Make sure that you mention those terms in both your resume and your cover letter.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- 3Look over your materials. Many job search engines and company websites will ask for you to submit your materials online. Before you hit "submit," take time to proofread everything you have written. This includes your resume and cover letter. You should also look over the fields that ask for your personal information and make sure all of your information is entered correctly.XResearch source
- 4Ace the interview. Hopefully, all of your hard work results in an interview. If you get asked to come in, take time to prepare. Make sure to have examples ready to explain your past accomplishments and how you can help the company. For example, you could say, "I know you’re looking for a fresh take on how to increase sales. I’d love to tell you about my ideas for a direct marketing campaign."XResearch source
- Dress professionally.
- Make eye contact and speak confidently.
- Arrive on time.
- 5Follow up. If you’ve had an interview, it is proper business etiquette to write a brief thank you note. Typically, this is done by email. You can write, "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I enjoyed learning more about your organization and am excited about the idea of working as part of your team."XResearch source
- You can also follow-up after sending a job application. You might write, "I’m writing to make sure that you received my application materials. I’m happy to provide further examples of my qualifications if you would find that helpful."
Part 2Part 2 of 3:Tailoring Your Materials
- 1Match your resume to the job description. Your resume is a way to list your skills and qualifications. Just as importantly, it can be used to show potential employers that your skills fit their needs. Take the time to tweak your resume to each job that you apply for. Look for keywords and themes in the job description and make sure that your resume highlights those terms.XResearch source
- For example, maybe a job requires "outstanding communication skills". Make sure to list specific examples of how you have used your communication skills in the past.
- You don’t have to totally revamp your resume each time you post it. Just make sure it emphasizes your skills that are most important for that particular job.
- 2Create a personal profile. Start your resume by telling employers a little about yourself. Write a brief paragraph that tells the employer about your skills and lets them know what specific qualifications you can bring to the job. Keep it brief and professional.XResearch source
- In a few sentences, describe your most important skills.
- Stay away from vague skills such as "organized". Use descriptive terms such as "negotiator", "decision-making", and "time management".XResearch source
- 3Write a cover letter. A lot of jobs will simply require a resume, but others will ask for a cover letter. Have a draft on hand and be ready to tailor it to the specifics of each job. A good cover letter should explain your experience and qualifications. You should use specific examples to describe why you would be a good fit for the job you’re applying for.XResearch source
- Maybe a job description calls for someone who can work as part of a team. You could write about how, as an intern, you were in charge of organizing a project that multiple interns worked on.
- Try to keep your cover letter to one page in length.
- 4Edit carefully. Look over your resume and cover letter and then look them over again. Make sure to fix any spelling or grammatical errors. Ask a friend or family member to give your materials a read. A fresh set of eyes can catch errors that you may have missed.XResearch source
- 5Polish your online presence. The modern job search is conducted largely online. It’s important that you make a good impression online. Take care to create positive, professional social media profiles. You never know when a potential employee might be viewing your information.XResearch source
- For example, take care to create an impressive LinkedIn profile. Your headline should be succinct, like "Research Analyst".
- Use the space provided to list your qualifications and experience.
- Don’t forget to edit your profile.
- Include your contact information and a link to your resume.
Part 3Part 3 of 3:Finding Job Opportunities
- 1Search online. Many, if not most, companies and organizations advertise open positions on employment websites and on company websites. If you know which company you want to work for, start by checking out their website. You will likely see a tab labeled "Job Openings" or "Career Opportunities." Click the tab to see what is available.XTrustworthy SourceCareerOneStopOnline resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor providing information on job training, employment opportunities, and careersGo to source
- You can also use online job search engines to widen your search. Enter keywords and geographic location on popular sites such as Indeed, Jobs.com, TheLadders, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.XResearch source
- For example, if you are looking for a job as a medical equipment salesperson in Chicago, your search terms might be "sales" and "medical" and your geographic area would be "Chicago, Illinois".
- Craigslist is also a good site to search. It is especially helpful if you are looking for immediate employment. Be sure to check out the company website and vet employers before you send in your resume and contact information, though!
- 2Use social media sites. Social networking sites are not just for fun and keeping in touch with old friends. They can also help you find and apply for jobs. If you choose to use social media in your job search, consider setting your social profile to "private" and creating a new, professional profile that you share with potential employers. The following sites are great tools for job hunting:XTrustworthy SourceCareerOneStopOnline resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor providing information on job training, employment opportunities, and careersGo to source
- LinkedIn: You can use this site to create a professional online profile. You can post a biography that lets potential employers get to know you. You can also post your current resume for others to view.
- Twitter: People are increasingly using this tool to find jobs. If you’re familiar with Twitter, you can follow companies that you are interested in and see posts advertising jobs. You can also search the site using popular hashtags such as #jobs and #jobhunt.
- 3Utilize your state job bank. You can also use the internet to search employment resources in your own state. Each state has an online collection of available jobs known as a job bank. Find the job bank for your state and start searching.XTrustworthy SourceCareerOneStopOnline resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor providing information on job training, employment opportunities, and careersGo to source
- Much like other job search engines, the state job banks will allow you to search by keyword and city.
- 4Start networking. Networking is a chance to strengthen connections with people in your career field. It’s also a time to meet new people. Put yourself out there and start communicating with people who could be helpful in your job search.You can say something like, "I’m just getting started in marketing, and I wondered if you know of any opportunities that could be right for me." If you can get a referral, your resume might just be pushed to the top of the list! Consider reaching out to:XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source
- Former professors
- Past employers
- People at the company you want to work for
- Anyone you know who has a career similar to the one you want
- 5Spread the word that you are job hunting. Friends and family can be great resources in your job hunt. They might know of openings that you aren't aware of. They could also have a friend of a friend who is looking to hire. Make sure that everyone in your circle knows that you are looking for a new job.
- You can say, "I'm looking for a new job in publishing. Can you let me know if you hear of any openings in that field?"
- Consider whether finding a headhunter would be useful for finding the job you want.
- 6Attend a job fair. A job or career fair is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about potential employers. Both cities and universities have job fairs. Sometimes private organizations will also hold job fairs. XTrustworthy SourceCareerOneStopOnline resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor providing information on job training, employment opportunities, and careersGo to source
- Check your city or university website to find information about upcoming job fairs.
- At a job fair, you can gather brochures and other information from companies that are hiring. You might also be able to speak to recruiters.
- 7Stay organized. Having a concrete plan will be one of your best resources. Take some time to create a plan for how you will go about your job search. You should also make sure to avoid applying for the same position more than once. Make a calendar of weekly or daily activities related to your search. On this calendar you can include tasks like:XTrustworthy SourceCareerOneStopOnline resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor providing information on job training, employment opportunities, and careersGo to source
- Look at online postings
- Reach out to your network
- Work on resume and cover letter
- Apply for a certain number of jobs each week
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- QuestionWhat makes a good LinkedIn profile?Alyson Garrido, PCCAlyson Garrido is an International Coach Federation accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Facilitator, and Speaker. Using a strengths-based approach, she supports her clients with job search and career advancement. Alyson provides coaching for career direction, interview preparation, salary negotiation, and performance reviews as well as customized communication and leadership strategies. She is a Founding Partner of the Systemic Coach Academy of New Zealand.
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About This Article
Getting a job can be hard, and you might have to apply to many different jobs and go to a number of interviews before you find the right one, but with hard work, you can find something you'll love. Start by looking for opportunities on company websites and job sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and Craigslist. Before you send out any applications, spend a few minutes tailoring your resume to the job description so you’re highlighting any skills and qualifications you have that the employer is looking for. You’ll also want to write a cover letter that explains why you think you’re qualified for the specific job you're applying for, but don’t worry, it just needs to be one page. If you don't find many job openings in your preferred area, widen your search and apply to a lot of different types of jobs. You can also reach out to recruiters via email or LinkedIn message to see if they have a good fit for you, and you can attend job fairs to learn about companies that are hiring. Keep reading for tips from our career reviewer on applying for a job and how to dress for the interview!