How To Navigate Through the Grueling Job Search Process

How To Navigate Through the Grueling Job Search Process
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For real, read these.
For real, read these.

Summer came in like a lion, the heat is on and to focus on work one must remain tenacious, especially when the work involves job searching. I've been drowned in this process as of late. First, it was myself going on interviews and the tables turned and it is now I interviewing people. I've done a stint in HR in the past and have hired a good number of people before. While I'm not an expert on the subject, I have a good amount of experience to know what works and what doesn't. Are you looking to make a change?

One of the main things that will help is to read books on the subject. They nail it right on the head. I'm surprised by the things candidates have said and done in interviews and I have surprised myself with those same things. I look back now at some of my past interviews and think "Duh, no wonder you didn't get it." The books help "fine tune" your interviewing skills and make you a master. Some good ones are: 15 Minutes to a Better Interview, by Russell Tuckerton; Ask the Headhunter, by Nick A. Corcodilos and Boost Your Interview I.Q., by Carole Martin. (All pictured above.)

It seems like a lot of reading, but you can zip through them as they're pretty interesting. They give it to you real and they go into detail about things you wouldn't think are important, but are. If you start the process without preparing, there's a good chance you'll be in it for a long time. Some rely on networking, that could take forever though and lead to nowhere, plus, you have to deal with schadenfreude and all that. You may get lucky and see a position you want to apply to, at a company where someone you know works and will vouch for you. It doesn't mean you'll get it though, as it's ultimately up to the hiring manager, so you're back to having to impress a stranger.

I think networking should be in addition to the regular search. Linkedin has worked for some people. My sister landed a great job from it, and not from someone she knew. The company saw her profile and contacted her. That was like lightening. Posting your resume on recruiter sites can also sometimes work out, if you can deal with all the spam email you'll get from it. During my search, I didn't bother much with either of these options, I had garnished enough leads with the way I was working, that I didn't feel the need. To each their own though.

So what did I do? I went to the job boards, just like everyone else. That's where thousands of jobs are posted. It's an interviewee's market right now. I applied to positions which best fit my qualifications and received a good number of interviews. With my current search for candidates, I use the job boards too and receive a good number of applicants. The trick is to comb through them and find candidates. Indeed seems to be the best one, then there is Monster (it's exactly that, a Monster) and other smaller ones, catered more to specific industries and professions.

If you're really interested in finding a position that's the perfect fit, don't just apply to everything. Being strategic in your choices and putting your time and energy into them will be worth it in the long run. Read and understand the job description, it will answer the question, "am I a true fit for this?" When you apply, does your resume read back that you are? They're looking for a match, resume to job description, not word for word, but close. If your resume is not, update it to be. If you have the qualifications and can use the jd as a guide. This takes critical thinking, as it's a re-do of the bullet points you already have. One application could take a full day to complete, it did for me at least.

It can be a grueling process. You're going to do a good amount of work. Sometimes, it's going to seem like you're wasting your time, especially those times when you apply for a position you think is just absolutely perfect for you and you don't hear back or when you apply for five of those types and all you hear on the other end is crickets. You may even go two to three weeks and not hear back from anyone. In those times, it's really easy to abandon everything and just say f it, the sun's shining, it's nice and hot outside, I'll just go hang out there for a while. When you're feeling that way is when it's time to go harder :/

If you're not hearing back, you may be doing something wrong. Re-evaluate, skim through the highlighted parts of the books you marked, take a look at the resumes you sent, were there typos? Were you getting tired and just applied to everything? In my current search for candidates, I receive resumes where they make no sense for the role, I question why they applied. I look at every resume and interview after I've found about five good ones. Not all people looking for candidates look at every resume, they may find a few they like and stop there. Because of this, it's good to apply the day it's posted, a week or two out, your resume may not be seen.

During my job search, there were days I wouldn't find anything suitable, other days, I would find several. Now as the interviewer, those who apply first, have my full attention. There's no reason to apply to a job that was posted two months before. If you do, there's a tiny chance they haven't filled it, that your resume will be seen and that you'll be called in. No need to waste time on tiny chances, when there are big ones by being the first in the hiring manager's inbox. If you're not hearing back overall, you weren't a good enough match, they already identified the top candidates (you were too late), or you had a lot of typos in your resume and it looked a mess.

If you highlight your successes from each role you've had in your resume, it will shine. Putting in every little thing you've done into the bullet part is over-kill. A clean resume, with a good number of bullets that clearly tell the hiring manager what the applicant has accomplished will stand out. Too wordy resumes indicate the candidate didn't take time to tailor their experience to the role, they are provided with the job description. You can't fake experience by the way, you'll bomb in the interview if so. If you want to send the same resume to every company, that's up to you, but you're better off updating it and making the hiring manager's job easier and increase your chances of being called.

During my search, I tracked everything: when I sent a resume, who I sent it to, the date I heard back, the interview date / time, etc. You may think this isn't important, but it is because it helps keep track of your progress and track the interviews you go on, there's no way you can remember all that info, maybe some can. If you're organized, applying for positions that are a true match, update your clean and easy to read resume for each position, send it the day it's posted, you will receive calls for interviews, maybe not to every one, but to a good number.

The cover letter has to be completely free of typos (not even one), the grammar has to be tight and the language has to speak to why you would be a good fit. This is highlighting your successes again. This doesn't mean copy and paste the bullet items from your resume into the cover letter, instead expanding on those, not too much though. It shouldn't be more than one page and less is more. One or two small paragraphs quickly wrapping up your relevant experience to the role, internships can be considered experience.

Once you've landed an interview, the next step is to study. If it's a brand, go out and buy it, the investment will be worth it if you land the gig. It would be a challenge to speak confidently about a brand or company without having tried or experienced what they do / offer. Most importantly, do you like it? Go online, read through their website (all of it), any press and look through their social media to understand how they represent themselves. The most important thing is to be able to talk about the company in the same flow as you would with a friend, business only though, nothing personal.

The day of the interview, don't let nerves take over, be cordial and smile. Walk in smiling (not too teethy), shake hands and be naturally friendly - not overly friendly though to where you look like a spaz. I met a candidate the other day who didn't smile once throughout the whole interview, it was so strange - I was the only one who did the smiling in that one. You are also there to see if you're interested in working there, just be careful not to come off as arrogant, but do keep your eye open as to the environment and the interviewer, as in, would you want to work for or with this person for the next three to four years?

As for what questions interviewers will ask, look to the books. They list the most common ones and give the best answers to those. There are also behavioral interview questions that some interviewers will ask, but not all will. You can look those up online and prepare ahead of time. Other common interview lines are, "take me through your resume." They're looking for a summation of your career, so no details, just top line info to get you warmed up and get the conversation going. Go to the books for more.

The worst interview I went on, they set me up to meet with many people in one day...the worst. I spent the whole day in their building with no lunch, thank goodness I had a water in my bag. It was into one office, back to the lobby, into another and repeat. I thought I was fully prepared. I had studied and read everything I could get my hands on about the company. In the third interview, the interviewer asked me about one of their top selling brands - they had a lot. I mistakenly called it by the wrong grape (it was a wine), he gave me a look of bewilderment. I really bombed that one, because he was the Brand Manager.

Another company had me present as my interview. I prepared a presentation, printed it out and make copies for "everyone," it was two people, not the ten I had seen in my mind. I thought I did really well and was quite proud of myself I must say; I didn't get the job. I was one of two top candidates and they went with the other one. Maybe they thought I wasn't the right fit and the other was better or maybe he or she sent a better thank you note than I did or maybe they just vibed better, maybe they were a smoother presenter than I was (it's not my favorite thing to do), who knows...I never will.

Another company thought I was overqualified, although I didn't think so. Another one interviewed me and I never heard back; s i l e n c e, even with my following up. Another one sent me a sorry-not-sorry-you're-not-the-one letter two months later, etc, etc. Finally the day of glory arrived, after too many interviews, I ended up with three offers, on the same day, a bit surreal. My hard work seemed to have paid off and I was able to choose. I picked the best one - which turned out to be the best out of all of the interviews - and the best fit, for me.

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