11 tips for how to find a job and make your search for work less terrible

11 tips for how to find a job and make your search for work less terrible

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How to make your job search suck a little less

There are plenty of jobs listings lately — but have you actually tried applying? Despite a record number of open jobs in the United States, many people looking for work are having a hard time getting it. To complicate matters, many of the jobs out there aren’t necessarily ones you want. Maybe they don’t pay enough, have poor benefits, 

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How to make your job search suck a little less

or require you to put yourself in a dangerous situation where you could contract Covid-19. But even when you do find that job you want, it might seem like your application is getting lost in the ether. The problem is a combination of hiring software that needlessly excludes completely hirable people and a corporate hiring process that,

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How to make your job search suck a little less

for a variety of reasons, isn’t always good at bringing in the right people for an interview. We spoke with a number of job experts about how to navigate our current system in order to make your job search a little less awful:

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Get clear on what you want

Before starting your job search, take the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and the type of work you enjoy doing. The better you know yourself, the more likely you'll find a new job that provides you with greater satisfaction. What do you want in a job? What's most important, title, money, promotion, the work itself, location, or company culture?

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Scan LinkedIn to see which skills and certifications people in the job you want have

Make sure you list them if you have them or acquire them if you don’t. Don’t chase your own tail by applying to a job you’re unlikely to get.

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Be early

“If you aren’t one of the first 20 people to apply on LinkedIn, you’re probably not going to get seen,” J.T. O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Work It Daily, a career coaching platform, said.

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Don’t leave unexplained gaps

If you took a year off to write the Great American Novel, say so. Otherwise, it will look like you were doing nothing, and you might be screened out.

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Don’t leave off skills, even if they seem basic

Are you proficient at Excel? List it. “Your odds of getting an interview and a job if you have a facility with Microsoft Office goes up hugely,” Fuller said.

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Make sure your résumé, cover letter, and application match the job description

To some extent, this means using the same phrases in your application materials as you see in the listing, even if that can feel a little cheap. As Joseph Fuller, a management professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of a recent paper on the disconnect between employers and employees put it, “Being robotic is good if you’re talking to a robot.”

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Make sure your résumé, cover letter, and application match the job description

That does not mean, however, that you should game the system and use terms that don’t actually apply to you, according to O’Donnell. Doing so, she says, can get you blacklisted.

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Show that you can handle change

Skills are changing faster than ever. Rather than learning every new technology, you might be better off explaining that in the past you’ve been good at picking up new software. That might include using words like “transformation,” “migration,” or “upgrade,” and really explaining how you handled change at other jobs.

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Show that you can handle change

“What employers are looking for is agility,” said Tim Brackney, president and COO of the management consulting firm RGP. “If you can demonstrate that in your story, and pull those elements out when you’re in person, you have the best shot. “

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Rethink your priorities

O’Donnell tells her clients to create a list of the requirements they’re looking for in a new job — and often discovers that the list they make is too long. It’s one thing to not want to sell yourself short, it’s another to be so specific that you find absolutely nothing is the right fit. Her advice: Shorten your list to two or three things you really need.

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Get to a human

Try to outsmart the algorithm, or try to actually get in touch with someone who works at the company. That way, you’ll at least have a shot to tell your story. O’Donnell said, “If you apply online because they say apply, you also have to work your back channels.”

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Keep the job you have

It’s easiest to get a job if you’ve got one. You automatically seem appropriate for a similar position, and you avoid gaps in your résumé.

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Expect the job search to take longer than you think

You can hope to have a new job within a short period, but the likely reality is that it might take months to find the right opportunity and get offered the position. You should mentally prepare yourself for a long battle — and then you can be happily surprised if you are one of the lucky few whose job search is short.

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