For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

7 tips for gearing up for a job search

Posted on August 19, 2022
Word cloud with career type words: recruiting, interview, etc.

I’m going to be honest – searching for a job, whether you are just entering the field or looking to change positions – is not for the faint of heart! Over the past year, I have mentored and counseled a number of folks in their job search journey, and it is a process – in some cases, a long process. I want to share with you seven things to think about as you prepare to set forth on your job search journey, so you can ultimately be successful!

  1. Get mentally prepared - which means starting early – like now. Gone are the days where you create one resume and send it out to a dozen companies, schedule an interview, and then get hired. Now, you MUST tailor your resume or CV for each specific role to which you are applying. To help with this, create a MASTER RESUME, then you won’t find yourself trying to remember your different roles and responsibilities and accomplishments to determine applies to this potential role.
  2. Review your LinkedIn profile. Before you jump on the job search bandwagon, update your LinkedIn profile. More and more companies make decisions about interviewing candidates by also reviewing their LinkedIn profiles. Ask a trusted colleague to look at it and provide feedback. Ensure it describes what you do (or have done) in your current and previous roles. Now would be the time to solicit recommendations, etc.
  3. Take the time to go through each job description – dissect them! Make note of what experience you have that speaks to the experience they are seeking and same with your specific skillsets. And it is worth mentioning to my women readers – do not cast aside positions for which you have “only” 60 or 70% of the required experience or skills! Women typically only apply for roles where they can demonstrate 100% of the required experience and skills – that leaves no room for growth!
  4. Revise your resume by reviewing your master resume. Pull out the experience that speaks to the experience the company is seeking in this specific role to tailor your resume or CV to that specific role, use language utilized in the job description in case the company is using a resume screener program. And utilize similar language in your cover letter.
  5. Determine your skill or experience gaps and be able to speak to them in an interview. If for example, you have decent Excel skills, but the job description requires “Exceptional Excel Skills,” be prepared to discuss how you will close that gap. This could mean taking a course before you start the position, etc.
  6. Do your research. You should be prepared to do two or more rounds of research. The first round is to give you a good sense of the company, just so you can apply. You will want to look at the org structure, company mission, product or services offered, etc. This can also involve reaching out to people you may know at the company – but be careful as you do not always want to tip your hand and broadcast you are applying for a position. Your second wave of research occurs when you are invited for an interview. This should be more in-depth to prepare you for potential interview questions. It is doubtful an interviewer will ask you a question about their website, but you will want to be able to pull examples and substance to demonstrate your knowledge of the company when answering their questions. For example, “Tell us more about your ability to collaborate.” While this is directed at learning about your ability to collaborate, when you can note specific instances or collaborative frameworks that exist at the company, you look more impressive. You could respond with, “I value collaboration because it allows for different perspectives and believe that while it can extend the process, the resulting product or service is much better than one created in a vacuum. I noticed on your website you have specific collaboration spaces in the office to encourage the exchange of ideas. I would welcome that kind of working space.” The final round of research occurs for subsequent interviews and likely involves finding out more information about the more senior person(s) you will be meeting with.
  7. Read the application instructions carefully. I am often amazed at the number of people who do not read or pay attention to the instructions. They submit pre-written letters of recommendation versus only submitting names and contact information. They don’t answer the application questions, etc. Your application is your first impression, so make it a good one.

While not a specific step or action to take, it is important to reserve time and energy to put into your job search process. I recommend, scheduling time in your day (not necessarily during work hours) to focus on your job search. The steps and actions outlined above take time. You also have to accept, from the start, even though a job description looks like it was written for you – your perfect position – there is a possibility you won’t even get an interview. Do not take it personally. In many instances, companies hire from within, and the posting of a position is company policy. On the other hand, you may get asked to interview for a position you opted to apply to even though it might not have seemed like a good fit – keep an open mind, you never know how you will feel until you actually meet folks.

Remember, a good hiring manager is hiring a person, not their resume. They understand and expect skill gaps, they are more focused on whether you will be a good fit at the company and on the team. Meshing with their team is NOT something they can teach.

Best of luck!

Anne Converse Willkomm
Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Teaching Professor, Dept. of Communications, College of Arts and Sciences
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips