Your Essential Guide to a Smart Job Search

May 20, 2015

Connect Member

Practical magician supporting women in designing bold and smart career change adventures.

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While job searching in my early 20’s (last century!), I applied to five jobs. One of those five became a great job that helped jump start my career. In my most recent career transition, I applied to over 250 jobs online and got maybe five interviews. I don’t blame people for being scared. In the past few months, I have interacted with some of the most intelligent, experienced, and intuitive clients with a vast array of skill sets and experience. Looking out into the digital abyss of online job hunting can be terrifying. From being a contract recruiter, I’ve also been on the receiving end of 175 applications for one job in about six days.

Stop trying to figure out how it all works. You’ve got to get smart about your time. Below is a suggested breakdown of where to invest your energy (I learned the hard way so you don’t have to!). Here is what I suggest to most of my clients:

50% of your time should be spent networking. Some people hate this. I know, I hear you. We hate to ask for things, we hate to sound desperate. So I’ve broken down your networking into three categories:

1. Events: Try to go to at least one networking event per month. It could be a small meetup group or a large industry conference. Get out there. Talk to people.

2. LinkedIn: Even if you spend just 30 minutes a week looking through your LinkedIn contacts, you can start to find hidden opportunities. Search specific companies; see who is connected to whom. Send at least one or two messages a week to people who may be able to directly or indirectly help you. Endorse people. Build up your endorsements by continually endorsing people in your network. For more about endorsing and how it got me on TV, read here.

3. Pick up the phone. I repeat this often, but call people. Just one person a week. I don’t want to get too crazy here, but whether you have coffee or plan a Skype chat, have a conversation. This again could be someone who is already doing what you’d like to be doing or can directly help you.

25% of your time should be spent researching. Before you go aimlessly applying for jobs, remember: jumping from one career to the next is as bad as starting to date a week after a bad breakup. Open yourself up to learning as much as you can to make a great choice for your professional future. No matter how long ago school ended, the learning really never ends.

1. Check out reliable industry blogs related to your desired industry. Beware of ones that you’ve never heard of or seen before or that look like they are from 1997.

2. Take the O*NET skills assessment. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is a free online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help students, job seekers, businesses and workforce development professionals to understand today’s world of work in the United States. By examining your skills, this short assessment will give you results of specific jobs or industries you might be suited for and will show you the tasks associated with those roles. Now, don’t get surprised if things seem extreme (I always get CEO!), but just use it as a reference.

25% of your time should be spent actually applying for jobs. I hate to even give this as much as 25%, but if I have to for the sake of math, I will do this.

1. Have a master version of your resume that you refer back to when you need to tweak it to certain jobs or industries. For innovative templates, check out Creative Market.

2. Which sites are the best? This depends on what you’re looking for. Though it’s from 2013, from my experience both as a seeker and recruiter, check out this article from Forbes on the 10 best Websites for your career. I find this is still the most relevant and objective collection of information

3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do not take it personally when you don’t get responses. In 1997, 15 people applied for a job. In 2015, 215 people can apply for that same job.

At the end of the day this is a suggestion. Looking for answers when there is no one actual answer will leave you in a place of suffering. Whatever you do, take it one day at a time, and don’t be afraid to take breaks to reflect.

Stephanie Licata is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.

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