Job seeking can be a tough process, both in terms of the amount of effort needed and in the emotional toll it can take. To prepare yourself to weather the ups and downs, it’s important to first tell yourself the truth. Understanding the realities of the job search process will allow you to stay grounded and level-headed, which gives you the ability to conduct the search in the most efficient, effective way possible. Although some of these truths may be difficult to hear - and require extra effort to address - they will ultimately help you avoid hardship later.
- You’re doing yourself a disservice by applying to jobs without editing your resume to best reflect your candidacy for each position (or at least each conceptual group of similar positions).
When you find a job you’re interested in, it might be tempting to let the excitement get the better of you. You may find that you want to send in your resume and/or your generic cover letter as fast as possible. However, this is a mistake. You only get one shot at sending in your application materials for each position, so it’s important to do so in a way that will prevent you from feeling regretful in the future. The only way to do so is to put your best foot forward with each application by personalizing your resume (and cover letter, if applicable) to each job description. This can be as simple as matching terms on the job description with terms on your resume and moving the most emphasized skills for the role to the top of the experience descriptions/skills list on your resume. Operating in this way not only maximizes your chances of securing an interview, but also allows you to be more realistic and iterative about your process overall. If you’re always putting your best foot forward, it’s simpler to tell if some of the jobs you’re applying to may be out of reach, and therefore should not be a major focus of your efforts.
- Sometimes it just doesn’t work out - or it’s too soon.
As we mentioned at the end of #1, sometimes a particular position may be out of reach. This can happen because your skills don’t match closely enough to the position, or it could be influenced by any one of a number of other factors wholly outside of your control. Being honest with yourself can help you spot the difference between bad luck and a lack of the correct qualifications (or an insufficient description of your qualifications – see #1). This doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to find the role you’re looking for with a quality organization, and it can be a great exercise to save job descriptions you found particularly interesting to serve as inspiration for career development and future job searches.
- There is more than one “right” job for you.
That brings us to #3: there are many fish in the sea and many jobs in the world. Although it may be a major disappointment to lose out on the job that you thought was “the one”, there are absolutely other jobs you would find equally as interesting, given that you continue to put in the effort needed to keep uncovering those opportunities. It also helps to consider positions holistically. While one may have been ideal in terms of responsibilities, you may be less disappointed to lose out on that opportunity when you consider, for instance, the longer commute it would have come with. To keep track, we recommend making a spreadsheet that includes the relevant factors in your decision, each weighted according to their relative importance.
- You won’t have your best interview if you don’t prepare.
Want to minimize the likelihood that you’ll lose out on those choice opportunities? Arguably, the best single step you can take to positively impact the impression you leave in an interview is to prepare for it sufficiently in advance. It’s great to be enthusiastic about an organization and role, but enthusiasm alone won’t propel you to your best interview performance. To avoid the feeling that you could have done better, practice answering likely interview questions, research the organization, and develop a list of questions you can ask the recruiter or hiring manager for when they inevitably ask if you have any.
- Ignoring emails from hiring managers/recruiters is an inappropriate means of signaling an end to your candidacy.
Finally, #5 is all about not ‘burning bridges’. If you’re actively applying to roles with five different organizations but decide to accept an offer from one of them before completing the interview process with some of the others, be sure to notify all recruiters/hiring managers involved. It can come across as highly unprofessional to end a job search process without a formal note, and this could cause your point of contact - or even the organization as a whole - to overlook you should you decide to pursue an opportunity with them in the future. This may hold true even once a recruiter has moved on to a new organization, making it a truly important final step in the job search process. Plus, in the event something goes wrong and your offer is rescinded, it will be comforting to know you have some open doors.
Remember, job seekers, honesty is the best policy. This includes how you portray yourself during the application process. While it’s acceptable in most cases for your experience not to perfectly match the job description, it isn’t acceptable to lie about your qualifications. You will be found out, your offer will be rescinded, and your relationship with that recruiter will be ruined. Instead of misrepresenting your skills or experience, consider using a phrase like, “I haven’t had a good opportunity to do that yet, but I’ve been learning about _____ [related concept] ______ and would be eager to learn more about _______ [concept in question] _____”. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve still preserved your reputation – and remember, there is more than one “right” job for you.