Looking for work can be stressful and tiring, especially if you don't have a plan. Handing out resumes and making cold calls can be hard on your self-confidence, but being strategic about your job hunt can re-invigorate you and give you the motivation to keep going. Here are 10 things you should try to do while you're looking for work.
1. If possible, do some investigating while you're still employed
Waiting until you're unemployed obviously adds an additional layer of stress to the job hunt. If at all possible, do some research and make some inquiries while you're still employed.
When speaking with colleagues or potential employers about your job search, be sure to mention that you'd like to keep things confidential--the last thing you want is for word to get back to your employer before you've found your next job. For more tips, see Jacquelyn Smiths' great article, The Do's and Don'ts of Job Searching While You're Still Employed.
2. Build your personal brand
When looking for work, time can be your friend. Instead of sitting on your hands waiting for the perfect job to surface, use that time to work on building your personal brand. This might include polishing up your image on social media, getting involved in online and offline professional groups and reaching out to other professionals in your field. While building your personal brand requires time and commitment, it's a strategy that can help you now as well as in the future.
3. Build your portfolio by taking on unpaid work
If the job hunt has moved beyond weeks and into months and you're able to swing it financially, taking on some volunteer work can help bolster your resume. Taking on short-term unpaid (or low-paying) gigs can give you additional experience in your chosen specialty, and can increase your chances of being the perfect candidate for your dream job.
4. Perfect your resume
Customize your resume for each job you apply for. Take some time to perfect your resume, CV or portfolio to adequately showcase your skills, education and experience. Write unique cover letters for each position, explaining why you want the job and how you feel you can add value to the company.
5. Treat the job hunt as a full time job
Taking a week or two off after losing your job is fine, but thinking of the job hunt as an extended vacation will also extend your unemployment. Treat the search as you would a 9-5 job, and have a plan in place for how you're going to spend that time.
6. Take an online course to hone your skills
Whether you're looking for a job in a new field or just wanting to upgrade your current skillset, taking an online course can help your resume get noticed. Not only does it give you new skills, it shows that you're motivated and willing to do what it takes to better yourself and get the right job.
7. Take breaks
While it's important to keep yourself busy and motivated while unemployed, it's also important to build in times of rest and relaxation. Looking for a job can be one of life's most stressful events, so building in some time for self-care--like exercising and spending time with friends--can keep you sane during the process.
8. Get off your computer
In the past, looking for work often meant handing out dozens of resumes and then waiting for a call. These days, much of the job hunt is done on the computer via job boards, social media and email. Resist the temptation to spend all your time online, and get out there and network. Call up old colleagues for coffee, attend networking groups and go to industry conferences. You never know what these meetings could lead to, and getting out helps keep you connected to the real world.
9. Let your network know you're looking
According to this article in The Wall Street Journal, up to 80% of jobs are filled without employer advertising. While this number seems rather high, we do know that many jobs never make it onto an official job posting.
Employers are looking for people they know and trust, and are increasingly relying on personal recommendations from colleagues and employees. As a job hunter, the advantage to you is that the competition may be less fierce. However it also means you need to be putting yourself out there so your network knows exactly what type of work you're looking for.
10. Get on LinkedIn
Employers are increasingly using internet searches to vet potential employees (some put this number as high as 80%). Unless you have your own website, your LinkedIn profile is likely going to be at the top of the search results for your name. Spend some time making sure your profile is complete, and accurately showcases your skills and experience. Ask your connections to endorse you and to give you personal and professional recommendations.
Having a plan in place during your job search can not only keep you motivated, but can increase your chances of finding the perfect job. The strategies above can not only get you hired faster, they'll put you in good stead even after you're hired--more connections, improved skills and a strong personal brand are what will set you apart as a valued member of the company.
What would you add to this list? What are some important strategies to implement during the job hunt? Share below!