You’re on the job hunt. Maybe you already have a job, but you want to move to a better opportunity. Or maybe you’ve been looking for months and frustration is beginning to set in. Whatever your situation, the perfect job isn’t going to fall into your lap (unless you’re really, really lucky). As Milton Berle said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” So how can you build a door to your new career?
What are your career goals? Do you want to be CEO of a multinational company or do you want a job that will allow you to have lots of time to spend with family? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you really enjoy doing? The better you can answer these questions, the more attuned you’ll be to opportunities that will be best for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to trusted friends and family members about your job search. People who work in industries that you’d like to join will be able to share insights and interview tips. If any opportunities arise at their companies, they may reach out to you to apply. Remember the importance of cultivating a virtual network as well – make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that it showcases all your talents. Visit job search websites regularly and consider reaching out to recruitment agencies as well.
Your cover letter is a potential employer’s first introduction to you, so you want to make yourself an impressive and memorable candidate. Stay away from clichés – many people will say that they are diligent team players – and tailor your cover letter specifically to each job. Linda Spencer, associate director and coordinator of career advising at Harvard Extension School, suggests that your cover letter should answer two critical questions:
If your cover letter hooks a potential employer, the perfect CV will reel them in. According to The Guardian, the perfect CV is concise, relevant and accurate. We know it may be tempting to list your every accomplishment but remember that employers will be sifting through numerous CVs. It’s better to have a two-page document that packs a punch than a four-page document that lists the prize you won for Spanish fifteen years ago and the names of all your pets.
Ask someone you trust to conduct a mock interview and give you feedback afterward. When answering questions, remember to be specific; people remember details. Imagine an interviewer asks, “What are your greatest strengths?” Candidate A gives a laundry list of strengths: “I’m hard-working, detail-oriented, efficient and a problem solver.” Candidate B uses examples to illustrate her skills. For example, she says, “I’m efficient. At my last job, I automated several manual functions like data entry and data collection so that I could spend more time on high-value work. The automation was so effective that we implemented my solution throughout the company – manual functions were completed more rapidly than before and our team members all reported increased efficiency as well.”
Don’t confuse professional with boring. Interviews also help employers determine if you’re the type of person they’d want to work with. If you’re a friendly, smiley person, this will probably make you more employable so don’t be afraid to be who you are.
Even if you follow all the steps above, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your dream job right away. Maybe you’ll be offered a position that’s different from the one you imagined. Or maybe it’ll be a while before you get a job offer at all. No matter what, don’t beat yourself up. Many people have walked a winding path to their dream job and they have learnt a lot on the journey.
We certainly hope that you’re able to open the door to a new career. However, once you’ve landed a job remember that the real work is only just beginning. You want to do your best to prove that you really were the best candidate. And you also want to take care of your finances. It can be tempting to blow your first salary on things you weren’t able to afford before – and you should treat yourself! But you should also talk to a financial advisor so that your future can be as bright as possible.