Maybe you have recently graduated with a shiny, new degree and you are ready to put it to practical use. Maybe you have started in one career only to learn that it’s not the great fit you were hoping for. How do you search for a job that will be a good fit for you, your skills, and your education? These tips can help make your job search a little quicker and a lot more purposeful.
Where to Look
The first big step is deciding where to look. There are a million and one resources where you could spend hours upon hours of searching. There’s a reason why so many people say job hunting itself is a full-time job. However, searching in the right places can help you narrow the field. Look to these popular sources that have been productive for many hopefuls:
Job placement agencies
If this list seems a little short on websites, note that restricting your search to one or two sites can save you valuable time. Indeed.com is a lesser-known site; however, it pulls job postings from various other job sites, like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, combining your search results onto one site. When using the website, be sure to filter your search for your desired industry, income, and location.
Other in-person sources like career fairs and agencies are a great way to make face-to-face contact, show off your people skills, and begin building a professional network with people who already work in your desired field.
Now you’re on the website, you’ve just searched for your desired job position, and the site has returned maybe 100 job postings. You could click through each one, but that’s not necessary. Look for job titles that seem to match your experience as well as your ambition. When reading job descriptions, you can save yourself time by first skimming the desired skills and experience sections, then reading the other details if it sounds like something you are ready for.
Remember that in some ways, job hunting is like poker. You are not so much playing your own hand as you are the hands of the other players. When applying for a job, you never know who the other candidates are. Along those same lines, you don’t know if your application will look the best compared to theirs. So don’t be afraid to apply for a job you really want even if you think the “desired experience” is out of your reach. Most applicants will feel this way. If your skills and experience come close, go for it.
Don’t limit your job hunt to online applications only. You can always learn more about the industry and the job position by making contact in person whenever possible. This means going to as many career fairs and visiting with as many employment agencies as you can. Meeting with employees of specific companies will enlighten you as to the culture and attitude of the office.
Searching by Industry
If you know what industry you’d like to enter, you can take several approaches. Most industries have multiple levels, such as an entry-level, an expert level, a managerial level, and so on. Depending on your experience, you may want to search for jobs at lower, entry-level positions. Use terms like “assistant” or “contract” in your online job searches. If you have several years of experience in your industry, you can search for more expert positions, which usually have terms like “senior” in the job title. (Think “Licensed Senior Engineer” versus “Contract Engineer.) Starting out at an interned or contracted position can help you get your foot in the door of your preferred field or at a company where you would really like to work.
If you’re overwhelmed and unsure of your career path, don’t let that stop you. Sometimes you won’t know a good fit until you try it on. Use hiring agencies or a resume builder, keep in touch with your professional connections, and take the plunge when attractive job opportunities come your way. Building work experience and creating positive references is always an advantage.
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