Landing a new job can be exhilarating and financially rewarding. But actually searching for a job can quickly become tedious, labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Fortunately, there are tools and techniques to make job hunting more productive. Here are some ways to identify, prioritize and automate activities that deliver the best return.
Begin with the End in Mind
Many job hunters avoid the hard work of figuring out what they really want to do before launching a search—and end up wasting time on low-value activities, explained Meg Applegate, certified résumé writer.
For instance, unless your résumé and online profiles clearly state your desired jobs, skills, work environments, industries, and salary range, recruiters may bombard you with opportunities that aren’t a good fit, noted Jason Robins, director of Staffing and Recruiting at Stafford Recruiting.
How can you clarify your vision? Use self-discovery tools and research to identify two to three roles and about 30 target companies that not only utilize your previous experiences and skills, but open the door to future opportunities and growth.
For example, Skills Base gives you the opportunity to identify, assess, visualize and act on your skills, measure interest, and focus on your ideal tech stack. The DISC personality assessment is a favorite among tech companies because it helps identify behavioral strengths and how you work best. Culture’s self-assessment tool uncovers your work motivators, behaviors, ideal work styles, and life priorities, while Dice’s Salary Report can help you determine your market value. Finally, use ed2go or O*NET to map your skills, interests and goals to new careers.
Prepare to Plug and Play
Beat résumé-screening robots and save time by using a keyword finder to identify the most commonly requested requirements in job descriptions for your targeted positions. Then, create a catalogue of accomplishments, work samples and personal experiences you can quickly insert into a résumé and cover letter, or share with a hiring manager during an interview to show that you’re qualified.
Use Google Docs or a document on Google Drive to record your accomplishments, accolades and the attainment of quantifiable performance objectives (e.g., projects completed, certifications earned). That makes customizing your résumé and interview talking points faster and easier.
Polish Your Online Image
Having a keyword-rich personal brand, value proposition, online profiles and work samples that convey a cohesive value proposition and support your objectives increases your chances of being found by recruiters and making it to the interview.
To make sure your online image helps (and doesn’t hurt) your job search, consider using a template from Adobe Spark orCreatopy to create a banner on LinkedIn. Applegate also suggests that you use a tool like Photofeeler to see what your photos say about you and the impression they make on your target audience.
Reach Out Directly
Contacting a hiring manager directly about a potential opening can help you stand out, gauge their interest, and avoid spending hours filling out applications that get ignored.
Using a tool to find a hiring manager’s email address and know if your outreach email has been opened will make the process go a lot smoother and give you more reliable results. Options include Hunter.io, Mailtrack.io and Mailscoop.
Organize, Track and Prioritize High Return Activities
Keeping track of applications, and following up in a timely manner, is the best way to stay organized, make a positive impression and identify opportunities and activities that yield the best return.
You can use a spreadsheet or any number of apps/sites such as JibberJobber or Teal to manage your search. Or you can follow the example of Ben Collar, who recently landed a position as a cybersecurity technical expert, and use a kanban board.
Collar recommends a kanban board because of its flexibility, and because it shows which activities and applications are productive (and not productive) at a glance. “Use a tool that supports due dates on tasks,” he advised. “Every stage that is some kind of ‘wait for them to reply’ needs a due date and an alarm, otherwise the whole board will be too messy.” Also, don't delete jobs that don’t produce an offer—it’s a great way to see how much time you’re spending on opportunities that don’t progress.
When you finally get the chance to interview with your dream company, don't blow your chances of landing an offer. During the initial research and self-discovery phase, use an app like All Companies Interview Questions and Answers, this interview-question repository on GitHub, or Glassdoor to anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked, advised career coach and LinkedIn trainer Bob McIntosh.
Make sure to practice, critique and improve your image and interviewing technique by recording mock exchanges with colleagues on Zoom or WebEx. Be prepared to explain your expertise in the proposed job’s top-priority technical skills and tools. Good luck!