Searching for a job can feel overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just skip to the good part of securing a role? But, the truth is, we can learn a lot about ourselves and our skills throughout the process. By creating a systematic approach, you can make your job search simpler and less stressful.
Recently, we sat down for an mPower Hour with Briar Dougherty of Career Organic to learn how.
Founded and led by Briar, Career Organic works with professionals across all levels and industries to produce resume writing, career guidance, and negotiations that expedite success and growth.
Briar is no stranger to job searching and all the challenges that come with it. Early in her career, she had several transitions and pivots that taught her a lot about herself and led her to where she is today.
“First, when I think about my career transitions, the most pivotal pieces for me have really been the biggest struggles I’ve had and the things I’ve had to overcome.” - Briar Dougherty
Briar started her career while still in college in New York City as a manager for a health and fitness club. A frightening incident with a member caused her to re-examine her priorities, so she decided to transition industries, moving on to manage the salon at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, a 10,000 sq. ft. facility. This quickly grew into a Regional Manager role. However, the strain of travel and not having time for a life outside of work weighed on Briar. She took a chance on a new job in Atlanta, and the new trajectory of her career path began.
Having children made her realize that she wanted a career that would enable her to be there for her children’s pivotal moments. She was already coaching clients on the side, and this realization gave her the motivation to incorporate her side business. In 2018, Career Organic became her full-time role and she has never looked back.
How to approach your job search
Job searching can quickly become exhausting and tedious if you approach the process without a plan. Here are the steps Briar recommends.
1. Start with metrics
Decide how many postings you want to apply to each week. Establishing a milestone will help keep you focused on your goals and limit fatigue. It can also help you feel accomplished and even excited about the process. Tracking everything from the moment you apply can also help guide your timeline and let you know when it’s time to follow up on an opportunity.
2. Identify the right platforms to use
Looking in the right places will help you expand your search and find the perfect opportunities for you. The Mom Project and LinkedIn are two great places to start.
3. Learn how to leverage LinkedIn in your search
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in job searching, and there are several things you can do to improve your chances of connecting with recruiters and opportunities. The more active you are, the more LinkedIn rewards you.
Before diving into the LinkedIn action, make sure you update your profile. The headline area is particularly important as this contains information that people will discover when conducting searches. Get creative, and make sure you’re using the right keywords that will allow people to find you.
Make sure the experience area is filled out. Then, go to the skill set module and make sure you’re using that to your advantage. LinkedIn allows you to choose up to 50. Once you have your skills established, you can go back to the experience section and link your skills to specific jobs, something that will help you further stand out to hiring managers.
4. Understand the importance of resume skills and cover letters
First, let’s tackle the cover letter. One of the most common questions we hear is whether they’re really necessary. According to Briar, the answer is yes! Your cover letter is your chance to impart unique information about yourself that you may not fit into your resume. There are a few tips you can use to help your cover letter stand out:
Tailor the top paragraph: Review the job posting and pull out something that resonates with you. Explain why you’re the perfect fit based on that snippet.
Use keywords: Bring in two to three keywords or phrases that could support the role and explain how you can do this, potentially using bullet points.
Research beforehand: Many companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) that screens resumes and applications by looking for specific keywords or pieces of information. Not sure which keywords work best for a role? Briar suggests trying out a tool such as ChatGPT, which serves as an intelligent research assistant you can use to guide your focus. As an example, if you are a software engineer in the tech field, there are specific skills and jargon that both hiring managers and ATS programs are likely to flag. Asking ChatGPT to identify major keywords that software engineers in the tech industry would use can help you get noticed.
Resumes are important as well. Briar and Career Organic offer specific resume coaching services, and The Mom Project offers helpful resume tips with our Resume Rev program. One piece of advice that Briar shared was to make sure you’re bridging the gap on your resume when you’re making a transition and pivoting into a new industry. Translate your skill set as it applies in the new industry and use the appropriate jargon.
5. Follow up after applying
Briar cautions applicants that this can be a tricky area, as there’s a fine line between being proactive and coming across as too aggressive. It’s a delicate balance you need to figure out for yourself.
She suggests doing your research to determine the best person to talk to. Often, the hiring manager attached to a role may work in HR and not the specific department in which candidates would work. It could be worthwhile to respectfully reach out to potential colleagues and ask thoughtful questions to express your enthusiasm.
When sending a follow-up note, make sure you personalize it to the experience in the interview. In other words, don’t pre-write this note — make sure it’s thoughtful and tailored.
Tips for parents and The Mom Project users
For parents, especially those returning to the workforce after time away, Briar’s number one piece of advice is to be authentic. If you took a career pause, put that on your resume and share how what you learned in your time away will help you in a new role.
Project confidence, and own your experience as an asset.
What makes a profile on The Mom Project stand out? Again, it begins with cover letters. As a recruiter, Briar notices everything from grammar mistakes to a lack of understanding about the role. A big no-no is having no personalization at all. When you take the time to personalize your letter, it shows you’re taking time to apply with intention.
The Mom Project allows users to fill in their superpowers, giving employers insight into your strengths. Make sure you use this section to your advantage to allow yourself to shine. Learn how to get the most out of your talent profile in this blog post.
Celebrate each moment
Job searching can take its toll, so it’s important to celebrate every incremental win. Congratulate yourself for landing an interview. Give yourself grace when you aren’t chosen. By reflecting on every part of the process, you’re learning how to find success in all job searching stages.
Realize there are companies that celebrate parents and ones that don’t. Choose the ones that work for you.
Finally, once you secure a role you’ll love, make sure you set strong boundaries — define them, apply them and keep them. Understand what your non-negotiables are and don’t let someone cross them, as it can be difficult to reign it in once you do.