We all know that job searching isn’t exactly the most fun thing to do. You have to write and rewrite cover letters, input your information over and over, send cold contact emails, and then wait. The job search process is very emotional for something so mundane, and there’s no way to adequately describe that gut-punch feeling you get when you receive several automated rejection emails in a row.
Then, of course, there is also the roller-coaster of interviewing. You have to remember to smile, keep laser focus, stay engaged, ask the right questions, and put your best self on display the whole time, regardless of what kind of day you’re having outside of the interview. Again, even if it only lasts for an hour, it’s very mentally and emotionally demanding.
As a recruiter and as a job seeker, I’ve been on both sides of the job search game. Even with all of my insider knowledge of how recruitment works, I still get rejections (or worse, ghosted), and I still find the overall process exhausting. So, if there is information out there that will help me do things more mindfully and efficiently, I want to know what it is. Especially because finally landing a good job makes the grueling process worth it.
Admittedly, I am not an expert on job hunting and interviewing, but I’ve been pretty successful throughout my career, and I want to share the things that have helped me get interviews and secure job offers. I’m going to break this up into two categories: Current Insights and Best Practices.
The job market is constantly evolving. Take 2020, for example. There was no way anyone could have predicted what the pandemic did to companies. Suddenly, industries that were thriving before were laying people off to stay afloat, and I don’t have data to back this up, but I’m willing to bet that the toilet paper industry had never seen demand so high. You could be the best candidate in the world, but if your preferred industry isn’t thriving when you’re on the hunt for a new job, the process will likely take longer than usual.
Taking some time to research current job trends will give you a realistic look at the odds of you finding jobs and help you manage your expectations for how long landing one could take.
It might also open your eyes to industries you may not have otherwise considered and even give you an edge or talking point during the interview process.
Here are a few trends happening now, in the summer of 2021:
- Hundreds of thousands of jobs are opening up every month, but the number of active job seekers is also increasing
- Hiring rates today are 9% higher than they were pre-pandemic
- Hourly rates are slowly increasing, which is a good indicator of companies’ financial health
- Fewer organizations are laying off employees, which means even if some industries aren’t in growth mode at the moment, they are no longer in crisis, so more jobs could be opening up by the end of the year
- With the rise in WFH, industries that need employees onsite have a lot of openings such as logistics, manufacturing, and transportation
- Small retailers are on the hunt for technology experts who can help them build up their online presence to compete with other major online retailers
- The hospitality industry is rebounding after the pandemic. However jobs are opening up slowly as the companies try to recoup some losses
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical jobs are still relatively easy to find, especially research organizations
- Sales and customer service workers are in high demand
- The construction industry continues to need employees
- Jobs in the finance industry seem to be opening up more and more
- The entertainment industry is booming as things open back up and vaccinated people start going out again
- The number of women, moms specifically, in the workforce is still drastically lower than it was pre-pandemic (which may give you an edge)
Of course, all of this can change in a matter of weeks (or days), and just because an industry isn’t rebounding as quickly as another doesn’t mean there aren’t any jobs available. It’s just that there is going to be more competition for the few that are open. Also, you may not want to work in the industries that are hiring right now, and that’s okay. It’s just helpful to get a pulse on the market to give you a realistic idea of what your search could look like.
These are the more general, evergreen tips that will help you in a year just as much as they will today. No matter where you are in your career, whether you’re actively looking for jobs or are content where you are, there are some small things you can do to strengthen yourself professionally (beyond the basics like writing a good resume and networking).
Job Seeking When You’re Actively Looking For Work
- Your online presence matters and hiring managers will Google you; clean up your social media, create an online portfolio or webpage and make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete
- Keywords, keywords, keywords; sprinkle them throughout your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and on your website because recruiters use advanced searches using these keywords to find candidates with specific skills
- Don’t be afraid of cold reach-outs to recruiters and hiring managers; the worst-case scenario is that they don’t respond, and the best case is that they do and help you get a job (just remember to practice good etiquette)
- Apply to jobs that you may be slightly underqualified for; you never know, if your resume makes it through the algorithms, you could be seriously considered
- Create job alerts so that you know when something opens up that aligns with what you’re looking for; do this on a few different platforms because companies use other vendors to advertise job openings
- Take a break when you need to; you don’t want to burn out and give up so take a few days off now and then
- Be confident; no matter how much you want the job or how over-your-head you think it is, go in with confidence and the mindset that you’re judging them as much as they are you (because you should be!)
- Ask questions; if you need a clearer picture of what the job entails, speak up so that if offered the role, you will honestly know what you’re getting yourself into if you accept
- Wear clothes that are not only professional but are also comfortable and align with your personality so that you’re not wiggling around, adjusting your outfit constantly, or pretending to be someone that you really are not (you do not have to wear black and white if you prefer a more colorful wardrobe)
- Try to close the deal; ask the interviewer what the next steps are and when you should expect to hear from them, and remember to say it with confidence
Job Seeking When You’re Not Looking For Work
Yes, even if you’re happily employed and aren’t actively looking to leave your job, if you’re open to exploring unexpected opportunities, you’ll want to do a few things:
- Keep your online profiles updated; every few months, just do a quick review to see if you need to make any changes
- Continue to network and engage with people online to widen your circle for whenever you are ready to start actively looking for a job
- If a recruiter reaches out to you about a job, be open to a conversation; if the job sounds interesting, agreeing to hear more or even interviewing doesn’t mean you have to continue to move forward in the hiring process if you don’t want to
- Look for and apply to jobs that seem like a long shot; at worst, you won’t get a call back (which is fine because you’re happily employed), and at best, you get an interview
📖 Read more: Learn how to own your career search with the essential career search guide for moms.
Job hunting is a lot of work, but try your best not to internalize the process. There are many factors that are at play for even getting your resume through the applicant tracking system including into a recruiter’s hands—remember, none of them have anything to do with who you are as a person. The best thing you can do is go into the search with managed expectations and a clear head. It will all come together. Eventually, you just have to stay patient and motivated in the meantime.
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