You’ve seen so much advice on how to get a job, you’re overwhelmed. What’s really going to get you into the job you want, fast? The following are the top 10 ways to get a job you’ll love as efficiently as possible.
#10: Don’t fly blind: study up on job search. Start with an up-to-date “resume how-to” book like Modernize Your Resume by Enelow and Kursmark, even if you’re planning to hire a professional. Also read up on cover letters (see those same authors), networking and social media. For social media tips you may want to rely on internet resources like the Wayne Breitbarth’s Power Formula blog for the most up-to-date tips. And of course, read my bestselling Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview.
#9: Look at how far you’re leaping. Do you need a new career, a new industry or just a new job? If you have decided to pursue a whole new career, realize there will be more to it; this isn’t your average job search. Read my post 5 Steps to a Successful Career Change, for a start.
#8: If you’re unemployed, economize–on everything but your job search. Don’t skimp on joining a professional association, attending an industry conference, buying a new suit, or hiring a career coach or resume writer. If hiring a pro, shop around carefully, looking for experience, formal training, certifications, a professional online presence and good reviews. Read my tips on hiring a good resume writer–many of them will also apply to shopping for an interview coach.
#7: Embrace LinkedIn. I mentioned social media above, so now I’ll get more specific: LinkedIn is the most valuable social platform for most job seekers. An excellent profile demonstrates professionalism, showcases your skills, helps employers feel like they know and trust you, helps you network, can bring recruiters directly to you, and provides a great opportunity to showcase recommendations. That last point is so important I’m going to make it #6.
#6: Offer social proof. LinkedIn recommendations are one of the least understood and most underused job search tools. This is one of the first places recruiters look in your profile, so make sure they’ll be impressed. With all your other job search communications you’re basically saying “take my word for it,” but here you’ve got your bosses, internal/external customers and peers putting their own reputations on the line to vouch for you. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations and then make full use of them. Looking good on Facebook, Twitter, etc. won’t hurt either.
#5: Sharpen the saw. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Steven Covey integrated this advice into his influential bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When it comes to job search, your most important “axe” is yourself: your own mind and body. This is why career coaches often advice their clients to have an exercise routine. Excercise is often better for depression than medication, and it boosts confidence, makes you look better and keeps your energy level up.
Sharpening the saw also means improving your job skills–whether that means Python, copy writing or leadership skills.
What about you–what keeps you at your best? Meditation, quality time with loved ones, therapy? Make time for it.
#4: Prepare well for interviews before you’re ever offered one. Cramming at the last minute isn’t the best way to prepare for successful interviews. Don’t wait until a recruiter calls you, because that phone call itself is a crucial interview and another call like it could happen any time. Are you ready to do a winning interview?
#3: Have a “current occupation,” even if you’re unemployed. Even if you don’t currently have a job, you still have a profession and there are ways you can reflect that in your online profiles. Meanwhile, keeping busy with consulting/freelancing, pro bono work or education fills the gap and demonstrates the strong work ethic and professional enthusiasm employers want to see.
#2: Target your job search. Aim for a specific type of work; the “open to anything” approach doesn’t help you get a job faster. Can you name the specific job title you’re going after, or several closely related ones? If you can’t, you may want to work with a career coach to clarify your career goal.
And where do you want to work? If your target job market is every company in the world, or even in your city, you won’t be able to proactively focus on making yourself known to people who could hire you. Most job seekers will benefit from preparing a list of organizations where a good job could open up, then use this target companies list to guide a proactive job search.
#1: Talk to a lot of people, but not about job openings. You’ve heard this advice before, but maybe you haven’t followed through because you don’t believe it will work for you. Admittedly, it’s counterintuitive; it may seem to make more sense to spend most of your time actually applying for jobs. Here’s why that doesn’t work: by the time a potential job has gotten as far as being posted, it’s like a spring that has turned into a rushing river where hundreds of anglers compete for each fish. Networking means going upstream and fishing at the source where opportunities first emerge. So focus your networking on people and organizations, not job openings, and do a lot of targeted, well-planned informational interviews, a.k.a. career research conversations.
I would call this a “go slow to go fast” approach, except that there’s nothing slow about setting up meetings every day and making yourself constantly visible online and in person. It’s a numbers game, but the number to track and increase is not how many resumes you’ve sent out, but how many conversations you’re having.
A smart job search along these lines isn’t just about getting a job faster. It’s about getting a really good job. The best opportunities tend to get snapped up by people who’ve done the networking to get them. A so-so job–maybe it’s low paying or the manager is someone people don’t want to work for–is more likely to get thrown out to the job boards.
Develop a daily routine that puts these best practices into consistent, organized action. Build it and opportunities will come. You’ll get a better job than those who ignore this advice, and you’ll get it faster. (This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.)