It has been a period of waiting. Waiting to sell my house. Waiting to hear if I got into graduate school. Waiting to start. Waiting to graduate. And waiting to land a job. And not just any job, but the one that would be the first step in my new career and down a new path.
When this journey started I never thought it would take seven long months to receive an offer letter for employment. Nor did I think I would have applied to more than 200 jobs, work with half a dozen recruiters, and only take a dozen or less interviews. Only 4 of which were really serious interviews.
After tears of disappointment, stress beyond belief, less money than I have ever had to support myself on and most importantly, not caving to take any job to wait for the job, I am pleased to say that it has all paid off. Next Monday to begin my new career with a company I am excited to be connected to. And as a bonus, I also got nearly everything I wanted.
What lessons did I learn in my journey? Here are just a few:
7 Lessons of Job Hunting
- Know exactly what you want – this will help you figure out your end goal and when you share you plans with others it will give them an idea of what you are looking for and may be able to provide better help. Also, it will help you narrow down your focus in the hunt. You can always broaden your search later, but be more specific in the beginning.
- Create a plan – it is imperative to plan your attack. First step is to have your resume in order, create a cover letter and then customize based on the job. Keep a list of the companies you have applied to, the link to their job description, and the date you applied. I even color coded them based on where I was at in the process: black= sent in resume, blue= received a response, green= interview scheduled, and light grey= proceeded with other candidates.
- Don’t give up – Remember that there are a ton of qualified candidates out there, so competition is tough. You will go on more interviews than you expect and be turned down for many more with no other reason than we went with more qualified candidates. By knowing what you want and relentlessly chasing it, in the end that perseverance will pay off. It really is just a matter of time.
- Say yes – go to every interview! Even if it isn’t quite what you had in mind. Practice makes perfect and the better you interview the better your chances (here are some tips to interview successfully). Besides, while a company may seem not like the right fit, after you get in there, it may be better than you anticipated. And the opposite is true too – your ideal company may turn out to be not what you expected.
- Know your boundaries – make sure you make a list of what your priorities are. For example, is insurance coverage a necessity or are covered under another plan? Is a certain amount of PTO important? What about flexible work environment – work at the office vs. work from home? What is the lowest pay that you are willing to accept – it may be lower than you think? Is travel a consideration? Make a list of everything you want in a new position and company, and then mark which of those are make or break.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare – No matter how much you know, the more you prepare for the interview, research the company, stay up-to-date on job search trends and useful tools, the better off you will be. Most importantly, if you can speak knowledgeably about the company both in your cover letter and in the interview, you will make a good impression on the interviewer. Which, sometimes weighs more than actual experience.
- Confidence is key – be able to speak confidently and knowledgeably about the what you can do (communicating clearly is key). Don’t assure them that you are able to do something you can’t. Be prepared to show a portfolio or examples of what you are capable of. They are interviewing as much with you as you are with them.
All in all, know what you want and don’t settle. However, you must be mindful of your abilities and experience. Sometimes what you want is a few steps up the ladder. Be willing to take a job that can lead to your dream, but don’t settle for something just because you need it. Between leaving a job I had been monetarily comfortable with and skilled at, taking out loans, and eventually having to apply for unemployment – I did not lose sight of what I wanted despite the bleak circumstances. Now I have everything I set out to achieve.