I remember sitting in my career class in college listening to my professor tell us how long it can take for job seekers to land a position.
“Sometimes you’re completely qualified for the opportunities you apply for, yet it can take several months to receive an offer,” he’d said.
He wasn’t kidding. I started applying for my first job six months prior to graduation, and it took me that entire time period to identify, interview for, and receive an offer I was truly excited about accepting.
The search for my second job took me close to nine months from the moment I decided it was time to start searching for a new role to my first day at HubSpot.
Long story short, searching for a new job isn’t always an easy process. It can be stressful, time-consuming, and difficult. But, no fear — that’s why we’ve created this guide. Follow along, and the process will feel significantly less intimidating no matter your industry, job experience, or career goals.
Depending on your specific situation, you may not need to walk through each of the following steps. This list is here to simply guide you through the beginning stages of your job hunt, so feel free to modify it as needed.
1. Consider your personality.
Your personality reveals a lot about yourself, such as what you enjoy doing, what makes you happy, and how you like to communicate — even the types of jobs you’d likely succeed in. There are a number of ways to incorporate your personality traits and characteristics in your job search.
Take one of the many online personality tests to learn more about your specific traits and discover types of work those traits would make you an ideal fit for. This is also helpful when thinking about the type of work environment you’d be most productive in.
Your personality helps you narrow your search in other ways, too — for example, if your results come back with details about you being shy, introspective, and reserved, research ideal jobs for introverts.
2. Think about your skill set.
Your skill set is a list of your abilities — such as problem-solving, decision-making, and the ability to work under pressure. In addition to using your skillset to help you determine the type of job you’d be good at, it’s often something listed on a resume — so, listing your skills is a useful exercise for that reason as well.
If you need more guidance, you can learn more about your specific skill set and how it plays a part in the type of career you’d be an ideal fit for by taking a career aptitude test.
3. Reflect on your background.
Your previous work experience and education — or your background — can also help you determine a career path you’d be suited for.
For example, I studied journalism in college and worked at a local news station after graduation. However, after a year, I decided I wanted to leave the industry. My background — which was writing and content-focused — made me an ideal candidate for a position on the HubSpot Blog.
If your background doesn’t align with your newfound career interests, that’s OK, too! However, this may require a little more research on your end about how you can transition to a new career. You may need to go back to school for a master’s degree, get a certification of some kind, or work in an entry-level position in your new field of interest.
4. Brainstorm your career goals.
Brainstorm your personal and career goals to help you determine the ideal next step for you. Think about things like work-life balance, salary, and your goals for the next 5-10 years. This will help you narrow down your search — different industries and positions have a range of standards when it comes to factors like flexibility, culture, and career growth.
5. Create a list of your dream companies.
Whether or not you’re sure about a specific opportunity, create a list of your dream companies you think you’d enjoy working for. This is a great way to keep track of opportunities at the companies you’re most interested in and remain goal-oriented.
You can then tailor your cover letter as well as career highlights and skillset on your resume to fit the requirements and expectations of specific opportunities at your top-choice companies.
6. Consider companies similar to your dream companies.
Consider companies comparable to those on your list of top picks, too. For example, if your goal is to work in the marketing at Nike, consider applying for a similar position at a newer, growing company in the same industry like NOBULL.
By being open-minded and realistic about how you’re going to reach your end-goal (such as working at Nike), you’ll avoid locking yourself into one, narrow career path option all while gaining valuable experience along the way.
7. Network professionally.
Whether you’re looking to stay in your current industry or pave a completely new path in another, professional networking is critical. These days, over 70% of offers job seekers receive are a result of networking.
Networking can help you get your foot in the door at a company of interest, gain a new and valuable reference in the industry, and determine whether or not you really want to move into a specific role.
8. Clean up your social media accounts.
Today, recruiters, hiring teams, and department leaders at virtually every company will take the time to research candidates online, including on social media platforms, prior to determining whether or not they want to request an interview.
This means you’ll want to ensure your social media accounts are private or remove pictures, videos, and/or comments that may lead a hiring manager to believe you aren’t a good fit for outreach. After all, the last thing you’d want is for the hiring manager at your dream company to disregard your experience due to something they find on your Instagram or Facebook profile.
9. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Did you know there are over 660 million LinkedIn users? Included in that impressive number are job seekers, businesses and recruiters looking to fill positions, as well as people who are content with their current roles.
With all of this exposure, it’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and accurately represents your current and past experiences. Be sure to describe — in detail — information about your current and past roles, promotions, notable mentions, education, awards, and anything else you feel is worth sharing. Initiate and accept Connections to expand your network to receive endorsements for your skills, experiences, and traits.
No matter if you’re in need of a new role, members of your professional network as well as recruiters, hiring managers, and employers will be able to view your LinkedIn profile and reach out to you if they choose. Who knows — maybe you didn’t even realize you were missing out on applying to your dream job.
10. Prepare your resume.
Prepare your resume at the beginning of your job search to ensure your latest and most relevant work experience is available to recruiters and hiring managers for review.
Without a strong and recently updated resume, the companies you apply to won’t have reason to take you seriously. Additionally, pay attention to the details when it comes to your resume including font and which skills of yours you choose to share with specific companies — this is how you’re going to make an impactful first impression that sticks with hiring managers as they review the resumes of other applicants.
Note: When in doubt, try updating your resume with a template to achieve a professional look and feel sure to blow hiring managers away.
How to Find a Job You Love
Now that we’ve reviewed which steps to take in the first stages of your job search, you might be wondering how to find a job you’re truly passionate about — one you love. That’s why we’ve compiled this collection of tips and tricks to help you do just that.
1. Use job search sites.
Today, job search sites, or job search engines, are one of the most common ways to find a new position. These sites provide you with valuable information about companies and positions including location, industry, salary, necessary qualifications, culture, and more.
Other benefits to using a job search site include the ability to upload your resume and cover letter for quick and easy application submission. They also provide you with the option to receive an alert when a new opportunity, that fits criteria you share, becomes available.
There are a number of popular job search sites, used by millions of people around the world, with these capabilities (and more). Here are six of the most common to get you started:
- Indeed provides you with access to new job listings, company reviews, and accurate salary information. The site also allows you to post your resume so recruiters and employers can easily reach out.
- CareerBuilder gives you the opportunity to search for a new job based on specific criteria including your experience, location, or skill set. Upload your resume so employers can recruit you. The site will also review your profile and recommend jobs to help you find the right match.
- Monster allows you to upload your resume for a free assessment to ensure everything looks perfect. The site has a variety of other resources such as opportunities to receive professional interview advice as well as to access to the latest — and most popular — job listings, salary information, and company reviews.
- LinkedIn isn’t just a professional networking site — it’s also a job search site. The platform will take you through a series of steps to help you begin and narrow your job hunt. You can view position openings while employers can read your resume, view your LinkedIn profile, and Connect.
- Craigslist is a straightforward and simplistic job search site. Employers post their latest job listings and you can sift through them by location and/or one of the site’s 20+ industry types.
- Glassdoor gives you access to job listings, employee reviews, interview tips, salary information, and more. You can post your resume so hiring managers can contact you directly and the site includes a feature in which you can view interview questions specific companies tend to ask — which is a great interview prep technique.
2. Check company websites for openings of interest.
Maybe you heard about an opening at your dream company or an opportunity at a specific business of interest that you want to learn more about. If this is the case, go directly to the website of the given company you’re interested in to review their career opportunities and job descriptions. If they provide a career newsletter that sends new job openings, subscribe to that, too.
Rather than looking for positions that meet more general criteria, this is a great option for those who know they want a specific company’s name on their resume or culture to be a part of.
3. Craft unique cover letters.
Your cover letter accompanies your resume to persuade employers into believing you’re worth their time and consideration so they bring you in for an interview. Your cover letters should describe why you’re be a great fit for the position you apply for. And when paired with your resume, a recruiter should understand why you’re qualified for the opportunity.
Now, you may be thinking: Not all companies require cover letters.
And that’s true — some companies openly say cover letters are your choice. If this is the case, it’s up to your discretion as to whether or not you want to send one in. (Personally, I always choose to take the time to tell potential employers about the reasons why I am taking their hiring process and a specific opportunity seriously, but that’s just my prerogative.) If you send in a cover letter, ensure it’s concise, well-written, and helps you stand out among other applicants.
4. Prepare for every interview.
Needless to say, nailing your interview is a critical component to receiving a job offer. Although interviews are often high-pressure experiences for job-seekers, thoroughly preparing for them is a great way to relieve some of the stress.
To help you prepare, review the following commonly-asked interview questions and consider your responses.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are the reasons for leaving your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What motivates you?
- What makes you unique?
- What is your greatest weakness?
5. Determine the most important parts of a position to you and look for them in your search.
What’s important to you in a company and position?
Is it flexibility in terms of work hours?
Do you require the ability to work remotely full or part-time, or do you want to go into an office every day?
Do you care about the size of the team you’ll be on?
Think about these types of questions when determining which opportunities to apply for so you can ensure the company and position are right for you — and vice versa — before spending time on the application.
For example, if a top-rated workplace culture is important to your application process, review the websites of the companies you’re considering to learn about their culture-related initiatives. Take a look at HubSpot to understand what I mean — HubSpot’s unique Culture Code is explained on their career page as well as in many other locations throughout the company website and Blog. This allows applicants and to learn about the importance of workplace culture to the company and its employees as well as how it plays a part in the interview and hiring processes.
6. Think about how you’ll manage an offer.
The final part of your hunt for the perfect position is also the most exciting — accepting an offer!
Once you receive a job offer, be sure to get all of the details about the position, including salary, benefits, and expected start date (along with any other important details).
Remember, it’s normal — and often expected — to ask for some time to consider an offer upon receipt so you have the opportunity to think about and review it in detail before officially accepting it. If you ask, a hiring manager may give you a day, two days, or even a full work week to make a decision.
Don’t be afraid to decline an offer if the specific opportunity isn’t the right fit for you. Other offers will come around — be patient and wait for the one that makes you excited.
Also, you may choose to negotiate your starting salary upon receiving your offer. There are professional and realistic ways to negotiate your salary that you can follow to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Lastly, give your current employer two weeks’ notice — this will allow them to begin searching for your replacement if necessary or at least provide them with a cushion in terms of time to make any necessary adjustments.
How to Find a Remote Job
Today, remote work has become increasingly popular. With technology that allows you to collaborate with team members in real-time from anywhere in the world, instant message, and meet via video chat, remote work has become a more common perk offered by businesses across all industries.
Whether you’re looking for a position that’s part of full-time remote, there’s an option for you. So, let’s take a look at how you can find your dream remote position.
Note: When searching for a remote job, you can follow most of the same steps that you would if you were looking for a non-remote job — as we reviewed above. However, instead of using the job sites we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to use job sites specifically created for posting and identifying remote opportunities.
But before you review those sites, take some time to think about the pros and cons of a remote position.
Pros and Cons of Remote Work
Now, it’s important to remember that depending on your point of view, work style, career goals, and preferences, you may find some of the following points to be under the incorrect column in your eyes — that’s totally fine … it’s all a matter of perspective.
Pros of Remote Work
Cons of Remote Work
Lack of office space or work-related events to attend with colleagues
Ability to work from anywhere
Possibility of feeling lonely or unmotivated
Increases employee retention and loyalty (by providing this option for employees upon being hired or later in one’s career)
Little work-day structure
Increases size of talent pool which is a positive for businesses looking for the best possible candidates
Can make team communication difficult
Remote Job Search Sites
Now, back to those job search sites specific for remote opportunities we mentioned— here are a few of the most popular options for you to pull from.
Note: If you’re looking for a part-time remote position, you might want to focus on applying for freelance opportunities.
- AngelList is a startup community. The site includes a job finder in which users can search specifically for remote work in the world of startups. There are also a number of articles published on AngelList’s Blog which provide insight into remote work, remote culture, and related opportunities for users to learn from and use for inspiration.
- FlexJobs lists a wide range of flexible (hence their name) opportunities on their site including part and full-time positions that are either partially or completely remote. As a job seeker, you have the support of the company’s trained researchers who work to identify and screen these positions to ensure they’re legitimate and worthwhile (no matter if you are entry level or an executive).
- WeWorkRemotely offers a wide range of categories and industries for job seekers to browse and learn about remote opportunities. They have a number of resources on their site for users to educate themselves with as well as determine which specific type of remote positions would be ideal for their career goals.
Begin Your Job Search
Starting the job search process can be overwhelming at times. So, remember to use job search sites to narrow your search and take advantage of the wide array of resources available to job seekers today to help identify the right opportunities for you. Then, prepare for your interviews and remember to be patient — that dream job of yours might just be around the corner.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.