Applying for a job can sometimes feel like a full-time job in itself, but with the right resources and preparation, you can make sure your job hunt is efficient and successful. Whether you're looking for your first job out of college, searching for a new opportunity or making a career switch, landing a job is a major milestone. You will want to consider not only what job is best suited to your interests and skills, but also what career choice will let you live comfortably within your means.
Here are some important questions to answer as you begin the search for a job.
What can you expect of your specific job market's typical hiring process?
The application process for jobs varies by industry and trades — some employers may require you to take a test or participate in multiple rounds of in-person and phone interviews; for others, it may be a quick hire. Thanks to technology, many preliminary interviews can be done via video calls, which provide the interviewee and hiring manager an opportunity to meet online prior to a face-to-face meeting. In order to prepare, know what to expect by asking a hiring manager or recruiter about how they conduct their interviews.
What kinds of experiences or skills are valued within your profession?
Aside from what's outlined in a job listing, there may be certain expectations for your professional field that require new skills, credentials or experiences. To be a competitive candidate, make sure that you're not missing any such essentials in your professional background. There are now several short-term (typically 10 to 12 weeks), skills-based "boot camps" that can quickly get you certified or well versed in a particular technical skill. In general, proficiency in technical abilities will help you stand out from other candidates.
What kind of work-life balance are you seeking for yourself?
Your job is a lifestyle choice. It's important to think about the big picture and not just the job you want now. Some jobs allow more flexibility in your schedule than others. When you are narrowing down your job search, it's helpful to have an idea of what your ideal week looks like — whether you're clocking in and clocking out at the same time every day, working nights and weekends or have the flexibility to work from home or remotely.
Are you willing to relocate or travel?
Consider the costs of living and your expenses before you relocate for a job. Moving costs are another factor to take into account. If your prospective employer isn't going to pay your moving costs, be sure the salary will make up for these costs in the long run or that you have additional funds to cover the expenses. Some jobs may require that you travel on a regular basis, and you may find that either exciting or a difficult adjustment. Gain a clear understanding of what you're willing and able to commit to before you apply for a job.
Beyond earning a paycheck, what skills and experiences do you want to take away from your new job?
Some jobs emphasize "growth opportunities." Depending on whether you qualify for an entry-, junior- mid- or senior-level position, your next job may provide valuable development training. Some companies may also subsidize graduate school studies or fund other learning opportunities, such as conferences and conventions, which can advance your knowledge and professional expertise.
Job Search Tips for Students
If you are a student, your school career center is an excellent place to start looking for work. As a resource provided to students, a career center is intended to help you find jobs that relate to specific fields of study. You can consult with a career counselor for advice on resume building or sign up for on-campus interviews. Recruiters often come to schools and universities looking for future prospects. Many campuses hold job fairs and career events year-round; it's a great way to get your foot in the door to an otherwise out-of-reach company.
Alumni are also valuable resources for landing a job. Seek advice from those who have graduated with the same degree as you will and find out where it has taken them since. Your school may have an exclusive job board for its alumni or perhaps serve as a feeder to some companies. You can ask your school's alumni association about networking opportunities.