Finding yourself back in the job market is a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, you’re probably available for a good reason: you’re ready for a new challenge, perhaps, or newly possessed of the confidence that you’re worth more than your previous employer thought.
On the other, you actually have to find work. Nevermind that the current labor market is remarkably favorable for job-seekers (and not so favorable for employers). Finding a good-fit employer is a challenge in any economy, no matter how great you look on paper or how bright your references shine. Here’s how to get started.
1. Give Your Resume a Workover
Let your resume do some of the hard work. Use cheat sheets like this one as you give your CV a full makeover. You don’t need a professional career coach or headhunter to complete intuitive tasks like:
- Swapping out vague or overly complex references to “responsibilities” for clear, concise details of actual achievements
- Condensing everything down to a single page
- Composing resume variants for specific positions or roles
- Telling a linear, compelling story
- Excising table-stakes skills like “Microsoft Office proficiency”
2. Look Over Employee-Sourced Reviews
When you’re ready to begin reaching out to specific employers, don’t forget to check their reviews first. Unbiased, reputable online reviews that subject employers to rigorous, metrics-based evaluation can go a long way toward determining fit.
3. Clearly List Your Interests (and Expectations) on Your Website and Social Profiles
If you’re still operating under the assumption that CVs and references are the only factors hiring managers use to evaluate candidate fit, you’re sadly mistaken. Make sure your entire public face, from your personal and professional websites on down through your media mentions and social profiles, support the interest- and expectations-related contentions you make on your CV and in your interviews. If it’s not going to work out between you and a prospective employer, both parties should know it before the first callback.
4. Pull Aside Current Employees for Candid Feedback
Don’t take the hiring manager’s word for it. Don’t assume brief online reviews are all you’ll need to make an informed decision. And don’t let the hand-selected employees you encounter on your shadow day completely sway you, either.
Try to go one step further by reaching out to actual current (or recently separated) employees for in-depth, candid feedback. If they’re promised anonymity, they’ll talk about the good, the bad, and everything in between.
5. Learn to Search Smarter
Don’t waste time plowing the same over-farmed fields. Bone up on “smart search” tips from resources like this guide for savvy job searchers. Most of these suggestions are intuitive: for instance, use advanced filters to weed out poor-fit job matches and eliminate positions for which you’re overqualified. The less time you spend finding jobs to which you should actually apply, the more time you’ll have to apply, interview and evaluate.
You Can (Almost) Name Your Price
Things look bright for today’s job seekers. For the first time in many years, candidates possessed of sought-after credentials can just about name their price (within reason), even at the entry level. It’s unclear how long this will last, or how far you’ll be able to take it in your personal job search. But there’s rarely been a better time to look for work.