What I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Job Search

By Madison White on July 9, 2019

Starting a job search, especially the “real world” job search after college, can feel a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool. While nothing can really prepare you for it, there are a few key things to know before getting started. 

1. How much time it would take

People generally know that searching and applying for jobs will be time-consuming, but few realize just how time-consuming it can be. In fact, searching for jobs can often feel like a full-time job.

To start, it may take searching multiple keywords and platforms to find any job advertisements that you are interested in. There are large databases, like Indeed.com, that many people will use to search. Be warned, though, that you will have to narrow down your criteria quite a lot to find what you’re looking for on such a large basis.

Many people also use networking websites like LinkedIn to find jobs. If you don’t already have a profile, it will take you at least a day or two to create and fine-tune your profile. Because it is the first thing your future employer might see, you should put a lot of care and effort into making your profile reflect the kind of person you are.

2. How to create a basic cover letter and resume

It is extremely important that you already have a basic cover letter and resume ready to go before you begin searching for an applying for jobs. However, knowing what the standard is can be difficult to find out. If you’re in a certain field, you may want to try Googling cover letters and resumes that are pertinent to the industry you want to enter.

In general, a cover letter should include a short introduction about yourself and your previous work experience, and explain why you want to work in this specific job, industry, or company. It doesn’t need to be long or flowery. In fact, most employers prefer a to-the-point cover letter over a lengthy one.

Resumes can differ somewhat, again, because of differences in industries and fields. Generally, a resume should give information about your education and your previous work experiences. This can vary depending on how much schooling you’ve had or what previous roles you’ve held. Resumes should be kept to 1-2 pages and look clean and professional.

3. How to tailor to certain advertisements

Once you have a basic cover letter and resume, then you should be able to tailor them somewhat to certain advertisements. It is well-known that employers don’t want to receive “generic” cover letters and resumes. However, when you are submitting many applications, it is nearly impossible to truly cater to every single one.

One simple and easy way to tailor a cover letter is to use the company’s name and position in it. You can also repeat a line from the job specification and answer how your work experience makes you qualified for it. If they list specific qualifications they want, it may be beneficial to mention that you have them, or how you would work towards them.

Tailoring a resume is a bit more difficult. Truthfully, tailoring a resume isn’t always necessary, especially if you are applying to very similar positions. You may want to tailor if one part of your background would make more sense to highlight over another. For instance, if you’re applying for a role and you have held a previous, similar role, you would want to highlight your previous work experience over, say, your education. You may change up the formatting a little bit, but likely will not completely overhaul your resume.

4. How to believe in yourself

The job search is a grueling process. It can be extremely tough to continue searching and applying in the face of rejection. One thing to remember is that employers often write a job description for their ideal candidate, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply if you don’t meet every single requirement. Prospective employees often think that if they don’t excel in every single specification that they are not worthy of applying. This kind of thinking will not do you any good during your job hunt. If you feel that you would do well in the role, you should apply. Remember that it is not your job to reject yourself. Something will work out eventually, even if it takes a long time.

In conclusion, remember that you are not the only person going through the difficult process of finding a job. The struggle is short-lived because eventually, you are going to find the right job for you. Remember to give yourself breaks and days off from the job hunt if needed, and most importantly, don’t give up!

Madison graduated with her Master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester (UK), and holds Bachelor's degrees in English and Creative Writing from Wichita State University. She currently teaches English at Wichita State University and works as a freelance writer and blogger on her website Madison White Writes and elsewhere.

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