7 ways to make your job search less tedious
Does the hunt for your dream job seem like drudgery? Let us help you breathe new life into it.
Job searching may be at the bottom of your “fun things to do” list— but that might just be because you’ve hit the “job search wall.” It happens to the best of us, and it’s pretty common. But it can be reversed!
“Looking for a job is a universal source of anxiety,” says Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster. It’s also intimidating, he says, given that there’s a seemingly endless number of job postings at your fingertips.
That’s the irony: while you have great access to job openings, having too many options can make the job-search process seem overwhelming. Monster asked career experts for their advice to avoid job-search burnout. Here’s what they said can turn those feelings of fatigue back into excitement.
Adjust your mindset
“It’s all about how you look at the job search,” says Danny Rubin, millennial career coach and author of 25 Things Every Young Professional Should Know by Age 25.
Instead of thinking of applications as a total time-suck, he says, consider them the next (and necessary) step to scoring a job at one of your dream companies. With every application you submit, you’re that much closer to landing “the one,” because it’s a numbers game.
So if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of job applications, focus on the end result instead—getting that killer job offer.
Step away from your computer
When you’re job searching, you spend a lot of time at the computer. Like, some serious screen time. While looking for and applying to jobs online is important - and most likely the way you'll find your new gig, too much of it could drive anyone crazy.
Drag yourself away from your laptop to meet people who work in the field face-to-face. That way, you'll start meeting people who work in your industry, and you can start doing your homework to find the right fit for you. When you get home, research the companies where your new connections work to read employee reviews and get a deeper sense of what the company is about.
“You don’t always need to go to conferences or formal industry events to meet people,” says Chip Espinoza, author of Millennials@Work: The 7 Skills Every Twenty-Something (and Their Manager) Needs to Overcome Roadblocks and Achieve Greatness.
He suggests starting with alumni networking events, which can be a fun way to reconnect with people you went to school with while talking about your job search—like mixing business with pleasure.
Ditch the elevator pitch
A well-honed elevator pitch can be a great way to explain who you are and what you do, but sometimes you’ve got to go off-script to shake things up. The key to building relationships is establishing trust and likeability; so don’t always feel pressured to sell yourself when you meet new people.
“Hearing an elevator pitch can make people’s defenses to go up,” says Dalton.
So, instead of immediately answering the question “What do you do?” try to see if you have shared interests outside of work, or any common links so that you can get to know the person you’re talking with on a less formal level.
Don’t spend days fine-tuning your resume
Hiring managers have short attention spans. In fact, some only spend a few seconds looking at an applicant’s resume.
“They’re trying to get back to their real work as quickly as they can,” Dalton explains.
Rather than devoting a ton of time to perfecting your resume (psst: there’s no such thing as a “perfect” resume), “put three to four hours into updating it, but make sure it’s error-free,” Dalton says.
Write a skeleton cover letter
It’s OK to use a template for cover letters to help speed up job applications. However, you’ll still want to tailor each letter to the specific company and position. To do so, Espinoza recommends customizing the first paragraph, incorporating language from the job posting.
Keep cover letters brief. (In many industries, a half-page letter is sufficient.) “Tell hiring managers the information that they need to know upfront,” says Dalton, adding that if you have an internal referral you should mention it in the first sentence.
Also, “the shorter the cover letter, the less chance there is for grammatical errors,” says Dalton.
Create an online portfolio
If you’re applying for jobs where you need to submit samples of your work (think writing, graphic design, or advertising), don’t waste time attaching multiple documents to each job application. It’s cumbersome, and hiring managers don’t like having to download multiple attachments, says Rubin.
One solution: create a free or low-cost professional website on Wordpress, Carbonmade or Contently, where you can house your portfolio, and include the URL on your resume.
Have three go-to interview questions prepared
During most job interviews, you have an opportunity to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions. The good news: you don’t need to exhaust yourself by trying to come up with unique questions for each interview. Dalton recommends these three:
What’s your favorite part about working here? “It doesn’t require the person to have to sum up the company culture,” says Dalton. Simply asking “what’s the culture like?” often leads to a generic answer.
How do you think the market will be different three years from now? “You’re asking for the person’s expert opinion and that shows respect,” says Dalton.
If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be? “You’re essentially asking the person why they’re good at their job, which is flattering,” Dalton says.