When you start looking for work, you’ll quickly realize there are thousands of options out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of direction. Many of the opportunities online are loose ends that will eat up your time, and doing so will add to the stress of securing a job.
Here are a few helpful pointers of how to narrow down the job hunt and start your career.
1. Narrow Your Job Search via Feedback
First of all, you need to know what you are looking for. Whether you are fresh out of college or trying to find a new challenge, it’s important to review your needs and ambitions regularly. You may even want to consult with those close to you, such as friends, family, and colleagues because often we aren’t even aware of our strengths.
If you consult with enough people, you will soon see what common themes appear. Ask them what they consider your special talent to be and what makes you stand out of the crowd. Also, be sure to limit any defensiveness when presented with the feedback, as this could be an important lesson in self-awareness.
You may simply have other strengths then you thought. Thank them and consider how this may open up new possibilities for you.
2. Searching for New Career Paths
Transitions are sometimes the result of dissatisfaction with a present job, rather than a longing to start a career. You may need to take a deep look inside and get reacquainted with yourself to find which new career path will make you the happiest.
Ask yourself questions, such as what kind of activities you like to do, what makes you lose track of time, what makes you feel excited about life, and what makes you bounce out of bed in the morning and be thrilled to start the day?
We get only one life, and it’s important not to let someone else dictate how you can live it. Of course, this has to be weighed against practicalities such as the bare minimum salary you need to maintain your lifestyle or feed your dependents, and how many hours can you work to pursue your new career.
The end goal may be further down the line, but you are the one calculating how much risk you are willing to take, and how hard you are willing to work to get there.
When it’s time for the actual search, start with the specific job title you have in mind before broadening your search to include related jobs. Make sure the job requirements and details fit your abilities and competencies. Trying to wing it is just never a good idea, as you lose credibility when found out, resulting in a waste of time for both you and your would-be employer.
Stating your goals, on the other hand, will translate to being ambitious and give your employer an idea of what you are looking for in the long run. Smaller or midsize companies can often expose you to a wider range of roles and responsibilities than larger companies can, which may be a good thing if you are transitioning into related areas and need more experience.
Also, consider temporary work or short-term assignments, as these alternative work experiences may provide an excellent ‘in’ to a company, or the chance to work on an interesting project that you can add to your resumé as a stepping stone on your new path.
3. Network Your Way to Success
The most successful way to start your career is through your existing network. Former colleagues who know you and your abilities will be great references, and it’s equally important to get the word out among friends and family—you never know who knows who, and your close ones will be your greatest advocates.
Volunteer networks and hobby organizations you belong to are likely to value your input, and social media groups are covering almost every line of work, as well as women’s networks, minority networks, and similar, which all offer great support.
Job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and individual company websites will likely land your resumé among hundreds of other job seekers, but one way of increasing your chances to be seen is to submit early. If the job posting is older than a week, the position is likely to have already been filled. Unless stated that applications will be accepted for a certain window of time, focus on new postings.
If you see the same ad pop up over and over again, it’s a bad sign. You don’t want to work for an organization that has trouble keeping a position filled. Also, make sure your own LinkedIn page or website is up to date for recruiters.
Remember, your dream job is out there if you can only keep your focus on it. Good luck with your job search! May you start your career really well.