How to Start Your Next Job Search (7 Tips)

Starting a job search can be intimidating, regardless of whether you’re new to or a veteran of the process. Resumes, job boards, and virtual interviews quickly inundate your daily life. Each application brings a glimmer of hope, followed by weeks of waiting and possible rejection. However, when you land a great offer, the whole experience is worth it.

Zippia reports that the average job seeker will submit between 21 and 80 applications before receiving a job offer. These statistics aren’t so surprising when considering the advent of remote work options and crowded online job boards. People aren’t geographically limited to the jobs in their area, and it’s easier than ever to access new postings.

Preparation is the key to success, so we’ve compiled seven ways to help you start you job search and stand out in a competitive market.

How to Search for Jobs the Right Way

  • Know the right time
  • Assess your career goals and values
  • Get organized
  • Carve out time in your day to search for jobs
  • Refresh your LinkedIn and other professional profiles
  • Update your resume
  • Set up job alerts and notifications

1. Know When to Start Your Job Search

Before jumping into the deep end, consider whether timing is a factor. If you have a job and are committed to a specific project, you might wait to start your job search until your current responsibilities lessen. Working full-time while also job searching can be demanding, so don’t begin your job search until your work-life balance can handle the added pressure. But if you’re feeling unsatisfied in your current position or want to get ahead of potential layoffs, send out those resumes.

If you’re about to graduate, you can begin your job search early. The same goes for seasonal jobs. For these situations, you can apply for positions up to six months in advance. Just be aware of start dates and be transparent about your availability with employers.

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2. Assess and Define Your Job Goals and Values

Find time to assess your career goals and the type of company you hope to work for. If you’re currently in school, you can connect with a career counselor. Individuals in the workforce might seek the wisdom of a professional mentor. But find someone who can process your career aspirations with you.

Make a list of areas in which you won’t compromise. What are your compensation expectations? Do you want to work remotely or on a hybrid schedule? Are you aiming for a leadership role? Once you have a clear idea of your occupational goals and personal standards, keep those at the forefront of your job search. Don’t spend your time applying to positions that can’t fulfill your minimum requirements. Instead, intentionally use your time and effort for opportunities that support your goals. Be flexible but don’t over-compromise.

3. Get Organized

An organized job search will help you keep track of those 80 or so applications, reducing stress and mitigating errors. Before filling out your first application, create a job search spreadsheet. There are plenty of free examples online, and you can customize this tool in a format that works best for you. Every time you apply, keep track of the job title, a link to the job description, the contact information, and the date you applied. Add the date of your scheduled interview, the hiring manager’s name, and the date by which they’ll make a decision.

Staying organized will save you time in the long run and help you focus. You don’t have to pack your mind with the last names of your interviewers’ or the different job titles for which you’ve applied. Moreover, if you haven’t heard back in a few weeks, you’ll know exactly when it’s appropriate to get back in touch. Investing extra time to organize yourself will help you appear more professional and land a job sooner.

4. Schedule Time to Search for Jobs

Spend some time every day on your job search. Set aside a dedicated 30 minutes or more during which you browse relevant job boards, reach out to colleagues, or work on your application materials. Sticking to a specific daily window adds structure, boundaries, and personal accountability to your job search.

Set a realistic, measurable goal for each day. For example, you could work on updating your resume or send a follow-up email to an interviewer. Breaking down your job search into manageable steps will help you declutter your mind and stay positive.

5. Refresh Your Online Presence

Whether using LinkedIn or another networking or social media platform, ensure your profile is up-to-date. Even if you don’t include your profile URL in your application materials, there’s a strong likelihood that interested recruiters will search you online and find your pages anyway. Keep your profile picture professional and optimize your prior experience. You might also take a moment to curate your skills and endorsements. Emphasize those relevant to your career goals (you can probably remove Microsoft Word from the list).

In addition to your LinkedIn or other profile pages, take some time to update and trim your portfolio. Only feature your best work. Writers, artists, graphic designers, web developers, and other careers should submit a link to a collection of professional work alongside their other application materials.

6. Update Your Application Materials

Commit some serious effort to your application materials. Start with your resume. Is everything up-to-date? Are your work accomplishments front and center? Is the format professional? Recruiters receive hundreds of applications for the same posting, and the resume is often the first item they review. Keep relevant information at the top, and make sure to add links to your professional social media profiles or portfolio website.

Cover letters aren’t ubiquitous in the modern-day job search, but it helps to have a template that you can customize as needed for each job. Use language included in the job description. Be concise and professional. Express why you’re the best fit for the job, and then let your resume and portfolio speak for you.

RELATED: How to Update Your Resume in 2023

 7. Set Up Notifications

Online job boards are an excellent tool for job seekers but are often overwhelming and constantly updated. Find a way to make this resource work for you. Identify which job boards best serve your chosen career path; some occupations have specific platforms for job seekers in that industry. Then, use filtering functions to customize your search and identify only those positions relevant to your personal and career goals.

Nearly all major online job boards include a notification feature. The software can email you new postings that fit your interests based on your search results. Sign up for these helpful job alerts and check your email daily so you don’t miss out on an opportunity.

Find a Job with Insight Global

A successful job search takes careful preparation, organization, and time. Do the legwork from the start, and don’t rush the process. And when you’re ready, head over to the Insight Global job board, where you’ll find thousands of listings!