Starting the Job Search: Where to Begin

By Victoria Robertson on November 30, 2018

Beginning the job application process is overwhelming, challenging and, at times, frustrating, especially if you are joining the workforce for the first time. It can be a confusing time, as you’ve likely never done this before so it’s hard to figure out where to begin. But, the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that challenging. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake!

The first few steps are easy once you know what you’re doing, so, to help you when it comes to your job search, here are the first six steps in beginning the job application process.

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1. Craft a Resume

The first step in any job search is to craft your resume. While you’ve likely been developing this over the course of your college career, this is something you will want to perfect before you begin applying to places.

The best method for ensuring your resume is top-notch is to visit a workshop in which someone can look over your resume and give you pointers on whether or not it’s successful. Remember that crafting a resume is an art, and simply putting your experience on paper in a list isn’t going to cut it, so be sure to seek help from someone with experience in that regard.

2. Scour Job Boards

The job boards are going to be your best friend when you are looking to apply places. These are active postings that allow you to read through the job descriptions prior to applying and that don’t require you to look into specific companies.

These are great for finding positions you wouldn’t have otherwise known about, which will, in turn, help you to expand your search. You don’t want to limit yourself to one specific position or company, so these boards will help you open up other opportunities.

3. Develop a Targeted List

In addition to scouring the job boards, you will also want to develop a targeted list of top companies you are interested in. There will not always be an opening at the company that you want to get into, but this is a great way to send over a resume in case any positions open up and get your name out there.

Some companies will be receptive to this, others will not, but this targeted list will also help you to keep your mind open and ensure that you’re staying on top of any open positions at the companies that you want to work for.

4. Expand Your Title Search

Many individuals pigeonhole themselves into one, specific job title. This is ultimately going to limit your search, as plenty of positions are out there that are essentially the same, but under a different title. When searching job boards, use different search strings to come up with alternative positions.

Basically, keep an open mind in terms of what you’re looking for. If you’re joining the workforce immediately after college, you’re looking at entry-level openings anyway. For this reason, keep an open mind and remember that it’s about where you’re going rather than how you get your foot in the door.

5. Create Unique Cover Letters

One of the biggest mistakes students make when applying to positions is to create a cover letter that isn’t customized to the position. Essentially, when applying to a new position, your cover letter should speak to your experience as it relates to the job description at hand.

Therefore, every cover letter should speak to the job you’re applying for, in a customized manner. Each application will require a different cover letter, so prepare a general idea of what you want to say ahead of time, then customize that content for each position.

6. Practice Interviewing

Finally, and most importantly, you need to prepare for what comes after the application: the interview. While it’s impossible to entirely prepare for these, you can always practice interviewing to give yourself a competitive edge.

Going into a first interview without practicing is a risk, and it’s better to ask a friend or family member to mock interview you so that you are ready for difficult questions and know how to act under pressure. You can also visit a workshop that specializes in interview prep to help prepare yourself a little more.

Again, hunting for a job isn’t an easy task, and it’s a process that can be rather frustrating to begin. When you’re applying for the first time, it can be even more challenging, as you don’t have any previous knowledge to work with. These first six steps are a great starting point to get you pointed in the right direction to ease some of that frustration.

Plus, who knows, maybe these six steps could be the difference between you and your dream job!

Good luck everyone and happy hunting!

Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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