A Simple Guide to Finding Your Next Job

It’s time to look for the next job, eh? I feel for you. Finding a job sucks. It’s one of those things that everyone must do at some point. I equate it to looking for love. Every aspect of “you” is on display. When someone passes on you, it’s hard not to take it personally. Chin up my friend; we’ll get through this.

Who am I? Good question. I’m a software consultant, I’ve had three jobs, on average, each year for the last four years. I’ve been on both sides of the table in hundreds of interviews. I’ve learned what works and what does not.

1. Your Resume

Before you start applying for jobs a good resume is a must. A resume speaks to who you are and what value you offer an employer. Your resume is your ticket to an interview. In fact, the sole purpose of a resume is to get an interview.

This is so important; I need to repeat it: “The sole purpose of a resume is to get an interview.”

Resume Tips
There is always an urge to fib a little, who will know, right? Don’t lie on your resume. I’ve interviewed candidates who padded their resume with skills without knowing how to explain or perform these skills. I’ll add a caveat and say that your resume needs to be a simple read. If you held a position called System Analyst III, which had the responsibilities of a Senior Software Engineer then change the title to Senior Software Engineer otherwise, a prospective employer would decipher your job titles instead of checking your qualifications.

Compare your resume to the job description. Make sure your resume is a good fit for the position. Sometimes this might require moving some items around on your resume to highlight the desired skills for the position.

A little statistic: On average, a hiring manager will look at your resume somewhere between 3 and 15 seconds. Make that time count!

Keep Your Resume Updated
Even when not looking for a job, it’s good to update your resume. When the time comes to hand out your resume, you won’t be left trying to remember your accomplishments.

Your Resume’s Presentation

Chefs know presentation. A meal that looks unappetizing, regardless of taste, goes uneaten.

Make you resume visually appealing. It needs to be clean, consistent and well structured. It might behoove you to hire a designer. You want your resume to standout from the rest. Be mindful of the audience. A graphic designer’s resume looks entirely different than a database engineer’s resume.

2. Getting an Interview

Your resume is polished. It’s time to start applying for positions.

I start with the following sites:

Dice
This is my go-to site for technology-related positions. Recruiters or companies will see your resume. The downside to a large job site like Dice is recruiters will inquire about positions outside your geographic area or they will inquire about positions not matching your skill-set.

Careers Stackoverflow
This is the cream of the crop. Companies posting positions on Careers are looking for the best and the brightest. I’d pay close attention to these companies.

Craigslist
This is a hit or miss. Some of the postings are good; others are not. It’s still worth a look. You might find a great opportunity.

Indeed.com
Indeed searches many companies and job sites. They discover jobs not usually found on other popular job sites.

Linkedin
If you are not a member, sign up now! It’s the Facebook of the professional world. There is a search that will return positions not found on the other sites.

Friends and Family
Put the word out with your friends. You’ll have more credibility if you are recommended by someone the hiring manager already knows. I put a signature at the bottom of my emails stating what I do and how to contact me.

Cold Calling Companies
I’ve never done this, but if you have time on your hands why not?

Recruiters
Companies tend to hire agencies to find upper-level management or highly technical candidates. It’s good to check with a recruiter if possible build a relationship with a couple of them.

Finding the right job takes time. It’s not uncommon for the search to take a couple of months or even a year. Don’t get discouraged. Take a temporary position if you must, and do your best to keep your skills sharp while you keep looking for a permanent position in your field.

Recruiters are sales people. Their job is to convince you to take the position. Recruiters will try to talk your rate down. It’s their job! Be ready for it.

Know Your Value
Know your value, go to salary.com or glassdoor.com to find the rate of compensation in your area. I have friends who make over 200k a year. When the market says, they should be making 100k a year. How do they do it? They know their value and stick to their guns when pressured. On the downside, occasionally a position is lost. Someone who needs a position might not want to risk losing an opportunity. Taking a lower rate might be the best thing for your situation. This is something only you can determine.

Know What Positions You’ve Applied To
Track where you have applied, it can benefit you in two ways. First, applying to a position twice gives the appearance of an unorganized person and second, you can follow up with companies where you’ve applied.

3. The Interview

Congratulations! You have an interview!

The interview is the most important part of the job hiring process. It’s also the most nerve-racking. To have a successful interview, confidently articulating your ideas is a must. This is, of course, easier said than done. Being prepared will help immensely. This starts with knowing your resume inside and out. Expect questions on every aspect of your resume. If you are nervous in interviews, practice interviewing in front of a mirror or with a friend.

When responding to questions, make your answers concise. If you don’t know the answer, don’t waste time talking about something you don’t know. An interviewer can spot this a mile away. Instead, simply say “I don’t know”. Sometimes you may have an educated guess, share this with the interviewer.

Interviewing is a two-way street. The company is evaluating you. Use this time to do the same. Always put together a list of questions to ask during the interview. The list should include questions on their development process, the position’s responsibilities, the project, the work environment and the company policies (i.e. hours, telecommuting, etc.). The aim is to walk away from the interview with an understanding of the company, the position’s expectations and the goals of the project.

Unfortunately, sometimes your best just is not enough, there are candidates out there that are better qualified (i.e. more education, more experience…, etc. ). There is nothing wrong with this. It happens. Don’t let it get you down.

Following Up
Most companies will give feedback within a couple of days. If you don’t hear from them within a week, reach out to your contact and inquire about the status of the position.

In Closing
Searching for a job is challenging. It may take many interviews to land the right position.
When you do not see the results you expect, don’t be afraid to change up your strategy. Most importantly, stay positive. This can be hard at times, especially when you receive rejection letter after rejection letter. When you do finally land the position, it will be worth it.

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