The number one secret to a successful job search in these uncertain times is: patience. Yep, that’s right. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain a little.
You might be thinking, but I’ve got to put food on the table. Rent is due. I need an income, STAT.
Regardless of the urgency of your job search, it will take time to find a job. The exact amount of time depends on many factors. For example, how much time can you dedicate per day to find a job? How much effort are you willing to put in to build your network? Are you going to make your resume outstanding or just average?
I’ve been a career coach for nearly 20 years. Patience is probably one of the toughest job search skills my clients have had to master.
Below I’ll explain further why having patience can help you achieve a successful job search:
Making a long-term plan
If you’ve recently been laid off, you’re probably anxious to hit the ground running.
Are you re-entering the workforce after taking a career pause? You’re likely feeling a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and urgency.
The first thing you might be temped to do is start speed emailing your resume out to any and every job posting. But before you start applying for jobs, I encourage you to take a week or two if possible and really think about your long-term career goals.
For example, let’s say you were laid off from the hospitality industry. You have a couple options. If you are really passionate about working in hospitality, you might want to reapply for a job in your field once the pandemic subsides and the industry picks up again. However, in the meantime you still need income. Are you willing to wait out the storm and take a position outside your ideal field?
Or maybe you want to leave the hospitality field for good and make a career change. You will need to take time to asses your biggest strengths, passions, interests, priorities, and personality traits. In addition, you’ll want to research job trends to learn about which fields are growing and where you can best use your strengths and talents.
Another great option is to do temp, contract, or freelance work until you get something more permanent. This option keeps money flowing in while allowing you to network, sharpen your skills and avoid large resume gaps.
Whichever path you choose, taking time to set your long-term career goals is key. It will keep you motivated in your job search. In fact, a Harvard study revealed that graduates who took the time to write down their long-term goals, along with corresponding short-term goals, were more likely to have a successful job search.
Building & leveraging your network
It’s obvious the job market is over-saturated right now. It’s all about taking the time to set yourself apart from the competition. You can do this by networking and tapping into the hidden job market, or jobs that never even get posted. This is one of the key job search skills that few job seekers master.
LinkedIn is an incredible professional networking platform. If you’re not already on it, it’s free and only takes a few minutes to create a profile. From there you can add personal and professional contacts and join industry-specific groups to build your network.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you are targeting public relations positions. LinkedIn has groups like “Public Relations & Communications Professionals” and “Public Relations Specialists,” to name just two out of hundreds of groups related to PR. Once you join groups, be sure to share relevant articles and comment on and like others’ posts.
When you get more comfortable on LinkedIn you can reach out to professionals working at your targeted companies and ask for informational interviews. Informational interviews are short 15-20 minute conversations where you ask questions like: How did you get started in your field? What do you like (and not like) about your job? What are the biggest challenges facing XYZ industry?
Remember to always be gracious when networking. Make the conversation about your contact, not about what they can do for you. Send a nice thank you note after the interview and follow up every couple months or so.
Building your network takes time and patience. However, you will likely find a job quicker than if you simply send your resume out to hundreds of posted positions.
Targeting Your Resume
Once you figure out what your current career goal is, you want to tailor your resume to every single position you apply for. You might be thinking: why do I have to tailor a different resume to every job? What if I am applying for many jobs within the same industry?
Even if you are applying for similar jobs, every job has a very specific list of skills and qualifications, including keywords.
Print out the job description and highlight all the keywords and qualifications the employer is seeking. Next, do a “background check” of all of your related skills, qualifications, and accomplishments and be sure to include these items throughout your resume.
If you don’t have a specific skill that’s listed in the job description, brainstorm similar transferable skills. For example, let’s say the position calls for human resources experience. You haven’t worked in HR specifically, but you can browse human resources job postings to see related transferable skills. For example, written and oral communication, attention to detail, and efficiency are all important skills for HR professionals to possess.
On your resume don’t just list the skills, but give specific examples of how you have acquired them. For example: “Edited over 200 technical manuscripts in a six month period.” This demonstrates your strong editing and written communication skills, as well as attention to detail.
Once you get one well-written draft of your resume, updating and targeting it will become easier and less time-consuming!
Learning how to target your cover letter is also one of the toughest job search skills to master. However, doing it will also set you apart from the competition!
See related: Top Ten LinkedIn Mistakes for Moms Returning to Work
If you take the time to improve your job search skills early in the job search process, it will pay off in the long-run!