Thank you, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, for sponsoring this post. Check out awesome job opportunities on their website!
We are living in unprecedented times. A lot of industries have turned upside down, people have lost their jobs and human interaction has changed drastically. So how does one approach job searching these days? And it is possible to find a role that you love, that will be the right career move and one that will fulfil you?
I’m not going to lie, it’s more challenging these days because things are shifting fast. However, it is absolutely possible. In fact, there are a ton of companies hiring out there, you just need to look for them and find the right opportunities for yourself. Let me walk you through a framework I’d recommend adopting in this process:
This is the perfect time to check-in with yourself and where you’d like your career to grow. Use this moment to reflect on what you would enjoy doing and recalibrate your direction if it’s off track.
Think about what environment you would like to work in and what you’d like your day to day to look like. Which direction would you like to grow in professionally and personally. Think about what you would like your life and career to look like in this next chapter. Journal to work through your thoughts, really visualising the different aspects of your professional and personal lives.
2. Identify the direction you want to take
Once all of that stuff is on paper, look for patterns and clues on what direction you would like to take professionally. There can be more than one at this point, let’s explore all of them at this time!
After that’s clear, identify your non-negotiables – the things you need to have in a workplace. Write them down for later.
3. Understand the job market
Now that you have a better understanding of what you’re looking for in a job, let’s look at what’s out there. Search for opportunities in the fields you’re pursuing, making a list of the ones that sound interesting to you. Make sure you check out the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority job board as there are a ton of open positions available!
The reason we’re doing things in this order is because we want to find you a job that will fit your interests and ambitions – not vice versa. I get a lot of questions on how to decide between professions and I always encourage the person to start with themselves first. Once you understand what direction makes you light up, you can start looking for a role that will fit that. Not the other way around!
4. Do your research
You’ve made a list of interesting roles, now it’s time to do your research! Research the roles themselves and the companies that are hiring. You want to make sure that company culture and policies reflect your non-negotiables and provide the environment that you’ll enjoy working in.
Learn more about the roles themselves: what do they entail, what does success and the day to day look like? This is a great opportunity to filter out the ones that don’t feel right to make a short list of opportunities you’ll be applying for.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and network with people who work at the companies you’d like to work for and/or in the roles that you’re interested in. This is the best way to learn more about what it’s like to work there and what they’re looking for in candidates.
5. Fill in the gaps
Once you have your short list of jobs you’re interested in, identify your skill and experience gaps for each of them. See if some of your skills can be transferable – could you use them to fill those gaps? Look for how you can close the other gaps – can you do online courses, take certifications, take on some projects? If the role is more senior and you need more experience, what jobs should you look for in the interim to get that experience?
At this stage we’re trying to get your resume to fit basic requirements of the job descriptions you’re interested in. However, you shouldn’t take those as prescriptions and only follow those – during your research you should have identified the real needs these companies have, beyond job descriptions.
One more note on this post, don’t over stress about being perfectly qualified. Research by Harvard Business review shows that women don’t apply for jobs unless they’re 100% qualified for a role, while men apply for them if they meet 60% of the requirements. Keep this in mind and don’t get too carried away by trying to be the perfect fit.
When you feel ready to start applying, make sure you first update your LinkedIn profile and Resume. Ensure that your contact details are correct and that you follow general Resume best practices – I’ll share a separate post on this soon! This is the foundational work that will make your life so much easier when applying for different jobs.
Here are some tips for applying to jobs:
Customize your Resume for each opportunity, highlighting your transferable skills. You’ve done all this research, show your preparedness!
Use your network
Engage your existing network and each out to people and ask for referrals. Some companies give out referral bonuses when they end up hiring a candidate an employee has referred, so that’s a win-win for both of you!
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
Don’t apply for only one opportunity, diversify your chances of getting a job. That’s why we’ve made all of those lists and shortlists! Continue researching and adding companies and roles to that list as you keep on applying.
Don’t get discouraged
Job searching is a numbers game. You will inevitably hear a few “no’s” – that’s part of the process! Don’t get discouraged by that and keep going.
Use this time wisely
If you have some extra time, take on some freelancing projects in the meantime. Preferably in the area that will help you fill the biggest gaps in your Resume and make you an even more desirable candidate.
I hope this framework was useful, let me know if you’re changing careers or if you’ve decided to move in the same trajectory you were on before. If you have any advice you’d like to add, please do so in the comments.
Again, don’t forget to check out the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority job board as that place is booming! There are a ton of awesome opportunities for anyone, make sure you take advantage of those job postings.
Good luck with your job search, I truly believe that you can find something that you love out there!