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The ABCs of job search

Job searching isn’t something you want to go into blindly, especially if you want to see results.

Establishing a clear set of goals and devising a plan are the foundation of a solid job-search strategy. Doing those things can help you stay organized and motivated and give you a feeling of achievement. Here are our Career Services team’s ABCs of job searching to help get you on your way.

Analyze your target

Never begin a job search without knowing what you’re targeting. For example, you may want a “better job” but haven’t defined what that means. Or you might say “I’m open to anything,” which can leave you aimless.

So, before you go on the hunt for jobs, define your target. Take some time to reflect on the following elements:

Geographic location: Where do I want to work?
Industry: What industries do I prefer?
Company: Which companies are within these industries and locations?
Occupation: What type of work am I interested in doing (e.g., customer service, HR)?
Job titles: Which job titles best match my skills and preferences?

By setting some parameters for your search, you can be deliberate and efficient with your activity.

Be strategic in your approach

Most job seekers approach their job search one way. They look at job postings, polish their resume, apply, and wait for a response. Rinse, recycle, repeat.

Instead of just searching for job postings, create a list of at least 10 companies you want to target. Identify people who have knowledge of those targeted companies. These could be people you already know, but it will likely require you to expand your network, which you can do by using LinkedIn to find relevant contacts.

Next, let people know you’re interested in learning more about their experience with the company and request 20 minutes for a phone call or Zoom chat. Not everyone will agree to it, but these conversations are the key to gaining valuable insights about what a job is really like on a day-to-day basis or any specific challenges the team is facing.

This type of strategic networking enables you to get a sense of your fit with the company and the role before applying.

Cultivate a network of advocates

Through your networking efforts, focus on asking for advice and information, not jobs. Networking is an opportunity to create professional friendships, so show genuine interest in people, listen to their stories and plan to keep in touch.

With an authentic approach to networking, you may be able to inspire people to provide word-of-mouth referrals, so you aren’t applying to a job cold. Or, if a job is not yet posted and you learn through your networking efforts that a position may soon be available, you could reach out to a hiring manager and introduce yourself. Use the introduction to request an exploratory conversation about current or future career possibilities.

You may have reservations about networking, but remember: You have skills and strengths that can help employers achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. By reaching out, you are helping these employers find a solution to their challenges more quickly. Hiring managers love having a network of great-fit candidates for current and future opportunities because good talent is hard to find.

Deploy, organize and track your applications

One of the most common ways job seekers get derailed is by having no system in place to stay organized and on track. Research shows that scheduling time to complete goal-related activities can double or triple your chances for success. That’s a great reason to use a calendar and tracking system for your job search.

A calendar, like Microsoft Outlook2 or Google Calendar3, is vital for tracking appointments related to your job search, such as networking meetings and interviews. You can also use a spreadsheet for organizing and tracking applications. Consider tracking the following:

• Date you applied
• Company name
• Position
• Company contacts

Staying organized will help you remember where you’ve applied, so you are focused and prepared to discuss opportunities when recruiters call you back.

Expand your skills

When you aren’t networking, improving your LinkedIn profile4 or applying for jobs, you should be building your skills. If you need to fill skill gaps to be competitive for the roles you’re targeting, you can quickly upskill by taking a LinkedIn Learning course or find skills-based volunteer opportunities through

In the COVID-19 era, you should also work on your skills in video interviewing and using videoconference software, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Add these skills and experience to your resume as you build them up.

Did you know you can search current job postings on PhoenixLink? To access the job board, go to MyPhoenix and click on the career tab to search through current job postings.

2 Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the U.S.
3 Google is a trademark of Google Inc.
4 LinkedIn is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corp. and its affiliates in the U.S. and/or other countries.
5 Catchafire is a registered trademark of Catchafire, Inc., a Delaware corporation.
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