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3 Tips For Your Next Job Search
Part 1 of 3: Job Search, Application, & Interview Tips
This is Part 1 of a three-part series on job searching, applying, and interviewing.
Subscribe below to read Parts 2 & 3 when I publish them.
Before I share my tips on searching, applying, and interviewing for jobs, I want to give the following disclaimer. This is what has worked for me in the Tech and Software Engineering industry. In recent job searches, I’ve applied for roles as a Software Engineer, Tech Lead, and Engineering Manager. For these roles, your technical skill set and work experience are probably the most important factors in determining whether a company will want to interview you. Other industries might care more about college degrees, certifications, licenses, or how well you write.
There is no magic formula that will convert job applications into job interviews. You have to be willing to try different strategies and approaches and see what works for you. However, regardless of the industry you work in, I believe some of these tips will help you!
Manage your search
If you’re actively looking for a job, you need to follow some process. Your goal is to get interviews, and when you do, you will be glad that you have one source of truth to rely on to manage those interviews. Whether you’re applying to 5 or 50 jobs a week, having a system to manage your applications and interviews will help you stay focused on your goal of getting a job and keep your stress level and mental health in check.
Discover the power of Notion
The productivity tool I recommend for this is Notion. In a matter of minutes, you can create a free account, set up a job search database, and have one place to manage all your applications and interviews. Here is an example of the template I created.
If you use a template like this, you can create a document for each job application and the fields from it will show up as a row in a database table on Notion. You can manage all the information about the job application, including notes from your interviews, in this document. And since it gets added to your job search database, you can quickly compare key information from all your applications in one place. Of course, you can use other tools to manage your applications and interviews, but Notion does this so well that I honestly wouldn’t use anything else. I highly recommend using Notion. Most of the fields above are self-explanatory, but I’d like to highlight a few of them.
Keeping track of where you found the job post is important for a couple of reasons. First, it will clue you into which sources are fueling your applications. If some of them rise to the top, you can make sure to start there every time you sit down to search. And if possible, you will want to create job alerts for those sources too (more on that in the next section). Second, companies often ask, “How did you find us?”. If you’re keeping track of this, you can tell them exactly how.
I used the statuses above for every job opportunity I tracked. By doing this, you can quickly glance at the table and know which stage you’re in for every job. And you can filter on this status in case you want to focus on just the jobs you need to apply for or the companies you’re interviewing with.
Next Interview Date & Info
When you’re juggling multiple interviews a week, it helps to know exactly when the next interview is and who you’re meeting with. In the Info field, I would usually write “2 - Zoom with Scott, Hiring Manager”, for example. That would let me know I’m in the second step of the interview process and I will be having a Zoom meeting with Scott, the Hiring Manager.
This field is for capturing the name of the person that you contact on LinkedIn about the job. This will most likely be a recruiter, hiring manager, or person you know at the company. In Part 2 of this series, I will explain how you can use LinkedIn to grow your network and increase your chances of getting interviews.
Is there a salary range on the job post? Did you include a salary range on the application? Did you talk about the salary range in an interview? That’s what this field is for. It’s important to distinguish whether the range comes from you or them. When it comes up, you’ll be prepared to discuss it and know exactly whether you gave the company a range or they gave you one. And if the field is empty, you’ll know to ask about it.
This field is a progress bar ranging from 0 to 5 and it measures how excited you are about the job. When you’re applying to a lot of jobs and interviewing with several companies, it’s nice to know what your level of excitement is. This can determine which opportunities you want to concentrate on. Also, it’s normal for this number to go up or down during the interview process.
Follow your process
I completely understand how time-consuming it can be to manage your job search. If you’re applying to dozens of jobs a week, creating a document for every job application with Notion does take time, but it’s worth it. You can decide for yourself how much you want to track. You might want to add every job application to Notion. You might only want to add applications that convert into interviews. The point is you now have a process and a way to manage the rollercoaster of finding a job.
Subscribe to job alerts
This might sound like a no-brainer, but sign up for job alerts! Doing so will give you access to new job posts and you can easily scan for new jobs you might want to apply to from the comfort of your inbox. Most job boards allow you to subscribe and receive emails when new job posts get added. Websites like LinkedIn and Google allow you to create alerts and get emails daily or weekly if jobs match your alert. I recommend daily email alerts. If you see a job you’re really interested in, you can make it a priority to apply as soon as possible. I’ve had recruiters contact me to schedule an interview because I was one of the first to apply. I’m not a recruiter so I don’t know how they approach screening applications when there are hundreds of them, but it doesn’t hurt your chances of getting an interview by applying early.
Utilize Google & LinkedIn
By far, I found most of the jobs I’ve applied for on Google and LinkedIn. Google aggregates posts from a lot of job boards, including LinkedIn. So if you create an alert for Customer Success Manager roles, for example, you can be confident that Google will search the internet and find relevant job posts. Also, this can introduce you to some lesser-known job boards and places where you can also search for jobs. Many companies post jobs on LinkedIn so it makes sense to look there. Furthermore, while you’re reading a job post on LinkedIn, you can view the company’s page, learn more about them, and even see if you have any connections who work at the company.
Your mental health comes first
Let me say that again. Your mental health comes first. Notice that I didn’t say second or third? Searching for a job is exhausting. It impacts your mind, body, and soul. It’s a full-time, unpaid job that comes with few certainties and many unknowns. It’s also an emotional rollercoaster that will take you from the highest mountaintops to the deepest valleys, sometimes on the same day. If you want to make it to the end of the rollercoaster, you have to put yourself and your well-being first. Here are some ways that I prioritize my mental health during a job search.
When searching for a job becomes your full-time job, it’s easy to spend hours in front of your computer. From scrolling through job boards and updating your resume to filling out job applications and actually interviewing, your time and energy will disappear fast. That’s why it’s important to physically and mentally step away from your computer often. Take breaks. Go outside and get some fresh air. Sit down and eat a meal. Work out. Fire up the next episode of that show you’re watching. Spend time with your family and friends. Literally, do anything not related to the job search.
Breaks are essential for maintaining a healthy mind and body. Let’s face it. Filling out job applications is not fun. And getting rejected certainly isn’t either. Without breaks, those things will pile up and leave you hopeless. It’s impossible to know when the rollercoaster will end. So do yourself a favor. Take breaks and take care of your body so that you have the energy to stand when you reach the mountaintop and say “Yes!” to that offer.
Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you should stop growing your skills and learning. After all, you will most likely need those same skills for your next job. Find ways to continue using the skills you know best. Maybe that means working on a side project, doing some freelance work, or reading blog posts that can help you sharpen those skills. This is also a good time to learn new things. Take an online course. Read a book. Practice what you learn by building something, for example, a data table, a design, a project brief, or a web app. Doing all of this will keep your mind stimulated and your skills ready to use. Plus, you can talk about what you’re learning and building in interviews.
Most job searches take months, but it can feel like an eternity when rejections pile up and it doesn’t seem like you’re making any progress. You need to break up all the time you’re spending on your job search with mini rewards. A reward can be anything that makes you happy and gives your mind something positive to focus on. This could be eating your favorite snack, going to the gym, reading a book, or watching a show on Netflix. Sometimes you might feel like you don’t deserve a mini reward because you’re stuck in one of those deep valleys, but you absolutely do. Taking breaks and rewarding yourself will refuel your mind and body and renew your spirit, giving you the energy and focus you need to keep going.
In the second part of this series, I will share my tips on applying for jobs and getting interviews.
Subscribe below to read Part 2 when I publish it.
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