Entering a job search is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you've ever had to look for a job, then you understand the emotional roller coaster that happens during this process. The highs of applying to potential dream gigs and getting called in for interviews will make you feel like you're walking on cloud nine – invincible, almost. However, the lows of not getting the job are enough to bruise even the strongest and most resilient of egos. To help you make the most of your job-search journey, here are three tips that will boost your candidacy and marketability so that you can land the job of your wildest dreams.
1. Be Patient and Strategic, Not Impulsive and Desperate
Heading into your job search without clear intentions is like going grocery shopping parched and famished – and, as we all know, nothing good ever comes from shopping on an empty stomach. (If you don't know, now you know.) Instead, first construct a plan that incorporates your skills, your expectations, and your short- and long-term career goals.
Be sure to take a day or two mapping out a career plan that reflects what you're good at and where you want to be. This is the time to be realistic about your qualifications, experience, and future. By doing so, you are less likely to make the all-too-common mistake of being a desperate, needy candidate who will take any old job that's thrown his way. Instead, focus on finding a career that aligns with your wants and needs, both professionally and personally, and head into your job hunt with the mentality that you're searching for a dream career, not a paycheck. (But don't forget that paycheck: PayScale's Salary Survey can help you figure out a salary range that's appropriate for your skills and experience.)
2. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Feeding off of the whole "don't be desperate and impulsive" thing, it's crucial to value quality over quantity when it comes to finding a lasting and fulfilling career. Far too many candidates make the mistake of assuming that casting a wide net when applying for any and all available jobs is the way to go; however, this mentality couldn't be more incorrect. Applying to tons of jobs blindly because you figure you're bound to land one is reckless and a great way to wind up back in the job-hunting world before you know it. It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting an employer – any employer, really – to call you back for a job interview because any job is better than no job, right? Well, not really.
Sometimes in life, beggars can't be choosers. Of course, if you're in a situation where you need to earn a paycheck to keep a roof over your family's head and food in their bellies, then, by all means, go out and earn a living – there's no shame in that whatsoever. But focus your long-term plans on building the career you want, and targeting opportunities appropriately.
3. Be the Talk of the Town, Not the Butt of the Joke
Your objective should be to woo recruiters and hiring managers, not give them another reason to trash a generic, boring resume. Start by giving your resume a much-needed update with these proven tips and tricks, and then work on creating a knock-out LinkedIn profile that elaborates on your experience, accomplishments, and referrals. While you're at it, be sure to clean up all of your social media profiles so that your personal life doesn't accidentally cause you to lose out on a dream career opportunity.
Last, but not least, one of the best way to get more hits than misses during your job search is to tap into your existing network and connect with as many professionals as possible – give them something good to talk about. In today's competitive job market, a personal referral seems to be the only way to get your foot in the door during a job search, so be tenacious in your networking. A great way to get the right people buzzing about you is to get word out that you're actively seeking "greener pastures" and humbly market your accomplishments, experience, and career expectations (unless, of course, you're conducting your job search undercover because you're employed).
Above all else, try to remain positive and be kind to yourself through this arduous and trying process. Job hunting is not easy or fun, and it's crucial to roll with the punches along the way. If, for whatever reason, you don't get chosen for a position you had your heart set on, then understand that it simply wasn't meant to be and move on. The worst thing you can do is get down and out about rejection and send yourself on a downward spiral of self-pity and negativity. Rejection is, unfortunately, a part of the game.
I will leave you with these pearls of wisdom as you embark on your job hunt: One door closes, another door opens, and what's meant to be, will be. Best of luck!
Related: 18 things successful people do
18 things successful people do in their 20s
Want to land your dream career? Use these 3 job search tips
When you're just starting to build your career, it can be difficult to arrange your days for maximum productivity.
While there are those who spend their 20s drifting without direction, there are others who are so afraid of failure that they take a job solely because it provides a comfortable paycheck.
But, says Quora user Rich Tatum, that job you're not interested in quickly becomes a career, and by the time you're 30, it's a lot harder to start pursuing your passion.
The key, says author Cal Newport, is to pursue something that you're passionate about and is valuable to employers.
A Bankrate survey of 1,003 people found that 69% of those ages 18-29 had no retirement savings at all. Twenty-somethings who don't have enough foresight to recognize that one day they're going to retire and need money to live on are missing out on years of money gained through interest.
Entrepreneur Aditya Rathnam writes on Quora there's no need to start investing too much, since you're just starting your career, but it's essential to take advantage of your company's 401(k) matching program, if one is available, and/or open an IRA account.
Seventy percent of college students graduated with an average of $30,000 in student-loan debt last year, but that doesn't mean that debt is somehow a badge of adulthood.
As each year goes by, it becomes harder to start a sustained exercise regimen, and harder still to recover from a late night of drinking.
While you're still young, says Quora user Mo Seetubtim, develop healthy habits that will set you up for the next phase of life. Enjoy your vices in moderation, eat well, and choose a workout over a happy hour now and then.
If you're an ambitious 20-something who thinks that adulthood means having things figured out, then getting fired from a job, ending a serious relationship, or having your company fail can be devastating. But the truly successful are able to learn from what went wrong and move forward all the wiser.
"Getting fired and waking up the next day as usual made me realize that failure isn't the end of the world. Getting dumped taught me the difference between a good and a bad relationship, something I already knew inside but refused to accept until the bad relationship was over," says Carolyn Cho on Quora.
Your 20s are a time to start building a network that will establish a foundation for your career. If you know that, it's a good idea to be on friendly terms with your boss, clients, and all of your coworkers.
Eventually, however, you're going to meet people you don't like and those who don't like you. That's normal, and not a sign that you should change yourself, as long as everything else is going well.
"Inevitably, someone will always dislike you. I wish I had figured this out a lot earlier and stopped trying so hard and worrying so much about it," says Cho.
While it's good to set career goals that keep you focused and motivated, you should avoid getting caught up in intricate five-year plans, Joe Choi says on Quora.
Author and investor James Altucher says that one of the main problems he's found among people in their 20s is that they get caught up in absolutes. He recommends keeping yourself flexible and open to new experiences. There's a good chance that the ideal life you envisioned for yourself at age 20 doesn't resemble the one that ultimately makes you happy at age 30.
"With no family to feed and no dependents counting on you, your 20s are without a doubt the years to take a leap and pursue your passion," says Jessie Goldenberg, who abandoned a promising media career shortly after college to start her own business, the successful mobile fashion boutique Nomad.
Of course, taking risks to the point of being reckless is as bad or worse a habit than suppressing ambition. Investor and "The 4-Hour Workweek" author Tim Ferriss recommends taking the time to think through how to recover should your attempt fail and then seeing if it's worth the risk.
Degrees from elite universities may make you smarter and help your reputation, but they won't count for much if you don't keep learning as you go.
Read as much as you can about your industry, and learn to develop skills that you probably never would study in a classroom, like "the abilities to assimilate, communicate, and persuade," Tatum says.
When you're just starting out, you probably don't have much disposable income. But just because you can't take a weeklong ski trip in Switzerland doesn't mean you should confine yourself to the space between work and home.
Your 20s, Shikhar Argawal says on Quora, are a time when "you are mature enough to go out on your own and immature enough to learn from others." Break out of your bubble as much as you can afford to, and don't ignore career opportunities far from home if they arise.
"Your college pals that you think will be your best pals for life? Some will still be there at 40, most will be living their lives doing their thing," writes Sutherland Cutter on Quora. As everyone is figuring out their lives, you'll realize that relationships take work to maintain.
It's worth staying in touch with former coworkers and buddies, though. The 1973 study "The Strength of Weak Ties" by Mark Granovetter of Johns Hopkins University found that the weak ties you share with acquaintances are most often the connections that get you ahead, since they have access to different networks and ideas from you.
Tech entrepreneur and author Ben Casnocha has worked closely with LinkedIn founder and chairman Reid Hoffman for several years and writes that the greatest lesson Hoffman taught him was "that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time around. You really are the company you keep."
There's no need for maintaining toxic personal or professional relationships out of loyalty.
Picking fights and holding grudges will make you miserable, Tatum says, whether that's in your personal or professional life.
You'll realize soon enough that your hard work won't always be recognized, either, Rahul Bhatt writes on Quora. But never let that be an excuse to be lazy or bitter.
Use the time when you're still single and without kids to take bigger risks than you otherwise would, but don't live recklessly.
A decision you make in a few seconds off an emotional impulse "can rob you of years of joy and happiness," Tatum writes.
Quora user Arpan Roy writes that as he looks back on his 20s, he's come to see that even though he loves his parents and appreciates their advice, it wasn't always the best for him.
As you grow older, you'll come to see your parents less as authority figures and more as people just doing the best they can. "After all, your parents are human, and humans are not correct all the time," Roy says.
The deceitful manipulation of others and sucking up to superiors can only take you so far — they're not the keys to a lasting, fruitful career.
"The truth has a way of rearing its ugly head, so the sooner you can come to integrity with yourself and the world at large, the sooner you'll be able to get working towards what you really want, who you really want to be," Arjuna Perkins writes on Quora.
"If I could go back in time, I'd introduce my 22-year-old self to a quotation by the writer Brian Andreas: 'Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life,'" Huffington Post cofounder Arianna Huffington writes on LinkedIn.
And if you are obsessed with your work — whether or not you love it — understand that you will actually be making yourself more productive by allowing yourself to enjoy life.
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