How to apply to jobs: introduction
In the fall and early winter of 2011, I applied to a handful of jobs each week, and managed to land about 1-2 interviews a month. Since the start of 2012, I have changed my strategy and have had 1 to 2 job interviews every single week using the techniques I shall list here for your benefit. The important thing to do when job searching is to avoid stress and anything that will delay you from applying for more, including the letdown feeling that follows rejection. What to do after an interview fails will be the topic for another day. Today, I want to write about how to reach employers.
Step 1: Create multiple resumes.
Your resume is a big deal. It’s the most important part of the process. The important thing is, the resume should appeal to the job you are applying to. If you tried to tailor your resume to suit each and every job, it will simply take too long and wear you down quickly. Instead, create a different resume ahead of time for each type of industry, profession or career you’re applying for. In my case, I have had experience in retail and in the food industry, so I have created a separate resume for both. The other thing you want to do is print off as many copies as you can of your resumes, and always keep a few handy. That way, if you’re driving along and you see a now hiring sign, you can breeze right in and give them your resume without running the risk of a malfunctioning printer. If you lack a computer, printer, or printer ink, then email your resume to yourself and print it off at your local library (there’s sometimes a ten cent charge at the most per page).
Step 2: Know Your Strengths
When you have your resume in order, the first places you want to apply to are ones you have direct experience in. As I mentioned before, I have worked in retail and in the food industry, so when I’m looking for work, I hit up those two job types first. If you’ve tried that and had no success, try applying for things you have some degree of experience in. For example, although I didn’t go to college for a communication degree, I do have communication skills that come from doing things like writing blogs and essays. Something to keep in mind: what were you good at in high-school or in college? Usually, if you can come up with at least three types of work you have experience in, you won’t run out of places to apply to on any given day.
Step 3: Know Where To Look
When I was younger and first looking for work, I applied at all the places I wanted to work at, places like book stores, music stores, theaters, good restaurants and so on, but never got anywhere this way for the simple reason that these places weren’t actually hiring. Jobs always say they’ll keep your resume for 6 months, but I’ve never heard back from any of these. If a job takes more than a month to get back to you, it’s safe to assume they never will. You want to look for places that actually have openings. What I used to do was wander around malls looking for now hiring signs every few weeks. I recently found out there’s a much easier way to do this: look up the mall’s website. Oftentimes, malls will put out a whole list of every place that’s hiring within.
Step 4: Know Where to Look Online
Like I said in step 3, in my experience, if a place isn’t hiring, it’s usually a waste of time to apply there, and the same goes for company websites. What you want to use instead are sites that specialize in showing you who is looking for new employees. The big one is Craigslist. The jobs on Craigslist are updated each and every day, and at least once a day I’ll check out what’s new. The postings are all from companies or small businesses that are actively seeking new people. The problem is, a lot of second rate stuff appears on Craigslist. Sometimes weeks will go by where there’s nothing at all of interest or relevant to my experience on the site. There are other sites out there too worth checking out. Indeed.com is one of my favorites. For this site, you type in what type of work you want and what area you live in, then it sends you a long list of leads. An even better site is careerbuilder.com. Since so much of applying for jobs is writing the same thing over and over, Careerbuilder takes the boring part out of the equation by allowing you to send your resume to several similar jobs at the same time. Yesterday, I applied to 15 jobs on Careerbuilder in just a few minutes.
Step 5: Whenever Possible, Apply in Person
From my experience, when I apply in person, I am much more frequently called back for an interview than when I submit my resume online. If you see a store with a sign out, ask them if they’d rather receive an application in paper form or have you fill out a form online. If the answer is either, opt to give it to them in person. For one thing, some employers receive so many emails that your submission gets lost in the inbox, but if you have something in paper it’s more likely they’ll glance at it. In the past three months, I’d say 1 out of every 3 places I apply for in person will call me for an interview.
Step 6: Don’t Let the Process Get You Down
One of the biggest hindrances I faced in the past was that, after an interview didn’t turn into a job, I’d feel lousy afterwards and sulk for a while, delaying the application process. The other problem was, after every interview, I’d wait around for a few days in hopes they’d call and say I got the job. Sometimes it takes employers a whole week to get back to you with a rejection, and sometimes they don’t offer you closure at all. The right attitude is to say it’s their loss, then apply to more jobs. Now, after having an interview, I’ll apply to more jobs the very next day, and not waste time by waiting for a response. If you do get a job, you can just say no to the jobs you applied to afterwards.
Step 7: Update your resume
Whenever something new happens to you in terms that could apply to a career, update your resume. For example, if you receive a promotion at your current job, put that on your resume, or if you do some volunteer work or find self-employment, include that too. It’s also important to double check your resume from time to time and see if your information is correct. One mistake I belatedly noticed was that my old resumes contained an old email address that I almost never use anymore thanks to a profusion of junk mail. I then changed it to my current one, but I shudder to think of how many opportunities I may have missed thanks to this blunder.
If you found this article helpful, you might also like my guide to keeping yourself entertained while job searching.
If you do these seven steps while job searching, and do them frequently, you should be having interviews any day now.