Are you dying to escape a toxic workplace? Waiting for a salary increase that just won’t come? Still, reeling from a recent layoff?
Whatever’s got you back on the job market, you’re in good company: The market’s tight, and many applicants report a shortage of openings that fit their needs. If you need help with job searching, you’re not alone — and you should be proud of yourself for taking proactive steps to better your situation.
You’ve probably already tapped into some of the resources available to job seekers, whether that’s job boards, career coaches, or LinkedIn alerts. But that doesn’t necessarily make the process easier.
The thought of approaching employer booths at job fairs may make you cringe. You might be so overwhelmed trying to figure out which job boards to watch that you aren’t following any.
But if you want to overcome job search depression and bounce back from a job loss, keep pushing — the fact that you’re here means you’re determined, ready to learn, and interested in growing.
Let’s take a look at some job search tips to give you the edge you need to land a gig that’s a good fit (without burning yourself out in the process).
7 job hunting tips
Here’s the first thing you should know: there’s no one best way to find a job. Different strategies work for different job seekers in different industries. What works wonders for you and your career might have zero impact on the next person.
We know there’s a lot of information out there about how to find a job, and we’re about to lay more on you. Take it all in at your own pace and give yourself time to process what you think will help most.
When you’re ready to get back out there, these tips will work for just about anyone:
1. Don’t be afraid to apply in person
If your heart’s not set on applying to online jobs and you’re open to hybrid or on-site, why not apply in person? Reach out to local companies to see if their recruiters can meet to answer questions or chat about the company over coffee. These are often the people who hold the power to get you that interview you’re after. Landing on their radar is a smart way to make a good first impression and stand out to hiring managers.
2. Keep your resume updated
This one might be a no-brainer, but don’t neglect your resume, even if you’re unemployed. Add every relevant volunteer opportunity or certificate to help your resume stand out. If you feel your career gap’s something to hide, think again — most people have had a gap in their work experience.
And if you address it honestly, potential employers may even see your career gap as a plus. That was the time you spent learning. Once you land that job, keep updating your resume as new experiences and achievements pop up — you’ll thank yourself the next time you’re ready to hit the job market.
3. Tailor your application to each job
Don’t send the same boilerplate cover letter and resume to every job you apply for — you won’t get away with it. Big companies use applicant tracking systems to sift through applications and weed out candidates who don’t fit what the algorithm’s looking for.
Look closely at the job description and see what desired skills they list. Make sure you highlight the ones you share on your resume so you don’t fall through the cracks. Adjusting the phrasing of these skills or accomplishments to match the job’s requirements will help your application land on top.
4. Tidy up your social media
Like it or not, recruiters do look at social media. One Harris Poll survey even found that 71% of hiring managers consider social media an effective screening tool. Take a close look at what the public can see on your social media platforms, like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
Are your profiles an accurate representation of who you are? More importantly, is your content appropriate, or would a recruiter balk at your posts? Making your profiles private might help you limit potential employers from seeing anything you don’t want to share.
5. Hit up your network
Tap into your network to get yourself on the map. It’s a great way to learn about new job openings, get valuable career advice, and widen your perspective on your industry. Your network is full of other industry professionals, so chat them up — and don’t be too shy to say you’re looking for a new job.
If they know you’re looking, someone in your network might pass along a job listing that matches your interests and skills.
6. Be yourself
You have a great personality — let it shine. Walk into every interview (including the virtual ones) ready to convey your authentic character. Hiring managers want to know who you are as a person, not just as an employee. Keep it professional, but don’t be boring or passive.
Remember to smile and be personable as you answer interview questions. You’re not a robot, so don’t act like one.
7. Practice self-care
Inhale, exhale. You might finish the day feeling exhausted, drained, or anxious. But your personal mental health and well-being should always be top priorities. Incorporating self-care into your routine will help recharge your batteries as you look for a new job.
Consider taking a nice walk in nature, reading your favorite book, or listening to calming music — anything to help decompress after a busy day of job hunting.
Free online tools to help in your job search
Knowing where to look for jobs is half the battle. We’ve got a few free tools to suggest, but just a disclaimer: some offer paid memberships that give you access to bonus features and additional resources.
Their free features are still worthwhile, though. When you’re ready to start, try these six online tools to get your search off the ground:
Have you browsed LinkedIn’s job listings this week? You’re far from alone — a whopping 50 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week, leading to six hires every minute. A LinkedIn profile also serves as an online resume that’s far more interactive for viewers than a Word doc.
This site’s also a great place to network (potential employers love seeing that you’re well connected!) and finds timely articles about your industry and the job market.
Check out Glassdoor if you’re curious about a company’s size, culture, and salaries. Current and former employees can leave anonymous feedback about their experiences, helping you pick up on red flags before you get too deep into the process.
Glassdoor’s also handy for job interview prep since you’ll get anonymous insights from people who have been through the process with each company — you may even be able to see the specific interview questions they’ll ask.
Like LinkedIn, Indeed lets you upload your resume and experience as you look at job postings. Get into the weeds with filters on Indeed’s easy-to-search job board. Tailor your search to specific job titles, work-from-home positions — whatever matters most to you.
4. Job Resume Scanner
A strong resume will help get you past applicant tracking systems and into the hands of an actual person. But resume writing is an art form — and Job Resume Scanner can help. This resume writing tool reads algorithms and compares resumes to job descriptions. It’ll tell you if you need to use more keywords, switch up the formatting, or rewrite certain sections.
Like many tools we’ve touched on, CareerOneStop makes it easy to search for jobs by keyword and location. But the site also offers information on job fairs, interview tips, and more. You can also see which jobs are most in demand and what skills it’ll take to land them.
When in doubt, Google won’t fail you. The standard search engine is a good place to start, but Google Careers is the tech giant’s answer to the job site craze. It shows the most recent postings and saves job listings so you can revisit them later.
Job hunting is a full-time job
There’s no shame in needing help with job searching — you might think everyone else is getting job offers right and left, but most applicants dedicate a lot of time and effort to finding the perfect position.
We’ve covered the logistical side of job hunting. But before you try to pin down what to look for in a new job, identify your work values and career goals so you can articulate what’s meaningful and important to you. Keep your values in mind as you read job descriptions, write your cover letter, and talk to interviewers. Your new job should align with your values, not go against them.
Applying for jobs can beat you down. Build rest into your schedule — and be intentional with the types of rest you make time for. Keep your head up. Stay strong and patient. And above all, cut yourself some slack. Finding the right job takes time, but you can do it if you stay the course.