4 Ways to Get Job Search Ready

There’s nothing worse than a job search. Except for online dating. Yep. Now that I think about it, online dating is far, far worse. But not by much. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much the two things have in common.

Job searching and, “man searching” both involve a few of the things I hate most in life. Curating a shiny, summarized online version of myself. Talking about myself for an extended period of time. Putting myself on display for a complete stranger to pass judgment, fully aware of the high probability of rejection. Yet, if you’re single and crave companionship, online dating has become a necessary evil, just as regular job searching is a necessity for the ambitious, career-driven individual.

Luckily, unlike dating, job search preparation actually helps in that quest to find a perfect match. I’ve recently exited my own job-search-pit-of-despair and have collected a few of the tips I found to be the most helpful.

1. Define Your Personal Narrative

Take some time to reflect on your career journey and how far you’ve come. What makes that journey different from other potential candidates? What does it say about your strengths, skill sets and work ethic? I’ve found – as both a job seeker and a hiring manager – that it’s the twists and turns in an individual’s career that sets them apart. Your story about moving across the country for a short stint in nonprofit marketing is far more memorable than a long list of bullet points on a resume.

2. Update Your Resume

Once you’ve defined your career narrative, make sure it comes through in your resume. Is your resume a laundry list of industry buzz words OR does it tell a story about who you are and what you bring to the table? To avoid the laundry list conundrum, focus on simplification, formatting and personal flare. Make sure the most important information is front and center and remove unnecessary clutter. If you’re unsure about whether to keep an item on your resume or remove it, try comparing it to an aspirational job listing. Does the item in question help support a qualification for that job listing? If not, get rid of it. If you’re more than five years into your career, it might be time to let go of that National Honors Society reference. The one-page resume rule usually helps me in forcing simplification.

If you’re looking for template help, I’d check out Levo League’s Resume Builder. You can build and edit your resume on the go and it gives you useful career tips throughout the experience. As a non-designer working in a creative industry, I found Canva’s free resume templates to be extremely helpful as well.

3. Clean Up Your Digital Footprint

I recently read a Twitter thread arguing that you shouldn’t have to clean up your social networks when conducting a job search and that, if you do, you’re destined to end up at a soulless company that doesn’t appreciate your individuality. I don’t disagree entirely, but I also find it ill-advised to go into a job search without taking a sweep over your past public social media posts. If Timehop has taught us anything, it’s that what our younger selves posted on social media definitely does not reflect our current selves. Make sure your public social profiles are telling the right narrative about who you are as a person, both personally and professionally.

Also, kinda obvious, but you’re missing a huge advantage by not making your social content work for you. If you’re looking for a job in the creative industry, I can promise you that the recruiter WILL look at your Instagram profile to assess your taste level. Aiming for a job in digital marketing? They’ll be looking for your Tweets related to industry trends. Social media, when used in the right way, can be a valuable extension of your resume and LinkedIn profile.

4. Take Stock of Your Network and Use It

If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do is burden a mentor or someone you respect by asking for their very limited time. Yet, leveraging your network is probably the best way to get ahead in your job search. Mentors know your strengths and weaknesses and can, therefore, give you specific, actionable feedback. They can connect you to a broader network, make you aware of industry events and even recommend you for a position you never knew was available.

If you’re cringing at the thought of writing an email to a past colleague or an acquaintance, just remember this – for the most part, people want an excuse to help other people. It makes them feel good. Just remember to keep your request clear, realistic and respectful. I try to abide by the following recipe when reaching out to my network and it always helps alleviate my e-mail anxiety.

  1. Provide Context – specific information the reader/listener needs in order to answer your question. {Looking for a new position}
  2. Goal – what are you trying to achieve? {Looking for your feedback on updated resume}
  3. Struggle – what specifically is stopping you from achieving your desired outcome? Why do you think they could help you? {I’ve never applied for a job in the advertising industry before. As someone who’s worked in advertising for 15 years, I’d find your thoughts invaluable}

Image via MyDomaine

Photo by Antasia Galka

Allie is a Minneapolis-based digital marketer, lucky enough to make a living by hanging out with really smart people and coming up with disruptive, technology driven ideas at space150. Her passions include traveling, coffee, books, feminism, obsessing over the dog she just saw on the street corner and trying not to blush at inconvenient moments.