Job hunting anytime can be stressful, not to talk of during a pandemic. When I graduated in May 2021, at the peak of the pandemic, and began my job search, I kept in mind to take notes of what made the experience easier for me. I made it my focus to work smart while working hard to secure my first full-time job.
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Some of the things I’ll share in this blog post, I wish I knew earlier, while others, I learned along the way. In this post, I’ll share the importance of being strategic with Job posting websites, why you should have multiple resumes, how you can keep track of your job search applications, and how to spend less time on your applications. I’ll also provide a list of documents I recommend you start compiling as a way to stay productive ahead or while applying for jobs; that way you won’t be bored.
As usual, the list I provide in the early part of this post will only make sense if you read the full blog post but take a screenshot. After this blog post, I challenge you to complete at least two of this list per week.
My Job-Hunting Shopping Cart
Let’s dive in!
Job Websites: There are several websites to find jobs, however, over time, as I became more strategic, I began to realize the most responsive and valuable platforms. That way, I wasn’t just applying aimlessly. I used and tried several job platforms including industry and talent specific ones; however, my favorites were Idealist, Indeed and LinkedIn for the following reasons:
While the above are reasons I liked all the websites collectively, I had specific reasons for liking each website.
While I applied through several websites, I spent about ¾ of my time on these websites because I realized I was getting more interview requests and HR responses from the jobs I applied to through these platforms.
My Job-Hunting Shopping Cart
Here is an explanation and breakdown of my job-hunting shopping cart and portfolio.
At least 2 resumes of different structures and for diverse industries:
If you have fewer work experiences and job interests, having 1 or 2 resumes may be substantial for your job-search. However, as a polymath and someone who has explored diverse academic and career backgrounds, I knew it was in my best interest to have a “reach job” and other job interests that weren’t as ambitious, but I could accept and enjoy. I had a strong set of experiences to fill my resumes for a job in the following areas – college access, editorial in book publishing, talent acquisitions in human resources, and project management.
I kept my resumes to one page each. So, on my resume for college access related applications, I prioritized my higher-ed related experience like my work at Bronx Community College and student success roles. On my resume for book publishing applications, I prioritized my internships at Hachette Book Group, Simon and Schuster, and Elsevier. On my resume for talent acquisitions and project management, I prioritized my work at SprinNG where I scout for mentors to the fellowship and evaluate applications.
I arranged the experience on my resume chronologically so it would be easy for the recruiter to follow. I learned quickly that although I have a wealth of experiences, I shouldn’t overwhelm a recruiter by putting them all in one resume. I was also at an advantage because, I could write about the other experiences not listed on my resume relatively in my cover letter, diversifying the content in my resume and cover letter.
Finally, I followed the same pattern for cover-letters, having at least 2 cover letters ready-to-go for different industries. When I applied for jobs, all I did was a little tweaking to include company-related information.
1 Longlist of all my job experiences arranged chronologically:
When I started my job search, I didn’t envision applying to 285 jobs. Particularly, I began to feel displeased by time-consuming applications that would ask you to submit a resume, then in a different section, ask you to list all the jobs you have had in the past years. However, when I was at about my 50th application and starting to feel exhausted, I figured, there must be an easier, faster, strategic, and more effective way.
So, in a separate Word document saved on my laptop, I listed all my experiences in the past 5 years chronologically regardless of the industry. While not all jobs asked for this information, it came in handy for ‘copy and paste’ when I came across such tedious applications.
Here is the format I used for each job in the Word Document listing:
A list of 4 recommenders:
I had a list of four references – ready to go, just in case I finish a job interview and a recruiter expressed interst in reviewing my professional references. I reached out to my recommenders in advance of my job search asking for their permission and informing them of the kind of jobs I was applying to.
In a separate word document, I had the following information for each recommender:
The header of this document had my full name, phone number, email and LinkedIn link. That way, when I send it to the recruiter, they will identify it as my document.
I wrote and edited six letters for different job outcomes and scenarios. Besides being a writing practice, it made me feel prepared, hopeful, and confident of my approach to whatever situation I found myself. I sent the letters to my mentors for review, then saved them on my laptop. Here is a list of the letters.
One of the complements I received during my job search was that I responded promptly to messages. Even beyond having these letters, I am that person who keeps a folder of go-to generic messaging I can just tweak for several purposes.
One of the big advices I received at the beginning of my job search was to do informational interviews. While I agree informational interviews come handy in expanding your network and getting inside scoop on the hiring opportunities or timelines for different organizations, I was thoughtful about standing out to those I reached out to. As a result of the pandemic, there has been an overwhelming increase in outreach for informational interviews and I didn’t want to be lost in the mix.
Having five years of professional interviewing experience especially in the publishing industry, I knew how to ask extremely interesting questions that will not only give me insight to someone else’s career experience but make them curious enough about myself. Before doing informational interviews, I research the individual through LinkedIn, their company website, and sometimes other social media platforms if relevant. This background knowledge allows me to customize the interesting questions.
Overall, I did about 25 informational interviews while job-hunting and it was an easy experience because I had a document of interesting questions ready to select from before speaking with people.
Budget and Salary Education:
While completing my undergraduate education people repeatedly told me to “know my worth” so I won’t be low-balled in my salary offer. However, I felt that no one taught me specifically how to come up with that number or range that matched “my worth.” Now going through this experience, here is how I strategically came up with the number.
First, I identified the different locations where I was searching for jobs and willing to relocate. Then I researched the average salary for my four top job roles in those locations and created a personal monthly budget. Finally, I made a table identifying the following items:
People’s personal budget consist of several things, however, here is what I put in mine:
Adding up my personal monthly budget for each job and its location allowed me to know realistically the least salary I could settle for. It also helped me to project that with my experience, if all basic needs estimated are settled, how much more would I like to earn. So, there were two results – what I need to earn “least salary” and what I’d like to earn “reach salary” – based on research.
I ended up having to relocate to a new state after getting my job and I felt very prepared because I made these calculations and plans in advance.
Job Application Tracker:
I had a spreadsheet where I tracked my job applications listing the following information:
I hope you find this blog post useful and I wish you success in your career pursuits.