Looking For A Job In A Fast-Paced World

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Looking for a job can be an exhausing and stressful experience when it doesn't have to be. We've put together four tips you should keep in mind when you're on the search!

Looking for a job – either after studies or following a thorny career path – is by all means a stressful experience, full of anxiety and uncertainty. Back and forth email conversations with recruiters become kilometres long – and still lead nowhere, fuzzy guru advises to ‘follow your passion’ and ‘do what you love’ not only bring little help but severely clash with parents’ wisdom of ‘find any job and hold onto it’, and on top of that the number of open positions as well as job search websites is easy to get lost in… Yes, you’re right, I’m not saying it would be painless, however, the tips in this article may provide you with some shortcuts on the way.

#1 Choose The Battlefield

I remember becoming rather tired of answering – sometimes several times during the evening! – the question ‘what do you want to do in your job?’. Nonetheless, it’s a useful exercise to actually define your targets and choose the weapons. Even if you’re a genius with a couple of PhDs in hardcore maths and English literature at the same time, don’t go too broad, or you’ll get buried under the pile of potential occupations. Don’t leave just one or two roles for yourself either, as many positions, which are in fact a good fit for you, might be overlooked.

Instead, first think of an ideal environment, where you want to work and – most importantly – feel comfortable and appreciated. That will determine the scale and scope of your potential employer. Then, investigate the type of positions, which the person with your skill set could occupy there, both considering the size of the firm (smaller ones may get many functions outsourced) and the industry specifics. Read through the job descriptions for such positions, which in turn would help you to understand the pains of potential employers in your area of expertise, the key skills and capabilities they need, and what your next steps in these companies could be.

It also never hurts to familiarise yourself with the industry and companies’ news and latest trends by keeping up-to-date with the help of magazines, market reviews and reports (PwC, J.P. Morgan, KPMG – strategic and analytic divisions of these giants regularly publish detailed reports for free), tweets and LinkedIn updates as well as relevant meetups and events.

#2 Good Old Networking

Quite possibly, you’re sick of this word already, because literally everyone recommends that when it comes to job search. Yet while ‘networking’ itself is an extremely useful concept, it’s as much a broad one. Be aware that most positions never make their way to the company’s careers section to say nothing of the job boards, instead being referred to and filled through word-of-mouth and connections. Your goal is to penetrate this value chain and become visible to such ‘connections’ in order to get remembered and recommended. So, to narrow down your scope, first, choose the events you attend and communications you establish very thoroughly, don’t spread yourself thin.

Once you have the right decision-maker right there, always remember that for now you hold the weaker position and possess less negotiation power than our vis-à-vis. So to convert just a networking beer-talk into a meaningful connection, it’s vital that you obtain the contact details of the counterparty, and not vice versa, as it’s you who needs something from them at the end of the day. The truth is, even when they have your email, they’re unlikely to come back, so take the initiative into your own hands. Don’t forget to follow-up with the new acquaintance, quick, while there’s still a chance that they remember you well. However, don’t go mad with keeping in touch, it’s a major turn-off. Arrange a coffee catch-up and take it from there.

#3 Ditch Automatic Applications

Forget the ‘Apply now’ button, I’m serious. Of course, it’s not totally hopeless and sometimes recruiters do come back to you, especially in smaller companies. But the success ratio is so negligible that it makes filling in endless application forms (which even startups with ‘liberal culture’ and ‘flat hierarchy’ are implementing nowadays) and spending hours of research to compose a cover letter a total waste of effort. Some recruiters directly admit that they don’t even look at the applications received that way or devote down to no time to flip through plethora of CVs. How to communicate the message about your competence and brilliance to them?

Well, the first thing is, it’s not the recruiter’s attention you need to attract but the hiring manager’s, who (ideally) is your potential boss. This is the person, who you can, and should, speak in the same professional language with. Only once he or she is satisfied, the real recruiting process kicks off. So don’t waste your breath on writing impersonal cover letters, find the hiring manager’s email (through Linkedin or by guessing, which isn’t that hard, believe me!) and dedicate the same amount of research to compose what one of HR-gurus Liz Ryan christened a ‘pain letter’. If the person is hiring, there’s a ‘pain’, and providing you identified this problem correctly, pointing at the same time at your skills and achievements, which could help the company to resolve it, you get the attention of your future boss!

A bit of advice concerning emails. First, choose your timing carefully: when you’re unoccupied, it’s easy to forget about working hours, so even if your addresses are staying in late, send emails to them after lunch the latest, and don’t even try Friday nights and weekends – just imagine the number of messages they’d have to go through on Monday morning! Second, I cannot recommend highly enough creating a professional-looking email signature – even if you’re a current/recent student looking for a first internship. Your full name, contact details and links to Linkedin profile plus blog/portfolio are the must-haves.

#4 Be A Star

Last but not least, in short, maintain active – and valuable! – online presence. LinkedIn, as a still-supposedly-professional social network, offers huge possibilities to make yourself visible through careful profile filling and management, following interesting companies and influencers, participating in relevant group discussions as well as commenting on trending articles and updates. Adding pieces of media to the ‘Education’ and ‘Experience’ will make your professional story much more engaging that two dry pages of CV ever could.

If you have a blog or a personal website, that’s even better for your personal brand – provided they store high-quality content and are updated regularly. The thing is to promote them, at least within your networking circle, and communicate the message across to potential employers. I suggest that you include it in your – masterfully composed, of course – email signature. The least demanding could also be having a Twitter account, where you interact with a similar network as on LinkedIn or StartUs but with a shorter feedback time. Oh, and there cannot be too much said about cleaning out everything that potential employer wouldn’t like from your online profiles!

All above mentioned things I used myself, developing some from scratch the hard way – only to find some of them already in the web afterwards. So, learn from mistakes of others and good luck!



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