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Surely you've heard Confucius' words, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." From the time we're students, we're encouraged to pursue our dream job, and when entering the workforce, hiring managers look for passionate candidates. But before pursuing your ideal career, you have to know what it is. And the truth is, many people don't.
If you're one of the many workers still contemplating the right path for you, or even someone just looking for a better job opportunity within their own field, you’re not the only one. If you're ready to take the first leap in this process, here are ten actionable steps to support your job search process and broaden your prospects.
1. Reflect on Your Career Goals
The first step in your job search is understanding what you want from your new job. A "better job" means something different for everyone. Reflecting on what that means for you will ensure that the rest of your time job searching will be spent heading in the right direction. Looking beyond a job description or title, what do you want from this change in your life?
Where did your skills shine the most in your current job or roles you've performed in the past? Was there a work environment that made you feel particularly motivated or, conversely, demotivated? Environmental aspects like company culture, degree of physical activity, and how much social interaction your role entails are all crucial factors that will impact your work-related quality of life.
Picture your ideal work-life balance, salary, and how much responsibility you want to take on. For example, a high-paying job may seem ideal, but it might also mean more responsibility or far more hours. Once you have a clear picture of your unique values and career goals, create a list of short-term and long-term goals you can use as signposts along your journey. Once you have a clear picture of your ideal role, it's just a matter of taking the necessary steps to bring you there.
2. Upgrade Your Skill Set
Updating your skills can help you build confidence, strengthen your resume, diversify your job responsibilities, and help you develop a flexible mindset. There are various ways to build up your skills, but first, knowing what skills your intended job market is looking for is critical.
Once you've narrowed down your prospective role, search job boards for any openings and read through the job descriptions. Do your skills match those written on the job posting? If not, this is a perfect opportunity to grow those valuable skills. Although that may seem daunting, remember that the time you spend investing in yourself will be a fraction of what you will spend later in your new career.
Further education or certificates might be a great route to bridge those potential skill gaps. Not only can a diploma or certificate make you more marketable, but they also open up the potential for higher-paying job titles. Further education may also help you form connections and build networks along the way. You may also have skills already that you didn't realize were valuable to employers, like:
- Excellent Communication
- The ability to stay calm under pressure
You will be surprised by how many people are willing to help out those with similar interests and ambitions. By reaching out to a potential mentor, skill sharing, or soliciting feedback, you can strengthen relationships while boosting your employability.
3. Revamp Your Resume
Whether you've recently upgraded your skill set or have years of experience in the relevant field and are looking for a better job offer, assuring that your resume reflects your full capabilities is critical.
Your resume should paint a clear picture of who you are to the hiring manager, but it should also show that you are the ideal candidate for this particular job. Therefore, it's essential to tailor your resume to the job application by tweaking keywords and phrases.
Start by reading that company's mission statement and tie in areas of commonality. Help the recruiter identify your qualifications through a brief performance profile summarizing how your accomplishments and skills align with the company and this job title.
Then, research a range of job openings and align the words you use to describe your skills and experience to the words used in their job descriptions. Those words are most likely what recruiters are looking for and will pick your resume from a database. For example, when you list your professional experience, the first word of each description should be relevant professional skills, followed by how you used those skills in your previous work.
Through these minor adjustments, you can ensure that your qualifications won’t get overlooked.
4. Leverage Your Professional Network
Getting a job is often said to be a matter of who you know, but that is not as limiting as we think. With tools like social media, there are many ways to broaden your professional network as well as leverage the connections that you already have.
Search online or reach out to others in your field about industry events. These events are a great way to meet people passionate about your industry and build professional relationships. Don’t be afraid to start meaningful conversations and offer your own thoughts and opinions. Sharing these events or other industry information on social media or within your network will strengthen your professional relationships. In the future, others may even return the favor.
Similarly, try reaching out to your network for help. Not only will this support you, but it could lead to a potential partnership or even a referral to someone new. Additionally, expressing gratitude to whoever helped you can build trust and open the door for them to reach out to you in the future. Even if you can’t solve their problem, offering your own referral will show that they can rely on you.
5. Master the Art of the Interview
The interview process is the perfect place to show off your qualifications and that you are the best fit for the company's corporate culture. Here are a few steps to ensure you stand out against other candidates:
Dress to impress
How you present yourself in the interview may reflect to the interviewer how seriously you are taking this opportunity. Even if the company culture is laid back, step up your suit game for the interview—you can discuss the dress code later. On hot summer days, carrying a jacket with you and putting it on before entering the building will show positive effort.
Practice your interview questions
Knowing common types of questions and how to respond impactfully will make the interview process easier for you and the interviewer. Here are three common question types and how to approach them:
- Make a claim and provide evidence.
- Keep it short and to the point.
- Focus on the situation's specifics and how you handled it.
- Be brief, optimistic, and authentic.
- Describe your desired outcome and how you would make it happen.
- Don't be afraid to ask for clarity.
How you follow up on your interview can also help you make an impression. Sending a thank you note to your interviewer will show dedication and appreciation that your interviewer will remember.
Also, if you weren’t told when to expect a response, send an email after five business days thanking them again. Mention when the interview was, the title you’re applying for, and that you are still interested and looking forward to the next steps.
6. Negotiate Your Worth
Once you have received a job offer, your employer will present you with a salary and benefits package. If the pay is below your salary range, don't be afraid to negotiate for higher. Although this may feel awkward, having the correct information will make the process easier.
Start by doing your research
Salary may range by geographic location, years of experience, managerial experience, education level, career level, skills, and licenses. Staying current on industry salary trends will help you develop a salary range to present to your employer to arrive at a mutual decision that benefits you both.
Frame your case
To strengthen your approach, take the time to create one or two solid reasons that you believe you deserve higher pay than the offer proposed. Past achievements, years of experience, valuable skills, education, previous pay, or even job-related expenses are all reasons that can support your case.
Additionally, if the salary offer is not too far from your target or if you’re at an impasse with the employer, consider negotiating about benefits, such as leveraging more paid vacation and sick days.
Schedule a meeting
Rather than over email, it's best to have this conversation face-to-face or even over the phone for a more personal conversation. Expressing respect and gratitude toward your employer is an essential step in your negotiations, which can be difficult through writing alone.
7. Cultivate a Professional Online Presence
Developing your online presence is inexpensive to build connections and open doors to new opportunities. We've talked briefly about how your online presence can boost your network. In this section, we want to discuss maximizing your reach and ensuring you leave an impression that builds trust.
An excellent place to start is by separating your private and personal accounts. You may even want to put your private accounts in privacy mode for personal friends and family. That said, as information is quickly circulated online, it wouldn't hurt to comb through your accounts for images or comments that may be controversial or damage trust.
The next step is optimizing your professional accounts. Choose a high-quality profile picture with good lighting that will offer a bright impression and show a bit of your personality. You may also want to research what platforms cater to your professional audience and best show off your skill set.
For example, Instagram will have the most impact for someone in design, while X (formally known as Twitter) may reach further for medicine-related fields. A website will also help you easily share your portfolio or accomplishments with prospective employers.
By narrowing in on your own unique niche, you can display expertise and raise your personal value. Take time to build a backup of content to keep up a consistent dialogue without putting the burden on yourself to produce constantly.
8. Keeping Up with Industry Trends
With technology constantly expanding, knowing new tools or shifts in your field is becoming increasingly essential. You can follow these changes in the following ways:
- Pay attention to the competition: Knowing what changes business competitors are making can give you insights into where the industry is moving, and you can use those insights to stand out while interviewing.
- Follow industry leaders: Referring to leaders in your field that you admire or have learned from in your interview answers can leave a strong impression and open space for further dialogue.
- Engage with social media: Often, social media platforms will be the first to catch on to new trends. Following relevant pages or dialogues can help you stay ahead.
Staying current on industry news and advancements can also further your dialogue online or display expertise during interviews. By staying up-to-date on new trends or discoveries in your field, you can also apply those findings to your own work, build up your portfolio or knowledge base, and expand your skill set.
9. Consider Hiring a Career Coach
If you’re feeling unsure or overwhelmed by the process, don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of resources and experts available who are trained to help you move forward smoothly and confidently. An experienced career coach can work with you to determine how your unique strengths and skill set can translate into a career.
Once you’ve recognized your ideal path, your coach can also help you create long-term and short-term goals and encourage you to stay on track. Career coaches can also make the process easier by helping you with tasks like building your resume, prepping for interviews, offering advice on your social media presence, and more. Having an expert in your corner can keep you motivated while teaching you helpful skills that will continue to benefit you as you progress in your career.
Get the most out of your experience with a career coach by coming to your coaching sessions prepared. Consider what questions you want to ask and your goals in seeking a career change. Think of what areas you already feel confident in and what areas you feel you would most like to see benefit from the help of an expert.
10. Use JobTest.org for Career Insights
While this article offers many insights and actionable steps on how to get a better job, we also understand that following through on each of these steps can be easier said than done. Even for those who are confident in their ability to job search, it's not always easy to recognize your own strengths and preferences or how those unique aspects can translate into a better job.
Our career test can help you discover ideal career paths based on your interests, ambitions, personality, and skills through a data-driven, user-friendly system. After you've completed the test, you will receive a comprehensive personality assessment and personalized feedback that you can use as a guideline in your career journey.
We worked hard to create a state-of-the-art test that is also affordable because we firmly believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to access their dream job. As users have reported an 86% increase in job satisfaction and a 73% income increase, we feel confident that we can help you invest in your own future.
Although it's not always easy to make the first moves toward a new job or career change, we hope this guide has given you some helpful tools that you can use to move closer to your goals and the work environment that’s best suited to you!