As you conduct your job search, you’ll find that there are a lot of inefficiencies both in your own process and in the systems that companies provide to entice you to apply. Whether it’s the online application system or your own laziness in editing your resume, these things can be streamlined to allow you to send higher quality job applications faster.
Here are ways to cut down on the complexity and inefficiency of your job search and have a more streamlined job seeker experience.
Skip the automated application
One of the most inefficient systems around is whichever automated online application service a company uses to collect your resume. These systems are called the “resume black hole” for a reason - you have to toy with the wording and formatting in your resume just to prevent the automated system from dumping your application before it reaches human hands.
You could try using better keywords in your resume - people have found success doing so. But you could also just say to hell with application tracking systems and skip that process altogether. The way to do this is to send your application directly to the right hiring manager. Note that you should avoid doing this if the job description explicitly says that you should not send direct emails.
It takes a bit of research and LinkedIn savvy, but you can find the right person (or at least the relevant in-house recruiter) to reach out to for most jobs. Invest in LinkedIn Premium for access to InMails or flex your Google search muscles to find an email address and reach out directly.
Develop a master resume
Editing your resume can be a total pain when you’re applying to ten jobs a day. And while that approach isn’t advisable in general (it lacks focus!), it’s actually a lot easier to swap details in and out of your resume as needed.
Adapting your resume to fit the job you’re applying to is a mandatory baseline for each application you send. An easy way to make that process quick and painless is to develop a master resume. A master resume is one where you don’t care about length. Add every job you’ve worked, every accomplishment you’ve earned, and every responsibility you’ve held.
Don’t worry - you’ll never send this resume to anyone. Instead, you’ll use it as an easy way to pick out the details that would make you stand out most for each job you apply to. Got a job that focuses on sales skills? Avoid your work in tech support, but do add in your work as a sales agent at a car dealership. Got one where your technical skills matter? Tech support is your ticket. And your master resume will make these edits fly by so you can just hit send already.
Run on a detailed schedule
Does your job search have a haphazard feel to it? Chances are that’s because you don’t run on a solid schedule. You might forget about that job opportunity you bookmarked last night because you knew it would be a bad time to apply. Or you might forget to follow up because you lost track of time. This kind of sloppiness hurts your job search progress, and it’s rather easy to fix.
Start using a calendar app to schedule out blocks of time where you’ll be working on your job hunt. Get detailed by listing out the specific next steps you need to take care of within that block, such as scheduling an interview. Want this process to be even easier? Sign up for a free JobHero account and you’ll be able to manage your entire job search in one convenient dashboard.
Always be looking
Want your next job search to be a natural, easy transition? Always be looking. No, that doesn’t mean you should apply for jobs while you’re employed and happy. What it means is that you should be aware of the options available to you, as well as the advancements and shifts in your field that might require you to learn new skills.
Find the right companies that you’d want to work for and keep an eye on their career pages. Read job descriptions to know what companies will ask from you in your next job. And when you see a skill you need to learn, take action to make it happen. That way you'll be prepared when the job search comes knocking rather than rushing and stumbling through online certification courses.
Send regular updates to your network
If you’re interested in direct access into a company’s hiring workflow, make sure you build and maintain your relationships with your professional contacts. If you don’t have a network, what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet new people. If you do have one but have been neglecting it, pinpoint the people you know that could be helpful to you in your next job search and rekindle those relationships.
Make sure you keep in touch with the people that matter most to you in your network on a regular basis. Judge the frequency of your updates on a person-by-person basis, and adjust your letters to be personalized. Keep note of what was said in the last conversation so that you can use that information as a jumping off point in your next letter.
Approach it as a work project rather than a job search
A clever way to bring some fire and urgency into your job search is to treat it as a work project. There are a few traits to a work project that can be greatly beneficial when looking for a job. The first is working under a strict deadline. In a project, you have a set amount of time to get the whole thing done. In a job search it’s not quite that simple, but you can set mini-deadlines for different portions of the hunt, such as a time by when you want your network to be in strong shape or a day by when you want to earn a new certification for a skill.
Another trait to work projects that translates well to the job search is setting goals. Within each project, you’ll have small groups of tasks that you need to get done to complete a goal. Apply this method to the job search and start grouping your daily tasks into goals. A goal can be to complete all follow-ups or to send three applications a day. List out all the sub-tasks for each goal and use them as a checklist. Pick goals that work best for your work style.
Pro tip: Think about successful projects you’ve worked on in the past and apply those same principles.
Set up alerts
Yes, job search alerts tend to be awful. Even from the best job boards, you’re likely to get a newsletter each morning filled with old jobs that you saw the day before. That’s useless to you if you’re a diligent job hunter.
It’s important to remember that while job alerts from job boards are bad for active seekers, they’re good for individuals who are happy with their jobs and are keeping a pulse on the industry, so do use them if that sounds like you. If you’re more active, however, you’ll want to go for a more useful approach to alerts.
That approach is to set up social media and search alerts that will give you a ping every time a job or job related news mentioned on various social media services and search engines. Tools like Google Alerts, Mention, and HootSuite will let you set up various keywords and track them for you, sending you a notification or email whenever it pops up in a new place.
Be sure to use specific keywords, as generic ones will get you a ton of spam and little of value. And when you see a new job that you’re really excited about, there’s a good chance you caught it first, so go ahead and apply as soon as you can!