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This blog post is the first of a 5-part series titled “Everything You Need to Know Before you Enter the Job Market.”  Our career expert, Sadie Guzman, will explore the job search process from start to finish to make sure you are fully prepared to land your next career opportunity.

“So, You want a New Job?
Here’s Where to Start.”

Maybe you are looking for the next step in your career, want to change careers completely, or perhaps you are relocating. Whatever your reason for entering the job market, the first thing you should focus on is yourself and what is within your control. There are many things in the job search that are unknown, unfamiliar, and out of your control, which can make people anxious about entering a search.  The truth is, you will never be able to control many aspects of the job market. For example, you won’t be able to control when you receive an interview call, what the job market looks like for your desired career, or if you ultimately land the position. Positively, focusing on what is within your control is the first step to taking ownership of your search process and future.

Beginning a search is as simple as engaging in self-reflection to discover what you want out of your next role. It important that you are at your best before entering an often frustrating and uncertain process as the job search can be time-consuming and full of rejection. Reflection can help you focus your job hunt and get a good sense of how you are feeling about entering the market. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of a new place to work!

Begin your self-reflection by asking yourself some questions, like the following:

  • What motivates me to wake up in the morning?
  • What do I value in a work environment?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • What type of compensation do I need to live comfortably?

Self-reflection is also a great way to narrow down what you don’t want to do!  After recognizing certain elements of your current job that you dislike, you can seek out a position that does not incorporate these aspects. Additionally, if you are contemplating changing careers, you could even seek the help of friends or mentors. Ask the people around you what you are skilled in to identify your next career move. You could also consider utilizing LinkedIn’s new Career Explorer to create some direction for your new job transition. Taking the time for this reflection will help you achieve better success down the road by knowing yourself and where you want to go!

A lot has changed over the past few years in regards to the job search process, and the historical hiring trends you may be familiar with are out. To be a competitive candidate, you will want to make sure you are up to date with how the hiring process works. Becoming informed about the journey you are about to embark on and the newest trends in the hiring world will allow you to be more prepared and alleviate any uneasiness. The more knowledgeable you are, the more control you will have over your success! If the acronyms ATS or WFH are unfamiliar to you, I recommend that you conduct some research on what a job search looks like in 2021. Applicant tracking systems (ATS), working from home (WFH), video interviewing, and online networking are a few of the job market trends you will encounter during your research.

You will also want to research companies that you are interested in working for. Since you will have done your reflection, you will know what you value and what you are seeking in your new position. Don’t only conduct your research on companies’ websites and social media, but also have conversations with the companies’ employees. Consider conducting informational interviews with both current and former employees to get the inside scoop! You can find and reach out to these individuals through a simple LinkedIn search. This research will also pay off as you go through the interview process!  

Now that you understand your values and the job market, it is time to prepare your professional presence before you apply. We will go over resumes in a later blog, but in general, it is time to locate that document, dust it off, or maybe even start from scratch! The other thing you will want to pay special attention to is your online presence, most importantly your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first things that recruiters and hiring managers see when it comes to your candidacy. It is a great way to showcase a little more about you as an applicant and your unique personality. With the amount of influence that your online presence can have on your candidacy, make sure to take the time to create a thorough and engaging profile that aligns with the role you are seeking.     

Finally, staying organized during your job search will also be key to your success. The job search can take up to several months, and since you will be continuously applying, you will want to keep track of where you applied, when you applied, and what materials you applied with. I recommend that you create a folder for every position and an Excel spreadsheet documenting all of the roles you applied to. Each folder should include the tailored resume you used to apply, your cover letter, and a Word document copy of the job description. Then in your spreadsheet, you can include the title of the job, company, date applied, and any other details such as the professional references you listed on the application.  

Once you understand what you are looking for in your next role, what the most recent hiring trends are, and how to stay organized, you can begin looking for positions! Remember to focus on the aspects of the search that are within your control.  

The next blog in this series will explore how to search for jobs and where to find them!  

Sadie Guzman has over 7 years of experience in the career services field, supporting job seekers to achieve their career goals.  She is passionate about hiring trends, recruiting best practices, and demystifying job search myths, and considers herself an advocate for those seeking employment. She currently serves as the Associate Director for MIS Career Management in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, where she advises graduate students on all aspects of career development and connects employers, alumni, and students.  In her free time, Sadie loves traveling, spending time with her husband and Pomeranian, and playing in an adult kickball league!

Connect with Sadie on LinkedIn here: linkedin.com/in/sadierandall/