Tips for Nailing Your Next Job Search

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via Death to Stock Photo

In case you missed the (very brief, easy to miss) announcement, I recently landed a new gig! It’s going to be a real challenge for me, but I’m excited to take it on and move to Nashville, TN (funny that the girl who has so deeply rejected the south is now moving even further down the country!) After months and months of looking for a new position and a job search that felt like it would never end, I landed a gig after making lots of adjustments to my search.

Read, read, read. I love The Muse, Levo League, The Prepary and Mashable for articles on how to prepare for interviews, hints for how to get into a recruiter’s head, and sometimes they’ll even post job openings. (These websites are real click bait for me – in opening them only for the sole purpose of linking out, I have seven articles bookmarked for later!) Many of these sites (particularly Prepary and Levo) offer worksheets that walk you step by step through perfect interview answers and offer suggestions on how to answer tricky interview questions honestly and personally.

Find mentors. If you can’t find mentors, find inspiration. Sometimes it can feel like you don’t know how to take the next step in where you want your career to go, and having a mentor (or several!) can help with that. You’ll be able to pick their brains about how she got to where she is, if a job switch is in your best interest, and she might pass leads on to you when something is sent her way. Levo League now has a mentor program where you can interact with industry leaders and ask questions in a Twiter-style Q&A format or attend virtual “office hours.” If you can’t find a mentor, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had out there! I love Marie Forlero’s outlook and inspiration and the way she leaves me feeling empowered after every post.

As far as the actual process of the hunt itself, my best tip is to look every single day. Look in places you don’t think the competition hangs out in (there are lots of Twitter feeds that post openings in certain industries or cities, and many people don’t see craigslist as a reputable source), look on the obvious websites (LinkedIn, Indeed, company websites), and read the paper local to the city you want to move. I found my new gig on – of all places – craigslist, at a point where I was feeling very discouraged and getting no calls back. It was advertised at a much lower hourly rate than I could have accepted and called for job duties I have experience in, but don’t think all fit into one position, so I was clear throughout the interview process with what I expected of the job and what sort of package I needed. And if there’s a particular company you want desperately to work in, become and expert on them, read all the interviews and articles on them you can, and try to find a friend on the inside – that way, you’ll hear about upcoming openings before the rest of the job hunters.

Stay organized in your search. Different methods work for everyone, whether it’s a spreadsheet, a notebook, a Gmail draft, or a Pinterest board (but for the love of Sam in a suit, make sure it is a PRIVATE board!), knowing what jobs you’ve already applied to, the date you applied to it, and if you heard back from anyone are all important pieces of information. You don’t want to double-apply to a position, and if you do land an interview, keep track of the names of people you communicate with. Even if this isn’t the spot you get, if the company has another opening in the future that you’re interested in and more qualified for, reach out to these people and explain why you think you’d be a better match.

Location, location, location. I would say the majority of employers understand that if an employee is applying to a position in their company, it’s implied that they are interested in making the move anyway. But some dismiss great potential hires out of hand simply because they live out of town or out of state. If you’re moving closer to friends or family, list their address on your application materials so it looks like you’re already living in the area or are in the process of moving. This was the most important thing I did in my search.

Be ready to walk away – and mean it: the position I was offered is a pretty far cry from anything I thought I would ever find myself doing. But I applied anyway, and was clear throughout the process that if we weren’t able to meet in the middle regarding schedules, vacation time, benefits package and salary, I was ready to walk away at any point in the process – even after two eight-hour drives for interviews. Be clear and be firm in what you’re expecting!

Have confidence to make the wrong move. This is another hard one. I am optimistic that I made the right choice, but even if I didn’t, I am getting great experience, networking in a new city, and am happier than I ever was in my last city. Sometimes you have to give up career satisfaction in order to live a happy life outside the office… a hard lesson I had to learn.

What are your best search tips?