How to Focus your Job Search

The job hunt is a full-time job in and of itself. From networking to writing dozens of personalized cover letters every day, managing your time is fundamental. How do you do so without spinning your wheels, becoming complacent, or going bonkers?

Create a Daily ‘To-Do List’

When you’re at home looking for a job, routine keeps you honest. Make a job search specific list of items you wish to accomplish during the day. Having both daily and weekly goals will motivate smaller successes and help you to keep track of your accomplishments.

Here is an example:

Today’s Goals:

1.) Connect with 3 LinkedIn connections

2.) Follow-up on 5 positions

3.) Apply to 10 jobs

4.) Reach out to 1 2nd degree connection at XYZ Company and request an informal interview over coffee (my treat, of course) to learn more about their experience working there

Weekly Goal(s):

1.) Attend 1 networking ‘meetup’ this week

2.) Search for pro-bono projects

Figure out what you want

Whether you were laid-off, fired, left early of your own volition, or are looking while working, give yourself time to think concretely regarding your next step. In many ways, this may be the most fundamental aspect of the search.

Why? Without assessing where you currently are in your career and why you’re there you are simply going through the motions and may very well end up in the same position in the near future. Make this transition count and it will have been worth the process. 

Give yourself ‘me’ time

Incorporating time to yourself is another extremely important aspect of the job search. Looking for a new job can easily be all-consuming and borderline mentally draining. Avoid constantly checking your phone for recruiter emails. In fact, you might consider snoozing all notifications for a couple hours a day. You’d be amazed what closing your laptop and taking a walk does for your search.

Consider Smaller Companies

Our data suggests that applying to companies with <500 employees gives you 192% higher interview rate; this especially helps mitigate the effects of a recent firing or layoff. Regardless of your industry preference, this may be worth considering.

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Conclusion

Understanding that the job search is another life skill to be mastered will help you to focus your energy and better manage your time. Everyone who needs a job (which is most people) will do this in their lifetime and those who succeed above the rest do so with organization, ambition, and grace. Give yourself the tools to get the job you deserve.

Need some help getting focused? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Why you shouldn’t be ‘comfortable’ at work

Comfort isn’t inherently a bad thing. Besides hammocks swinging in the wind, being ‘comfortable’ invokes a state of calm and freedom from stress, the latter being both a killer of productivity and good health. Unfortunately being ‘too comfortable’ in the workplace can evolve into stagnation, apathy, mediocrity, and routine; even if you’re satisfied just getting a paycheck, this state of mundanity could hurt both your career and potential.

What is “Eustress”?

Eustress is a state of productively honed stress where stress itself is seen as beneficial. In the workplace, eustress (the opposite being ‘distressed’) means having sweaty palms for managing a big project or campaign, going for that promotion, and forging new ways for better efficiency across different departments. It’s exposing yourself to new opportunities and personal growth in your current job. It’s being a little uncomfortable.

Stop resting on your laurels.

Listen to Grandpa. It’s one thing to feel grateful and satisfied with your career, and quite another to take your job for granted. Remember your first week of work? You were probably eager and fully committed to learning new skills and meeting new people. No matter what stage you are at in your current position if you’re feeling ‘too comfortable’, underwhelmed, or just plain bored, here are some tips to provide you a fresh outlook on your job and abilities as an employee:

Tips for getting “uncomfortable” in your job:

Get paid to learn new skills: When was the last time you updated your resume? Retrieve your long forgotten LinkedIN password and check out what your industry peers are listing under skills and certifications. Many employers will subsidize courses and accreditations if they’re related to your current job. That’s free money!

Meet more people: Push yourself professionally and sign-up for a networking event. (If networking events fill you with dread, have a measurable goal such as meeting 5 people in 1 hour.) Expanding your immediate network through industry events exposes you to new opportunities in a uniquely personal way.

Ask your manager for more responsibility: Getting a little uncomfortable means challenging yourself. If you spend hours watching the clock, it may be that you need a new project. Throw a meeting on your manager’s calendar and come prepared with tangible ideas.

Start the job search: If you’ve been at your place of work for years and you’ve found that you’re not progressing in your role, learning anymore, or not getting the support/feedback you desire it may be time to look elsewhere. Advancing professionally means breaking out of your comfort zone and making a decision that’s best for you.

Conclusion

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. If you’re in a comfortable routine in your current job, there’s a good chance you’ve lost the fire you need to grow and evolve both professionally and personally. Break out of living for the weekend and punching a time clock by exposing yourself to little stressors that push you forward and enhance workplace productivity.

Bored at work or stuck in a career rut? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Tips for Older Millennials Looking For Family Friendly Jobs

According to our data, the best age for both men and women to get a job is 28 to 35. It’s a sweet spot in your career where you automatically have a 25.1% chance of being hired compared to other age brackets.

Why? Well, it could be indicative of this age bracket’s ability to be flexible in terms of opportunity and salary (i.e.: you’re young enough to take entry-level positions and old enough to have proven yourself as senior level managers). I’d be remiss not to mention that this data validates a stark reality: ageism in the workplace. (God forbid, you’re a 36 year old software engineer or 45 year old educator looking for work).

Sweet Spot on Hiring Chart

In any case, it’s simply the best time to be a job candidate. This age bracket also happens to represent the “most ideal” time to start a family, both financially and scientifically depending on how many kids you would want. Although there are wonderfully effective ways to delay parenthood such as IVF (a treatment 100% covered as a perk in many large companies and counting [yay!]), this is a dilemma that working women especially must weigh at some point, specifically: how do I maintain my career at this pivotal point while planning for kids?

Enter the “family-friendly” work environment.

It’s a job perk that is quickly becoming the new standard at companies driven by a millennial/young Gen X workforce. In an age where equally shared bread-winning and child-rearing is the preferred norm, it only makes sense to accommodate the talent you want to retain. “Family-friendly” work environments are employers that understand that life happens and provide their staff with the necessary flexibility to be a parent. It’s one thing to offer telecommuting opportunities, but if your employees are made to feel guilty about doing so it’s not a perk.

“Employers are beginning to realize that a family-friendly workplace benefits the business as well as the employee. Companies that offer flexibility and family-friendly policies generally experience increased employee productivity, less turnover, and lower absenteeism. This trend, combined with increased demand for flexibility amongst workers, is making the family-friendly workplace more of the rule than the exception.”

Erin Feldman , Sr. TalentAdvocate at TalentWorks

So, how do you find these unicorn-esque, ‘family-friendly’ work environments that not only market themselves as being flexible, but actualize it? Let’s dive in:

5 Keywords ‘Family-Friendly’ Companies Use

  1. “Flexibility”/“Flexible work hours”/“flextime”/“Job sharing”
  2. “Telecommuting opportunities” (“WFH available”)
  3. “Good work/life balance”
  4. “Paid parental leave”
  5. “Unlimited sick days”

Finding the ‘family-friendly’ work environment is not difficult, but you need to know how to search and deduce from the job post the type of company they represent. Although how “family-friendly” a company claims to be is relative (and we’ll get into that), it starts at the job listing and researching the company beforehand.

Interview Questions to Ask Regarding “Family-Friendliness”

  • In terms of this position, what does a typical work day look like?
  • How do you prioritize a work/life balance?
  • What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?
  • How do you, as a manager, support and motivate your team?
  • How do you incorporate employee feedback into daily operations?

You don’t have to be sneaky or tip-toe around wanting more information regarding flexibility if you ask the right questions. Avoid inquiring if their employees work long hours during the first phone screen for example, and instead, ask the hiring manager during the second interview how they prioritize a work/life balance.

Many companies boast flexibility as an HR hiring tactic, but it’s in the interview with your potential boss and colleagues that you’re given the opportunity to suss out the actual environment. When you’re in office during an on-site interview, take a look around, as well. Do you see decorated desks with family photos, or nerf guns? Do you see people that represent the 28-35 year old age bracket? An intergenerational working environment can be very beneficial in many ways, but it’s important to have colleagues and managers you can relate to when looking for said flexibility. (Not many people in-office around the time of your interview? Look up their employees via LinkedIn to get a sense of who is being hired.)

Conclusion

If you happen to be in the 28-35 year old hiring ‘sweet spot’ (I’m looking at you, Millennials!) you have more options than you realize as a candidate. Finding a ‘family-friendly’, or flexible working environment is possible and your sway as an ideal candidate should lead you to succeed in having both a career and starting your family.

Psst– You can also pay us $10 to do it all for you: we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Five Reasons Recent Grads Aren’t Getting The Job

If you’re a recent college graduate entering the job market, the deck is stacked against you. And not in any sort of minor way. We’re talking the sort of card-game cheating that would get someone plugged in the old West. Beyond the obvious factors like having less experience and being new to the job hunt, there’s an unfortunate lack of entry-level jobs that are actually looking for brand-new candidates.

Recent grads are all a part of the same wave and they’re all looking for the same break from a limited number of outlets willing to offer one. Jennifer Lawrence might have been discovered on a random sidewalk, but you aren’t an Oscar-winner and the odds aren’t in your favor.

That being said, there are a few ways to increase the likelihood that you’ll be picked from among the horde of fresh-faced applicants looking for work. In the name of giving a leg-up to marketplace newbies, we’re offering some advice we wish we had received to help overcome the myriad ways that the job market is unfavorable to folks looking for their first gig.

They Want People Who Can Lead

You’ve spent your entire life being led around — be it by professors, bosses or parents — and now the job you’re looking for wants some who can take the reins. What’s a young’un to do?

Use leadership-related words when describing you work history. While you might not have much on-the-job experience, using words like managed, communicated or coordinated while describing the work you’ve done will give you a much-needed boost in the eyes of a hiring manager.

RESUME TIP: We found that dropping 1-2 leadership-oriented words every 5 sentences increased the likelihood of getting an interview by over 50%.

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You’re Competing Against People Who Know How To Look For Jobs

Yes, the people you’re competing against probably have more impressive things on their resume. That’s just a fact and we aren’t going to lie to you about it. But perhaps even more crucially, they have honed that resume after years of feedback.

The older job-seekers you will compete against have learned what works and what doesn’t via trial and error. You don’t have the time if you need a job now. Luckily, we can rate your resume using the knowledge we’ve gleaned from tons of hiring managers and countless job searches.

“Fun” Fact: Only 2% of applicants to any given job are called up for an interview. You need to make sure your resume is as crisp and clean as possible if you want to compete.

You’re Probably Making Mistakes

Your youth is the time that you’re meant to make mistakes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate into the job search. If you don’t know what kind of cover letter a hiring manager is seeking, it’s going to be hard to learn. They don’t have the time to offer you a personalized critique of your application. All you’re going to see is the heavy form letter that lets you know you didn’t get the job. (Or nothing at all. Neil Degrasse Tyson has yet to study inbox black holes, but we can assure you they exist.)

Checking your application against a few simple do’s and don’ts of cover-letter writing will go a long way toward helping you land a job. And, of course, you need to check your application for silly mistakes.

Job Search Tip: We found that 10% of applications are disqualified immediately for spelling errors and other easily remedied goofs.

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‘Entry-Level’ Jobs Are Anything But

We recently ran the numbers and found that most jobs that call themselves “entry-level” are actually looking for someone with 3+ years of experience. Who are they to critique your application when they can’t even work out the meaning of entry, right?

entry-level-jobs-years-experience

Unfortunately, that’s the market you’re entering. But a little bit of legwork can go a long way. Finding jobs that are actually entry-level and not just looking to pay that way will save you quite a bit of time. In a recent run-through, we found that out of nearly 1300 jobs marketing themselves as entry-level, only 240 were actually looking for people looking to enter the market. That’s a little less than 1 in 5 and it adds up to a whole lot of wasted time on your end.

Job Search Tip: Call off the seance to try and tap into an HR manager’s mind. We’ll narrow it down to the actual entry-level jobs for you for just $10.

You’ll Get It When You’re Older

We found that the most hireable time in a person’s life falls between the ages of 28 and 35. If you’re under that you’re considered too young and beyond that your stock starts to drop. While we don’t have any tips to make you older (try making a wish in a mirror?), we don’t want you to sit around waiting to be 28. We doubt you could afford it anyway.

Consider taking positions that aren’t your dream job if they’ll give you the relevant experience to land the big gig further down the line. Contract work, paid internships and less glamorous grinds all look better than a gap on your resume.

I’ve taken all of this into account but I still don’t have a job. ” Something that can’t be taught, and that young folks have a short supply of, is patience. We don’t blame them. We’re math nerds around here and each day that passes by is a significantly larger chunk of their life than it is to us.

Those who truly can’t wait can always sign up for TalentWorks. We’ll limber up and leap those hurdles for you, taking care of some of the biggest obstacles with our experience and automated tools.
Our AI-driven ApplicationAssistant automatically optimizes the day of week, time of day & delay of your application making the job search that much less messy and taking the calendar aspect out of your hands. We serve up a fresh batch of personally curated jobs every day that you can apply to with just a few clicks. And we stand beside our services with a 100% money-back guarantee.  Take a bit of the guesswork out of your search and get started here.

Ask Sarah: Why Do I Keep Getting Ghosted by Companies?

Sarah—

I don’t expect a response from every job I apply to, but what is up with getting no response after multiple interviews, even after I follow up. Do I suck at interviewing or are employers just that rude?

Feeling Ignored

Dear Feeling Ignored,

Some employers are just that rude. I mean, I can’t say if you suck at interviewing. Maybe you’re showing up in an orange tutu. Maybe you have no idea what the company does and biffed your way out of the classic “What do you know about us?” question. (If you’re not ready for this one, you really need to give one of our wonderful TalentAdvocates a call.)

Although it’s still uncommon to get ghosted after an interview, it’s happening more and more. But, what does happen all the time is getting ghosted after a job application. In fact, it’s pretty much the norm.

Chances are it’s not you. Most of us have the tendency to beat ourselves up about it. “I should’ve worn the blue shirt instead of the black.” “I should’ve smiled more.” “Maybe if I’d asked better questions…” “Oh, God, what if I had a massive booger hanging out of my nose? I knew I should have grabbed that Kleenex!”

We focus on the small, nit-picky things that might have made a difference. It’s easier to do that, because it puts a little control back into our hands. But, here’s the truth: we can follow every bit of advice out there — show up a little early (but not too much), dress up (but not too much), do our research beforehand, give killer answers — and still never hear back. There are so many things that can happen behind the scenes:

  • They already had an internal employee in mind (this happens a lot). Maybe the nephew of some VP needed a job at the last minute.
  • The hiring manager didn’t feel a connection. Personality is a huge part of the equation for a growing number of businesses. You’ll be spending more time with these people than with your own family — finding the right culture fit is just as important for your sanity and health.
  • Another candidate had fancy-schmancy experience. Maybe they worked for big, name-brand companies. Maybe you’ve got years of experience producing videos, but they made feature films.
  • Maybe you applied during the Resume Blackhole. After a job has been posted for more than 10 days or so, it’s almost not even worth applying to it. You’ll get ghosted (almost) every time.
  • They’re simply too busy.

And that last one? That’s the kicker.

Most of the time, it really isn’t you — it’s them. Let’s take a moment to think about it from a hiring manager’s perspective:

  • For every open job, there are often 100+ job applications. You have to review each application and pick 5-10 people to interview.
  • Even if you spend just 15-20 seconds on a resume and 2-3 minutes writing an email, that’s still nearly an hour.
  • The interviews basically take you a full day (assuming 30-60 minutes for an interview, plus notes, plus any other random emails and meetings you had).
  • Making the offer, writing it up, setting them up in payroll, getting them started on their project is probably a full day on its own.

Replying to 100+ job applicants is (realistically) never going to happen. Worse still, replying to every interviewee often falls through the cracks. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

But, honestly, here’s the thing: You’re going to drive yourself crazy with all the whys and what-ifs. Your time is precious — whatever the reason, don’t give them another moment of your time and energy. Instead, focus all of yourself on looking ahead and maximizing your job search.

There’s both an art and a science to the job search, and making sure you open enough (job application) doors is a big part of that science. The only way you can do that is by looking ahead — not at the closed doors behind you.

Look ahead, sister!

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