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4 Tips for Staying Focused During Your Job Search

Plus: 8 job sites that will help you find the right company

 

Finding a job is hard work. It can be draining, stressful, and difficult to keep up with. I spent the last semester of my college career rigorously searching for my first full-time role. It was overwhelming at times, but I was able to find ways to stay organized and focused throughout the process. Documenting all of the applications I submitted, pacing myself, and finding a variety of job portals helped me secure my first full-time job in the entertainment industry in less than two months.

Document Everything! And Keep Up.

In April alone, I applied for more than 100 jobs. Applying online makes job searching incredibly easy, so I found myself submitting 5-10 applications a day during some weeks. I sent a lot of applications on my phone using iPhone apps, so in the beginning I lost track of a lot of applications. I received emails from companies I didn’t recognize about jobs I forgot I applied to. To keep track of my job hunt, I created a spreadsheet on Google Sheets.

Choosing a Google application allowed me to access the document from my phone and laptop with ease, and consolidated all of my application information. To stay organized, I used the following columns: Company, Industry, Role, Application Submitted, Application Method, and Misc. Here’s an example:

The classifications made it super easy to keep track of my job submissions and helped me learn about application timelines process. I love color-coding, so I color-coded each application based on my progress.

  • Yellow = Submitted, little to no contact
  • Light Green = Submitted, initial form of contact
  • Red = Submitted, Rejection
  • Deep Green = Submitted, Offer

Create categories based on what’s important to you (e.g., contact information for recruiters, location, etc.) and a spreadsheet will not only help you stay organized, but provide a one-stop shop for your job search.

Pace Yourself. Don’t Burn Yourself Out!

The process of applying for jobs and constantly waiting on the edge of your seat for any form of feedback is draining. I fell into a black hole of applying on several occasions. Despite having essays to write and meetings to prepare for, I would spend hours applying for jobs and editing my resume. Although filling in lines on my job search spreadsheet was fulfilling, it caused me to crash and burn. After a few hours my eyes would glaze over and I would later catch small errors.

This Muse article breaks down how many hours you should spend applying to jobs per week based on your current position. You know yourself and your situation the best. So if you need to take a day or two to spend time on other obligations for a week, that’s completely fine.

Don’t Limit Yourself! There's More Than Glassdoor and Indeed.

Luckily, I started my process while in college, so I received a weekly newsletter with internships and job opportunities from the School of Media and Journalism. Each week I received an email with job openings in cities across the country. I knew that I was moving to New York City after my junior year, so I was limited in the jobs I could apply to. Despite this, I took note of job titles and descriptions to guide my searches moving forward.

In addition to using websites like Glassdoor , Indeed , SimplyHired , and Monster.com , I used LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter as well. Although most job websites are structured the same way and jobs are posted on multiple sites, user-generated information can provide a different perspective on companies. Furthermore, job platforms like Jopwell and InHerSight cater exclusively to specific populations.

Jopwell is a hiring startup that was created to connect recruiters to underrepresented ethnic minority candidates. InHerSight provides job opportunities, company reviews, and advice by women for women. Users can anonymously rate companies on their female-friendliness and engage on a forum with other users regarding workplace issues. Beyond these two platforms, other websites provide industry-specific opportunities.

Don’t just confine yourself to scanning the web either, utilize other resources like alumni networks, professional contacts (your own or those of previous coworkers, friends, or family). For each job I applied to, I made an effort to reach out to at least one alumni or LinkedIn connection. Even if I didn’t go far in the interview process, I knew that strengthening my network was just as important as submitting applications. A positive endorsement from someone in the company or industry can go a long way.

Have Faith in the Process, and Keep Up the Good Fight!

“Have faith” is probably the most difficult piece of advice to follow. During my job search I heard more "no's" than I ever could have imagined. Keeping the faith, especially with submitting so many applications was hard — especially when I saw so many of my peers receive job offers and graduate school acceptances.

There are so many factors that impact application processes. Recruiters prioritize certain positions over others, positions are filled “in-house”, and you never know what connections exist outside of your control. To stand out, I personalized each resume I submitted with specific language pertaining to the company and job description. After I catered my resume, I conducted mock screening interviews with myself. I would write out answers to basic questions like “why our company,” “what makes you qualified for this position,” etc. which gave me an edge during interview processes. Even if I didn’t make it to the second round, I still gained practice preparing for interviews and marketing myself.

As an African-American woman, I knew that I wanted to work with a diverse staff (with at least one person of color). If a company didn’t have a person of color listed on their website or on LinkedIn, I eliminated the company from my list. Despite my desperation to become employed, I knew that I wanted a work environment that was conducive to my personality and background. This Business Insider article details just a few of the factors that can impact a hiring decision.

Your perfect position is right around the corner. Just keep the faith and keep working towards your goal!

By Gwen Smith

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