Hunting for a job is an agonizing process, but by using the right strategy and the best resources, your chances of landing the position that’s right for you increase dramatically. A methodical, step-by-step approach works best and lessens the overwhelming nature of the job search: figuring out which position is right for you, crafting your resume with said position in mind, posting your resume on the right websites, and prepping well for interviews.
We promise that while it’s never easy to find the perfect job, it’s not an unattainable goal, either. As an aspiring professional, the ball is in your court: 62% of employers and 86% of recruiters consider the labor market to be candidate-driven. So, follow this guide and the online resources within to polish up your resume and iron out those interviewing skills. You got this!
Table of Contents
- 1 Choosing the Right Position
- 2 Perfecting Your Resume
- 3 Job Search Websites
- 4 Nailing the Interview
Choosing the Right Position
Sometimes it helps to be realistic: while it may be your dream to be a reputed trial lawyer or marketing manager for a major accounting firm, the odds of you landing a lofty position just might not be in your favor. Whether it be low demand in the current job market, or a CV that just doesn’t pass the muster for the caliber of firms you are applying to.
This isn’t to say that you should aim low, or give up on your goals, entirely, but a realistic frame of mind substantially increases your odds of landing a job with a decent salary and benefits while doing work that you’ll be proud of.
Selecting a position with high demand in today’s economy
While the job market is dynamic, and the need for candidates in certain positions is ever-shifting, it always pays to go after jobs that are in high demand with a relative low number of applicants. Depending on your academic background and skill-set, you should focus on a handful of positions with a lot of availability that you are confident that you can succeed in. Recently, jobs in the healthcare and software development industries have a ton of openings around the country, but those aren’t the only fields where the need for applicants is high. Below is a number of resources listing some of the most high demand jobs in 2018.
- U.S. News and World Report: 25 Best Jobs of 2018 -- Armed with a great reputation and a slew of excellent statistical sources, U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top jobs is a great place to start in picking a job that matches your abilities while offering a salary that will allow you to live your chosen lifestyle.
- Forbes’ Seven Top In-Demand Jobs in 2018 -- Another reputed publication with a history of shrewd economic reporting and up-to-date professional advice, Forbes’ list details the hottest jobs of the year, along with nuanced explanations of why candidates for these positions are currently sought after.
- Trade-schools.net’s 25 High Demand Jobs in 2018 For Almost Every Type of Person -- While the previous two links are more oriented around jobs that require applicants to have a respectable academic history, and even post-graduate degrees, this list is more oriented towards people from all types of academic backgrounds. For those with only a high school degree, or trade school experience, this is a great resource to help you find the best job available that your personal experience qualifies you for.
Making the most of your skills
Want to be a surgeon but get squeamish at the sight of blood? Would love to be an actuary but statistics aren’t your strong suit? Perhaps it’s time to set your sights on a position better oriented around your specific skills and personality. Most would agree it’s much preferable to work a job you’re suited for than struggle in a role that doesn’t fit your abilities. Below are a couple resources to help you choose the position that’s best for you.
- The Princeton Review’s Career Quiz -- A well regarded company focused on college admissions and test preparation, the Princeton Review’s career quiz is a fun and useful quiz that selects a career for which you are best suited based on your personality traits and select skills and abilities.
- Time: Find out What Job Best Matches your Personality -- Another excellent, well thought out test published by Time Magazine and developed in cooperation with George Washington University’s Workplaces and Virtual Environments Lab. This quiz chooses a select few jobs right for you based on your skills, education level, and desired income.
Are you willing to relocate?
Though you may love where you live, or wish to stay near your hometown, family, or the friends you grew up with, the plain fact is that many jobs are in higher demand in certain states compared to others. Dedicated job seekers should be willing to relocate to other cities if they truly want to increase their chances of getting the job they are looking for. While it may take a certain amount of courage to leave the place you’ve always called home, success in today’s job market demands applicants to make sacrifices, one of which is emigrating to locales with friendly job markets. Below are a couple sources detailing the hottest job markets of 2018.
- Indeed.com Blog: What is the Best City for Job Seekers? -- These days, the best jobs for young, aspiring professionals are in urban areas, particularly in the midwest and on the west coast. Indeed, one of the premier job search websites, uses a number of metrics, including “job market favorability” and “salary ranking” to rank the top job markets in the U.S. for thirsty candidates.
- Wallethub’s 2018 Best Places to Find a Job -- For a different take on the job market situation, check out Wallethub’s list of the hottest job markets. Using similar metrics, their findings are decidedly different than Indeed’s, with a number of Phoenix metropolitan area cities breaking the top ten.
Perfecting Your Resume
Since it’s the principal document that employers will use to decide whether to take a chance on you or not, your resume is one of the most important factors in your job search. Since these days employers are looking through scores of online rather than printed resumes, a lot has changed in the past few years regarding preferred resume format and content.
Choosing the right format
There are three main resume formats in popular use these days: reverse chronological format, functional resume format, and the combination resume format. Generally, reverse chronological format -- putting your current job at the top of your work history and then following with older jobs in descending order -- is the most highly recommended format. This is the one most commonly used, and the one that employers are used to seeing, but there is an argument for breaking the mold. Check these sources to decide which format is right for you.
- Workopolis: How To Choose the Right Essay Format -- This is an excellent guide to several resume formats, with guidance on which one you should choose with a focus on what impresses recruiters.
- The Balance: How to Choose the Best Resume Format -- A solid guide with more detailed advice on formatting your resume. Samples are included with the article.
Highlighting your skills and employment history
Considering the limited space you have to work with, the goal of a resume isn’t to list every job, or achievement, that you’ve worked in your life, but, rather, the employment history and accolades most relevant to the job you’re looking to land. Don’t over stuff your resume; make your achievements and job history work for you. Lying isn’t recommended, but shaping the truth in a way that works to your advantage is just fine. These resources can help you best highlight your past to kickstart your future.
- U.S. News & World Report: How to Highlight Job Skills on a Resume -- One more resource from U.S. News. This article provides great advice on how to best highlight your achievements and skills on your resume, as well as keywords recruiters look for and language to avoid.
- How to Describe Your Experience -- Philadelphia’s Drexel University hosts this excellent guide on how to best describe your work and and university experience on your resume. Included within is a special section on marketing international experience.
- The Muse: How to List Irrelevant Experience on Your Resume -- An offbeat guide on how to make seemingly unrelated life and work experiences work for you on your resume.
Making your resume look nice
Not only is it your career highlights and degrees that can potentially impress recruiters, but the look of your resume, as well. When employers look through hundreds of resumes, those with the right fonts and extra finishing touches pop out. Take a look at these handy sources that will help you doll up your resume.
- 8 Design Ideas for Making Your Resume Pop - Some tricks of the trade that will help your resume stand out among the sea of applicants. According to biginterview, using color is just fine, but don’t overdo it.
- Glassdoor: Here’s What the Perfect Resume Looks Like -- Glassdoor doesn’t beat around the bush with this one: a very specific format and look that they consider to be the best style of resume for attracting recruiters.
- CNBC: The Best Fonts to Use on a Resume -- Fielding the advice of design experts, CNBC lists some of the top resume fonts you ought to consider using on your resume.
Job Search Websites
Searching for a job online has become the norm; in 2015, 79% of Americans looking for a job used online resources in their search. As the job hunt shifts from engaging personal contacts towards an exclusively online experience, it’s good to know which job search websites are the best.
General job search sites
The most popular job search websites are, unsurprisingly, the ones that allow you to search for jobs in nearly any field, while allowing recruiters to do the same for applicants. Honestly, it doesn’t hurt to upload your resume to two or more of these sites in order to increase your chances--just be aware of the occasional, annoying spammy emails you’ll find in your inbox.
- Indeed -- The most visited, and used job site in the world, Indeed is truly an excellent resource to find the job you’re looking for. You can upload your resume for employers to see, as well as search through scores of jobs from all industries.
- Glassdoor -- While Indeed’s database of available jobs is the largest available, Glassdoor has its own strengths. In addition to job listings, the site’s premier draw is the detailed reviews and comparisons of companies by current employees or those that have worked for them in the past. Check out Glassdoor if you want to find out if your prospective employer fosters a positive working environment.
- Monster -- Monster is quite similar to Indeed, although some claim it suffers from minor drawbacks, including a messy interface and a higher number of scam job postings. Nevertheless, the site’s job database is vast, and many have built careers through the site.
- LinkedIn -- LinkedIn is a professional social network, rather than a job search database. By allowing you to post your photo and connect with friends through the network, LinkedIn has a more personal touch than other employment websites. However, you can still land an excellent job by making the right connections on the site.
Industry-specific job search sites
As the job market is so complex, with many industries asking unique demands and expectations of its applicants, it’s no surprise that many niche job search sites have grown in popularity. Tech, remote contract work, and freelance writing are some of the fields that now have their own portals serving both employers and job applicants. If you find more general job search websites too broad in their scope, or you are just looking for a temporary gig, these sites will be more your style, based on the kind of work you are looking for.
- Dice -- A great meta search database for tech jobs, only.
- Idealist -- Idealist is not your ordinary job search website. Rather, it is a a site where users can search for opportunities to improve the world through working for a nonprofit or volunteering through one of thousands of organizations around the world.
- Upwork -- The top website for finding freelancing work in many industries, Upwork doesn’t let just anybody use their service. In order to weed out scammers, users need to fill out a fairly complete profile and include examples of their work. Only then can one search through the wide variety of freelance jobs listed on the site.
- Flexjobs -- This niche website specializes in remote work, i.e., work that you can do from anywhere, in many fields. Flexjobs isn’t free, though; the service costs $14.95 a month to use, so make sure you’re committed to finding work on the site before buying a subscription.
Nailing the Interview
The nicest resume in the world won’t help you if you totally blow the subsequent interview. A lot goes into achieving success during a job interview: what you wear, how you answer the questions, which questions you ask, and even your body language. So don’t go unprepared, read up on how to ace that interview and win the job you’re this close to getting.
How to present yourself
Dressing nice for a job interview is important, but you wouldn’t go in wearing a tuxedo. How you dress says a lot about your personality and level of confidence to your potential employer, and is a detail not to be overlooked.
- Dressing for Interviews -- Empire Resume put out this handy guide giving advice to both men and women on how to look sharp on the day of the interview. A great pointer within is the fact that the clothes you are expected to wear to an interview might be different to what you’d wear after getting the job.
- The Art of Manliness: What to Wear to a Job Interview -- A detailed, male-oriented guide to what--and what not-- to wear to an important job interview.
Knowing how to answer the questions, and ask them
Obviously, in an interview, the most important part is going to be the questions. Knowing how to answer them correctly should be your number one concern. Many of the questions posed to you by a potential employer will be pretty predictable, although you may hear some that catch you off guard. Importantly, answers to some common questions that you think are the best may not be. Also, an employer will be impressed if you come prepared with questions of your own, so know which ones to ask. Here are some great guides on how to answer interview questions.
- 27 Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers -- This list of typical job interview questions and great answers is very thorough. A must read for job candidates.
- Top 10 Job Interview Questions and Best Answers -- Another great, detailed guide that will help you deliver winning answers to job interview questions.
Even if you haven’t heard back after a job interview, it pays to follow-up. That way, you can at least discover the reasons behind an employer’s decisions. Sometimes, it’s out of your hands, while other times, the company may provide useful advice on things you can work on to become a more desirable candidate.
- 4 Non-Annoying Ways Follow Up After an Interview -- Forbes’ guide on how to properly follow up after an interview without being invasive or committing a potential faux pas.