Are you tired of Googling ‘how to prepare for an interview’ only to get pages of overwhelming results? We get it, we’ve been there many times. It can be exciting but terribly exhausting. Screens after screens after interviews after rejections. If you’re experiencing job search burnout, you’ve come to the right place!
We’re sharing tips that have personally helped us prepare and nail the interview process. We’ve put together a Job Search Survival Kit to help you filter through the fluff, maintain confidence and come out on top.
The average job search process takes 5 months from application to hire so it’s important to maintain a healthy pace and mindset throughout. (topresume.com)
Before you start:
A common mistake most of us make when we decide it’s time to look for a new job is diving right into updating resumes and mass applying to job posts. Especially when you’re unemployed, you probably feel way more pressure to hit the ground running, but there are some important steps to take ahead of time to help you prevent burnout and create a better overall experience.
Whether you’re passively or actively looking for a new job, taking time to fully understand what you’re looking for and why is key to setting yourself up for success.
It’s a lot easier to find the right fit when you know what you’re looking for and it helps you network more effectively too.
Get honest on what you want in your next job and why.
Reflective questions to ask yourself:
- What do you value in life? What inspires you? How does your career align with those things?
- What kind of work excites you? What do you find yourself interested in or looking forward to?
- What kind of management style do you work best with? What kind of leadership do you enjoy? What kind of team dynamic/structure do you work best with?
- If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?
- What do you enjoy most about your (current or past) job? What would you change or could you do without?
- What are your must-haves? Nice-to-haves? Not-a-big-deals?
- What companies, industries, brands do you find yourself engaging with most?
Create a job search routine.
Schedule certain times and days that you can commit to your job search to help balance stress and avoid burnout. Especially if you’re working a full-time job, setting aside time to job search is vital.
What time of day do you feel most energized and focused? What days do you have the most flexibility and time to allow for your job search?
Do your research.
Before you dive into updating your LinkedIn profile and resume, take what you learned from your reflective questions and start applying it to figuring out what companies, industries and jobs are ideal for you and your needs.
Companies – Know their mission, values, culture, and anything else that’s important to you so you can focus on those kinds of companies.
Industries – Do you want to pivot industries? Why? If you want to stay in the same industry, understand why so you can strengthen your profile and resume to cater to that.
Jobs – Reach out to your network and ask for informational interviews with people in positions you’re targeting so you ask questions that will help you determine if that position is a fit.
Time to take charge:
Tailor your resume:
Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for and why, you can start to tailor your resume to align with the kinds of opportunities you want to interview for.
- Review the job description and look out for keywords that you can use in your resume. If there is any required experience that you actually have, make sure to include that. Here’s a deeper dive into resume writing tips.
Resume writing is annoyingly subjective. No matter how many people you ask for resume help, you will always get different responses.
- Stick to the opinions of people who actually have experience in that space. Whether it’s mentors, colleagues, recruiters, industry experts, refer to the people who know the position and what they’re looking for.
Recruiters and hiring managers are reviewing a crazy amount of resumes daily. When you’re asked about your experience, don’t read the bullets. They’ve got that covered. Hiring managers want to hear more context and depth to your experience.
- A great way to leave a lasting impression is by telling a data-driven story about your experience. Keep it short, sweet and intriguing, but more importantly, highlight your success, metrics, achievements, volume, growth, etc. This is a great way to engage the hiring managers in a unique way and help yourself stand out from the rest.
Update your LinkedIn profile:
This is usually the first thing recruiters see, so it’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and includes keywords that are relevant to your job search.
Don’t know where to start? Check out this webinar of James Hornick and Ryan Brown who give everyone a look under the hood into the LinkedIn Recruiter platform to see how searches are executed and which parts of your profile are most important.
Watch the webinar here: Webinar: Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile – Giving Job Seekers the Recruiter’s View of LinkedIn
TLDR: You can apply most resume tips to your LinkedIn profile.
- Update your profile with keywords that you’ve seen on the job descriptions you’re targeting
- Even if you’re passively looking, turn “Open to Work” on your profile. It’s the easiest way for recruiters to know who to contact and your employers won’t know.
- Use the About section to highlight your strengths and what you’re looking for. Don’t ramble on about your hobbies and views on the world. Look at it through the lens of “why am I a fit for this role?” in 3 seconds or less.
- Make sure to include job descriptions under your past job titles. Certain job titles can mean something different at other companies. This will save you in the long run.
Network! Network! Network!
Now it’s time to tap into one of your biggest advantages – your network. Forbes found 85% of job vacancies are filled via networking.
Friends, family, and colleagues want to help you find the right job so don’t be afraid to ask for a connection. Make a list of people you know at companies or in jobs that interest you and use that as your compass.
You can also look for virtual networking events to help expand your network. This is a great way to hear what else is out there and learn best practices. You never know who you’ll meet!
Practice the 80/20 rule
This principle states about 80% of outcomes from 20% of causes. And it works great with the job search process and keeping things in perspective – don’t spend more than 20% applying to job posts so you can spend 80% networking.
Practice your personal pitch.
This is a unique way to share your skills and expertise as it relates to the job in a way that’s actually interesting and engaging. Instead of saying “I’m hard-working and resourceful,” tell a story of how you illustrated hard work and resourcefulness. Keep it engaging, easy to remember and to the point.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Be specific. Bring actual examples or data of what you accomplished so you’re able to talk about real numbers such as “I saved the company $500,000 a month by implementing a new process” or “I coded 100+ new departments using Excel for a new location to ensure payroll accuracy for these associates.”
- Talk about your experiences like you’re telling a friend a story about how you joining your previous company made a difference. For example, share a time about how you took on extra responsibilities, worked with difficult clients, what you learned and how you succeeded, etc.
- Make it fun! This is a way for your personality to shine through so interviewers can get to know you better.
Nail that interview:
But first, you have to nail that phone screen. You’ve probably had countless phone screens with too many recruiters to count and it’s exhausting! Instead of just going through the motions, treat it like a practice interview.
Prepare for the phone screen:
It’s more important than you think! The recruiter is the gatekeeper to the hiring managers so make sure you leave a good impression by doing the work ahead of time. If you can’t make the screen or you need to reschedule, please let your recruiter know ahead of time. No shows are a no go – we’re all adults here.
Here are tips on how to set yourself up for success:
- Put the scheduled time in your calendar right away. If you miss a screen, that only leaves room for assuming the job isn’t a priority and might result in an immediate pass.
- If you have to reschedule, try to give the recruiter at least 24 hours notice.
- Be in a quiet place with limited distractions. We know that’s not always possible for phone screens, but if you have to take the call while running errands or picking up the kids, just let your recruiter know ahead of time.
- Review the job description and the company. Recruiters can usually gauge your interest in the role based on how much you prepared for the phone screen. Those notes go to the hiring manager so make sure you’re doing the work.
Now, let’s nail that interview!
Research the company
- Take time to learn about the company and what they do. Interviewers can tell when you’ve done the research. Be prepared to answer questions like “Why are you interested in working for this company? What about this role excites you?”
Practice your personal pitch
- Whether you record yourself or practice in the mirror, make sure you feel comfortable sharing your pitch. Practice this without any notes so you can speak confidently without depending on them.
Know your audience
- Research the interviewers to know their role with the company. You can curate questions around their professional background or how they got to where they’re at today. You also might find some commonalities you can speak to. This is a great way to engage in deeper conversations and score some points with the hiring manager.
Prepare questions to ask ahead of time:
Always have questions prepared. If questions come up during the interview, write them down so you can ask them later. The last thing you want is for the interviewer to ask if you have any questions and you say “Nope.” Asking questions shows you’re engaged, interested and want to know more about the company and opportunity.
Here are some examples:
- Could you tell me about the onboarding process for this role?
- Is this a newly created role or was someone previously in this role? If someone was previously in this role, were they promoted?
- What does career growth within this company look like?
- What support do you have if something goes wrong?
- Will I be working independently or will I have the support of my team?
- What does success look like the first 30, 60, 90 days in?
- What are the team goals this year? In the next 5 years?
The Day Of Checklist:
- Stop preparing at least 30 minutes before your interview. Go for a walk, dance to your favorite songs, watch funny videos or do whatever you need to do to put yourself in the best mindset possible.
- Come prepared with your resume, job description, and notepad to take notes and write down questions
- Remember to look at the camera! If you tend to look at yourself and not the speaker (don’t worry, we all do it), put a post-it over your video thumbnail to remember to keep your eyes on the camera.
- Thank you’s go a long way so make sure you send a note to the people who scheduled and conducted the interview.
- Treat yourself afterwards to celebrate all your hard work!
Extra “feel good” tips for the long haul:
Create an affirmation:
- This short but sweet sentence can help you feel good and stay positive when you’re feeling frustrated or burnt out from the job search. When you’ve had numerous screens and interviews with what seems like no progress, these affirmations are incredibly helpful to remind you why you’re doing.
- “I am in the process of finding the right opportunity that caters to all my needs
- “Every “no” brings me closer to my”yes!”
- “This is only temporary. I’ve found a great job before and I will do it again.”
Take plenty of breaks:
- Looking for a new job can easily be a full-time job, but treating it as such is the easiest way to burn out. If you find yourself going through the motions and mass applying to jobs, take a walk, call a friend, read a book, do anything besides job hunting. Your brain and body will thank you.
Celebrate your wins:
- Remember to reward yourself for all the time and effort you’re putting into your job search. When you celebrate the small wins and accomplished tasks each day, you have way more wins in your bank than if you only wait to celebrate interviews or offers. We’re our harshest critics but we can also be our biggest cheerleaders!