Before I graduated from business school in May 2014, I spent six months looking for a full-time job. I had invested a lot of money and time into getting my MBA to further my career options, so I had to do my due diligence to find the best job out there.
While I was in school full-time and working part-time at the Associated Press, I spent many hours every week researching jobs online, writing cover letters, updating my résumé, and sending out applications.
I fit in networking, too, and would reach out to people in hopes of making a meaningful connection.
The whole process was exhausting. Even worse, not seeing results took a toll on my confidence.
Can you relate to that? Are you in the midst of a job search that’s taking a toll on your confidence?
If you can relate to this in any way, I want you to read this week’s blog post because I have 4 tips to help you alleviate this process.
Work on your intention and purpose.
I’m always going to start with the foundation, which is to identify where you want to go and why.
Finding your purpose in your career takes time and self-reflection.
If you’re not there yet, that’s ok. You can start with one or two components of finding your purpose and leverage those.
Think about what you’re good at. Can you identify your strengths and link those to specific examples in your experience?
Or, what about your values? What do you stand for? Let your values drive the type of culture you seek.
One thing I learned from my painful job search process in business school is that in the end, the whole experience is a lot less painful if the job you’re applying to aligns with your values and what you really want to do.
Prepare your application.
After you have some direction on your strengths, values, and overall purpose, you can start preparing.
Your application likely consists of the following: a résumé, a cover letter, a LinkedIn profile , and a personal story. These are just the basics. I can spend hours talking about each one, but I’ll call out some key points for each.
Résumé: A clean format, good writing, and correct spelling go without saying.
One thing you may not know is that the résumés that stand out the most are the ones that are results-oriented.
For example, if you work in digital marketing, what were the budgets you managed? How many campaigns did you work on, and what were the success rates for those campaigns?
Listing out your specific results paints a great picture of your accomplishments to the person reading your résumé. Seeing your successes and specific workload is more memorable than a description of your role.
Cover letter: Your cover letter should not be about you and what you want to accomplish. It should focus on how your experience can help the employer.
What skills do you bring to the table that will directly address their needs?
Learn their challenges, make it about them, and they will want to hear more.
LinkedIn profile: Having a social media presence is critical for building your brand. It’s a great way to share your areas of interest and expertise with others.
If this overwhelms you, focus on a solid summary highlighting how you add value. Keep your job details to short, succinct descriptions.
Personal story: Your story is an opportunity to be vulnerable and share your BIG dreams and vision with employers.
Who are you? Where have you been, and where do you want to go?
Instead of thinking about it as an elevator pitch, let’s go a little deeper (in 30 seconds or less).
Leverage your personal interests.
What do you find yourself doing in your free time? Do you have a hobby or another passion? Are you exercising any of your strengths?
If your current job doesn’t align with your personal interests, that’s ok.
Take some time to brainstorm what you can or may do outside of your regular work hours. Do any make sense to integrate into your application? You can demonstrate your skills and values with experiences outside of your 9-to-5.
Doing something on the side, if you have time, can give you joy and allow you to exercise your strengths and build new skills. It could be a great way to make a transition into a new industry or job where you may not have much experience.
Remember, you are not your job.
If the job search has got you down, and the experience has taken a toll on your confidence, remember that your value does not come from recruiters or employers hiring you.
You’re amazing and unique. You don’t need anyone else to validate that.
And, you’re not alone. Many of us have experienced this same thing at one point or another. If you aren’t getting anywhere, take a break, clear your mind, and reassess. Or seek out a career coach or a community. There’s nothing more powerful than personalized help to help you get unstuck and get moving in the right direction.