How to Find a Job – Practical Tips
How to find a job? This is a typical question that most job seekers ask. However, even experienced professionals (including myself) come across this doubt when one is looking for a job change for various reasons. In today’s fast paced world there are plenty of options available for job hunting compared to a decade ago or two decades ago.
You must know the different routes and options and adapt your strategy accordingly to get to the interview stage.
How to find a job – Why this article?
This “How to find a job” article is not about tips for getting your dream job but just understanding how you can go about finding any job that you like or look forward to. This is just about a ‘Systematic Approach to Job Hunting’ but it involves a lot of judgment and subjectivity too depending on the circumstances.
This will be helpful when someone faces the need to change his or her job for any reason – change in career plans, recession or layoffs, lack of opportunities, issues with current position, etc.
Some of the basics would be helpful for rookie job applicants (or freshers) while other aspects would apply to experienced professionals. Although we will touch up on how to apply, get an interview, etc I’m not trying to cover interview tips here.
Tips to find a job
Here are some particle tips to answer the common question – How to find a job?
1. Tapping Known Sources
In the olden days one had to wait for the Wednesday’s Times of India Ascent or other equivalent newspapers to view and apply. This option exists today but there are several alternatives. Some of the typical sources that you can tap in to include:
a) Newspaper (Print) Advertisements (Ads)
b) Online job portals
c) Professional Networking sites
d) Contacts or References
e) Approaching companies with your profile (online/offline)
Although these sound obvious the nature of communication and application formalities can differ as per the medium. I can give you a few pointers for tapping each source effectively, but you also need to adapt to the actual circumstances in case they are different.
A few tips below might be helpful.
a) Newspaper Ads
Try to read the advertisement carefully and make note of important points including eligibility criteria, requirement specifications, etc and see if you are meeting all the basic eligibility criteria before applying. A few other points to keep in mind include
- If there is any application format, stick to that
- Note down the position code or role applied for and mention in your application or letter
- Cut the advertisement and keep it for your reference
- On the advertisement just note the date when you sent your application
- Also make a note of any phone or email for future follow ups
- Where interview/test dates, time and venues are mentioned, please make a note and plan your schedule accordingly
In some cases you may have applied for a position a few weeks ago and may not remember the details. In that case having a clipping of the print ads is helpful. This can be vital especially when you get a call from the company representative to discuss an opportunity.
Tip: In case you forgot the position you applied for or the finer details you can politely request the HR Executive or Representative to send you further details. You can also give some highly sophisticated excuse as if you were out of town, travelling for work, etc.
b) Online Job Portals
Internet is a boon for job seekers and opened up a large medium where recruiters and candidates connect. I’ve seen the time before year 2000 when most job application were through traditional media like print advertisements only. Today one can easily have a profile online in any portal such as Naurki, Monster, Job Street, Shine, etc and search for opportunities and apply online.
To tap job opportunities on job portals you need to have the following in place.
- You must have an email ID and a resume to start with.
- Get registered on 2-3 job portals with your updated resume. Keep your user ID and password for reference.
- You need to provide basic details and contact information
Apart from these I have a few tips that I learned from my own experience as well as from others.
- Search: Learn how to search for your desired roles or profession. For instance if you want to get in to java programming you can type related key words like java programmer, java developer, etc. Similarly you can filter jobs by location, industry, position level, etc.
- Be Selective: Don’t apply to all and sundry, instead be focused and apply for roles that match your interests and qualifications. As discussed earlier make sure you meet the eligibility criteria.
- Updating Profile: Most people have an account on Naukri, Monster, etc but fail to update their contact information due to which most calls, emails or job opportunities will not be forthcoming. Ensure that your contact information, resume and other details are updated.
- Follow up: In this case follow up is quite easier because in most cases either the recruiter or the company executive will get in touch with you to explain the position and basic details. If you don’t have the details you can request the same so that you are aware of the role/position and the company.
- Keeping Track: If you are actively seeking a change I would suggest that you take print outs of key positions that you have applied for or note it in a diary or notepad.
c) Professional Networking Sites
You can use these portals to get contacts as well as to keep in touch with former colleagues, friends, classmates, etc. This is another way in which you can tap various opportunities and not just jobs. For instance you will get contacts in the following situations – creating a promotion campaign for your company, finding experts/trainers, getting professional help like auditors/lawyers/quality consultants, etc. In some cases you will also be able to find vendors and customers on portals like Linked In, Apna Circle, etc.
Some professional networking sites also have a jobs/careers section with features that are similar to job portals. I would strongly advise people to have a professional network – irrespective of whether you utilize it or not because contacts and references are always helpful. You also get to know updates and latest trends through this.
However, I would not advise you to use social networks such as Facebook or MySpace for this purpose. But those who have a separate professional ID on Facebook can still use it assuming it is separate from your personal ID.
d) Contacts or References
This is the good old system of contacting friends, colleagues, etc to know about any positions and also to keep in touch. You can also use this in conjunction with Linkedin and other networks. A few tips here will apply for any contact or company that you approach.
- Be open and frank about your intention to look for a change of position.
- Avoid talking about your personal problems– financial matters, marital issues, etc. You can share this with a trusted close friend but not with anyone else.
- Also try not to talk about issues with your previous employers unless you are asked during the interview. Stick to the peculiar answer saying “I’m looking for more opportunities and avenues to grow my career”. Never bad mouth or bring concerns about previous company unless it is something generic like layoffs, pay cuts, closure of branches/divisions, etc.
- Don’t get in to the sad or sober mode to earn sympathy. Most people either consider this as a negative trait or may capitalize on your desperate situation.
- Instead try to be bold, confident and throw a few good achievements and skills that you have which will create further positive impression to your contact – who will also be talking to his or her HR guys.
- Most people in India think that if their friend or colleague recommends their application they have a better chance. Not really! This is true only to an extent to get an interview but you have to prove to the interviewer about your capabilities to get an offer.
e) Approaching a company with your profile
This is not a good option frankly, because this is similar to cold calling that sales people do to get leads. This requires you to physically travel to a company and give your resume. But alternatively you can also apply online through the company’s website or careers page, which would be more smarter than travelling physically.
I feel applying online works at times, but I’m not sure about the effectiveness of offline company visits, but that can be one of the options to explore.
2. Job Fairs
Compared to approaching a company, this is a case where the company organizes an event or fair to attract more job seekers. This can also be explored and this has worked for some professionals.
In my personal experience I found job fairs a sheer waste of time (may not apply to you) because it is all about mass recruitment and you don’t really get a one on one interview in most cases. Typically this is used to recruit large numbers for entry level position so I am not really convinced about this.
However, I would still tell you to consider this as one option because I have seen many IT or software professionals getting opportunities through job fairs. People in other sectors can also try it as one of the options.
3. Make your own strategy
You have everyone including me offering free or paid advice. You need not accept everything at face value but try to adapt it to your situation or case.
For instance if you think and find that job fairs are the best places to get offers you can go to job fairs. What works for me may not work for you or someone else.
There are people who say that one should not have a profile on job portals unless one is desperately or actively looking for jobs.
Although I respect individual opinion, I find this absolutely foolish. How many people are not looking for better opportunities? Few….and even those who admit not looking for a change might change their mind anytime.
Conclusion – How to find a job
Unless you are from the Ivy League (IIMs, IITs, Harvard, etc) don’t expect that opportunities will come and knock you door. You have to take initiative.
Today this is true even for the alumni of top schools because they are competing with thousands with similar profile. If you have a positive frame of mind and focus, while exploring various ways to find a job, I’m sure you will get a few offers to choose from.
So try to tap various avenues so that you have a wider choice of opportunities to choose, as well as a back up in case some interviews don’t go well. Wish you all success in your job hunt.
Hope these tips on ‘how to find a job’ helps. You can share your comments as well as any job hunting or interview experiences or tips that readers as well as I can learn from.