The job hunt: it’s something we all go through in our lives, yet there’s still a surprising amount of mystery around it. Do I need to write a cover letter? What’s the best way to prepare for an interview? And why do I never hear back, even after sending dozens of applications?
We know that many different aspects of the job search process can be confusing — and as a company whose mission is to help people everywhere find jobs and companies they love, we wanted to provide some clarity. That’s why we hosted How to Get a Job Live!, a livestream dedicated to helping people beat the competition and get hired. In it, we heard from job search experts, recruiters and even Glassdoor’s Chief Economist about what it takes to find the right company for you, stand out from the crowd, write an excellent resume and more.
1. The Time to Apply Is Now
Good news for anyone thinking about moving onto a new opportunity — we’re undoubtedly in a job seeker’s market, according to Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain. The U.S. has seen nine years of continuous economic expansion, allowing businesses to add jobs at a steady clip. Some particularly hot industries, like healthcare and tech, are hiring even more. With so many opportunities available, companies are working hard to attract the best and the brightest to their companies, which can result in improved benefits packages, higher salaries and other perks that entice candidates.
It’s important to remember, though, that these favorable conditions won’t last forever — after all, what goes up must eventually come down. Chamberlain’s advice: Take advantage of the job seeker’s market while it lasts. If you’ve been thinking about finding a new job, there’s no time to apply like the present.
2. Bolster Your Skills
Just because there are tons of open positions, though, it doesn’t mean that recruiters are lowering their standards — you’ll still be competing amongst other talented candidates. And as technology has advanced, employers expect potential employees to have more specialized, technical skills. One of the best ways for you to stand out from the crowd is to show employers that you’ve mastered hard skills like these. In particular, Chamberlain recommended familiarizing yourself with data analysis, as nearly all roles work with data in some form and can benefit from deriving insight from it. If data analysis isn’t your strong suit, consider taking an online course.
3. Include the Most Important Resume Info Up Top
Your resume is the first impression recruiters and hiring managers have of you — and if you don’t grab their attention, it will likely also be the last. The average recruiter only spends about six to seven seconds on a resume, so make sure it’s easy for the reader to gather all of the most important information with just a quick scan. One way to do that, suggested job search expert Scott Dobroski, is to include a professional summary up top that doesn’t just state who you are and what job you’re looking for, but the unique value you bring to the table and your most valuable skills.
4. When in Doubt, Write a Cover Letter
On most job listings, you’ll see “cover letter optional” — something that causes a lot of confusion for job seekers. Is it truly optional, or is it just a test to weed out less committed candidates? Most of the time, cover letters aren’t required, Dobroski said, but attaching a well-written one can only help your application. For one, it shows strong communication skills, which are a necessity for nearly any role, Chamberlain pointed out. For another, it gives you an extra chance to sell yourself. Cover letters should be quick, one-page documents that provide added color on why you’re interested in the opportunity, what you’ve achieved in your career, how you did it and why you’re a good fit for the job.
5. Research, Research, Research
The single biggest mistake you can make in an interview is not preparing for it beforehand. This means looking up the basics of the company (industry, products/services, recent articles), common interview questions (making sure to practice the responses aloud with a friend), information about your interviewers and more. This will help you come across as a more informed, passionate candidate.
6. Always Negotiate
One of the biggest misconceptions job seekers have about negotiating salary is that their job offer will be rescinded if they ask for a higher salary. But this is virtually unheard of — as Dobroski said, “I’ve never seen that to be the case.” So be comfortable asking for more, but make sure it’s based on hard data around what your market value is. Use Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool to help inform the range you ask for, although you should make sure not to start with your lowest acceptable salary in a negotiation! Finally, don’t forget to see if you can negotiate additional benefits — companies are often willing to accommodate requests for additional vacation days, workplace flexibility and more in order to seal the deal with a strong candidate.
7. Don’t Judge a Company By Its Industry
In the second half of the livestream, recruiters from Facebook, Salesforce and Kaiser Permanente shared insight about their company cultures, how candidates can stand out and what they look for in interviews. One of their main pieces of advice for job seekers: Don’t assume you can’t apply to a company because of the industry they’re in! Claire Arnold, recruiter at Kaiser Permanente, shared that you don’t need to be a doctor or nurse to work at her company. While about 70 percent of Kaiser’s positions are healthcare related, they still have tons of open jobs in fields like administration, marketing, IT and more. Similarly, you don’t need to be a software engineer to work at tech companies Facebook and Salesforce. While yes, they do have many open technical positions, they also need talented folks in roles like sales, recruiting, finance, HR… the list goes on.
8. Ask Questions in an Interview
Even if you feel like you’ve gotten sufficient information already, you should always take an interviewer up on their offer to answer any questions you might have. In this situation, interviewers aren’t just trying to help you out — they also want to see if you can ask questions that demonstrate that you’ve done your research and have critical thinking skills. One question that Ashley Core of Salesforce loves to hear is “How have you given back to the community?” At Salesforce, community service is huge, so this proves that candidates did their due diligence in the research stage.
9. Don’t Take It Personally
Near the end of the livestream, recruiters were asked what the best piece of career advice they had ever received was. According to Facebook Recruiting Director Liz Wamai, it was “Don’t take it personally.” This is especially applicable in the job search. When you get rejected, it’s easy to get down on yourself, and think “What’s wrong with me?” But oftentimes, recruiters will pass on a candidate not because they don’t like them, but simply because they don’t have the right role for them at the moment or they need a little more experience under their belt first. If this happens to you, don’t get discouraged — if you keep applying thoughtfully and bringing your best self to the interview, it’s only a matter of time before you get an offer.