Often times, my friends will ask me when the best time to look for a job is. My advice? Usually right before the holidays. Why not wait until after the New Year? Because your competition will be more fierce. When someone goes home for the holidays they are doing a complete assessment of their life with their friends and their family and that’s when everyone’s opinions are going to weigh the most. Since it’s the turning of the new year the opportunity of a fresh start is the most appealing. Then it’s off to the races!
I recognize that we’re post holidays right now, but since I’ve been getting this question a lot in the past couple of years, I thought I would share a couple of tips.
For context, I tried this method myself the last time I was job seeking and was able to solidify everything in a month. It will sound like a lot of work upon reading this, but I promise you that it will be worth it. The goal here is 1) to work backwards and 2) to make sure every application is on the same timeline.
Identify what is important to you
What are your non-negotiables and be honest with yourself here. People feel an interesting stigma if they list compensation as a component that is important to them like it makes you look like a bad person. It doesn’t. As an individual, you have commitments, bills, and people that depend on you. It’s no one’s business what you’re using your income on, but you should be mindful on where it lands on the spectrum for you. A few years ago when I was job searching, I did this exercise on myself and wrote about it [here.]
Update Your Resume/LinkedIn
As a recruiter, one of the things I become frustrated by is when an individual submits an old resume. I take a look at every resume before I hop on the phone with someone. When I learn on that phone call that you left what looks like your “current” job several months ago or that you’re in a new role that isn’t on your resume, I feel like I’m being deceived. As a candidate, you may not see this as a big deal. You may think your shining moment is when you can explain yourself over the phone about this discrepancy. It’s not.
In addition to making sure things are current, take a closer look at the language you are using. Is what you’re writing about your job responsibilities something that could be found on any resume? Is it so general that it’s unclear what you actually did? Every space on your resume is crucial. And every bullet should describe how you have impact in your job and for the company. Be specific about what you did and use clear numbers.
- Make a list of companies that interest you
- Does this company have an opportunity available that you are a match for?
- If so, who is your closest contact in the company that can give you more info or make the intro to info chat?
- Do your research on the company. The first question that I ask every candidate whether they are actively looking or not is “What do you know about us?” I’m not lying to you when I say that the answer to this question can either make it or break it for someone.
Have these info chats – make sure they all happen within the same week or two
Each info chat should have a purpose. This is your chance to ask the questions you want to know with someone from inside and without the pressure of it being an interview. With that being said, know the questions you want to ask before you get to the meeting. Dive a little deeper than asking “what is it like to work at ____?” or “what’s the culture like?” In my opinion, I’d love to retire these two questions because they are so general and broad.
Also remember to use this time wisely. This person didn’t have to say “yes” to an info/coffee chat with you and they are using their own time so make it worthwhile.
Begin the application process
Now that you’ve gotten your resume and LinkedIn ready and you’ve got a clearer idea of where you want to work at, it’s time to send those applications off! Choose a day where you can do this all at once because like I said before, timeline is important. The reason why you don’t want to apply to one-off situations is because you want your phone interviews, onsites, and offers to all happen at the same time as other companies. Also, if you’re applying to roles directly, make sure you take advantage of anyone else that can refer you first. Those applications will make it into a recruiter’s hands faster.
What you should know before you hop on the call with a recruiter
You should be able to answer the following questions:
- What do you know about the company?
- Why are you applying and why are you interested?
- What are your compensation expectations – compensation may not be the number one thing you are optimizing for, but you are hurting both yourself and the recruiter if you can’t be honest about this early on. You also run the risk of wasting everyone’s time.
- What’s your timeline? You don’t have to know at that moment when you want to start your next job, but you should have a general idea. Do you have bonus coming up that you want to stay till? Is there already a planned vacation? Your recruiter should know these details.
- What else do you have in process? Candidates always think that sharing details about who they are interviewing with or where they are at in a process hurts them in some way. It doesn’t. As recruiters, we don’t talk to other recruiters or companies about your candidacy ever. Being open and sharing these details with recruiters helps us to move faster for you and helps us understand what you’re looking for and what could be a better fit for you regardless if it’s with us or not.
I recognize that not every process is the same. You could follow all of these steps and depending on the recruiter or company, the process could still be dragged out. At least with these, you can control some of it! I hope this is helpful and if there’s anything I should dive deeper on, I’m happy to do so – just leave a note in the comments!