Customize Your Application
Once you’ve customized your job search, take the time to customize your cover letter and résumé to every position for which you apply. While this also takes a lot of hours and thought, customization always beats the “spray and pray” method of applying for jobs; hiring managers look at a lot of résumés throughout the day, and they know instantly when one is generic.
When building your résumé, do the following things:
- Delete any and all buzzwords (i.e., passionate, problem solver)
- Don’t pad your education or experience
- Focus on how your work achieved results
When customizing your cover letter, show how your background and skills can benefit the employer; too many people use that document to describe what the company can do for them, as opposed to the other way around.
And while ‘spray and pray’ is bad, so is applying to only one job at a time. Submitting multiple applications can help give your job-search some much-needed momentum, and curb the inevitable disappointment when you don’t get a callback from one employer. Maintaining a spreadsheet of where you’ve applied is a big help.
Polish Your Online Profiles
Before you begin your job hunt in earnest, take the time to review all of your public-facing social profiles—yes, even your Instagram—and ensure that everything’s professional. Delete any potentially embarrassing images and posts, and make sure that your profile photos show you in the best possible light; if you’re wearing a hat with beer cans attached, for example, you might want to consider subbing that out for a generic portrait.
If you’re a developer, make sure that your GitHub and other repository profiles are similarly up-to-date, and that your existing projects are as “clean” as possible. Taken in aggregate, your online presence should show that you’re passionate about technology, and that you’re an expert in your current skillset.
Also, be aware that your current employer may periodically review your social-media feeds; you don’t want to post messages such as, “Looking for a new job!” or, “I can’t wait to get out of here!” That is, unless you want a really uncomfortable chat with HR.
If a recruiter or employer reaches out to you through social media, try to take the conversation onto another channel, such as phone or email, as quickly and discretely as possible. You don’t want your job search out there for all to see, especially if you’re connected to current colleagues (or even your company) through your social-media profiles.