You know what they say: Hindsight’s 20/20. And when it comes to our careers—the good and the bad—we always know best after we’ve been there, done that.
That’s exactly why we asked our loyal Muse audience what they wished they’d known when they started job searching.
Read some of our favorite responses:
1. Go for Something Just Out of Reach (But Not Too Far)
You shouldn’t be afraid to apply for jobs that seem just out of reach, because your odds are usually better than you think. On the flip side, I once applied for a slew of jobs that were far above my pay grade and received rejection calls and emails for weeks. In short, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, but also don’t buy into your own hubris.
Follow Jacob’s Advice: Actually, You Should Apply for Jobs You’re Not 100% Qualified For
2. Get to Know the People You Admire
Many times, it’s not so much about your accomplishments, but who you know. Take a look at other people on LinkedIn who are working in places you want to work, and you will see not all have a traditional ‘path’ that would’ve made them an ideal fit…
Follow Jennifer’s Advice: 4 Tips for Reaching Out to Someone You Admire on LinkedIn
3. Show You Can Solve Problems
As Simon Sinek said, ‘It doesn’t matter how much you know. What matters is how clearly others can understand what we know.’ [Know] how to express clearly what value you have and what pains you can help to solve...
Follow Dainius’ Advice: 3 Steps to Convincing a Hiring Manager You’re the Solution to All His Problems
4. Create a Support System
Your network and (former) colleagues can be your strongest advocates and support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to make connections.
Follow Corey’s Advice: “Help Me Find a Job!” Emails to Send to Your Network
5. Don’t Skimp Out on Tailoring Your Application
[T]ailor your resume to every job you apply for and use exact keywords from job postings in your resume. I now work with an agency that helps people in their job search and teach classes on resume writing, and until I started this position, I had no idea that the applicant tracking system existed and how it works.
Follow Katie’s Advice: Beat the Robots: How to Get Your Resume Past the System & Into Human Hands
6. Be Your Authentic Self
Prepare well for interviews, and then make sure to be genuine and speak from the heart when being interviewed. Being authentic and not trying to say what you think is the safe and ‘right’ answer they want to hear was the key for me to get more offers.
Follow Michael’s Advice: How to Make Sure You Sound Like a Person (Not a Robot) in an Interview
7. Do More Than a Generic “Thank You”
Take note of what little personal information your interviewer reveals to you. It can help you connect with them, and including a bit of their own personality in a thank you makes an enormous impact.
Follow Melanie’s Advice: How to Write an Interview Thank You Note: An Email Template
8. Put Yourself in the Company’s Shoes
Instead of approaching companies with a ‘I want a job’ mentality, approach them with a ‘how I can help your company’ attitude. When you’ve landed an interview, always over-prepare prior, and improvise during!
Follow Saad’s Advice: The Ultimate Guide to Researching a Company Pre-Interview
9. Don’t Settle for Less Than What You Deserve
Don’t settle for mediocrity. Be humble and hungry and willing to learn a new role.
Follow Kris’ Advice: You’ll Always Regret Settling for a Job You Don’t Really Want
10. Make Your Own Decisions
Listen to your instincts and don’t let others influence your decision. In the end, you’re the one who has to do the work.
Follow Jennifer’s Advice: The 2 Big Reasons Why Your Loved Ones Give You Terrible Career Advice
11. Find Work That You’ll Actually Love
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Do work that builds you up most of the time.
Follow Stacey’s Advice: The Smart Way to Figure Out if You Should Accept That Job Offer
Previously an editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She’s written almost 500 articles for The Muse on anything from productivity tips to cover letters to bad bosses to cool career changers, many of which have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., CNBC's Make It, USA Today College, Lifehacker, Mashable, and more. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer and reader, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.More from this Author