I’ve been there—at the rock bottom of a job search, after looking for three months—feeling like there is absolutely no hope in sight. No callbacks. Not even rejection emails.
But, instead of crawling into a ball and watching three more hours of Chopped on Netflix, I decided to do whatever it took to improve my resume and land a job.
That’s when a friend sent me a bunch of articles from The Daily Muse. It’s true: The advice I read propelled me from getting absolutely no traction to landing three job offers all in the same week. It still feels surreal looking back on it.
Here are the four things I did to supercharge my job hunt.
1. I Focused
You may be tempted to cast a wide net while searching for jobs, but a lack of focus is detrimental. First, looking at jobs you aren’t really qualified for is a waste of time. While you may, in theory, be capable of handling a job in marketing, communications, or sales, if a company is looking to fill a marketing role, I believe they most often want a strong marketing person—not someone who is marketing-adjacent.
When you invest time applying to jobs you aren’t perfect for, you burn yourself out emotionally. Figure out the one specific thing you want to do and let that guide your search. You’ll spend less time searching and more time applying for jobs you can actually get.
Moreover, there’s no way to keep online profiles like LinkedIn tailored for several different disciplines at the same time. If you try to present yourself as someone who could do three different types of jobs, you could come off as scattered or, worse, inexperienced. All it takes is a couple easy steps to clean up your LinkedIn profile to make you look as focused as your job search.
2. I Beat the Computer
When I started applying for jobs on LinkedIn, I was sorely disappointed to learn I was in the bottom 50% of applicants. It really sucked, because I thought I was more than qualified to get these jobs, yet LinkedIn’s algorithms were telling me I was awful. That’s when it hit me: I had to beat the robots.
If you can’t get past the software, you’re not going to make it to a living, breathing HR person. Even if the company you’re applying to doesn’t use resume scanning software, optimizing everything as if it were going to be scanned brings focus to your resume.
One of the best tools to help with this is Wordle. Wordle creates word clouds highlighting the most used words in a document, and when it comes to optimizing your resume, you can utilize it in two huge ways.
Run the job description you’re applying for through Wordle. You want to find the most common words that pop up, because those are the exact same keywords HR uses to scan through resumes. It’s important to incorporate these keywords in an organic way so it makes sense to the human reading it later.
Run your resume through Wordle before sending in your application. You might be surprised to find that even though you edited your resume a bunch of times, unexpected words rise to the top that don’t match the keywords from the job description.
You can either complain that everyone’s using resume scanning software or recognize it’s out there and use it to your advantage to get a leg up on the rest of the competition.
3. I Reached Out to Everybody I Know
You may feel silly writing an email to every single person you know, but guess what? You really need to do it. It’s not hard. In fact, here’s a template. Remember, you’re not looking for a job to be handed to you. You’re looking for leads. You still need to do the hard work of selling yourself and following up, but more leads will yield more chances to get a job.
So, be focused and specific about the kind of work you’re looking for. Don’t use broad statements like “I’d like a job as a writer” or “I’d like to be a designer.” If you do, your friends and family may gloss over your request because it’s not specific and actionable. Use specific titles or descriptors, like “I’d love to work in content strategy,” or “I’d like to utilize my business writing skills.”
4. I Followed Up With Every Opportunity Until I Saw an Offer Letter
Between your new and improved resume, optimized LinkedIn profile, and leads from friends, you’re going to have a lot of options. It’s important to follow up on every single opportunity that comes along—even if you think it’s not right for you.
You never know how much you may like a company or team until you talk to them. Even if you’re already in second and third interviews elsewhere, keep taking meetings until you’ve signed that offer letter.
For example, when I first met with someone at my current company, it was for an informational interview. It would have been easy to write off: The company did business outside of my core competencies, and I was already into second round interviews at three other places.
However, I took my informational interview seriously, and was offered a second round interview for a position that had recently opened up inside the company (which I ended up accepting). Now, I work at a truly amazing place, doing things I never imagined I’d get the chance to do.
If your job search isn’t going well, don’t give up. For three months, my situation honestly felt hopeless and I thought I would never find work. But, when I took the initiative to push forward, find great resources, and be open to change, things finally turned around. And if things can change that quickly for me, there’s no reason it can’t happen for you, too.
Photo of sprinter courtesy of Shutterstock.
TopicsCareer Stories , Job Search , Syndication , Finding a Job , Resumes & Cover Letters , Interviewing for a Job , Networking
Tone Hoeft is a producer at a digital agency where he leads the brand and campaigns team to help companies with brand identity, campaign architecture, and digital strategy. He was previously the head writer and producer of Hallmark Channel’s Hero Dog Awards for three seasons. Follow him on Twitter @thoeft.More from this Author