For many occupations it's a job seekers market, so creating a detailed job search checklist will help land the opportunity you want.
Career experts are saying we're in a job-seeker's market as companies try to out-compete one another for the handful of workers willing to return under current conditions.
Read through this comprehensive job search checklist and mark off each of the following tips for a better shot at landing the job you want and building a sustainable career path.
Prepare for your search
- Create a resume. First, create your resume to highlight your skills and career accomplishments. Make sure to include the proper industry terminology and quantifiable metrics. When you've gathered your information, consider your resume design and have an eagle-eyed friend read through it to catch grammatical errors.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. Since you're already working on your resume, why not import that information into your LinkedIn profile? Through LinkedIn, you can apply for jobs, network and build your skills. Make sure your profile closely matches your resume. You don't want any discrepancies. If a hiring manager searches your name online, you'll want a strong, complete profile to appear at the top of the results.
- Write down your personal considerations. What are your personal and professional needs? Do you need help with child care or flexible hours to support your lifestyle, coursework or side projects? List, review, and prioritize your necessities before looking for a job.
- Research the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows you to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons for 12 workweeks within 12-months. Small businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt from FMLA, so if you think you may need to take family leave, you'll want to work for a larger company. Keep in mind, you won't be able to take leave right away. Even working for an eligible business, you must have worked there for at least 12 months and completed 1,250 hours of work over that time.
- Find affordable child care or elder caretaking solutions. Child care challenges have become a barrier to work, especially for women who shoulder a disproportionate share of child care responsibilities in a country with no guaranteed federal child care assistance. Too often, mothers must make career decisions based on their kids' considerations rather than their goals. Navigate the Child Care & Development Block Grant and the Child Care for Working Families Act for programs that will help support mothers and benefit children.
Search for a job
- Search online job boards. These days most jobs are posted online. You should check out boards that attempt to be comprehensive, like Indeed and Glassdoor, as well as industry-specific boards such as K12JobSpot and HigherEdJobs. Every industry has its niche job boards that might turn up a position not posted on mainstream sites.
- Target specific companies. Your search will be more focused if you're able to narrow down the type of company you'd like to look for. Most companies post open positions on their websites. Check your top picks' job boards every day just in case they post a fitting position.
- Talk to a recruiter. Many companies like The Mom Project and Après are specifically geared toward helping women build their careers or reenter the workforce. Use these resources in your search. They're here to help.
- Dismiss vague job ads. When you come across a job ad, make sure it explains the role in detail, including a description, requirements, and information about the company culture, values and objectives. Bypass generic job ads and descriptions that don't reveal these details.
- Look for remote work opportunities that are right for you. Identify companies and organizations that offer flexible schedules or part-time work and respect your lifestyle and needs. You can, for example, search job boards for phrases like "flexible scheduling" or "part-time."
- Choose companies whose core values align with yours. A healthy work-life is vital to having a healthy life overall. Company culture is the attitude, behavior, and shared values of an organization. Research a company's culture by checking out its website and asking around to determine if its core values are consistent with yours.
- Tell your friends you're looking for work. While we like to think casting our resume into the waters will reel in a great position, the reality is that up to 80% of jobs are found through personal connections. So, in addition to applying for jobs online, you should post on social media and reach out to your friends and family, to let them know what type of work you're interested in.
- Hit the pavement. Many retailers, fast food establishments, and other blue-collar businesses post "help wanted" signs in their windows. In these industries, showing up to apply for a job on the spot is common and even welcome as they look to rebuild their post-COVID workforces.
Applying for jobs
- Break down the job ad into a list of skills. Read the job description. Make note of traits explicitly listed as skills and every duty or qualification that implies the use of a skill.
- Make a list of all other requirements for the role. Look for the required years of experience, education and all other qualifications outlined in the job description.
- Cross-reference these lists with your own lists of skills and quantified achievements. Narrow down your listed qualifications to those relevant to the role, and stay mindful of synonyms. If a role requires "point-of-sale operation skills," for example, that's synonymous with any "cash register training" you already have.
- Customize your resume to match the job ad. Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically eliminate resumes that don't include keywords found in job descriptions. This means it's safest to use an ad's exact phrasing and spelling when writing your resume.
- Review your resume before sending it. Fifty-nine percent of recruiters will reject a candidate with a resume that includes poor spelling or grammar errors. You can't afford to make this mistake. Use spell-check. Run your resume through Grammarly. Re-read it, then re-read it again.
- Create a cover letter. A well-written cover letter can help provide context and storytelling to your career, education, and quantifiable achievements. This is also an opportunity to show your personality and share your story, but don't go overboard. Stick to your most impressive achievements.
Interviewing for jobs
- Do your research on the company. Read their mission statement and the bios of their leadership. If you know your interviewer's name, look them up on LinkedIn. Get familiar with their career history so you understand where they're coming from
- Stay focused, confident and professional. Don't lose focus during the interview and maintain a level of professionalism. This includes dressing appropriately. For some roles, business attire will be required. Style your hair, greet the interviewer correctly, let the interviewer take the lead, and closely listen to their questions.
- Ask good questions. Consider what you'd like to know about the company. Is it stable? How do the staff communicate? Who would you be working with? How large is the team? Is the company transparent? What values do they hold? How do they see this role growing in the future? All of the above give you glimpses into the company's culture and show your interviewer you are thinking deeply about the company.
- Carefully ask about work-life balance, working from home and flexible scheduling. For many women, these are burning questions at the forefront of their minds. But you need to broach these topics carefully. Save them for the end of the interview. Keep your tone enthusiastic and open-minded. Then ask what the hours are like and whether there are flexible schedules or work from home opportunities.
- Send a thank-you note. This occasional game-changer is often overlooked. Simply write a follow-up email to the interviewers. If you don't have their contact information, you can send your note to the recruiter to pass along. Always follow-up within 24 to 48 hours while you're still fresh on their mind.
- Follow-up on the status. Now the dreaded waiting game begins. At the end of your final interview, ask when you can expect to hear back from them. Once that timeframe has elapsed (often two weeks), you should follow up with the recruiter or HR representative you've been in touch with. You should reiterate your high level of interest in the position and why you're qualified in your email. End by saying thank you for the opportunity.