Looking for a job can be a challenging process - whether you lost your previous one or are simply looking for a new challenge, wanting to make sure you’re making the right choice and leveling up your game.
You worked on perfecting your CV and even went the extra mile: took a career coach session, met a vocational psychologist, read career blogs or listened to hours of “how to nail a job interview” podcast episodes. Now, you’re fired up and ready to start sending your resumes and apply!
Applying, having a great CV and learning how to interview are great assets you can’t do without - but in a highly competitive talent market, they’re not always enough to stand out. Welcome to the job of searching for a new job!
Being a Proactive Candidate
During my 7+ years in recruitment and 10 years in HR and personality assessments, I’ve been engaged with hundreds, if not thousands, of job seekers and candidates.
Each had different backgrounds and experiences, but they were all looking to find a job they’ll be passionate about, just like you. From my experience, I can confidently say that the ones who were more proactive and engaged with the process were the ones more likely to win the hiring team’s attention and land the job.
So what does it mean to be proactive and engaged? It’s an approach you can apply to every step of the process. Here are some tips that can come in handy, and are very appreciated by us recruiters:
01. Proactive Job Search
Looking for a new job proactively means more than just looking at job boards and/or LinkedIn job listings. It’s so much more than marking yourself as “open for work”. It means research and taking action, rather than signaling to the world that you’re waiting for someone to reach out to you.
Try creating a list of dream employers based on people you know, interesting articles or web resources. Whether you're a startup person or a corporate lover, you can narrow down the options by location, size and industry with sites such as Owler, Crunchbase or Similarweb. You can research them online as employers on sources like Glassdoor, LinkedIn and social media. Follow the companies you’re interested in and keep track of the positions they open. If the job description isn’t clear enough, talk to people you know who are in similar roles, in order to get a better understanding of what it means and if it’s a fit with what you’re looking for.
Next, after you found companies that excite you, message the recruiter who shared a post on LinkedIn, or try to locate that former roommate who now works for that very cool company and ask him to share your resume internally.
If you didn’t find something spot on, reach out to people you know who work at companies you’re interested in, and send them your resume in case they hear about a new opening. This way, you’ll make sure they are aware you are open for business, and that they can contact you when new positions open up. Remember - not all jobs are posted, and it’s always good to get your resume circulated among contacts. At the same time, try to not get it over-circulated and flooded within that same employer (it’s likely that it’s the same person who’ll get it from all sources). One or two is more than enough.
02. Proactive Job Application
So you located your dream job in your desired company - great job! But now what? Should you just click on the “apply” button? You could, but so do dozens of other people.
When there are a lot of candidates and applications, it’s likely that a recruiter will first look at resumes received directly from a candidate or as a referral from someone at the company - so send it directly. Didn’t get a response? Make sure to follow up after a week. If you’re reading this after you’ve already applied, no worries - you can let the recruiter or your contact know, and they’ll locate your resume.
Just remember: make an effort for the positions that really interest you, and don’t apply to every single open position at the same company. Sending the same resume to lots of different jobs signals that you’re not focused on a direction, and don’t really care what you’re going to do (in it for the company, not for the job).
As for cover letters, my advice is to use them wisely. There’s no need to go above and beyond, unless they add anything, clarify or emphasize something in your resume.
03. Being a Proactive Candidate
Hopefully, you received the long-awaited first phone call. Ideally, you were able to do your “homework” before - researching the position and the company. If you weren’t, be confident and ask to hold the call later in the day, and use the time to prepare.
In this call, you’re expected to explain why you’re interested in the opportunity and demonstrate your knowledge about the product/service. Make sure you also have questions to ask at the end of the call, as these show engagement, enthusiasm and commitment.
04. Actively Responsive
You can’t always be available or anticipate the next phone call, but you can do little things - such as saving the contact details of the recruiter, so you know it’s them calling. If you’re unavailable, send a “busy” message and get back to them when you’re free. Same goes for emails: try to stay attentive to your mailbox and answer emails as soon as you can.
If there’s an assignment or exam as part of the process, try to provide a reasonable timeframe for completing the test. In case you need more time, try to ask for an extension during the given time - not after missing it. This shows you care about the quality of what you produce, and don’t just look for excuses.
And remember: typos, glitches, and spelling mistakes are the tiny things that can make the difference between a good test and a bad one. If you don’t take the time to read through and fix typos, you’re signaling that you’re not thorough enough, or didn’t take the task very seriously.
05. Salary is All About Expectations
If you reached the point where you discuss salary expectations, it’s recommended that you do a proper salary benchmark search beforehand. Know your worth and what you’re expecting, but also make sure it is somewhat aligned with market trends. In case you feel that your expectations are higher than the market, prepare a good argument to explain it (and state it with confidence!). At the same time, be open and receptive to offers that include other benefits that might compensate for some of the desired amount. Don’t be fast to dismiss - even if it doesn't work now, it might be a good basis for future negotiation.
06. Prep Your References
References are a super important step in the process, and you can be proactive here as well. Don’t only tell your references that you are applying for a job, but also share the details of the position, what it takes, and what are the key skills you’ll need to demonstrate as part of the job. This way, they can understand what needs to be highlighted best on your acquaintance, and even come up with an example or two. The outcome of a reference call can almost always be positive, as long as your reference is properly prepared.
07. Proactive Onboarding
Remember: the hiring process is only the start of your employment journey. Try to keep as engaged as possible before the start day. Speak with your direct manager and ask what’s necessary to have a good and smooth start. If possible, try to actually engage with your future colleagues and maybe even meet them.
In conclusion, being “there” is a crucial part of the process. It means you try to stand out, leave a good impression, come prepared and make sure you are memorable. This obviously requires more effort and time, but looking for a new job is a job in itself.
Good luck in your job search!
Yoni Portnoy, Talent Acquisition Partner at Wix