Finding a job is like dating: both people have to like each other, to get to know each other, and have similarities for it to work long-term. Job searching is also like dating in that it can be overwhelming and time-consuming. To avoid heartbreak (and workplace burnout), it’s important to first know what mistakes to avoid.
These are some mistakes job-seekers make when job searching.
So how do you know if it’s a match? Job searching is a process. Here are some steps you can take.
You’ll need to be a little introspective first. Going into the job searching process without knowing what you’re looking for means you might settle for less without even knowing it (until it’s too late). It’s important to have a list of your priorities, values, and non-negotiables. Don’t forget to rank them! This way you can rule out potential jobs before you get too invested. Update this list as you get more work experience too- this is a step you’ll revisit every time you job search. Save yourself some time and heartbreak by being clear and real with yourself about what you want.
Some factors to consider prioritizing: remote vs in-person, predictable day-to-day vs going with the flow (aka consistent vs fast-paced), non-profit vs for-profit industries, flexibility vs structure.
TIP: If you’re a newer professional or don’t know where to start, read our 12 Personality Tests article. These tests can help you figure out the type of work environment that best suits you and your personality.
We all make better decisions when we have more information. The job searching process is no exception. Tap into your networks and ask the real questions. You may personally know people in the industry or company or you might have to use tools like LinkedIn to get connected. You may consider setting up some informational interviews (more on informational interviews here) to get the inside scoop. Take inventory of the information you’re missing and seek out the right people to get your answers. Don’t have any direct or indirect connections? Check out these sites for company reviews.
Taking this step before submitting an application could also result in a referral. So don’t be shy! Show your initiative by reaching out and leaving a good impression.
Some questions to ask: What’s the company culture like? What type of professionals are rewarded and recognized? How does management lead their team? While it’s good to know the technical logistics of a new job (such as the type of skills you should have), finding the right job fit is more about the “under-the-surface” context you can’t automatically see by reading a job description or company mission statement.
This step is a more advanced version of step two. While you can gather information from connections, it’s best to hear it directly from the people you would actually be working with. The questions you ask here should be ones that quickly let you know about the employer’s expectations and if you are willing to meet them.The end of every interview is your opportunity to interview your interviewer. Not only does it show you’ve done your due diligence, it shows your confidence.
You should also keep a list of responses. This list can help you navigate your next steps. Answers to questions like what made the previous person in this position successful and what was one thing they could’ve improved will make you a savvier job-seeker when applying to similar roles.
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You’ve done your research, asked the right questions, connected with several people…now what? Well, does this job make you excited? Are you already fantasizing about starting or what new projects you’d like to take? Does the manager give you a good vibe? Does the job meet many, if not all, your priorities, values, and preferences you listed in step one? Or does the job at least meet your top three to five priorities? If so, that’s a good indicator that the job is a good fit. If you’ve found a good fit, then no need to go to step five.
If you’re looking at multiple positions, compare to see which one meets most of your top priorities.
You’ve all heard about the sunk cost trap, right? When you invest time, effort, and other resources into a project only to find out it isn’t worth continuing, some people tend to continue to pour in more resources to justify their previous investment. Same can happen with the job searching process. You may have gone through steps one through four only to realize the job(s) you’re looking at are not good fits. Don’t be scared to walk away. In the long-run, walking away now will save you more time and effort.
Job searching is a lot. If you’re going to go through the process, you might as well do everything you can to land a job that works for you. Be patient with yourself as you navigate it. Job searching is a process with a learning curve. Remember, don’t settle, you’re worth it.
Article written by Leticia Garay