Before The Interview – Part 1

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Where do I begin?

Now, where do I begin? That’s a question most of us face when we begin looking for jobs. First job, change of jobs, change in career, it does not matter. During each job search, I realized that the most difficult phase of a job search isn’t the interview prep, the interview, or the endless time spent waiting for that mythical “get back to you” to actualize. The most difficult part of a job search is landing an interview or sometimes landing the right interview. As in life, there is no fool-proof method to ensure that you always get what you want, but you can always give yourself the best opportunity. If you don’t, who else will?

Campus Placements

If you’re a fresher, a good way to get your first job is at campus placements, but it’s also a great way to settle for a job that you didn’t really want but took anyway. If you get placed, great. If not, there’s no need for despair. As it is in some cases, you’ll be spared the mess of an indefinite wait for the offer letter to arrive. On the bright side, while placement percentages in your institution may be high but you didn’t make it, not all companies go to colleges and not all jobs go to the placement center.

Job Portals

Conventional job portals like NaukriFreshersWorld (run by TeamLease, a recruitment specialist), ShineCareerAgeTimesJobs are good, but there are several other places that you can look at. Portals like IndeedMonsterNeuvooCareerBuilder, and CareerJet open up global opportunities. You can add professional networking sites such as Glassdoor (not strictly a networking site), LinkedIn, and Xing to that list. Then there are other sites such as AngelListInternshala, and Tyba, which focus on startups or internships. Big tech companies such as Microsoft and Google offer internships as well.

Working Remotely

One of the best things about the Internet is that you don’t have to leave home to work and you can work from wherever you want. Remote.coRemoteOKWorkew, and WeWorkRemotely list remote jobs from small startups to multinational organizations. Some employers themselves, such as GitLab, are completely virtual and offer remote-only jobs. Websites such as FreelancerFiverr, and UpWork offer freelancing gigs.

Would you like to take a long workcation instead? Websites such as SafetyWing, HackerParadiseRemoteYear, and TheRemoteWorkSummit are dedicated to helping employers, employees, and freelancers work remotely in some amazing destinations. Also, check out NomadList that lists remote jobs in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Hey, if your dream job has a snowcapped mountain or deep blue ocean, don’t let anyone stop you!

Employer Job Boards

Most employers have their own job boards; you’ll find it under the Careers section on their website. Find the companies that you want to work for, and look up their Careers section. Many startups may not post jobs to all the job portals; it may just be on their job board or sometimes even word of mouth. You can follow sites such as Inc42 and YourStory to find a startup that you might like to work for someday.

Who’re Your Friends or Connections?

A lot of recruitment happens through word of mouth or referrals across all levels. Reach out to your friends if you think you’d like to work at their company. Maybe there’s a job opening that’s being discussed but not out on the job boards yet. Referrals from your friends or connections can help you land an interview faster than any job portal could. If not at their company, they may know about an opening somewhere else. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out for help.

Cold Calling

Works. Credit cards, loans, top-ups, university admissions, and what not take advantage of this nice little trick: “if you need something like this, let us know”. It’s just that. The company that you want to join may not have an opening for you currently, but if it’s a growing company, they will soon do. So, send them your cover letter and resume anyway. And when the opportunity opens up, you may find yourself in line to grab it. Desperate situations call for desperate measures.

Cast Your Net Far and Wide and Have an Open Mind

Your dream job may not necessarily be in the industry or even discipline that you’re looking for. You’re just as likely to find a data science job in a university as you’re likely to find a content job at a pharmaceutical company or a software engineer job at an e-learning company. Before I joined ansrsource 8 years ago, I wanted to find a job that would just let me write. Little did I know that a team of 100-odd people was sitting in a house-converted to an office building in the by-lanes of Domlur crafting assessments and courses for students/learners around the world. I was in the education industry when I joined; 3 years later, the company and I had stepped into the e-learning industry, and from content authors, we were now instructional designers.

Quality Over Quantity

You can’t understate the importance of finding the right job to apply to. Identify what you’re good at. Ask yourself what you’re good at; ask around and you’ll know what your friends/colleagues think you’re good at; look at your track record to see what you’re good at and enjoy the most. At the end of this exercise, you’ll hopefully know what jobs you should apply to. Job searches can be really frustrating, especially if you’re not receiving any callbacks, but resist the temptation of applying in bulk to each and every opening you see. If you’re really desperate, maybe. Even then, be more thoughtful about the job openings that you really like.

Edit Your Resume

Now that you’ve found an application-worthy job, take some time and tailor your resume to the job requirements. You may have 100 experiences worth sharing, but distill this information to the most important and relevant ones for the job you’re applying. With most employers using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), you don’t want to be rejected just because you don’t have the right keywords. Considering the volume of CVs that recruiters receive, you would be doing both, yourself and the recruiter, a favor by including only the most important information.

Avoid using the “QuickApply” option that you find on job portals because that usually submits the default profile or resume. Various job portals and companies offer a paid resume refresh service (of course, they would know the hacks to beat an ATS). Or you could take a crack at it yourself by referring to material online, such as this course from Udacity. Microsoft Word has some clean templates that you could use. A quick Google search will land you more templates and samples. Always Save or Print as PDF and share your resume. This ensures that all the formatting and styles are preserved.

Craft a Cover Letter

Not all companies require a cover letter, but if they do, it would be nice to create one that’s specific to your goals, the job requirements, and the company that you’re applying to. This also ensures that you think about the jobs that you’re applying to. There are times when I’ve realized that a particular job/company is not for me when typing out my cover letter or introduction email. Keep it short and crisp. Let them know who you are, why you’re applying, how you could help them, and why they should hire you. Put as much thought into it as you would if you were writing a love letter. I would skip the XOXOs though. You can check out some examples from TheMuse.

Keep at it!

You’ve applied to various jobs and are waiting for the HR team to get back. What do you do now? Keep looking and keep applying until you land your dream job. Work on your skills. Take up a course maybe or volunteer somewhere. If you’re a fresher, you might want to intern or work on some projects. Do not do nothing. Do not wallow in self-pity. Let the rejections come. Remember, there’s a piece of software out there getting paid to reject you after parsing a page of words. You have more skills and are better than that.

There’s a company somewhere that needs someone like you; they just don’t know it yet. While you’re looking for your dream job, they’re looking for their dream employee. At the time of writing this post (11:12 GMT, Mar 4), LinkedIn alone has listed 17,663,076 job openings worldwide and 638,554 in India. There’s a world of opportunities out there. Keep knocking and a door will open.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🍌 on Unsplash
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