The Ultimate Guide to Job Hunt - Land Your Next Job in 2021
Looking to land your dream job, but not sure where to start?
We don’t blame you - job hunt is far from easy. You need to:
- Find the jobs that are a perfect match for your skills.
- Edit your resume to perfection.
- Write that pesky cover letter.
- Answer all those interview questions.
- And that’s just the start.
If all that feels overwhelming for you, you’re not the only one. A lot of people consider job-search to be a scary, daunting process.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be. The main reason people consider job search to be hard is that they don’t really understand it too well. After all, job searching is a skill on its own.
If you know the ins and outs of resume creation, job interviews, and all other pieces of the process, you’ll see that the job-search process is actually very easy!
This brings us to this guide. We wanted to create the most comprehensive guide to job hunt in the world, something that can turn a job search newbie into an expert in no time! And, well, hope we succeeded!
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to:
- Write an Irresistible Resume (That’s Also ATS-Friendly)
- Create a Convincing Cover Letter (That Doesn’t Look Like a Copy-Paste)
- Ace the Upcoming Interview (Even If You’re an Introvert)
But first, let’s start with the basics:
What Does Job Hunting Mean?
Job hunting, job seeking, or job searching is the process of looking for employment, whether it’s because of unemployment, dissatisfaction with the current role, or any other reason.
The job hunt process usually looks something like this:
- Define your career goals. What kind of role are you looking for? Do you want to stick with your current field, or make a career switch?
- Create a resume. Write a resume that’s easy to read, concise, and convincing.
- Pick job boards you want to use. There are dozens of job boards in just about any country. Pick the ones you want to use.
- Apply Rationally. When applying for jobs, don’t spray and pray. Instead, apply specifically for the companies and positions you’re a good fit for.
- Research companies you want to apply for. Don’t just blindly apply for positions - research the role and the company and see if they’re a good fit for you.
- Write a tailored cover letter. Don’t just use a copy-paste cover letter template. Explain to the recruiter why you’re a good fit for the role AND for the company.
- Tailor your resume to the role. Don’t just submit the same resume to every position. Tailor it based on what skills and experiences each employer is looking for.
- Ace the interview. Memorize the common interview questions, practice, and ace the interview.
- And most importantly, get hired!
In this article, we’re going to cover each of these steps one-by-one, starting with #1!
And no, job search isn’t something you do in one evening. You don’t just decide to look for a job on Monday, submit 2-3 applications, get a call for an interview, and land the job.
We wish it was that easy!
In fact, the average job search process can take up to 5 months from the day you submit your first application, to the day you get hired.
What this means is that you should be looking for your new position proactively and on-the-go. You should submit 5-10 relevant applications every day, 5 days a week.
Step #1. Define Your Career Goals
Before you even get started with the job hunt, you need to decide on your exact career goals.
When thinking about your career goals, think about it strategically.
First, define where you want to be in 5-10 years. Do you want to be in a management position or a more senior role?
Then, define what kind of skills and experiences you’d need in order to get hired for that position.
Finally, look for the positions that are likely to give you the skills and experiences to get you to that level.
Some other things to consider at this stage are:
- Are you applying for a similar position to what you have now?
- Are you completely switching careers? In that case, you might want to learn how to make a career change resume.
- Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time? How is the job you want to apply for going to help you get there?
- Are you applying for a role more senior than your experience level? Do you have the skills for it?
Are you a recent graduate, not sure of what career path is the right for you?
Just go for whatever feels right, and try it on for a year. You’re not getting married to your first job or career choice. You can always switch if you don’t like it!
Step #2. Create a Convincing Resume
This one can be a 5,000-word guide on its own - there’s a lot that comes into play when creating a good resume.
If you want a full run-down, check out our dedicated guide to writing a resume.
If you’re just looking for a quick start, though, here are the cliff notes:
Like step #1, you need to pick a resume template. We recommend going with one of our favourites here:
Then, you need to decide on what content you’re going to include in your resume. The must-have ones are:
- Contact information
- Personal statement
- Work experience
- Educational history
And the optional ones are:
- Hobbies & interests
- Extracurricular activities (perfect for students)
- Volunteering experiences
Now, as for getting your resume contents done right, here are some of our top resume tips:
Tip #1. Use a professional email address (e.g. [name] + [last name] @gmail.com)
Tip #2. Mention achievements instead of responsibilities wherever possible. The recruiter already knows what your role involved. What they want to see is how YOU stand out.
Tip #3. Stick to relevant work experience. The recruiter doesn’t have to know about your first internship or a part-time job you worked 10 years ago. Mention only recent & relevant work experiences on your resume. The golden rule here is to include your last 3-5 positions tops.
Tip #4. No work experience? No problem! Recruiters don’t actually expect you to have work experience if you’re a student. Just fill up your resume with the experience you DO have (coursework, extracurricular activities, projects, etc.). For more on this, check out our guide to the student resume.
Tip #5. Back up your skills. You can’t just say “I have leadership skills” without backing it up. All skills you mention in your resume should somehow be backed up with practical experiences on how you applied this skill in real-life.
Tip #6. Make your resume ATS-friendly. In 2020, over 75% of all recruiters and hiring managers use applicant tracking systems to filter through their candidates. Meaning, unless your resume is well-formatted, chances are, the ATS might not be able to read it and automatically discard it.
Making your resume ATS-friendly is a very lengthy topic, though. To learn everything about ATS resumes, check out our dedicated article.
Tip #7. Use a resume builder. Alternatively, if you want to avoid all the hassle of formatting your resume, you can use a resume builder like Novoresume.
Our builder works with all the most popular applicant tracking systems out there, ensuring that your resume gets a pass every single time!
Want to learn more about how to make a convincing resume? Check out some of our top resources:
Step #3. Pick a Job Board
There are dozens of job search sites in just about every country, so you’ll have to pick the ones you’ll focus on.
Some of our favourite international job boards include:
Or, you can also use some of the niche job boards for specific professions or industries:
- Hired.com - IT & tech job board where companies apply to YOU instead of the other way around.
- Dribble & Behance - The most popular job boards for designers.
- WeWork Remotely & Flex Jobs - Job boards dedicated to remote work.
- AngelList - Looking for a job in a startup? AngelList is a job board dedicated to positions in early-stage companies.
Are you a high-skill professional with years of work experience? You can also look for a job with the help of recruitment specialists.
You can do this by applying to recruitment agency websites online, or reaching out to professional recruiters in your area, and asking if they have something relevant for your skill-set.
Step #4. Apply Rationally
The most common (and wrong) approach to job-search is to spray and pray. Meaning, apply to dozens of positions every day and hope that one of them sticks.
This is not just annoying for recruiters, but also very impractical and unlikely to work for the job-seeker.
If you spray and pray, you’re not just going to get rejected from the jobs you’re not qualified for, but also the ones you’re a perfect match for (because you didn’t tailor your application for their company and position).
Instead, when applying for jobs, we recommend:
#1. Apply only for the positions you’re genuinely interested in and qualified for. E.g. if you’re a junior finance analyst with 2 years of experience, you’re never going to get the role of a senior banker - that’s just not what the recruiter is looking for.
And #2. Apply to 5-10 positions every day, 5-days a week. Job-search is a process, it’s not something you do in one evening and call it a day. For the average job-seeker, the job-search process can take up to 5 months, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get good results in just a week!
Step #5. Research The Companies & The Positions
Before you hit that “Apply” button, you should do some research on the company and position. And trust us, this is going to really help with your job hunt!
You’re going to use the information you find for:
- Tailoring your resume to the job.
- Personalizing the cover letter for the position/company.
- Answering the interview questions better.
- Negotiating for a better salary.
Here’s how you can do your research:
First, check the company background information. Here’s the information you should be looking for:
- What’s their product/service? Do you have experience working with something similar? If that’s the case, you’d mention this in your cover letter or interview.
- What’s their company culture like? You can learn this from GlassDoor reviews. Is the culture the type you’d get along in? Mention this in your interview or cover letter (and explain how/why!).
- What’s the latest news/developments at the company? You can mention this at the interview to “wow” your interviewer!
Then, read the job description in-depth, and really understand what the role is about:
- Do you have all the skills & work experience mentioned in the job description? If so, does your resume reflect this?
- Did you mention all the must-have skills in your resume?
- Is this position a good match for you at this current time? I.e. Do you have the skills and years of experience for it? Or are you overqualified?
- What are the most important experiences required for the role? Make sure that you make them “pop’ on your resume & cover letter.
Finally, you can also research the following:
- What’s the average salary range for this role with your years of experience?
- What’s the average salary for a similar position to yours in the company? You can find this information on GlassDoor, and use it as a salary negotiation leverage.
- Does the company really seem like the type of place you’d enjoy working? You can learn this from reading up online reviews.
Step #6. Write a Tailored Cover Letter
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your resume).
The average cover letter is approximately 250 to 400 words long, and it acts as a pitch for your resume.
See, your resume is just an objective account of your past experiences, skills, and education.
A cover letter, on the other hand, is a written document on how you’re going to use these experiences and skills to help the company you’re applying for.
A well-written cover letter should be structured as follows:
As for your cover letter contents, here are some of our best tips:
Tip #1. In your cover letter, mention:
- The role you’re applying for.
- Your top skills (that are relevant for the role).
- Top 2-3 biggest achievements that are going to help you succeed with your new role.
- Why you’re passionate about working for the company you’re applying for. Is it their product/service? Their company culture? Mission?
Tip #2. Don’t sound robotic. Look at the cover letter as a personal letter to the recruiter in charge of the hiring process. Convince them that you’re the right choice!
Tip #3. Tailor your cover letter to the role. For each position you’re applying for, either completely re-write or tweak your cover letter.
Tip #4. Want your cover letter to stand out? Use one of our well-designed cover letter templates.
Tip #5. Need some inspiration? Check out our top cover letter examples. Or, here’s one for good measure:
We’re often asked, “do cover letters even matter? I’ve read somewhere that no one actually cares about them anymore!”
Yes, they do matter. Given, if you’re a senior professional with a very in-demand skill-set, you can get hired even if your cover letter is awful. Or on the other hand, if you’re really underqualified for a role, a cover letter won’t change the recruiter’s mind.
However, a good cover letter can still:
- Grab the recruiter’s attention (even if you’re not super qualified for the role).
- Allow you to stand out from the rest of the candidates who are as skilled as you are.
- Tip the scales in your favour. If the recruiter has to invite 1 out of 2 equally skilled candidates for an interview, they’re going to call the one with a more convincing cover letter.
For more top content on cover letters, check out some of our best articles:
Step #7. Tailor Your Resume to the Role
Most job-seekers create a single resume and apply to dozens of positions with it.
That’s actually a wrong approach - you want to tailor your resume to each position you’re applying for.
Chances are, you’re not just applying for this one specific type of role. E.g. if you’re a sales professional, you could be applying for 4+ types of positions:
- Sales specialist
- Sales team lead
- Outreach specialist
- Pre-screening sales specialist
And depending on which role you’re applying for, you’d want to tweak your resume.
If you’re applying for the role of a sales team lead, for example, your resume should talk about your experiences with managing a team, rather than personal sales results.
- Managed a team of 5 enterprise salespeople, managing to hit and exceed our company’s yearly sales KPIs by over 30%.
- Did outbound sales, selling over 20 subscriptions per month.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to work as a sales specialist, you should focus more on your personal sales skills and results, even if you have managerial experience in the field.
Here’s how you tailor your resume to a specific role:
- First, read the job description for the position. Identify which skills/experiences are mandatory for the position, and which ones aren’t.
- Go through your resume and change your job title to the exact role you’re applying for.
- Then, mention the essential skills in the “Skills” section.
- In your resume summary, mention your years of experience with the position.
- In your work experience section, talk about your top achievements that are relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Step #8. Ace the Interview
Even the biggest extroverts tend to hate interviews, and for good reason too.
Image sitting there in a strange place you’ve never been to before, having your entire career and educational background judged by strangers you’ve never met.
Then, they throw one complicated question or another, and you’re just sitting there bumbling nervously.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right practice and dedication, interviews CAN be easy.
Here are some of our top tips for acing the interview!
First thing’s first - let’s talk interview basics & etiquette.
Before you even go to the interview, do some preparation. This includes:
- Get a good night’s sleep before the interview. You will both feel better, less stressed, and leave a better impression on the interviewer.
- Eat a healthy breakfast so you’re energized for the interview.
- Check the location of the interview, and prepare your route. Make sure you can physically get there on time.
- Dress for the job. Applying for a job in a bank? You can impress the interviewer with the classic suit & tie. Innovative startup? Business casual (or even a t-shirt and shorts) can cut it.
- Prepare the clothes you’re going to wear the day in advance, so you don’t end up spending too long deciding what you want to wear.
- Don’t over-caffeinate. It might seem like a good idea to drink that double-latte so you’re energized for the interview, but it might also make you jittery and anxious.
During the interview, be courteous and professional. Here’s how:
- First off, relax. Take a deep breath, empty your mind for a second, and focus on one question at a time.
- If you’re the anxious type, try to slow down. Don’t pressure yourself to answer the questions super fast, take your time, and really think about your answers.
- Keep in mind that the interviewer is your friend. They want you to succeed just as much as you do!
- Be humble. Don’t brag about your achievements, talk about them objectively.
- Leverage your body language. Make eye contact with the interviewer (but not too much), sit upright, speak slowly, and try not to fidget.
We know, we know. It’s one thing to tell someone “just be confident,” and it’s something completely different to actually do it.
Acting just right on an interview is hard, and it takes a lot of practice. However, just keep our tips in mind, attend interviews, and you’ll get there eventually!
If you want to speed up this process, you can also work on improving your social skills in your own free time. Do what makes you uncomfortable, meet new people, and network with professionals in your field.
Finally, we also recommend practicing and memorizing some of the most common interview questions and learn how to answer behavioral ones.
Here’s what they are:
Common Interview Questions
Most interviewers ask pretty much the same questions. So, if you’re prepared for them, you’ll have a much easier time answering.
The interview questions you should prepare for include:
- Tell me something about yourself
- Why did you decide to apply for this position?
- What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- Do you have any questions for us?
- What’s your biggest achievement?
- What kind of work environment do you work best in?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
For a complete list of all common interview questions and answers, check out our article.
Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral interview questions are a bit different than the traditional interview questions, so we thought we’d cover them too.
These are the questions that start with:
“Tell me about a time when you…”
These questions are tougher than the rest because they’re all about YOUR experiences. If you don’t have the experience, you won’t be able to answer it correctly.
There is, however, a strategy you can use to tackle the behavioral interview questions:
Here’s how this works. For each behavioral interview question, your answer should be structured as follows:
- (S) Situation - What’s the context of the situation? What was the problem you had to solve?
- (T) Task - What’s the task(s) you had to complete to fix the problem?
- (A) Action - What actions did you take to fix the issue?
- (R) Result - What were the results of your actions? How did the company benefit from this?
Other Job Hunt Tips
#1. Set Aside Time For Your Search
Don’t expect to land the very first job you apply for - job-search is a lengthy process that can take (on average) up to 5 months.
Set aside 2 to 5 hours every day where you’re going to specifically be looking for and applying for positions.
#2. Don’t Limit Yourself to Online Resources
While online job-search is the most popular method in 2021, it’s not your only option.
Here are some other ways you can conduct your job hunt:
- Add local recruiters on LinkedIn, and ask them to help find you a job.
- Reach out to your professional network and ask if their company is hiring for your role.
- Ask your close friends if they have an opening in their company and if they can refer you.
- Attend job fairs.
- Reach out to companies you’re really passionate about and ask if they have an opening for you. If you’re convincing, they might hire you even if they don’t have an opening.
- Attend networking events.
#3. Take Advantage of LinkedIn
Don’t have a LinkedIn profile?
Well, you’re definitely missing out!
LinkedIn comes with a ton of awesome uses for a job-seeker:
- You can use it to keep in touch with your professional network.
- If your profile is well-optimized, recruiters can find you and contact you with job offers.
- You can see where your friends and acquaintances work, and reach out to them for a reference if their organization is hiring.
Job Hunt FAQ
Still have some questions about the job hunt process? We’ll answer them here!
#1. What is the best way to job hunt?
- Apply for 5-10 positions every day, 5 days a week.
- Talk to your friends and family. Ask if anyone they know is hiring and if you can get referred.
- Attend job fairs and networking events.
- Use multiple job search engines to make sure that you find all the possible positions for your skill-set.
- Don’t have any work experience? Look for an internship.
- Reach out to recruitment agencies and see if they have anything relevant to your skills.
- Contact local businesses (restaurants, bars, etc.) and ask if they have any openings.
#2. How can I get hired with no work experience?
Here are our top tips for finding a job if you don’t have any work experience:
- On your resume, focus on the skills and experiences you do have. This can be hard skills you learned in your free time or at school, personal projects, volunteering experience, etc.
- Work on yourself. Take online classes, earn certifications, and attend trainings or conferences.
- Meet a person who works in the field you want to join. Pick their brains on what skills/experiences you’ll need to get a similar job.
- Apply for internships. If you’re a recent graduate, chances are, no one’s going to hire you for a senior position
- Apply, apply, and apply! Don’t get discouraged if you get rejected. The job search can be a long and tough process, but if you stick to it, you’ll definitely land the job.
#3. When should I start job hunting as a student?
We recommend starting your job hunt around a month before your graduation date so that you have a job lined up once you're out of university.
Alternatively, you can also take the summer off, and start your job hunt during Fall.
#4. What’s the best job search engine?
There’s no such thing as a “best’ search engine. Usually, what’s best for you depends on your location, and which search engines are popular there.
The rule of thumb is, the more companies and positions a job board has, the better it is for your job hunt.
And that covers just about everything you need to know to succeed with your job hunt.
Now, let’s recap all the important info we covered in this article:
- Job hunting is a process. Dedicate free time to it, and apply for 5 to 10 positions every day.
- Want to significantly boost your chances of getting the job? Learn as much as you can about resumes, interviews, and the job hunt process in general.
- Don’t limit yourself to online job boards. Apply to jobs in real life, via LinkedIn, through referrals, and any other potential sources.
- Don’t spray and pray with your application - hand-pick roles you’re a good fit for.