When it comes to looking for a job, identifying the type of job you want is the single most important thing you can do. This will make it easier to be effective in your job search while also ensuring that you’re focusing on roles that match your interests and your skill set.
Here’s what you need to know about landing the job you really want.
1. Identify your career goals
Although it may seem a bit intimidating to outline your five-year plan when you’re just starting out, setting career goals is a great way to ensure that you’re focusing on the big picture and looking for roles that fit with your long-term plans. The best way to do this is by determining a specific career goal and outlining the steps you’ll need to take in order to get there. With this goal in place, you’ll be able to create a clear path for yourself and increase your chances of landing your dream job.
Pro Tip: If you want to outline more than one goal that’s okay too, but be sure that at least one of your goals is something you can achieve within the next one to two years. Short-term goals are great for maintaining focus in general and when you’re just starting out, having achievable goals is even more important.
2. Develop the right skills
Once you’ve identified your career goals, it’s time to take stock of your skills and identify opportunities for learning and improvement. This will help you determine where to focus your energies and also give you a better idea of how to showcase your current skills in an impressive way.
Pro tip: Don’t panic if you don’t have all the skills you need for a specific job. Instead, look for ways to develop those skills by taking classes or taking on projects. Hiring managers are always impressed by candidates who take a proactive approach to learning and building your skill set in this way will show them that you’re a self-starter who is motivated to learn and grow.
3. Have a great resume
Although having a strong skill set is important, those skills aren’t enough without a great resume to showcase them. When writing your resume, be sure to focus on your key achievements in each previous role (including internships and part-time jobs) and to use numbers to quantify those achievements.
Pro Tip: Your resume should represent not only your accomplishments, but also the fact that you’re a well-rounded person, so don’t be afraid to include skills and achievements from extracurricular activities or individual projects.
4. Network effectively
Networking is a key component of professional success and it’s especially important if you’re just starting out in a particular industry (or when you’re looking to change industries). The best way to go about it is by reaching out to people in your alumni and social networks and staying in touch with co-workers and managers from your previous jobs. This is a great way to ensure that you’ll hear about new opportunities directly from people in your network and that you’ll already be on their radar when they’re looking to recruit for that the role that might just be your dream job.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have any contacts in your particular industry, don’t be afraid to send a cold email to someone you admire asking them to grab a cup of coffee or have a 15-minute phone chat. Chances are, they’ll say yes and you’ll have the opportunity to connect with someone who can help you understand the ins and outs of the industry.
5. Nail the interview
The final step to landing the perfect job is nailing the interview and this comes down to doing your research and being prepared. We recommend the R.E.A.F. approach — doing your research, being enthusiastic, asking questions and following up. Once you know who you’ll be interviewing with, take the time to research them and their role at the company. This will give you a sense of how your role will interact with theirs and help you understand their specific expectations for that position. Another great thing to do is to practice answers to commonly asked interview questions like, “Tell me about yourself,” and “What are you passionate about?” so that you can answer them confidently and present yourself in the best possible light.
Pro Tip: If you’re feeling nervous about the interview, try practicing with a friend. Ask them to quiz you on specific questions and to give you feedback on your answers. This is a great way to get a confidence boost and will also help you realize that the interview is really just a conversation.
Having a plan of attack is the first step to landing the job you want. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting there.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?