I recently gave the following advice about looking for a job. I thought maybe other folks would find it useful. It’s kind of a next generation job search, it’s an expansion of what Ted Leung called Job Search 2.0.

  1. Write down your ideal job, then take a serious look at yourself and think whether you would hire yourself for it. If not, what skills do you need to develop that would make you the ideal candidate for that job?
  2. Write down a list of 5-10 companies you would love to work at. I would argue that you don’t know if you would love to work there until you have had a genuine conversation with someone who works there or who has worked there recently. If you don’t know 5 companies where you would love to work, then find them.
  3. Write in your blog* at least once a week about something in your field that would be interesting to a potential colleague at your dream company.
  4. Figure out what are the relevant conference, local meetups or whatever for your target job. Start attending those. Consider whether you could propose giving a talk. If you don’t feel qualified, what can you do to while unemployed that would qualify you to give such a talk? Do it.
  5. Tweet each blog post and about web articles you read in your field that are interesting.
  6. Consider volunteering doing something altruistic that hones the skills required for your dream job.

Be active in your field even if you don’t have a job. If you keep honing your skills and your ability to communicate about them, two things will happen:

  1. You will know better what you want to do and who you want to do it with
  2. Your job will find you

If you don’t have a blog, start one

You have something to say that no one else is saying. Even if there is some repetition with what other people have said, that is ok. I’m sure my blog is mediocre at times, but it is often excellent, and sometimes I don’t know when I write something whether it is old hat or new insight… sometimes it seems old to me since the idea has been rattling around my head for a while, but everyone else thinks it is amazing…. sometimes I think it is amazing, and everyone else ignores it. Writing a blog has helped me figure out what I am passionate about.

In any case, your blog tells a public story about you and when you are seeking a job that is really important. Also, there are less experienced people in your field who might really find what you have to say helpful. It is both marketing and a public service. Over time, google will find your resume more often on the front page of searches, and over time people reading your blog will think…. maybe this person is a fit for this position that has just gotten approved, maybe I should call him or her before I post the job.

Start by just writing a little bit about interesting stuff you’ve read. Linking to other people’s writing on the Web invites them to read what you write (if they are following their referrers as most people do). Some of those people will like your blog and come back or tell their friends or tweet about it. Eventually you will have a small following of people in your field who are interested in the same things you are. That is unique, compelling and powerful.

4 thoughts on “how to look for a job

  1. Sarah,
    I really love this post. I have friends out of work or “mis-employed” right now, I’m happy to have your sage advice to point them to!

  2. Heres some advice from someone who actually has a job:
    1. Don’t write a blog, its a waste of time. Spend that time applying for jobs.
    2. No one starts out in their ideal job. Be prepared to settle for your second or even third choice. The first step is always the hardest. Once you get in a company you can make contacts and move around.
    3. You’re best chance of finding your first job is through a relative or a friend. How far you advance after that depends on how hard and how smart you work.
    4. A blog is public whining. Spend less time complaining and more time improving your current skills.
    5. Out of every 40 job applications you make you will get one reply. Out of every 10 interviews you get called for only 1 company will take you seriously.

    Sarah, your advice is too sugar coated and optimistic. It’ll lead to people trying hard then failing and giving up. Be more realistic.

  3. Reed,

    Both Ted and I have jobs and are both experienced hiring managers. I didn’t mean to apply that people should not apply for jobs or do traditional networking, but I don’t believe that spending 100% of your time applying for jobs and interviewing is possible. There is always downtime between interviews or when you are waiting for a response and you want to use that time to make yourself an expert (or at least more skilled) in your field.


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