Five steps to save time in your job search
By Anissa Ljanta
Looking for work can feel like a part-time job in itself. My advice is to approach your job search like you would any chunk of work and manage your time well. I have three words. Strategise. Streamline. Systems.
1. Get clear on what you want
First things first though. Get clear on what it is you’re looking for. This is the strategy part. Make time to sit down and outline the role you want. Get down to details:
- Are you stepping up in seniority?
- Stepping sideways into a new area of specialisation?
- What kind of mission drives you?
- Are you looking for a certain flavour of organisational culture?
- What days/hours do you want to work?
- Salary/hourly rate needs and wants?
- Do you want/need a flexible working arrangement? Fully remote? In office?
Getting clear helps focus your search and means you’re not wasting your time or anyone else’s.
2. What do you bring to the table?
What makes you stand out? What are your strengths? The standout achievements and wow moments from your work history? What are the transferable skills from other aspects of your life?
These are the things you want to highlight in your CV and cover letters.
This is especially important if you’re shooting for a more senior role or stepping into a different field – say, comms from admin.
3. Develop a standard CV and cover letter
You are a brand. Here’s where you fine-tune your pitch.
Develop a standard CV in an editable format like Canva’s resume templates that you can make small customisations to for each job application. You shouldn’t have to overhaul your CV everytime you apply for a new job, but you may want to highlight different outcomes or skills. So many of us in the do-good sector are exceptional all-rounders by necessity, you’ll want to underline different strengths and experience according to the roles you’re applying for.
Develop a customisable cover letter template that includes keywords that are likely to be picked up by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). A quick google will cover this. Some recruitment agencies rely on automated software to pre-filter CV’s and cover letters. A few keywords can help yours get past the robots. Other tips for outsmarting them are spelling out acronyms and including keywords from the job description – ATS aside, this is always a good idea.
4. Keep it all on file
Set up a computer folder called ‘Job Applications’ and keep a record of each CV and cover letter you send. No point in recreating the wheel, you can use existing material for similar applications. Just customise, adding specific sections talking to each aspect of the role. Label the documents with the organisation you’ve applied to.
I copy and paste the job listing and include the job description when I first see it too. A listing might get pulled before the deadline for whatever reason. If you have all you need, you can still apply.
5. Set up email templates
I am always amazed at who doesn’t know this, and bear with me if you do, but most email service providers have the option of setting up canned responses or templates (e.g Quick Parts in outlook and Templates in Gmail). Again, that wheel is invented, use it!
Set up email templates for the following:
- to enquire what the salary range or hourly rate is
- whether it’s a permanent or contract position
You can customise it to the person responsible for recruiting, the organisation and the role, and add any other clarifications you need before you hit send.
Wahoo! NOW you’re ready to start your search.
Set aside a regular time to scan job listings. Twice a week is plenty. You have everything ready to respond fast when the right roles come up. Checking job listing sites can become unhealthily obsessive for some people, it helps to have boundaries in place.
Make sure your network know you’re looking for work – be specific, no point in wasting anyone’s time. Hone your pitch with friends or video yourself on your phone and play it back until you can watch it without cringing.
Priming your referees is a good opportunity to talk to them about any roles they know of. This is the perfect time to reach out to former colleagues and people you admire in your field and sector for coffee dates and drinks.
Streamline your job search and get creative
The digital world makes job searching easy and fast but there are a bunch of platforms to keep across these days.
There are job listings on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook – set up Google Alerts to get notifications. Use the advanced search options on job listing sites to optimise your search and sign up to any other sites or newsletters that advertise in your field. Have a think whether there are other places unique to your role to keep an eye on.
A little used tactic is to identify the organisations, social enterprises and/or progressive businesses you’d like to work for and figure out how to get in. I’ve even been known to cold call. It worked. Worth a go!
And don’t forget to sign up for the Do Good Jobs weekly update to get the latest job listings straight to your inbox every Thursday, or set up a custom alert. Automate as much as possible and have those listings come to you.
Good luck out there!
About Anissa Ljanta
Anissa is an online content and comms specialist with a long history in the not-for-profit sector both here in NZ and internationally. She is on the board of her small local community library, is part of a delightful book club, several writers’ groups, and her idea of a fun Saturday night involves writing and wine. Words, social change and deep ecology are at the centre of her life.
Anissa can be found (and hired for word geekery) at www.anissaljanta.co.nz