Learning how to navigate the online job market is a skill set in and of itself. With so many listings and so many applicants, the process can raise key questions like ‘how can I stand out from the other applicants?’, ‘what kinds of skills and qualifications are most in-demand right now?’ and ‘how can I prepare for a virtual interview?’. The process of finding a job is also a form of work!
In this post, we’ve gathered tips that can help you to effectively search for job listings, prepare your application and interview confidently for the position. With a strong toolkit at your disposal, a positive mindset and an open-minded approach, you’ll be well-positioned to chase after the job of your dreams and continue to build your career path.
The job search
Why are we beginning with the job search and not with resume preparation, you ask?
Standard advice will tell you to begin by preparing your resume. This is absolutely useful if you don’t yet have an existing one to work from. However, for those whose resumes may just be in need of a touch-up and some key updates, it can be helpful to do an assessment of the current state of the jobs listed online before you spend time and energy completing your resume update.
This is because researching job listings may help you to identify the kinds of language that are commonly used from post to post. If you see a focus on particular hard skills, soft skills or experiences that recruiters and companies are currently searching for in your chosen field, use these insights to revise your resume to include these specific touch-points.
Consider how you can highlight particular experiences, background details or elements of your career history to speak as specifically as possible to the needs of your potential employer – it’s just one way you can ensure your resume stands out in the pack.
Job search engines, including Indeed and LinkedIn, are powerful tools for finding a pool of opportunities. These platforms can reveal job postings that match your skills and experience, with the ability to search by keyword, location, company or even deeper levels of filters.
You can also set up automated job alerts to receive notifications the moment new job postings that fit your search criteria are added to their listings. This can be an effective way to ensure you’re one of the first applicants for a new role, letting the platform do the heavy lifting of identifying which opportunity is most suitable for your energy.
Other ways to discover opportunities
Alongside official job listings, networking can also be an invaluable way to find job opportunities. The internet gives us the power of access to a wide range of online groups that may be related to your field of interest or expertise. You may discover virtual networking events that allow you to make connections with potential employers or industry peers. While this may not seem like the most obvious way to find a new job, you may run into some happy surprises by meeting just the right people who can connect you with opportunities to take the next step in your career.
You may find that a career coach is also a valuable resource in your journey towards employment. Not only can they help you identify your strengths, weaknesses and career goals, they can also provide insightful feedback about your job search approach. Their unique industry visibility can help you assess whether the keywords and search approach you’re taking aligns with your interest, skills and desired career opportunities.
Some career coaches also specialise in working with individuals living with disability, offering tailored advice and support that’s customised to your unique needs. This can be a great step to take if you’re looking to build confidence in the process of your job search.
You’ve found a number of roles you’re excited to apply for. You’ve got a resume that reflects the specific criteria they’re seeking. What else do you need to do to prepare for your application?
Cover letters give job applicants a rare opportunity to talk about who they are, why they’re a great fit for the role and why the organisation should pay attention to them. Imagine you receive 100 applications for a single role: are you going to pay more attention to the applications with personalised cover letters, or those with something generic?
Personalising a cover letter doesn’t mean you need to write a novel. By simply doing some research on the company’s mission, values and products/services, you can tailor your letter to highlight how your skills and experiences align with them. A personalised cover letter is the space where you can show enthusiasm and dedication to the position, as well as highlight unique parts of your skills or personality that are relevant to the role’s particulars.
Skip out on using a generic template and you’ll also remove the risk of coming across as impersonal. By taking the time to craft a specific and targeted cover letter, you’ll be able to increase your chances of securing an interview and moving to the next stage in the recruitment process.
The interview is a crucial step in this process. If your interview is online and not in-person, you can prepare for this conversation by ensuring your technology is accessible and working seamlessly, and that your internet connection isn’t at risk of causing disruption.
Choose a space in your home that’s quiet, well-lit and private. You’ll also want to make sure your resume, the job listing itself and any other relevant documents are close by and easily accessible.
Preparing for common interview questions can help to calm your nerves. Work with a friend or family member to practise a wide range of interview questions that are industry- or role-specific (Google is your friend in finding these!). While you may still be asked new questions in the interview itself, preparing across a range of common questions can help you to enter the interview with a sense of calm and confidence.
You may find that the interviewer asks questions about your disability or accommodations necessary to the execution of the role. This is a great place to openly discuss any limitations or challenges you may face in the workplace and how you’ve successfully managed these in previous roles (or how these could be better managed in a new position). Keep in mind that it’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against you based on disability – so this conversation is an opportunity to highlight your strengths and skills, and how reasonable accommodations will allow you to perform the role’s duties.
One key to remember: ask questions in return! Many people incorrectly believe that the interview is all about answering questions. By asking questions about the role or the company, you can demonstrate your thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and capacity.
While finding a job may not be an overnight process, the ability to apply for – and interview for – roles online opens up a wide range of exciting career opportunities.