The job market is a daunting beast. Just as HR professionals are sifting through resumes, it can feel like a slog to search through job ads in order to find one that doesn’t sound soul-sucking. Let alone something approaching “dreamy.” You’ll never be able to fully identify the perfect job from just the ad. It will take the entire interview process for you and your possible employer to get to know one another. But there are a number of ways to screen job ads in order to prioritize your time and apply for the jobs with the best chances of resulting in an attractive offer.
Job Application Requirements
If all a job requires is a resume submission, it can’t hurt to give it a shot. But if you’re going to need a customized cover letter and resume, it’s time to scrutinize the job ad to make the best use of your time. It’s a good idea to have a healthy mix of low-investment and high-investment applications out there. If you get a response from a low-quality job, take the interview! It’s a great opportunity to practice your interview skills. But remember to save your creative energy for applications that pass your litmus test and that require an in depth process. Pick those carefully, as writing an original cover letter can be quite a time sink.
Job Ad Quality
Everyone makes a typo now and then, but there are places where presentation should be perfect. If a company doesn’t care to show their absolute best work to applicants, you shouldn’t care to work for them. Even if you’re not applying for a position that involves advertising or communication, remember that poor job ads likely attract poor candidates. If you ended up taking a job with a badly written ad, the chances are higher that you’ll end up working with people who don’t pull their weight or with a team that’s being mismanaged.
The first thing to look for when you’re screening an ad is the transparency of the language they use. Do they say “great benefits!” or do they go into detail about the insurance and 401k options they offer? Look for in-depth descriptions of position duties, and watch out for buzzwords and heavily marketed phrases. If they can’t tell you what you’ll actually be doing, an application may not be worth the effort.
Remember that while you are a job seeker, you’re also bringing valuable skills to the table. You’re worth time, money, and you deserve to go into a situation knowing what the terms are. Believe in your abilities and talents, and approach job-hunting knowing that you’re worth the effort, and a transparent recruitment process. If the business looks worthy of your time, remember to note some keywords they do use and add them to your resume!
The first question to ask is: Does this recruiter know what company culture means? The easy way to answer this question is in whether they define it. Do they simply ask for someone who will adapt to the company culture? Or do they explain what that means, what the team looks like, and how a new employee fits into the equation?
If you get more information, great! But that alone isn’t enough to decide whether the job is right for you. There are different kinds of cultural organization models that inform company culture models. Look at your own experience and history, and make a note of which potential models you’ll thrive within. Company culture is becoming an increasingly important hiring priority, so chances are if you know you’ll struggle with the culture, you won’t get past the interview.
Work environment and culture is likely to be one of the biggest influences on whether or not a job is a perfect fit. Do your research well, look into glass door company reviews to inform your decision, and direct your application.
There’s a lot you can find out by running a Google search of the company name, plus some keywords. Add charity to find out about their community initiatives. Search under news to see what sort of press they get. If you want to be extra thorough, you could look through court databases to find out if they have any pending or in-progress lawsuits.
Give Yourself Time and Space
If you’re feeling financial pressure, it’s important to find ways to take the edge off while you perform your job search, so that you don’t feel obligated to take the first thing that comes along, even if it isn’t a good match for you. And if you’re exhausted from constant job searching, your decision making process might not be as sound.
If you’re between jobs and on a time limit based on your finances, take something part time. Or you can join up with a temp agency to take the pressure off. You might even need to take an entry-level full-time position while you keep searching for that perfect fit. It’s important not to see taking a job like this as a failure — just a stepping stone on the way to something perfect.
Remember to take breaks, especially if you need to work while you search. Give yourself days off to focus on your family or on personal care. Job seeking is a job in and of itself, and, just like all other jobs, you need to find the right work-life balance. Do whatever you need to in order to recharge, whether that’s spending time in the woods or reading inspirational quotes about change.
Your dream job likely won’t pop out at you for a long time. It could take weeks, months, or even years to transition into a career that is your “end goal” in terms of job satisfaction. Until then, don’t lose heart. Open yourself up to new opportunities, volunteer and network whenever you can, and try not to get into the mindset that your life needs to be on hold until you “make it.” In the meantime, improve your skills, keep searching, and keep learning.