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Advice from a First-Time Job Searcher

New Professionals and Graduate Students
January 17, 2023 Trent Allen

Everyone has an opinion on job searching. Whether they have done it once, twice, are currently searching, or haven’t searched in years, everyone has advice to give. As someone who is beginning their job search for the very first time, I find that all of the advice can be overwhelming and cause extra stress in what is already a very stressful time. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that I have people who are supporting me by offering this advice and helping me during this time. I couldn’t do it without them. But now that I have all of this advice, how do I decide what’s useful and what’s not? How do I decide what’s relevant to my situation? 

Surprisingly, there’s a pretty simple answer to that question. Advice is subjective and based on someone else’s experiences. What worked for one person may not work for you. Some people love to use excel files to organize their applications, but if that’s not how you like to organize, don’t do it. Learn what works best for you and stick to that. Adapt your style to the situations that arise, but you shouldn’t change what works for you just because someone else said a different way worked for them. We’re all different, and it’s encouraged to be. 

That being said, I have definitely received some general advice, tips, and tricks when it comes to job searching that has helped me a ton. Between things I never considered or encouraging words, these are things that I will keep with me as I move forward with my search. 

1.) Do your best to follow ATS compliance. It’s not always needed, but when you can apply to jobs as easily as LinkedIn’s “Easy Apply” feature, it’s important that the system is able to clearly scan your document. If there’s too much going on in terms of formatting, the system may not be able to process your information. If it can’t process the information, it’ll never be passed through to the person, and you won’t get that interview. 

2.) Bullet points should talk about your accomplishments. When writing a bullet point, it’s easy to just write the tasks that you do. That’s the point of a bullet right, talk about what you do? A classic, yes, and scenario. Yes, talk about what you do, and talk about the importance of why you do it. You do it because it’s part of the job, but how does it contribute to the overall success of your team? 

3.) Know your application limits. Applying to jobs can be overwhelming, especially when you have to tailor your resume to each position that you're applying for. Set a healthy limit for yourself. Doing too much can lead to mistakes in your resume and applications and hurt your chances. Set a boundary for yourself to help prevent application burnout. 

4.) Give yourself grace. You’re not the only person out there looking for a job. While it would make life easier, other people are looking to find their dream job. Rejection is a part of that process as much as it sucks. Know that you’re doing your best and your time will come. It may not be as quick as you would like, but it’ll happen when it’s meant to. 

Of course, this blog is a little contradictory. I say advice is subjective then try to offer some. Like I said, it’s all subjective. These are the things that have helped me as I get ready for my first job search. Hopefully, some of this will help inspire you if you’re getting ready for your first one too! Good luck, and give yourself grace.

Author: Trent Allen is a graduate student at Bowling Green State University getting ready for his first full-time job search. He loves disc golf, soccer, and spending time with family.