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Your Guide to the Modern Day Job Hunt

Updated January 1, 2024 . AmFam Team

Whether you’ve just graduated from college or are working towards a career change, searching for your dream job is a daunting task. It takes a lot of time, effort and resume building to even get on the tracks to your ideal career path. But, chin up! There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ve got just the tips you need to get there faster.

We sat down with career consultants and all-around job search experts, Kelli Richards (Opens in a new tab) and Lindsay Williamson Kindschy (Opens in a new tab) to bring you the inside scoop on what it takes to secure your dream job in today’s market. Check out their tips and head into the hunt with a leg up on the competition.

Where to Begin

The beginning of your quest is exciting! But it can also get overwhelming. Before you start, take a step back and do some serious planning.

“Really reflect and think about who you are as a person, what your values are and what work environment and lifestyle best suits you,” says Lindsay. “There is a direct correlation between your happiness and professional and personal fulfillment.”

Applying for anything that is available and molding yourself to fit a job may be tempting, but Kelli explains why that’s not the best approach.

“Taking time to research careers that would be a good fit for you is important. This way, it’s much more likely that you’ll be satisfied in the industry you’re in and less likely that you’ll want to switch careers later on.”

Exploring Your Interests

So, you’ve thought long and hard about what kind of job would make you happy, but you’re not really landing on anything. Sound familiar? It’s time to explore your interests.

There are tons of resources to help match your personality to a career. Start by taking career assessments online, or turn to more scientific methods like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (Opens in a new tab), The Holland Code (Opens in a new tab) or YouScience (Opens in a new tab) to get a high-level understanding of what might be a good fit.

Once you know what’s important to you, “talk to as many people as possible – friends, family, peers,” advises Lindsay. “Everyone has their own lens of seeing the world and their own network of people that they may be able to connect you with based on your interests and passions.”

Another important thing to remember in this stage of your job search is that your major doesn’t have to dictate what you do with the rest of your life.

“I always advise college students to explore careers of interest and study what you love to study,” says Kelli. “These two may be related, but they may not be. Either way, employers are looking for the soft skills — dedication, work ethic, leadership, communication — and they will teach you the technical skills needed.”

Putting Your Plan into Action

Now that you have a better grasp on your ideal career path, it’s time to lock-down that dream job. Online job listings are great, but they may not be the best way to go about the application process.

“Networking is by far the #1 way to approach a job search in the 21st century,” says Lindsay.

In fact, “the majority of jobs are never advertised and are instead filled through networking,” adds Kelli.

Networking, huh? Sounds kind of scary — but it doesn’t have to be! Start by reaching out to professionals through your alumni network or friends of family members or peers. Once you find someone who has a similar job to what you’re looking for, set up a coffee meeting or a phone call and ask them questions about their job and how they got to where they are. Thinking about it more as research and less as a plea for a job will help make the process easier, more informative and more beneficial for you in the long run.

“It can be intimidating, but it’s helpful to remember that it’s just a conversation and you are simply researching their company or career and gathering information,” encourages Lindsay.

“People like to talk about themselves and give advice, so as long as you approach it this way, the conversation usually comes pretty easy and you end up getting a lot out of it in the end,” says Kelli.

So, turn to LinkedIn and reach out to your network to boost your job search! Odds are you’ll find more people willing to help than you’d ever expect, and one of those informational interviews could lead to a great job.

Taking these steps and approaching your job search in a proactive way isn’t necessarily the easiest path, but it gets you the best results. Stay confident and keep Lindsay’s words in mind: “You are not going about the job search process alone, all of us go through this period in our lives. If you can work through the struggles and get to the other side, you’ll be better off for it.”

Looking for more resources to help you grow in your career? Check out these professional development tools to find the right career path for you.

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