What I Wish I’d Know When I Was Job Searching

You know what they say: Hindsight’s 20/20. And when it comes to our careers—the good and the bad—we always know best after we’ve been there, done that.

That’s exactly why we asked our loyal Muse audience what they wished they’d known when they started job searching.

Read some of our favorite responses:

1. Go for Something Just Out of Reach (But Not Too Far)

You shouldn’t be afraid to apply for jobs that seem just out of reach, because your odds are usually better than you think. On the flip side, I once applied for a slew of jobs that were far above my pay grade and received rejection calls and emails for weeks. In short, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, but also don’t buy into your own hubris.

Jacob C.

Follow Jacob’s Advice: Actually, You Should Apply for Jobs You’re Not 100% Qualified For

2. Get to Know the People You Admire

Many times, it’s not so much about your accomplishments, but who you know. Take a look at other people on LinkedIn who are working in places you want to work, and you will see not all have a traditional ‘path’ that would’ve made them an ideal fit…

Jennifer A.

Follow Jennifer’s Advice: 4 Tips for Reaching Out to Someone You Admire on LinkedIn

3. Show You Can Solve Problems

As Simon Sinek said, ‘It doesn’t matter how much you know. What matters is how clearly others can understand what we know.’ [Know] how to express clearly what value you have and what pains you can help to solve…

Dainius M.

Follow Dainius’ Advice: 3 Steps to Convincing a Hiring Manager You’re the Solution to All His Problems

4. Create a Support System

Your network and (former) colleagues can be your strongest advocates and support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to make connections.

Corey H.

Follow Corey’s Advice: “Help Me Find a Job!” Emails to Send to Your Network

5. Don’t Skimp Out on Tailoring Your Application

[T]ailor your resume to every job you apply for and use exact keywords from job postings in your resume. I now work with an agency that helps people in their job search and teach classes on resume writing, and until I started this position, I had no idea that the applicant tracking system existed and how it works.

Katie K.

Follow Katie’s Advice: Beat the Robots: How to Get Your Resume Past the System & Into Human Hands

6. Be Your Authentic Self

Prepare well for interviews, and then make sure to be genuine and speak from the heart when being interviewed. Being authentic and not trying to say what you think is the safe and ‘right’ answer they want to hear was the key for me to get more offers.

Michael L.

Follow Michael’s Advice: How to Make Sure You Sound Like a Person (Not a Robot) in an Interview

7. Do More Than a Generic “Thank You”

Take note of what little personal information your interviewer reveals to you. It can help you connect with them, and including a bit of their own personality in a thank you makes an enormous impact.

Melanie R.

Follow Melanie’s Advice: How to Write an Interview Thank You Note: An Email Template

8. Put Yourself in the Company’s Shoes

Instead of approaching companies with a ‘I want a job’ mentality, approach them with a ‘how I can help your company’ attitude. When you’ve landed an interview, always over-prepare prior, and improvise during!

Saad S.

Follow Saad’s Advice: The Ultimate Guide to Researching a Company Pre-Interview

9. Don’t Settle for Less Than What You Deserve

Don’t settle for mediocrity. Be humble and hungry and willing to learn a new role.

Kris S.

Follow Kris’ Advice: You’ll Always Regret Settling for a Job You Don’t Really Want

10. Make Your Own Decisions

Listen to your instincts and don’t let others influence your decision. In the end, you’re the one who has to do the work.

Jennifer B.

Follow Jennifer’s Advice: The 2 Big Reasons Why Your Loved Ones Give You Terrible Career Advice

11. Find Work That You’ll Actually Love

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Do work that builds you up most of the time.

Stacey S.

Follow Stacey’s Advice: The Smart Way to Figure Out if You Should Accept That Job Offer

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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