Hunched over your laptop, you ignore your cramping hand (the result of the copious amounts of note-taking that has occurred over the last day and a half). A Red Bull stands next to a cup of coffee next to a 5-hour ENERGY shot… because who can worry about good health when they have a 30-page paper due at the end of the week?
Many of us are familiar with research when it comes to writing a paper. But what happens when we try to apply it to the job search? That’s a different story.
Guest author Stefan Mancevski, co-founder of job search organizing resource JobHero, explains how to research your way into a job after college—and the tools you can use to accomplish this.
Research is a hugely ignored part of job-seeking. Doing your due diligence on a company or a hiring manager can make the difference between being a mediocre candidate and getting a same-day offer. Properly researching a large number of companies during a job search involves processing a lot of information and can get disorganized quickly. In this article, we’ll run through a workflow for how we research and apply to jobs, using some great tools to help us stay organized along the way.
Step 1: Start reading
Start by scouring the company’s blog to get an idea of their culture. Read related news articles and find prominent industry bloggers to see where the company is going and what public opinion says about them. You can also read community forums like GrowthHackers (for marketers), or StackExchange (for developers) for the latest developments in your field.
Take notes on Evernote, an easy-to-use productivity app that lets you create and save notes about anything you like. Make yourself a new notebook within the app specifically for your job search and organize notes by company and keywords like “culture” or “industry insight.”
[Editor’s note: There’s a search bar at the top right corner of the Evernote application. If you can’t remember the title of a specific note or you want to bring up all your notes that apply to one job, type the job title or keywords into the search bar, and Evernote will bring up all related notes.]
Set up Google Alerts to stay up-to-date on information throughout your day. Use keywords like the company’s name, the industry they belong to, or relevant skills to get real-time news sent straight to your inbox.
If you’re low on time to do research or read an article, take advantage of Pocket, a free web and mobile app that lets you save articles you’ve read and add articles you want to read later. When you have time later on, you should have a stockpile of articles ready for your attention in Pocket. You can download the Chrome extension to easily mark posts for later and download the app on your phone so you can catch up during your commute or other downtime.
Step 2: Tailor your résumé and cover letter
Now that you’ve gathered a ton of information, it’s time to translate it into an awesome résumé and cover letter. The job description, industry insights, and articles related to your job function will help you focus your resume to relate specifically to that job and that company.
Remember to add measurable information about your experience. Use your notes on the company’s culture to match their voice and tone in your cover letter, and specify things you’ve read as motivation for your desire to work there.
And before you ask, yes, you should tailor your cover letter and résumé for every job application you send. Generic template documents usually get the fast track to the bottom of the pile. Google docs is a great tool to use while creating your résumé because it’s constantly saving the latest version and is accessible from any location as long as you have Wi-Fi.
Step 3: Hit apply and then…
Now that you’ve done your part and hit apply, it’s time to sit back and relax. Right?
No. Your work has just begun! Sitting and waiting for a response is the best way to never get a response. It’s time to be proactive in your job search.
Start tracking your applications and setting due dates for crucial events like follow-ups, interviews, and thank you letters. Use JobHero, a free web and mobile job search dashboard for job-seekers, to organize and manage your job search. Save jobs to apply to later, track your progress with applications you’ve sent, upload and tag relevant documents, and set reminders and due dates for critical follow-ups.
JobHero keeps you on your game as you apply. Knowing what was last said, when, and the next steps will help you land interview after interview with diligent and impressive follow-ups.
Just a small, considered amount of effort can separate you from the pack. And it’s a lot easier to make that effort when you stay organized.
Homework time! Start doing your research! Before applying to any job, make sure that you’re well-versed in industry happenings and the company’s culture. Use the tools that Stefan has listed to get updates, keep track of your notes, and create a timeline for yourself.
What about you? What are your go-to apps and tools for the job search? Let us know in the comments section below!
About the author: Stefan Mancevski is a co-founder at JobHero, a free mobile and web dashboard to organize, optimize, and upgrade your job search. Check out the dashboard and more great job search advice at https://gojobhero.com. You can follow Stefan on Twitter at @smancevski.