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How to Find a Job Fast in 8 Painless Steps

Need a job and need it fast? The hiring process is notoriously slow, but here are a few steps you can take to speed it up. Maybe you moved to a new city. Maybe you quit your job. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you got laid off. Maybe you just graduated. Whatever the circumstances, you've found yourself needing a job sooner rather than later. It's no secret many companies have slow hiring processes — or at least slower than you'd like. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do to expedite the process on their ends. You can, however, take some simple steps to eliminate time-consuming obstacles on your end. Ready? Here's our eight-step guide to help you find a new job quickly:

1. Set your intentions But before you start looking for a new job, take a few minutes to set your job-search intentions. Ask yourself: What are my career goals? What am I looking for in a job? A company? Write down a few key words or sentences and keep these in mind as you search for jobs. When you're looking for a job, it's easy to get caught in a rushed panic. However, this can cause you to waste time by applying to jobs that aren't a fit. It's best to keep your search focused and your intentions top of mind.

2. Perfect your resume Before submitting your application materials, you need to spruce up your resume. This document is your key to getting a company to notice you, so it needs to shine. But here's something not a lot of job applicants realize: 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies employ computer software — not people — to review resumes. These are called applicant tracking systems (ATS), and they're basically resume bots that automatically scan, sort, and rank resumes based on whether they meet certain qualifications. So not only do you need a strong resume, but you also need to write for the bots. A few tips to make your resume ATS-friendly include:

  • Avoid images, charts, graphics, or funky symbols. The ATS has difficulty translating those.

  • Optimize your resume with specific job-related keywords. These are the words that the job listing (and similar ones) most frequently include.

  • Save your resume as a Word document — not a PDF. Word documents tend to be more ATS-friendly.

Even if you're not applying to a Fortune 500 company or a company that uses software to sort resumes, these tips will also help enhance your resume in the eyes of the human hiring manager. Perfecting your resume before applying to gigs will help you get noticed and snag more interviews.

3. Tap into your network One of the best ways to find a job fast is to tap into your network, and that means getting active on LinkedIn. Share articles, comment on others' posts, even join a LinkedIn group to interact with other professionals. You can also connect with recruiters and hiring managers and let them know you're interested in jobs by scrolling down to your LinkedIn profile dashboard and updating your “Career Interests” section. You can also network the “old fashioned” way by reaching out to former professors, classmates, co-workers, and mentors and seeing if they know of any opportunities for you to take advantage of.

4. Set up job-search alerts One of the most time-consuming aspects of job searching is, well, searching. It's easy to spend hours and hours … and hours … scrolling through job boards. After a while, the postings start to look the same. Heck, many of them are the same. If you want to simplify this part of the process and save some time, find two to three job boards you like and trust, and sign up for daily job alerts. Then, you'll receive a dispatch of new postings directly to your inbox each day. This will save time and prevent you from scrolling through the same listings each day. If you don't want to limit your search to just two or three job boards, but also don't want to spend hours on end signing up and posting your resume to the different job boards out there, there are other options to help. Resume-posting services like ResumeRabbit will post your resume to the job boards of your choosing, creating different logins for each and giving you a centralized place to track your posting progress.

5. Tailor your cover letter As you are job hunting, don't ignore the application requirements. If a job posting states cover letters are required, you should include one. Even if it says cover letters are optional, many career experts suggest including one anyway. What's more, you should tailor your cover letter to each job listing. Yes, it takes time to customize a cover letter, but this doesn't necessarily require you to start from scratch each time you apply for a different job. Simply create a fill-in-the-blank cover letter, and customize the introductory paragraph, your relevant experience and skills, and the reason you want the job to fit each position you apply for. Tailoring your cover letter will take some extra time, but it'll help you get noticed and hopefully help you secure a job faster.

6. Track your job applications and follow up It's easy to submit your resume to dozens of companies and keep on keeping on, but take a moment between each application to jot down some notes about the job so you can easily follow up. For example, you can create a simple Excel sheet with the following column categories: company name, job title, link to listing, contact (if applicable), date applied, and follow-up. Keep an eye on the “date applied” column. If you haven't heard back from a company within seven to 10 days, feel free to follow up on your application — but first, reread the listing and make sure it doesn't specify “no follow-ups.” You can then post status updates in your Excel sheet and stay on top of your applications. Showing a company you're interested and eager by following up just might help speed along the process.

7. Practice interviewing While you apply for jobs, remain optimistic and prepare for interviews. Then, when the time comes for a phone screen or an in-person job interview, you'll feel prepared. Here are a few tips to help you practice:

  • Recruit the help of a professional interview coach. These coaches know what interviewers look for. When you hop on a video chat with a coach, you will talk to them, answer some questions about your job-search aspirations and goals, run through a mock interview, and then receive feedback to help you improve.

  • Don't turn down job interviews, even if you think you're no longer interested in a position. Sure, job interviews might make you feel nervous and sweaty, but the more you do them, the more your confidence will soar. That way, when the perfect opportunity comes along, you'll be ready.

  • Review the common types of job interviews. Yes, there are different interviewing styles companies employ. Research these styles and the frequently asked questions for each. Look into structured, unstructured, behavioral, stress, and case interviews.

Again, the more you practice interviewing, the more prepared you'll feel when it's time for the real deal — and the quicker you'll get a job.

8. Don't settle If you're looking for a job quickly, this last tip might sound silly, but trust it's important: Don't settle for a job that doesn't excite you or fulfill your needs. Why? Because if the job isn't a fit, you'll likely be searching for another job in a few months. If you need the paycheck, look into a temporary job or side gig. Buy yourself a little more time to find the job that excites you and advances your career.

Final words of advice If you're in a situation where you need to find a job fast, it's easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. Trying to rush the job and interview process can lead to mistakes and oversights, which will ultimately slow you down. As long as you have a plan mapped out and you stay focused while looking for work, you'll be good to go. Oh, and don't forget to take some time for yourself. Go on a run, cook a healthy meal, watch your favorite TV show, or grab a drink with friends and family. These jobs will still be here when you come back to your computer.

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