Finally I have part two of my job search series! You can see what I talked about in how I bullet journal for work, as well as bullet journaling for job searching before the interview piece. Career development is one of my side passions and I think it comes across in this particular video – I highly recommend watching the video and then referring to this blog post – because there’s a lot that I convey via the video that is hard to translate to written form. Use what will help you (bullet journaler or not!), and leave what will not. As a faculty member of mine once wrote, “I offer this humbly, perhaps too late to be considered, too early to make sense, or misses the mark.” Enjoy and absolutely share your thoughts at the end!
BULLET JOURNAL FOR JOB INTERVIEWS
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Okay, so you’ve done some soul searching and you can identify your own strengths, skills, interests, and proud job moments. You’ve been meeting with interesting people and learning about fields or jobs that you’re curious about. And now you’re ready to apply for some jobs. Now what?
One way is to keep track of your job applications with a bullet journal spread. The columns I have here are:
- Date you applied
- The Job & Company. This could also include the job #.
- Connection. It’s good to highlight the people that you know within each company – these will be your insiders and guides to the job
- Materials. What did you have to submit to this company? Resume? Cover letter? If you have different versions of your materials (which you should), you could note the different titles of the files too.
- Followups/Notes. This is helpful to track when you’ve reached out to them or they’ve reached out to you
- Page # of the collections you’ve created for this job/interview
Other things you could include would be:
- Your references you listed
- How you found out about the job/who connected you to it
- Specific niches, functional areas, or skills the job requires (if you’re looking in multiple fields)
When you get a job description, save it somewhere. Save the PDF, copy it into Word, write it in your bullet journal – something! Because you need the description to customize your resume and cover letter. If I’m honest, there are few times where you can use the same exact resume and cover letter for a job – each company and job is different, the words they use are different, and it shows that you are trying to fit their needs by adapting your materials. Some thoughts on resumes and cover letters:
- Go through the job description and really hone in on what skills or capabilities they are asking for. Everything you send in will be based on those things. Try to note what the majority of the job is focused on so you can make sure you cover it in your materials. If they want skills in teaching or facilitation, you better address that in your letter and in your bullet points.
- Based on the minimum qualifications, make sure you demonstrate in your letter that you can perform those minimum qualifications, and make it easy for HR to find it. Using the same or similar words as the description will help.
- Based on the skills and capabilities emphasized in the description, make sure you tailor the first two bullet points of any experience you mention to those skills. Again, if they want facilitation or teaching, one of your first two bullet points better cover that. As someone who has reviewed resumes myself, I skim for a low-key 20 seconds, so make sure the things you’re most proud of and are most relevant are higher up.
- If you have experiences that are related to the job but not necessarily formal employment, I replace the “Work Experience” in my resume with “Related Experience” so I can include things like project work, (formerly) student groups, etc.
- When writing bullet points in your job description, don’t stop at telling them what the tasks are. Tell them the magnitude of that task and how it’s connected to a larger purpose – go from “Facilitate workshops for students” to “Foster sense of civic engagement by facilitating 6 interactive workshops for over 200 undergraduates”
- Make it easy for your references to help you. First, only ask the references that will really be the best person to speak to your skills in a certain area for this job – they are not all applicable to every job you’re applying for. Second, ask if they want to be your reference. Third, make it easy for them to do so – compile the job description, your cover letter and resume, and highlight what you hope for them to cover in their reference. That leg work makes all the difference
This is a LOT but I swear it will help you take your application to the next level!
PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW
There is a lot I’ll say about the things you should do to prepare for the interview – watch the video to hear them all, but here are a few of my key tips as you start a new spread for each job interview.
- Research the hell out of this role and company. Get to know what is Google-able at the very minimum – the background of the company itself, the job responsibilities, basic structure of the job/role, etc. Look at their past to see where they have been and have come from, look at current news to see what they are dealing with currently, and then find ways to tune into where they might go in the future. Perhaps you can take them to that next phase. Knowing these things allows you to ask more informed questions, understand the subtext of their questions they ask, and above all, know if you want to work there!
- Connect with people you know from the company to get an inside scoop on the culture and other non-Googleable things (yes I made that word up). Get a true pulse of what the norms are, the directions the team is going in, and perhaps even dress code.
- Prepare your stories. My friend Sijie writes about some interview prep as a recruiter on her blog, and she is so right when she says that you have opportunity to tell your story. Be intentional about how to bring heart and passion into telling them about your experience – this is where you highlight the how and the why of your story to connect between you and them.
- Cherry pick the stories you might share to match with the job skills they’re looking for. You have tons of stories, but narrow down the ones that can address the skills they’re hoping for.
- Prepare the hell out of these questions. The questions you ask might set you apart because of how much thought and intention you bring to them. Prepare a few questions about role (nuanced questions like what does success look like in a year? – not about the responsibilities that you should already know from the description!), questions about the company/field, and questions about the people sitting across from you. Making it personal always benefits you and them.
- Send thank yous to everyone – mail if you are one of the first to interview and then email if you are one of the last to interview.
REFLECTIONS ON JOB SEARCHING
My students will tell you I can make almost anything into an analogy about dating. But for real, job searching is like dating. You should have done some work in that first post about who you are, what strengths you have, what you value in a job – and that allows you to be a little smarter about what job you move into. Don’t cast a wide net just to hope you catch anything – you don’t want just any job, and that is OKAY. You don’t need to apologize for knowing what it is you want. That’s why all these steps are important, and why I encourage people to do informational interviews (one to ones) all the time – you can be judicious about where you consider spending your limited heartbeats.
In that vein, it’s hard to show up always as your authentic self. As I wrote about recently, it is flipping HARD to be fully yourself. Especially when you feel SO much pressure to be or look a certain way. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I will never feel like myself in a suit – it is not who I am and frankly I don’t want to work in places where it’s the norm. So I don’t. Find out from friends or other research to see what the dress code is – so you can look nice and put together, but not necessarily in one prescribed outfit.
Give yourself the permission to show sneak peeks of your true personality, humor, passion, quirks throughout the process. We all get a little bored with the same cookie-cutter status quo with a matching padfolio – perhaps YOU are the key to this position’s next step, success. Find ways to show that because it allows the interviewers to connect to you as a human being! And ultimately you want to work at a place that honors who YOU are and what you bring. You know, like dating.
Hopefully I’ve offered some thoughts of value to you today! I’d love to hear your questions, thoughts, reflections down below. Is there anything I’ve missed? I’d love to add more pieces to this huge, robust topic!