When we start job searching, we often get confused and nervous because it can be overwhelming. I don’t know what they will ask, the resume, the portfolio, the presentation, how I can be well prepared, etc. All of that can be stressful, and we need to figure out where to start.
For different reasons, I’ve sent hundreds of job applications, had a couple of dozen interviews (national and international), and had the opportunity to interview. All of that motivated me to write and share tips that were helpful at some point and that can be helpful for you when starting the job search. All based on my experiences and notetakings. They may seem basic, but they can always help someone.
1.- Keep track of your applications
When applying to job positions, keep an organized track of them, at least with some items such as the position you apply for, company name, link to the job description, status, notes, etc.
This will help A LOT when the recruiter contacts you. Between a long list of applications, you must remember all the details of that specific position. Please keep it in a document on the cloud because you can easily access it from anywhere to check or edit it.
This is an example of how to use the template. You can use it in Google Drive or Notion, where the last one allows you to attach your resume, portfolio link, cover letter, and more. The idea is to be organized and more relaxed about the process, having everything in one place.
Also, you can list 10–20 companies you would like to work with and a brief description of why and how it aligns with your goals and needs. Some people prefer to practice the interviews with companies they don’t want to work for first and then have an interview with the companies from the list they did. Or the opposite, both are correct, is up to you.
2.- Do some company research
There are 2 reasons to do this. One, because you will face the interview more comfortably and you will ask contextualized questions about your potential next job, and as a result, they will notice interest from you. At least have prepared 2–3 questions for the famous “Do you have questions for me?” (it can be about the company or related to the job responsibilities).
The second reason is that you are not the only one being interviewed. This is your opportunity to check if you want to work for that company. Remember, many companies’ websites have their mission, vision, values, and company culture. And in case you don’t find it there, you can check their social media or contact someone in the company and ask about their experience working there. Remember, recruiters can also help you clarify questions and guide you.
When looking for a job, some people lean towards inclusive places that ensure non-discrimination based on gender and race, companies that promote continuous learning, companies that donate part of their working hours to volunteer work if it aligns with their mission, or just because of their perks. No matter what you’re looking for, the idea is to align your goals with where you will work. Nobody wants to go to work unmotivated and uncomfortable every day, right?
Here are some general questions you can use:
- How often and how will my performance be measured in the company?
- What qualities are you looking for in the best candidate?
- What do you like about working here?
- Who is part of the team I’ll be working on?
- How is a typical day for someone with this job description?
- To whom will I have to report?
- What are the next steps within the process?
- What are the goals for the company for this year?
3.- Prepare yourself for presenting
You should have sent your resume with the portfolio link at this stage. Therefore, they contact you for a short call, video call, or physical meeting to learn more about you (usually a call).
The modus operandi of this conversation is the initial greeting with an icebreaker. Then you have to present your speech about your professional experience. Usually, the speech lasts between 1–3 minutes and should tell the highlights of your career: who you are, what you have done, and what you want to achieve.
It’s recommended to read the job description to detect the requirements you can match and highlight them. We all know it’s about your professional experience. Still, you can also say a few fun facts to let them know about your personality and connect more with the interviewer but keep the professional focus.
If the interview is online, choose a quiet place where you can feel comfortable. Have your resume and portfolio at hand, on your computer, or printed. Remember to put your phone in silence and block all kinds of distractions. It won’t last the whole day, so you can do it for a few minutes. Headphones are welcome, too.
I always recommend having a glass of water, something to take notes on, and if you know the interview will last longer, consider eating candy or chocolate 30 minutes before; ideally, something bitter to have energy. It helps to increase cerebral blood flow, which improves alertness, activates mental clarity, and allows you to maintain concentration.
If the interview is on-site, consider the dress code. Nowadays, formality is not a must, but it’s ideal to consider the company’s dress code. Remember, the first impression is essential. Arrive within 10–15 minutes ahead. It’s unnecessary to arrive 1 hour in advance, and of course unacceptable 15 minutes later.
Show professionalism and have a plan B for each scenario. For example, bring a copy if they don’t have your resume. If you have to show your portfolio, bring your laptop with the files and links ready to show in case you can’t do it with their computers. Bring something to take notes and turn off your phone before entering the meeting.
And lastly, smile, show a positive attitude, and always speak honestly.
As they say out there, “practice makes perfect.” Practice your speech alone, with friends, family, or whoever can help you. Ask for feedback, and if necessary, record an audio or video of yourself (body language is essential, whether online or on-site interview). You can listen to the recording to detect the fillers, the speed with which you speak, and your gestures, and thus, know which part you should improve.
You can do the same with your resume and portfolio. Send it to whoever can give you feedback. All feedback is welcome, and everything is for a common benefit: getting that dream job. Always appreciate other’s time and open your mind to their feedback. Don’t attach to your work, and don’t debate everything they say to you. If they have a point of why it doesn’t work, listen, think about it, and then filter whether it’s good to change it.
In summary, there are 4 simple stages: keep tracking, research, prepare yourself, and practice. You can divide it into short steps to keep everything organized and face this process more relaxed. And remember, if you don’t get the job at first, Don’t be disappointed! Keep applying and improving with each experience!