It’s often said that good things take time — but unfortunately, when it comes to the job search, you don’t always have that luxury. Whether you’re in a hurry to leave a toxic workplace, or you’ve been unemployed for too long and are beginning to feel a financial strain, sometimes you need to make your next career move stat.
While the job hunt is often a long, drawn-out process, a quick career switch can be done. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind first.
“For job seekers who need to find a new job ASAP, we advise them to be flexible with their expectations and to approach the search with a hustle mentality,” says Valerie Streif, Senior Adviser at Mentat, a career services company that recently launched an outplacement service called Junction that helps businesses quickly find employment for employees who are being let go.
Want to learn how you can go from unemployed to 9-to-5 in no time? Take the following steps to ensure a speedy transition.
1. Update Everything
You might be in a time crunch, but it’s important to resist the urge to click ‘Apply’ for every open position you see without first giving your application materials a good scrub.
“Before you start to job hunt, update your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to include your skills as well as your work history. Take some time to research the job market and the positions that are available for applicants with your qualifications,” says Alison Doyle, job search expert for The Balance.
Particularly “if you’re looking for something new, more challenging and/or something you have never done, you need to revamp the resume and cover letter/elevator pitch,” adds Laura MacLeod, Creator of From The Inside Out Project®. “Take what you have done (consider life experience as well as professional) and spin it to fit your new desires. For example, volunteer work, projects at your child’s school, events you’ve planned — these can all be used to demonstrate planning, project management, hospitality, etc.”
2. Figure Out What You Want
It’s hard to find a great next job if you don’t know what your definition of a great job is. So before you get too far into the job hunt, make sure to take a step back and really think about what you’re looking for.
“Write up a list of what you ideally want in a job: title, money, promotion, the work, the company culture, geographic location, etc., etc. so you have a template to go for. The template gives you something to compare a job offer against so you don’t just take anything” out of desperation, says Debra Benton, Executive Coach and author of the recently published book, The Leadership Mind Switch: Rethinking How We Lead in the New World of Work.
3. Inform Yourself
Once you know what you want, it’s time to figure out what the companies you’re applying for want. Investigating a company’s Glassdoor profile is a great way to get a feel for their company culture, figure out what questions they commonly ask in interviews, and discover what salary you can expect. Once you’ve found a handful that seem like a good match, apply! It may be a little bit more work up front, but companies will appreciate the extra effort you’ve put into ensuring that you’re the right person for the job.
“The stronger a match you are for the job, the better your chances of getting selected for an interview, and for receiving a job offer fast,” Doyle points out.
4. Make Finding a Job Your New Job
There’s no getting around it — if you want to find a new job fast, you’re going to have to put the hours in.
“If you’re unemployed, consider your job search as your job and dedicate your ‘working’ hours to it. If you’re employed, but need to move on, spend as much time as you can job hunting without jeopardizing your current position,” Doyle says.
If you’re really in dire straits, “start working on your job hunt at 7 a.m., take a 30-minute lunch, and work until 7 p.m. every day — including weekends,” Benton recommends. “If you on average send 10 resumes a day, send 100. If you normally try for an interview once a week, try for one every morning and one every afternoon, five days a week — for a solid month. If you want quick results you have to put six months of effort into six days,” she says.
5. Tap Your Network
“Networking is definitely one of the best ways to land a new job quickly. Talking to the right person at the right moment can help you go from unemployed to a functioning worker within a day,” Streif says. “It also helps you to get a good idea of what is out there and available, so you can focus your search in a strategic way.”
So “if you’re out of work, tell everyone you know that you’re seeking a new job,” Doyle advises.
Some specific networking moves to make? “Go to events prepared, talk to colleagues and friends who work in your same industry, and don’t be afraid to reach out on LinkedIn,” Streif says.
Doyle also recommends reaching out to “your college career or alumni network if you’re a grad, professional associations, former colleagues, and your friends and family. If you know someone working at a company that interests you, ask for a referral. Employers love good referrals and that’s another way you can get through the application process more quickly.”
Keep in mind, though, that if you’re currently employed, you’ll likely want to “be careful about where and [with] whom you share information. You don’t want to take a chance on losing the job you have because your boss discovered you’re looking for a new one,” Doyle adds.
6. Consider a Temporary Gig
It might not exactly be what you dreamed of, but if the bills are piling up, there’s no shame in temporarily taking a job that you’re overqualified for.
“[It’s] important to determine what you’re willing to sacrifice to get a job quickly. For example, if your reasons are financial, and you need to make money right away, sacrifice the type of work (challenging, interesting) for quick cash. Consider waiter, bartender, cashier, receptionist,” MacLeod says.
On the other hand, you can also work with a staffing agency to find work as a temp worker or contractor within the field that you’re actually interested in.
“Temping is a great way to make money rather quickly and see what different industries are like — especially if you are looking to try something new. Also gets you out in the work world every day — not sitting home in a vacuum, wondering how to proceed and get a job,” MacLeod adds.
When searching for a temp position, “it’s best to try to find something that you could actually see yourself doing long-term, so if the company likes you and the opportunity rises, you won’t need to resume your job search!” Streif suggests.
“Other options to consider, if you have the right experience, are freelancing or taking on short-term gigs,” Doyle adds. “All these opportunities will enable you to meet people who may be able to help you find a permanent position.”
7. Keep Fit in Mind
While taking a short-term or temp gig may require some compromise, you should try not to compromise too much when it comes to accepting a full-time position.
“Don’t get antsy and jump ship before you know that the place you’re going is better than where you are. So many workers who make a major jump or transition later feel ‘buyers remorse’ when the position isn’t what they hoped or expected,” Streif warns.
After all, if you don’t do your due diligence beforehand, you may find yourself back in the market for a new job before you know it.
“If the position isn’t a good fit, and you end up leaving after a short time on the job it can make your next job search even harder. You’ll need to be prepared to answer questions about why the position didn’t work out,” Doyle points out. In worst-case scenarios, this can lead to a “vicious cycle — moving job to job — not good for you mentally/emotionally and terrible for your career,” MacLeod says.
So before accepting any full-time position, “do your research, ask questions during your interviews and get a feel for company culture to make sure it’s a smart choice,” Streif recommends.
8. Don’t Sound Desperate
You might be desperate to find a new job, but your employer doesn’t need to know that. If they do sense desperation, you might risk getting lowballed on salary or even hurt your chances of getting an offer.
“[Desperation] is a red flag to employers — they wonder what the rush is. Why were you unhappy at the previous job? Maybe you’re difficult, hard to work with, never satisfied. Desperation is never attractive — don’t show it,” MacLeod advises.
“Do NOT look, act, talk, walk like you are desperate,” Benton agrees. Instead, “stay confident, calm, and ramp up the effort even more.”
9. Be Kind to Yourself
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to take care of yourself during this trying time. Finding a new job is stressful — doubly so when you’re in a rush. So take some time to meditate, exercise, listen to your favorite album, or whatever else it is that helps you unwind — and make sure to find a support network as well.
“Look to family and trusted friends for support so you can effectively make your way to a new job and find what you want/need,” MacLeod recommends.