Write a resume. Send it to a couple dozen different companies. Receive zero responses. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. One of the most common frustrations job seekers have is sending out tons of applications, only to hear nothing back in return. And as a result, many of them view the job search as near-impossible. But the truth is, finding a great job isn’t as hard as most people think it is — or at least, it doesn’t have to be.
That’s the central theme behind Heather Hund’s new book, Art of the Job Search. Hund believes that finding a job isn’t so much about what you do — it’s about how you do it. And as long as you pay attention to the details, you can find a job you love in record time.
We reached out to Hund to learn more about her best job search tips, why finding a job you love is an investment in your career and how job seekers have more power than they might think — here’s what she had to say.
Glassdoor: What inspired you to write this book?
Heather Hund: I left my job and didn’t have another one, and realized that I really wanted to find a job that I loved, but also that I had no idea how to do it. So, my first step in the job search was actually interviewing people about how they found a job that they loved. Then, I used that information at each step of the process, and ended up getting several offers and, even more importantly, finding a job that I really loved, and it changed my life. And I thought that was information that needed to be out into the world.
Glassdoor: You make it clear off the bat that there’s a big difference between the act of the job search, and the art of the job search. How would you describe the differences between the two?
Heather Hund: When I began looking for a new job after I left my old one, I dropped my resume online for all sorts of things — some looked interesting, and some didn’t. And after a few weeks of that, I realized that wasn’t actually moving me in the right direction. So I then took a giant step back and took a self-assessment, similar to the one included in the book, to figure out “What do I actually want to do? What are my strengths? How do I want to apply those?” Then I applied that same bit of strategy throughout the search, from writing my resume to applying to interviewing to negotiating. So I think being strategic is what makes the difference between ending up at a job, and finding a job that you really love.
Glassdoor: Job seekers often view employers as the ones wielding all the power in the job search. Why do you think that is, and what can job seekers do to counter this mindset?
Heather Hund: As humans, we’re wired to avoid rejection. I think it’s biological, and probably helped keep us alive at some point. But I also think that today, it doesn’t help us much, and it prevents us from going for the things we really want. So it’s about flipping the dialogue — instead of thinking, “Do they want me?” Ask yourself, “Do you actually want to work there?” Do you like the culture, do you feel good about the role, do you like the people that are interviewing you? Remember, you’re interviewing them.
While it’s important to answer the person’s questions, when you take control and start asking more questions, it can actually make you a more attractive candidate. It shows that you can problem solve, and that you’re thinking about things from a higher level — from an ownership perspective — which I think is super powerful.
Yes, they have the job that they can offer you, but you have the skills, the ability, the talent to offer them. You’re a giant asset as well. People often undervalue themselves, and don’t realize how valuable they are.
Glassdoor: That’s definitely one thing we’ve heard before — when recruiters ask if you have any questions for them, it’s not just an opportunity for you to determine fit. It’s also an opportunity to prove yourself, and show that you’ve done the research.
Heather Hund: Absolutely. I think the most powerful thing to do in that situation is to ask questions that you would ask if you were already in the role, like “What are the priorities right now, and what will they be in a year?”
Glassdoor: Many job seekers prioritize income and stability over finding a job they love. But you make the case that finding a job you love isn’t a luxury — it’s an investment in your career. Can you talk a little more about that?
Heather Hund: It’s so true — people often see loving your job as an indulgence, like “You shouldn’t love your work, it’s work!” But think about it: When you were doing something that you loved, either at work or as a hobby, were you better at it? I would guess yes. When I was writing this book, I definitely found that research backed this up. People who love their job get more raises, they get promoted more, they have better relationships with their managers, and they’re just happier, which is a huge, huge benefit. I think loving your job really is an investment in your career.
Glassdoor: I loved your commentary on having a growth mindset in which “failures” are rebranded as learning experiences. Why, in your opinion, is this so critical for job seekers to understand?
Heather Hund: The growth mindset is so powerful. If I could recommend one other book, it would be Carol Dweck’s Mindset. Basically, she argues that with a growth mindset, there’s no such thing as failure — everything becomes learning. It enables you to take more risks and to go after the things you really want, even when you’re afraid, and I think this includes finding a job you really love. People don’t really acknowledge how hard job searching is emotionally, and that’s why I decided to devote an entire chapter to talking about how to get into that growth mindset before you start job searching. It’s funny — I know it doesn’t have to do with the tactics of job searching, but I actually think this chapter might be the most important one in the book.
Glassdoor: At one point in the book, you state that “networking is more important than the work itself.” That’s a pretty shocking statement! Can you expand on that?
Heather Hund: Like many other people (and often women in particular), at my first job I thought “If I just put my head down and work super hard, I’ll get noticed.” But what I started noticing was that the people who got the coolest projects and the special opportunities and the fast promotions were often the ones that had relationships with the people who were making the decisions. That was a hard thing to notice, because the truth is I hate networking. Most people kind of balk when they hear ‘networking’. No one wants to network, and I think it has a bad reputation — people just think of awkward conversation.
For me, it took a reframe of what networking is. Really, it’s just talking to people. And what I realized over the course of my career was that I don’t like “networking”, but I love talking to people and getting to know them. Building those relationships is why networking is often more important than the work itself.
To be clear, it is actually important to be good at your job, but it’s also really important to build strong relationships so that you get to know when cool things are happening that you might be excited about, or that you could contribute toward. Networking can lead to not only opportunities, but also long-term mentors and friendships. And it can often last beyond just one job, which is pretty awesome.
Glassdoor: One thing you mention is that you can still be an introvert and network. What are some of the tips that you have for those people who really dread the thought of networking?
Heather Hund: I like to start with small talk for two reasons: one, I think it helps you build the relationship, and two, I think talking about your weekend or your family or your hobbies just takes the pressure off of the conversation. Don’t go into it with an outcome-based mindset — just have a conversation.
I find it quite helpful to write out questions (there are a few that I include in the book), not so much to bring with me, but just to get me thinking, “What are the things that I want to cover in this conversation?”
The biggest hurdle honestly is just doing it. In my first real networking conversation, I was waiting for the elevator after work and my colleague was just standing there, and we struck up a random conversation. After a while I said, “Hey, do you want to grab coffee?” And he said “Sure.” And I remember thinking, “Ah, that’s so easy! You just ask somebody if they want to grab coffee.”
Glassdoor: I found it interesting that you chose to close a book all about the art of the job search with a chapter on what to do after you get the job. Why did you feel that was so important to include, and what are your top tips for new employees?
Heather Hund: One of the things that stuck with me from business school was when a friend told me, “Whenever I start a new job, I make sure to be incredible for the first six months.” I’d never thought about it before, but he was totally right. First impressions are very real, and very lasting.
A lot of people go into a new job thinking, “I need to figure out exactly what my boss wants me to do, and I need to do those things.” But what people don’t realize is that often, their boss doesn’t know what they want. They’re super busy, and they really just need somebody to take something and run with it. So it’s more about how you frame yourself as someone who can be a problem-solver and a real thought partner — that’s what sets apart the amazing people from the good people.
Another huge thing is feedback. Some companies are great about having feedback structures in place, and then some aren’t. If feedback is not a regular thing at your company, take initiative and lead a feedback discussion with your boss. Feedback, when done in the right way, builds much stronger relationships, helps you develop and improve faster and can take you further in your career.
Then the last thing I talk about in the book is promotions. Marissa Mayer once said, “I got every single one of [my promotions] by asking and getting feedback and planning for it.” You need to start thinking about your new career path — you don’t necessarily need to have an answer, but think of where you want to go and what you need to do to get there before you even want to make that transition.