Recently, I was listening to an interview with an actress who was talking about the audition process. I found myself nodding as she described the cycle of rejection that comes along with getting a role. Not that I’ve ever made a go of it as a professional actress (my acting career came to an early close after being rejected from a college production of The Vagina Monologues). But I sympathized because the audition process reminded me of applying for jobs, something with which I’m intimately familiar.
Until last October, I was more or less continually looking for a job for two and a half years. I was trying to transition from a non-profit background into editorial work, and while I wasn’t unemployed for most of that time, I wasn’t in anything permanent, either. Since finally landing a full-time job, I've struggled to give advice to people in similar positions. The process is such a weird mix of unknowns (timing, personality, company culture, quality and size of the applicant pool), and I had control over very little of it. In some ways, it comes down to luck.
My philosophy is similar to that of the actress I heard being interviewed: All I can do is be the best candidate I can possibly be, because the rest is beyond my control.
And while the online application pool may feel like an abyss, there are ways to optimize your job search to maximize your opportunities to get lucky. It worked for me; I managed to land a job I found online, at a company where I didn't know a single person. Sure, there are no guarantees, and I may be the exception. But I don't regret the hard work I put in. While I don’t get to give an acceptance speech about it, let this little article be my Oscars moment: It was worth it. It can be worth it for you, too.
Now, before the orchestra drowns me out, here are my 10 tips (with some advice from professionals) to hack the online job search.