As a new adult, entering a competitive job market can be an intimidating experience and especially hard to navigate. With fierce competition and constantly evolving hiring practices, it can be challenging to stand out and secure a job. However, with the right strategies and tools, you can navigate the job market successfully.
In this blog post, we will explore in great detail some of the key areas to focus on to navigate a competitive job market as a new adult.
This is an especially long post. It is meant to be a guidance document that you can refer to as you embark on your job search journey.
So, don’t feel the need to read it all in one sitting! Instead, take your time and absorb the information at a pace that works for you.
I. Building an Online Professional Image
In today’s digital age, building an online professional image is essential if you want to navigate a competitive job market as a new adult. Employers often check online profiles to learn more about candidates before inviting them for an interview. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your online presence accurately reflects your professional skills and experience.
This section will cover the importance of building an online professional image and provide tips for creating a strong LinkedIn profile, managing your online presence, building a personal website, and reputation management.
The importance of building an online professional image
Your online presence can give potential employers a glimpse into who you are beyond your resume. In fact, a CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process.
By creating a strong online professional image, you can showcase your skills, accomplishments, and personality in a positive light.
How to create a strong LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools for building an online professional image. Here are some tips for creating a strong LinkedIn profile:
- Use a professional profile picture
- Write a compelling headline
- Write a summary that highlights your skills and accomplishments
- Showcase your experience and education
- Ask for recommendations from former colleagues and managers
Tips for managing your online presence
Here are some tips for managing your online presence:
- Google yourself to see what comes up
- Remove any inappropriate content or photos
- Adjust your privacy settings on social media
- Monitor your social media activity to ensure that you are presenting yourself in a positive light
The impact of social media on your job search
While social media can be a valuable tool for building an online professional image, it can also be a double-edged sword. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 57% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate if they can’t find information about them online.
However, 70% of employers also said that they have rejected candidates based on something they found on their social media profiles.
That’s why it’s important to be mindful of what you post on social media.
Building a personal website
Another way to build an online professional image is to create a personal website. This can be a great way to showcase your portfolio, resume, and accomplishments.
You can also use your website to blog about your industry, which can help position you as a thought leader in your field.
This particular pathway can be especially useful for those in fields like graphic design, web development, writing, and any other creative industry where having an online portfolio can make a big difference in landing a job.
Finally, it’s important to be aware of your online reputation and take steps to manage it. This includes monitoring your online presence, responding to any negative comments or reviews, and being proactive in building a positive online image.
II. Resume and Cover Letter Writing
A well-crafted resume and cover letter are essential components of the job application process. They showcase your skills and experience and help you stand out from other candidates.
This section will cover how to write a resume that stands out, tips for writing a compelling cover letter, common mistakes to avoid, and the importance of tailoring your resume and cover letter.
We will also provide guidance on how to highlight your skills and experience and how to follow up after submitting a resume and cover letter.
Keep in mind that a competitive job market can be extremely hard to navigate as a young adult. Sometimes you, unfortunately, will not hear back from jobs. It is alright. You will eventually find something. I just wanted to put that out there.
How to write a resume that stands out
When writing your resume, it’s important to make sure that it stands out from the crowd. Here are some tips to help you accomplish that goal:
- Use strong action verbs to describe your accomplishments
- Quantify your accomplishments with numbers and percentages
- Keep your resume concise and easy to read
- Use keywords from the job description to tailor your resume to the position
Tips for writing a compelling cover letter
A cover letter is a crucial component of any job application, as it provides an opportunity for the applicant to showcase their qualifications, skills, and experience to the employer.
Here are some tips for writing a compelling cover letter:
Address it to the right person: Research the company and find out who the hiring manager is, and address the cover letter to them. If you are not sure, use a generic greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”
Customize it for each job: Tailor your cover letter to the specific job you are applying for, highlighting your relevant skills and experience that match the requirements of the position.
Keep it concise: A cover letter should really be no more than one page long, so be sure to keep it brief and to the point. Use bullet points to highlight your most important qualifications and accomplishments.
Show enthusiasm: Let the employer know why you are excited about the job and the company, and how your skills and experience make you a great fit for the position.
Provide evidence: Use specific examples to demonstrate your qualifications and achievements. For example, instead of saying “I am a great team player,” provide an example of a project you worked on with a team and the positive outcome.
Proofread and edit: Before submitting your cover letter, be sure to proofread it carefully for spelling and grammar errors. Have a friend or family member read it over as well to catch any mistakes you may have missed.
Common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume and cover letter
While there are many things you can do to make your resume and cover letter stand out, there are also several common mistakes that can hurt your chances of getting hired. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
Using a generic cover letter: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to customize your cover letter for each job you apply for. Using a generic cover letter can show that you are not putting in the effort to tailor your application to the specific position.
Including irrelevant information: Your resume and cover letter should only include information that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Don’t include personal information such as your age, marital status, or hobbies, unless it is directly relevant to the position.
Making typos or errors: Spelling and grammar mistakes can make you look unprofessional and careless. Be sure to proofread your application materials carefully and have someone else read them over as well.
Focusing too much on responsibilities rather than achievements: Employers want to know what you can bring to the table, so be sure to highlight your accomplishments and achievements rather than just listing your job duties.
Being too informal: While you want to show your personality and enthusiasm for the job, it’s important to maintain a professional tone in your resume and cover letter. Avoid using slang or overly casual language.
The importance of tailoring your resume and cover letter
One of the biggest mistakes that job seekers make is using a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to their resume and cover letter. While it may be tempting to send the same document to multiple job openings, this approach is unlikely to yield the desired results. This can be especially true if you are a young adult who needs to navigate a competitive job market with little work experience.
Employers want to see that you have taken the time to tailor your application to the specific job you are applying for. Again, this means highlighting the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job and aligning them with the job description. It also means using keywords and phrases that are specific to the job posting.
Oftentimes, machines are used to scan resumes for these keywords before they are even seen by a human.
Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for can be time-consuming, but it is a worthwhile investment. By demonstrating that you have carefully considered the job requirements and are a good match for the role, you increase your chances of being called for an interview.
How to highlight your skills and experience
As mentioned earlier, one of the most important parts of tailoring your resume and cover letter is highlighting your skills and experience. This means identifying the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job and showcasing them in a way that grabs the employer’s attention.
Start by carefully reviewing the job description and identifying the key skills and experiences that the employer is looking for. Then, go through your resume and cover letter and make sure that you have highlighted those skills and experiences in a prominent way.
When describing your skills and experiences, use strong action verbs and provide specific examples of how you have used those skills in the past. This will help to demonstrate your qualifications and make you stand out from other candidates.
How to follow up after submitting a resume and cover letter
After you have submitted your resume and cover letter, it’s important to follow up with the employer to express your continued interest in the position and inquire about the status of your application.
One way to follow up is to send a polite email to the employer thanking them for their time and expressing your continued interest in the position. In the email, you can ask if there is any additional information that you can provide and inquire about the status of your application.
Another option is to follow up with a phone call. When making a phone call, be sure to introduce yourself and explain that you are calling to follow up on your application. Ask if the employer has had a chance to review your application and inquire about the next steps in the hiring process.
When following up, it’s important to be polite and professional. Remember that the employer is likely receiving a high volume of applications, so it may take some time to hear back. If you don’t hear back within a week or two, it’s appropriate to follow up again to reiterate your interest in the position.
Networking is a critical aspect of the job market, and it can help you learn about job openings, gain valuable insights, and build relationships with professionals in your industry.
Moreover, the people you add to your network can quite literally give guidance and direct opportunities that will help you navigate a competitive job market as a young adult which is priceless at a young age.
This section will cover the importance of networking, how to network effectively as a new adult, and tips for following up after networking events. We will also discuss how to build a professional network, use LinkedIn to network, and network with alumni.
The importance of networking in the job market
Networking allows you to expand your professional circle, gain insights into different industries and job roles, and learn about potential job openings before they are even advertised.
When you attend networking events or connect with people in your industry, you have the opportunity to showcase your skills and experience, which could lead to a job offer down the line.
Networking also helps you to build a professional reputation and create a positive impression on potential employers. By developing strong relationships with individuals in your industry, you can establish yourself as a thought leader and someone who is well-respected within your field.
How to network effectively as a new adult
Networking can be daunting, particularly for those who are new to the job market. However, there are many strategies you can use to make the process easier and more effective.
One key strategy is to attend industry events, such as conferences or job fairs, which provide an opportunity to meet other professionals in your field. You can also consider joining professional organizations or clubs, which often hold networking events and offer other resources for job seekers.
Another effective networking strategy is to leverage your existing connections, such as friends, family members, or former colleagues. Let them know that you are actively seeking job opportunities and ask if they know of anyone who might be hiring.
Tips for following up after networking events
Following up is a crucial aspect of networking that many job seekers overlook. After attending a networking event or meeting someone for coffee, it’s important to send a follow-up email to express your gratitude and continue the conversation.
When following up, be sure to reference something specific that you discussed during the event or meeting to show that you were engaged and attentive. You can also use this opportunity to request a follow-up meeting or phone call to discuss potential job opportunities.
Building a professional network
Building a professional network takes time and effort, but it can pay off in the long run. One effective way to build a network is to start by identifying individuals in your industry who you admire or who hold positions that you aspire to. Reach out to them on LinkedIn or via email to introduce yourself and express your interest in their work.
As touched on earlier, you can also attend networking events or join professional organizations to meet people who work in your field. Remember to be friendly and approachable, and to listen more than you speak.
By taking an interest in other people’s experiences and accomplishments, you can build meaningful relationships that may lead to job opportunities down the line.
Using LinkedIn to network
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job seekers, as it allows you to connect with people in your industry and learn about potential job opportunities. It is integral in your pursuit to navigate and understand how a competitive job market works as a young adult.
To use LinkedIn effectively for networking, start by building a strong profile that highlights your skills and experience.
Next, start connecting with people in your industry by searching for individuals or companies that interest you. When sending a connection request, be sure to personalize your message and explain why you are interested in connecting. You can also join LinkedIn groups related to your field to expand your network and participate in discussions.
Networking with alumni
Networking with alumni from your college or university can be a great way to build connections and learn about potential job opportunities. Many schools have alumni networks or career services offices that can help you connect with alumni in your field.
When reaching out to alumni, be sure to mention that you attended the same school, which can create an instant connection. You can also ask for advice on your job search or request an informational interview to learn more about their career path.
A successful job interview is crucial to securing a job offer. This section will cover how to prepare for a job interview, common interview questions, and tips for acing a virtual interview.
We will also discuss how to research a company before an interview, how to dress for an interview, and how to follow up after an interview.
There’s good information in this section regardless if you are a young adult looking to navigate a competitive job market or not. It’s information that should be known.
How to prepare for a job interview
The key to acing a job interview is preparation. Start by researching the company and the position you’re applying for. Look at the company’s website, social media profiles, and recent news articles. This will give you a better understanding of their values, goals, and overall culture.
Make note of any relevant information you find, such as the company’s mission statement, recent projects, and key personnel.
Next, review the job description and requirements. Make a list of the skills and experience you have that match the job description. Think about how you can highlight these skills during the interview. Also, make a list of questions you have about the company and the position. This will show the interviewer that you are interested and engaged.
Common interview questions and how to answer them
While every interview is different, there are some common questions that are often asked. Here are some examples and tips on how to answer them:
“Tell me about yourself.” This is often the first question asked in an interview. Keep your answer concise and focused on your professional experience and skills. Highlight your most relevant accomplishments and explain how they relate to the job you’re applying for.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Focus on your strengths and be specific. Give examples of how you have used these strengths in the past. For weaknesses, choose something that is not essential for the job and explain how you are working to improve in that area.
“Why do you want to work for this company?” Use the research you conducted earlier to answer this question. Explain why the company’s values and goals align with your own. Talk about how you can contribute to the company’s success.
“Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work.” Use the STAR method to answer this question. Describe the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Be specific and focus on how you overcame the challenge.
Tips for acing a virtual interview
Virtual interviews have become more common in recent years and they will most likely continue to grow in prevalence.
Here are some tips for acing a virtual interview:
- Test your technology beforehand. Make sure your internet connection, microphone, and camera are all working properly.
- Choose a quiet, well-lit location for the interview. Avoid distracting backgrounds and make sure there is good lighting on your face.
- Dress professionally, even if you’re interviewing from home.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer and speak clearly.
- Be prepared for technical difficulties. Have a backup plan in case your internet connection goes down or your camera stops working.
How to research a company before an interview
Researching a company before an interview is essential for showing the interviewer that you are interested and prepared. I find that oftentimes this is overlooked or not taken seriously, especially for those of us new to entering the workforce.
Here are some tips for researching a company:
- Look at the company’s website and social media profiles.
- Read recent news articles about the company.
- Look up the company on Glassdoor to read employee reviews.
- Use LinkedIn to research the company and its employees.
How to dress for an interview
Dressing professionally is important for making a good first impression during an interview. Here are some tips for choosing the right outfit:
- Choose clothes that are clean, pressed, and fit well.
- Stick to neutral colors, such as black, gray, or navy.
- Avoid flashy accessories and heavy makeup.
- Wear comfortable shoes that are appropriate for the job.
If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
How to follow up after an interview
Following up after an interview is a crucial step in the job application process, as it shows your continued interest in the position and can help you stand out from other candidates. Here are some tips for following up effectively:
Send a thank-you note: Send a thank-you note to your interviewer within 24-48 hours after the interview. This can be done via email or a handwritten note. Be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and express your continued interest in the position.
Mention something specific from the interview: In your thank-you note, mention something specific that was discussed during the interview. This can help show that you were engaged and paying attention during the interview.
Be patient: It’s important to be patient and not follow up too frequently. Wait a week or two before sending a follow-up email if you haven’t heard back from the employer.
Send a follow-up email: If you haven’t heard back from the employer after a week or two, send a polite follow-up email. In the email, express your continued interest in the position and ask if there is any update on the hiring process.
Keep the conversation going: If you receive a response to your follow-up email, keep the conversation going. Ask any additional questions you may have about the position or the company culture. This can help show your enthusiasm for the job.
It’s important to remember that following up is not a guarantee that you will get the job, but it can help keep you top of mind for the employer and show that you are proactive and interested in the position.
In conclusion, understanding how to navigate a competitive job market as a new adult can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By building an online professional image, crafting a compelling resume and cover letter, networking effectively, and preparing for job interviews, you can eventually succeed in any job market.
We encourage you to explore additional resources from Adulting Starts Here to support your job search and career development. Be sure to search our website for more information and support.
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