7 Job Search Tips
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7 Job Search Tips

By now, the term “Great Resignation” is probably familiar to you.

Millions of people are looking for new jobs, in search of more meaningful work and/or better work-life balance. Of course, the easy answer for this great shift in employment is the COVID-19 pandemic: people are realizing what’s truly important to them during a crisis.

However, I don’t want to overlook that this shift in power from employer to employee has been brewing for a long time. I found this article on the matter very insightful.

After several months of searching, I recently landed a new job and I learned a lot along the way. So, if you are one of the millions of people looking for a new job, I have some tips for you.

1. Make a list of what you want

Before you start looking for a new job, you should make a list of the reasons why you want a new job and what you are looking for in a new role. My advice would be to keep this list short, and then don’t compromise on it. The day after I decided I wanted to start looking for a new job, my mentor and I had a meeting where we discussed what I wanted. She helped me come up with my list of priorities. Here’s what I came up with:

I wanted a job at a venture capital fund. I knew this would be hard to do, given the competitive nature of the industry. However, I also knew this was my top priority and I was willing to spend at least 6 months trying before I would consider another direction (it ended up taking ~4 months). Everyone’s priorities are different; if one of your main priorities is finding a new role quickly, being looser on the particular industry may be more beneficial.

I wanted to do mission-driven work. This is intentionally vague; I wanted to keep an open mind to how a mission might manifest itself. During interviews, I was always looking out for people and teams who felt their work was meaningful and more than “just a job.” To be clear, I do not judge anyone who is looking for “just a job,” so that they can have more time outside of work or so they can reduce some of the stress that often comes from all-consuming work. My point is that you should take the time to be honest with yourself about what you truly want.

I wanted to be part of a team that embraces and cares about diversity. If you have been following this blog, you probably noticed diversity is a top priority for me. However, I had to keep an open mind about what level of diversity was non-negotiable to me. 

During interviews, I was always looking out for people and teams who felt their work was meaningful and more than “just a job.”

Within venture capital specifically, I was already well aware that less than 10% of VC decision-makers are women. That meant there was already going to be a 90% chance I would be working for men. And that was ok with me, as long as they acknowledged the importance of trying to increase diversity in the industry.

Lastly, I wanted to work remotely. I have enjoyed working remotely during the pandemic and with my husband in the military, a remote role would alleviate some of the stress that comes from having to move often. I feel very privileged to have found a remote and distributed team for my new role, because I realize this is a luxury that not everyone can find.

2. Ask someone to review your resume

No matter how many times you read and review your resume, a fresh set of eyes can catch things we don’t see in our own review. This could be grammar mistakes you glossed over, or how a role is perceived on paper. It was enlightening for me to hear some of the feedback I got on my resume.

For example, a mentor pointed out to me that not everyone would know what corporate development was (my prior role), and that I should more clearly mention my role in mergers and acquisitions, so that no one confused corporate development for a sales role (a common misconception).

Additionally, she suggested I put concrete numbers to the results on my resume. Instead of saying I managed “several” acquisitions, I updated my resume to reflect the actual number of closed and near-closed acquisitions.

 3. Look in the right places

While LinkedIn is a great resource for job postings, you should also seek out industry-specific job boards and think outside the box. I quickly learned from people in the industry that LinkedIn probably wasn’t the best place to find venture capital jobs. Here are some of the sites/boards I had success with:

While LinkedIn is a great resource for job postings, you should also seek out industry-specific job boards and think outside the box.

InHerSight: This site prioritizes companies that have been highly ranked by women who work there.

All Raise: All Raise is a non-profit dedicated to helping close the gender funding gap and helping women in the venture capital industry. Many of GHF’s favorite venture capitalists helped found this organization.

Confluence: This VC job board is a great site for venture capital listings, and I found it especially helpful for remote listings.

EVCA: EVCA (Emerging Venture Capitalists Association) has a great newsletter with VC opportunities.

John Gannon: John Gannon’s blog not only has job postings, but also has tons of other resources and courses to help you during your VC job search.

AngelList: If you’re interested in working for a startup, this is a great site to find startup roles.

If you’re looking to work for diverse startup teams that are funded by women VC’s, check out GHF’s list of venture capital funds run by women. Each site typically has a board of open jobs at the fund’s portfolio companies.

4. Ask for help (big and small)

Speaking from experience, your job search will be much smoother if you have people you can trust that are willing to help you or make introductions. Even if you think you don’t know that many people, everyone knows someone. And each introduction, even if it’s just a networking call, can get you closer to your ultimate goal.

While it was hard for me to ask for help at first, I found that almost everyone I asked was willing to make an introduction. I ended up meeting several people in the industry and even though I was never given a direct job lead from a mentor/advisor, each person I met gave me invaluable insights and helped me expand my network.

Keep in mind that asking for help might also mean simply asking for moral support. Going through a job search can be exhausting, and an empathetic ear can be immensely helpful.

5. Create a portfolio of work

Regardless of what industry you’re in (or applying to), having a portfolio of work can be extremely useful to showcase your skills.

Websites: If you have a blog or website, definitely list it in your application! I was surprised by how many interviewers had looked at my blog before our interviews.

Presentations: If you have a presentation you’ve done in your current role that you’re really proud of, see if you can scrub/anonymize it so that you can show it to potential employers. This goes without saying, but make sure it is completely scrubbed of any current company information.

Industry Trends: You should always be prepared to speak at length about what is happening in your industry (or the industry you’re applying to) and your unique perspective on it. For example, I was always ready to speak about startups that I was interested in, specifically startups that the fund I was interviewing with might find interesting.

The secret here is to try to find something you’re actually passionate about; it’s so much easier to talk about things you’re actually interested in, and that excitement will come through to your interviewer. It can also be worth it to actually write a memo or short thesis summarizing your thoughts, so that companies can see your work. If you’re ever going to blind email someone, providing a perspective on the industry is a great way to get their attention; it shows a level of dedication that most people don’t have.  

Regardless of what industry you’re in (or applying to), having a portfolio of work can be extremely useful to showcase your skills.

Summaries of Prior Projects: This exercise could be just for yourself, to help you prepare for interviews, or it could be something that is actually delivered to interviewers/companies. Spend some time and think about the most important projects you’ve worked on over the course of your career. What made the project complicated and/or rewarding? What was your exact role in achieving the ultimate results? If things did not go well, what did you learn? I would suggest creating at least three summaries that you can draw upon during the interview process to illustrate your abilities, personality, and learnings.

6. Stay organized and keep track of feedback

This may sound like a lot of extra work, but I found it very helpful to keep track of every single application, interview, rejection, and piece of feedback. I made a tracker of the date I applied for the job, where the job was posted, the date I heard back from the company, the date(s) I interviewed, and any feedback I received.

This exercise helped me notice patterns. How long was it taking to hear back from companies? Was I getting more traction on certain job boards? What percent of applications received a first-round interview? What was my rejection rate? What percent of applications never got any response? These sorts of insights helped me streamline my job search as well as keep the big picture in mind.

After each interview, reflect on what went well and where there is room for improvement. If there were questions you had a difficult time answering, be prepared to answer it better next time.

Try to notice patterns on how your answers are being perceived. And remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Does it seem like you would get along with these people? Do you share similar core values? Even if you are desperate to leave your current job, be honest with yourself on whether an interview feels like a good fit or if you’re potentially overlooking red flags.

Trust me, I know how hard it is to stay positive during a job search.

7. Stay positive

Trust me, I know how hard it is to stay positive during a job search. I haven’t met very many people who have gotten through the process completely unscathed. It takes patience and courage!

It can be excruciating to play the waiting game, especially when you feel more than ready to get out of your current role. And rejection is never fun; I had my fair share. I tried to remind myself that the right thing would come eventually. It also helped to have friends and mentors by my side to keep me sane along the way!

Embarking on a job search can be a great opportunity for self-discovery and to redefine your priorities. Finding a new job during the Great Resignation makes me feel a bit like a statistic, but I really think these millions of people are onto something.

If you want to take advantage of the current societal shift, I hope some of the tips I shared will prove helpful to you. And if you found a new job during the pandemic, I would love to hear what worked for you!