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September 30, 2022 - 7 minutes

The Messy Middle of Job Hunting: A Practical Guide

The worst part of job hunting is, well, the hunt! Navigate the process smoothly with this survival guide.

Frida Chacin Kulak - Tech Writer


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At Ironhack, we often share advice on how to start a career in Tech. Whether you’re applying to tech jobs for the first time, or pivoting from a different job, we have the tips for you! But very few articles tackle the trickiest, most unpredictable part of the job hunt: the messy middle.

Once you’ve figured out what you really want from your career, and planned out how to get it ( for this purpose, we made a Career Vision Planner and Job-Hunting Checklist, so you can decide what you want and how to get there!), you’ll take the leap and find yourself in the worst part of the job hunting process: intensively sending out resumés, having interviews left and right, doing trial assignments for various interview processes… If you’re not sure if you will survive through the storm, this post is for you!

These steps will help you disentangle your job search methods and save time by working smarter, not harder. Because job hunting doesn’t have to feel like purgatory!

Overhaul Your Networks

The best time for learning how to network professionally is when you have a steady job: you can connect with all your coworkers on LinkedIn, ask your manager for networking tips, and dedicate time to reach out to other professionals without having to ask them for help out of nowhere. So, if during your job hunting process, you’ve found that your networking skills aren’t great, this might not sound like great news for you. But you don’t need to have the perfect network (myth alert: there is no perfect network!) to find a job through it.

There are some ways to use your existing network of friends and acquaintances that you might not have thought about. Of course, most of us tell our closest friends to keep an eye open for roles that might fit our profile; but they probably have networks they haven’t considered at first. If they’re in closed groups in social media or instant messaging apps with other people who might be in pertinent industries, or able to pass your resumé along, you might get lucky! Write up an elevator pitch about your career and expectations, and ask your most connected friends to send it around: it might reach just the right person!

While reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn and asking them for a job is considered a bit rude, you can also try writing a short post, similarly tailored for recruiters, detailing your story as a professional and what you’re looking for; and ask your contacts to share it, both on and off LinkedIn!

Job Hunting, But Make It Smart

Especially if you’re looking for a job in tech, don’t make the mistake of sticking to one job board! While the most popular job boards are chock-full of postings and often overlap and link to each other, by not keeping an eye on smaller, more specialised job boards, you might be missing out on more uncommon openings. Startups in particular tend to avoid large job boards and stick to more niche sites, like AngelList or Y Combinator. Do your research!

LinkedIn tends to be the most used job board for tech professionals, however, and you might have heard a thing or two about how recruiters ignore you if you use the Easy Apply option. This is false: Easy Apply is okay to use! But you might want to check if there is a different form to apply on their website (hint: these are sometimes favoured!).

Lastly, remember that having a curated online presence will bring recruiters to you, too. A well written, good looking LinkedIn profile might just do the work for you, by showing you at the top of recruiter search results and making you look like exactly what they’ve been looking for!

Track and Organise Your Job Applications

If you’re doing an intensive job search and applying for several postings every day, you will soon get confused– and it’s not a good look to tell the recruiter who just called you that you have no clue what they’re calling about.

Track your applications on a spreadsheet, kanban, or whatever method works for you: list the companies and positions, the link to the job posting, the date on which you applied, and the status of the application; establish a limit to decide which companies have “ghosted” you so you can move on. Nothing compares to the bliss of having a recruiter call you when you have the spreadsheet handy, and giving a great first impression by not making them read the entire job description to you!

Remember to be mindful of how much time you dedicate to job hunting: it is important to limit the hours a day you spend sending out resumés and cover letters. This applies to every phase of the hunt: send a set maximum of applications a day, track meetings on your calendar, and carefully time-block and control the time you spend working on trial assignments. Your time is valuable, and your peace, too!

Apply What You’ve Learned as a Job Hunter

Job searching can feel repetitive: you send out the same resumé, the same cover letter, the same portfolio; you answer the same questions, in forms and in interviews; you write the same email over and over. Don’t rest in your laurels: switch it up!

The job hunt process can be very time consuming if there isn’t a constant effort to optimise its processes– which very often get hindered by “rules” and expectations. Don’t be afraid to seek efficiency and hack your system! Refine your elevator pitch and write it down, instead of reciting it from memory; better yet, conduct A/B testing, trying out different ones and seeing which works best or makes you feel better. Do the same with your interviews: write down your most inspired answers so you can reuse them, and rethink the ones you weren’t happy with.

Ask interviewers for feedback on your resumé and on how you interview, too! Turn interviews into an opportunity to improve, and it won’t feel like wasted time. You can find great resources on how to conduct great interviews, too, but you can ask the interviewers themselves, who will, more often than not, appreciate a candidate that proactively seeks improvement.

Also, remember that the work you made for trial assignments (for companies that didn’t hire you) is yours to keep. Put it to work, and showcase it in your portfolio!

Take Care of Yourself

Job markets move very fast, with thousands of companies and millions of people constantly on the go; and companies receive tons of applications, resulting in candidates often being ghosted mid-process. Job hunting can take literal months to give results, and generally be very exhausting and terrible for your self esteem. So you have to put your physical and mental health first.

It’s easy to feel inadequate when you start getting lots of generic rejection emails, but, if you’re confused because you thought you were a good fit for the position, you might have been right: resumés often get discarded by automatic software, or by recruiters who looked at them for all of five seconds. Don’t take rejection or ghosting personally: it has nothing to do with your value or your skills!

Take breaks –seriously, job hunting can burn you out very fast if you don’t!–, get support from friends and family, and remember: neither you nor your career are stuck in amber until the next job pops up. This transitional period does not define you: it’ll be over before you know it!

Keep Learning As You Go

As we said before, while you hunt for a new job, you’re not stuck. Keep moving forward! If you’re between jobs, making use of your free time to do some extra courses to list on your resumé is not only a great way to motivate yourself: it also shows recruiters that you’re willing to keep learning. Now is the time to get the education that is specific for the role you’re seeking, and that will set you apart from the rest.

There’s a plethora of educational resources available online, from short video courses to bootcamps, which are more intensive and arm you with the most demanded skills in the market– and with Ironhack, you’ll get much more than a certificate. Join our Ironhacker community, get access to our Career Services, and kickstart your career in Tech! Check out our bootcamps!

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