How To Get A Job

This is a guest post from Kathleen Hunt. Enjoy.

Dear new developer,

I have eight years of experience in career, professional, and workforce development. I’ve designed and taught curricula for three different companies/institutions, coached hundreds of individuals 1:1, reviewed thousands of resumes, and spoken with dozens of hiring managers over the years. I’ve helped 19-year-olds who couldn’t afford to attend college land entry-level offers with top companies in Silicon Valley, coached graduate engineering students on how to apply their theoretical classroom knowledge in fast-paced workplace settings, and guided 50-year-olds through major career transitions. I’ve also hired and managed teams in an established, sophisticated nonprofit, a scrappy startup with <70 employees, and in a 125-year-old university seeking to stay on the bleeding edge of technological and workforce advancements.

tl;dr – I know how to get a job.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially now; the uncertain economy and mass layoffs in the tech sector have increased the length of the average job search by 36%, drawing out a process that is already fraught with anxiety (both personal and financial) for many people.

But the same guidelines of job searching still apply. There’s a right way and a wrong way to job search, and I’m going to break down how the most successful job searchers navigate their careers into a few key tips. Keep in mind that how much time you need to invest into each of these activities will vary depending on who you are and where you are in your career; do some honest reflection as you plan out your job search to avoid letting yourself skip over the things that you just don’t want to do, even if you know you need to do them.

Caveats: My career has been in the tech field, but these guidelines apply to most of the private sector. If you’re in academia, medicine, law, or any other field that requires a doctorate, this information is likely less relevant for you. I’m not going to go into the “how” of each of these, at least not now – there are thousands of resources out there to help you write your resume, network, prepare for interviews, etc. Nor should you take this as a comprehensive guide to job searching, which you can also find hundreds of online. This should be used as a way for you to quickly check whether you’re hitting on the big-ticket items that are most likely to lead to job search success.

Guideline 1: Start with a plan, and get out of your head

Some of the best career advice I got was from an amazing productivity coach I worked with for a couple years, Alexis Haselberger. She helped me set up a killer to-do list that organized every single work and personal action item I have (seriously – I have an alert for March 2026, set to recur every 10 years, reminding me to renew my passport). By writing down and scheduling our to-dos the moment they come up, we unburden our brains from having to remember anything trivial, and free up that processing power for things that require actual mental effort. This has made a world of difference in how I manage my time and productivity both in my career and when searching.

Find an organization system that works for you. I use Notion’s free job application tracker template. I’ve used Asana, Trello, Huntr, and simple spreadsheets in the past, but I like Notion for its aesthetics and dynamic UI. There can be a bit of a learning curve if you haven’t used Notion before, but once you’re familiar with it, it’s easy to keep up with.

Don’t worry about perfection or spending money on some fancy tool; find something you like enough, and use it.

Once you have a way to organize your search, write down everything you can think of that you need to do, make a schedule of when you’ll do it, and quantify what you need to do (e.g. “add five new companies per day to my target company list,” or “reach out to 10 new connections per week.”) You’ll get a dopamine boost from hitting your goals, and you’ll also know when it’s ok to stop; when you’re unemployed, especially if it’s not by choice, it’s easy to feel like you should spend every waking hour trying to find a job, but that’s a fast track to burnout. You can make more ambitious goals if you need a job urgently, but you still need breaks, and you deserve to rest and have fun.

Assess your schedule ~monthly. Note what’s working and what isn’t. Adjust accordingly. Try new things.

Guideline 2: NETWORK!!!!

I can’t emphasize this enough. I have had five jobs/employers post-college, and I got every single one of them through my network. When I say “network,” I mean everyone from a woman I got coffee with once who contacted me out of the blue nine months later when a position opened up at her organization (my first job in the education field, i.e. the elusive foot in the door), to a former colleague who contacted me on LinkedIn about a job he was hiring for, to one of my closest friends who introduced me to someone she used to work with. You can get a job from randomly applying, but it’s much less likely. It’s estimated that ~80% of jobs are filled through networking, with at least 70% of jobs never even being posted publicly. You can assume you’re disqualifying yourself from four out of every five applications if you aren’t networking, not to mention missing out on countless other “hidden” jobs.

Pro-tip: for cold outreach, expect a ~10-20% response rate if you personalize your outreach messages. Go in with this expectation and you’ll be less likely to get discouraged if you don’t hear back.

Guideline 3: Get yourself out there

Tell people you are searching. Post about it on LinkedIn and other social media that you use. Create regular updates. Publish a portfolio, make contributions on GitHub, do a project with peers and share the results, keep your skills sharp, and tell people what you’re doing! Oh, you thought this blog was me being altruistic and just trying to help people with their job searches? Think again. (kidding, a bit – I do hope it’s helpful!)

Guideline 4: Do your research, and prepare for interviews

I don’t care if you’ve kissed the Blarney Stone, you need to prepare for interviews. Research the company and people you’re talking to. If you don’t know whom you’re interviewing with, ask. You can also ask if the interview will cover specific topics or if there’s anything you should do to prepare. That’s not cheating, that’s smart, and usually when I have asked this I’ve gotten a few helpful tips from the recruiter I was emailing with. Check Glassdoor for tips from other people who have interviewed there, and Google “common interview questions at Company X.” And the one a lot of people skip: prepare thoughtful questions for your interviewer!! If you’re doing these things, you’ll likely be more prepared than at least 50% of candidates.

Guideline 5: Follow up

Send a quick thank-you email within 24 hours after the interview; if you don’t have someone’s email, ask your contact at the company for it. In the interview, ask about next steps, and follow up if you haven’t heard from them by the date they say you should have heard back. Same goes for people you network with – thank them for whatever they provided (advice, time, a recommendation) and follow up on any action items. If you apply to a job at a company, and you are connected to someone at that company, for the love of God TELL THEM!! Don’t worry about being annoying – unless you’re following up more than three times, you won’t be.

Other things worth mentioning:

Quantity vs. quality

Both are important. There is an element to luck in job searching – you can be a perfect candidate and submit a stellar application, but if someone equally qualified applied a couple weeks before you did, you might not even get called for a screening interview. Don’t submit hundreds of sloppy applications, but don’t spend hours upon hours tailoring every single application to the point you are only applying to a few jobs per week.

Cover letters

Many hiring managers don’t read them. Some do, including myself. I prefer cover letters to resumes – they show more personality and whether someone can actually write (an important skill for the positions I hire). I think they’re always worth including if you’re given the option, but many people, especially those hiring for technical roles, disagree. I advise compromising by making a boilerplate cover letter template that you can easily edit for individual applications. If you’re applying to different types of jobs, you may want a couple templates, each highlighting the most relevant experience/skills for the job it’s meant for. Do not send the same generic one in for every job – it’s obvious when someone can’t even be bothered to put the job title and company name in their letter.

LinkedIn quick apply

Over the years, I think I’ve spoken to two people (out of hundreds) who have gotten an interview from applying this way. The odds are not in your favor, but it takes all of five seconds, so it’s pretty low-effort. That said, if you see a job on LinkedIn that you’re super excited about, try to apply through the company website directly, tailor your application, and try to find someone who works there who you can talk to.

Tailoring your application

Once you do it a few times, it gets pretty quick (~20 minutes per job), and is a best practice for applications. When I say tailor, I mean making sure your resume and cover letter best reflect the experience that is most aligned with the job description. Look for keywords in the job posting that stand out (action verbs, words used on repeat, tools and technologies) and make sure these are in your resume and/or cover letter if you have experience with them.


Please, please proofread. If English is your second language, or if you are dyslexic or otherwise struggle with writing, ask a trusted friend to proofread and pay them back in baked goods or hand-knitted scarves.

Those are the big ones. Notice I said they are guidelines, not rules. I’m guilty of breaking the first guideline often, in part because I have eaten, drunk, and breathed this stuff for the past eight years so it’s practically muscle memory at this point. Your mileage may vary – as I said in the beginning, take stock of where you’re at with each of these things. E.g., if you read the bit about tailoring your resume with a blank stare, then take a few minutes to Google “how to tailor your resume.”

I’ll be sharing weekly updates on what I’ve been focusing on in my own search, as well as any roadblocks, disappointments, emotions, and successes that pop up. And if there’s anything that I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to reach out!



This post was originally published here.

Kathleen Hunt is a program designer, team builder, facilitator, and career development junkie with over eight years of experience in the EdTech, workforce development, and higher education sectors. She is driven by the belief that everyone is entitled to a fulfilling, challenging career, and has worked with learners and workers of all ages and backgrounds to help them elevate their careers and realize their goals. If she’s not at work or with friends, she is either in the woods or making something. Connect with her on LinkedIn and find other job searching insights on her website.

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