4 tips for upping your chances of finding a job and getting ahead in your career

"When you finally reach the end of your career, what do you want your legacy to be?"


Tens of millions of people are seeking work during the coronavirus pandemic, with 751,000 additional jobless claims coming in the week ending October 24, according to the Labor Department. 

If you're looking for work right now, the wide pool of applicants and slow-to-recover economy may seem daunting. But there are ways you can both stand out to recruiters and make sure you're still maximizing your time and building your career even as you look.

Investing app Acorns held its first ever career day on Thursday, putting together a virtual event covering key topics like where to search for opportunities and how to build an eye-catching resume. Here are four tips from experts who spoke at the event about how to improve your chances of finding a job and making the most of your time.

Figure out your big-picture goals

Before even beginning your job search, think big picture, according to Destini Burns, senior manager of talent development at Acorns. "Every career decision that you make is an opportunity to leave your footprint," she says. "When you finally reach the end of your career, what do you want your legacy to be?"

Are you interested in helping people? Do you want to build tech that brings specific industries to the future? Do you want to create good jobs with benefits? Thinking big picture and long term about your career objectives helps to "sharpen" your job search, says Burns, and helps candidates "become slightly more clear on the companies they're interested in and the work that they want to do."

Ultimately, it will also help you "to feel fully fulfilled in a role" when you get hired, she says.

Make sure your resume 'tells a comprehensive story'

When you're building your resume, make sure it "tells a comprehensive story," says Jamie Lee, a senior recruiter at Acorns. That is, think about how you've built yourself up over the years with each professional experience, and ensure that your resume reflects that clearly and coherently.

Include your educational background on your CV as well as what companies you've worked for in the past, how long you were there, and what titles you held at each of them. All of this should be laid out neatly and in chronological order. "If [a recruiter] can't quickly make sense of your past experience," she says, "they may pass on your resume."

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Search where the jobs are

When it's time to look for jobs, remember, "there are so many job boards online nowadays," says Jordan Davis, a senior project manager at Acorns. "Employers are constantly posting new opportunities to job boards and most platforms make it really, really easy to apply."

Popular job boards to find open positions on include LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and FlexJobs. Some of these job boards also let you set up email alerts when a job is posted in your field of interest, so make sure you look through their various functions and leverage them to get the most out of each.

There are also industry-specific job boards, says Davis, like Mediabistro for marketing and communications jobs and SitePoint for remote tech jobs. Do a Google search for job boards for your specific industry and make sure to use those, too.

Plus, "if you know what companies you are interested in working for, go directly to their website," he says. "You may find positions posted on a company's career page that are not posted on generic job boards."

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Learn something new every day

Even while you're searching and waiting to hear back from employers, take the time to invest in yourself. "Every day, I learn something new," says David Keegan, Acorns' vice president of investment and partner products.

What you take time to study "can be something that directly ties to my career goals or it could be an interesting fact about a history," he says. The point is to continue to expand your mind and grow on both a professional and personal level.

LinkedIn Learning offers a myriad of courses about work-related skills, and its first 30 days are free, for example. The company's co-founder, Reid Hoffman, also hosts a podcast called "Masters of Scale" about how entrepreneurs like the founders of Netflix and Wikipedia built their companies. You can also try books, newsletters, YouTube channels, apps, and online courses.

Think about what you'd want to get better at or to simply know more about and carve out dedicated, focused time to invest in yourself that way. "Learning something new increases your career potential," says Keegan, and generally makes you more well rounded. It might even be a daily mood booster, knowing you're just a little smarter than you were the day before.

Grow is produced in partnership with Acorns and CNBC.

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