Secrets to a successful job search

You might be finding that one of the most frustrating parts of a career change is finding the right opportunity.
If you have a good idea of what you want to next, it can feel like trying to find a needle in haystack to track down the perfect job.
This post will arm you with a job hunting strategy and tactics that work.
The great news is that the right opportunity IS out there – with a good plan, dedication and the right attitude you can find it.

Traditional and Modern Job Hunting

The traditional model for job hunting is waiting for the right job to be created, finding the opening and then beating off the competition to land the role.  This involves using channels such as newspaper and online job postings, company job boards and recruitment consultants.

The modern model for job hunting is to proactively find or have the right position created for you in an organisation you’d like to work for.  This involves using a great deal of networking, targeted searches and informational interviews.  Here is a great example of a (post) modern job search

There are obvious pros and cons to each of these models.  The traditional model means you are going for jobs that actually exist, however you tend to have much more competition and it can be hard to land the role.  The modern model allows you to create your ideal role that might not exist yet, however it can take a lot of time, patience and hard work.

Most research on the topic suggests that around 50% of jobs are filled by each of these approaches.

Given all of this, I suggest that the ideal job search strategy is to make sure you are consistently using every appropriate tactic.

How to Structure your Search

It’s best to think of your job search as the most important work project you’ll ever undertake.  You should be as professional, organized and committed as you are with your day job.

You may have a favourite approach for structuring a project (I’m sure your inner Excel / Powerpoint geek will come out).  If not, I suggest you create a strategic overview of your job search.  This will outline each tactic you plan to use and then specifics of what you are committing to.

You can then keep a weekly to-do list which outlines specific, measurable commitments about what you will accomplish (for example: create a target list of 10 organizations I want to work for, check the job boards of those organizations for new roles, use MovemeOn to find the right recruitment consultant and set up a meeting etc.).  This makes it easy to tick these off as being successfully completed.

Use this summary of Job search tactics to create your strategic overview:

Traditional Model

Review newspaper advertisements for job postings that fit your criteria

Review online job boards for new jobs that fit your criteria

Review company job boards for new jobs that fit your criteria

Work with recruitment consultant(s) to identify roles that fit your criteria

Use Linked In postings and Groups to find advertised roles that fit your criteria

Approach HR and leave your CV for the type of job you want

Apply for posted jobs identified using CV, covering letter etc.

Modern Model

Immediate network – look for people in your immediate network who work for organisations you’d like to work for, or who do the type of work you want to do.  Ask for an informational interview.  Ask for further connections in the field.

Wider Networking – tell your network about what you are wanting to do and the organizations you want to do it at.  Ask for introductions and connections to people they may know at these organisations or in your chosen field.  Organize informational interviews.

Fresh network – attend events that relate to your chosen field / industry and make new connections.  Follow up and aim for informational interviews.

Targeted Search – create a hit list of organizations that you want to work for in the area(s) you want to work

Research target organisations and identify the personnel you’d like to contact

Use the following techniques to try and get a connection with these people or more broadly at the company; your existing network, your network’s network, alumni connections, Linked In Group connections, research and reading to find out more about the person (a bit of online stalking), trade associations, trade events they may be attending / speaking at

Cold calling – call and try to get in touch with the person (your research of the company and their work will help you here)

Walk Ins – consider showing up at the organisation you want to work for (again you should be well prepared)

Internships / Volunteer – try to find a way to work in the organisations on a volunteer or temporary basis to show your skills

Get creative – the only limit to making a connection or finding a job is your imagination

Go make it happen

As you can see, this can be a serious project and you’ll need to stay work hard to get optimal results. The key is to stay patient and remember that you have a great strategy which will get you results.

Make sure you use a good system to track opportunities, connections and follow ups to stay professional.  You can use your strategic overview if that is helpful or create a separate tracking sheet.

By using traditional and modern methods in tandem and having a well structured approach you go from a needle in a haystack search to a successful job search and finding the right opportunity for you.

Related posts:

  1. Secrets to your Successful Career – Part 2
  2. Successful Job Searching – Extraordinary Mindset


  1. Phil
    September 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    What techniques do you use to search for opportunities? Share them by making a comment.

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