Career success

20 Steps To Any Successful Job Search

Job search | Resume | Job hunting



We either search jobs the traditional way (prepare resume- submit and share resume- wait) or the creative way (find out what we want- prepare ourselves so that we can do the job we want/fits us best- go after these jobs with tailored resumes, using all routes necessary)


The three realities of job hunting


- The length of the average job-hunting has increased dramatically: You have to look for jobs online (most of the time), through your networks, or by literally knocking on doors.

- Finding a job that pays you a decent middle class salary is becoming more and more difficult.

- Job-hunters and employers have completely different values when they are searching: Employers’ main value/concern is risk. Job-hunters’ main value/concern is time.

(Source: 'What color is my parachute?', by Richard Bolles)


Part 1: Sorting yourself out (on paper)


1. Start with finding more about you (and what you want) first, before you find out where the jobs are.


2. Answer the skill questions first: Focus on things you do eagerly, and only next, things you do well

What are the transferable skills you most love to use?

Where would you most love to use those skills—in what field, in what setting, with what kinds of people?


Part 2: Sorting yourself out (on resume: offline/online)


3: To go after the job/s you want, break down all your past work experience (full time work, side projects, volunteer, internships, apprenticeships, right up to high school if you did something valuable) into- a) successes at the job, and b) key skills used in that job.


Prioritize these skills and successes from past, according to how much you want to use them/do them. Now you can see what transferable skills can be pressed into service for this new job you are going after.


If you haven't done the job before: If it's possible, try it out part-time, or shadow someone in the role. Seek out temp agencies if they have opportunities in your area. Search for job training videos online.


4. Work on your resume. Get people to read it.

Have a set of resumes ready, each customized for a particular job. It saves time too.


Part 3: Build a professional network (Online and offline)


5. Good networks are built on basis of 'give and take'. If people will find you helpful, they will help you. Even when online, be helpful- answer questions all the time.


Places to be: Linkedin profile (Linkedin is very spammy and intrusive)- old friends and colleagues on Facebook/Twitter/Google+ (use 'search' function)- Use 'advanced search' option on Linkedin (or 'company' search- or 'find alumni' link in 'my network' section- go to any industry event you can- Participate in the right Linkedin Groups for your profession/field, industry, location, and employers.

Keep your resumes/applications and online profile/Linkedin Profile “in sync. Recruiters may open your online profile first, ahead of looking at your printed resume.


And, please, get a sensible email address. Instead of [email protected], have something like [email protected].


Part 4: Going after the jobs


6. Find the details (title, description) of jobs that fit us best, where these jobs are, and who are the people who can help us get these jobs? (recruiters, networks, online search)


Make sure you know what's boring and awful about a job, as well as what's great about the job.


Have a target list of employers.


7. Send your tailored resume (and cover letter, if it is necessary) to every company having those jobs, even though they might not have openings.


Resume blast, but with style: Don't send generic resumes. Send tailored resumes (and cover letters) for every job you are applying for, and they may actually read them.


8. Small companies are better fitted for your needs than the big ones are, where you may get lost in a crowd, and where opportunities to showcase your skills may happen often or may not. Small companies give more opportunities to showcase your talents.


9. Approach people who can hire you directly (team leaders etc): Avoid the 'filters' (human resources etc.)


Knock on doors ('I am here to see head of department X')- Search for names (if they are mentioned in job ads or on company websites) online (Linkedin, Google, Glassdoor, even the yellow pages)- Use networks (personal, friends and colleagues, etc) or get into networks (e.g. Linkedin Groups, industry events etc.)


Use any other contacts that can help you get your feet in: People who have worked in the company in past, who can get you a call.


10. Ten places to look for jobs

- Online: Submit resume to online job sites (won't work most of the time, and there are many useless, me-too sites which only exist to spam you)- Search by both area and job title. Search daily, Set up Google alerts (they are very useful- set up alerts for the job, industry as well for target companies- e.g. 'Google digital marketing jobs'

- Websites of companies you would like to work for: Check 'jobs sections. Find names of relevant team leader, if available.

- Small businesses in the area: Take up contract work or part-time work to build the experience.

- Local organization in the area (profit/non-profit): Again, Take up contract work or part-time work to build the experience.

- Companies elsewhere in the city (and finally, elsewhere)

- Jobs higher (or lower) than the level you are looking for: In desperate times, you need to go on working, to build the experience in your niche.

- Advertising (online/offline): Local newspapers, Craigslist, other classifieds

- Check details of companies who are advertising on behalf of other companies: Are they bonafide recruiters or just fly-by-night operators 'collecting databases' to fleece big companies?

- Avoid any job ads promising 'work from home' etc. (Please see the 'Job scams' guide)

- Ask for a referrals: From colleagues, friends, people who know people, even from a person leaving the job you want- did you know the best referral is to have an in-house referral?


Part 5: The job application

11. When emailing your resume to someone, always mention what job are you applying for in the subject line: And please check for grammatical errors in your emails before sending. It happens with the best of them and then we mess up our first impression iteself. Address the person with their name (if it is mentioned in the job ad) and you please spell their name correctly.


Employers also don't like seeing your current salary as well as expected salary in the first email. Also remember the first rule of salary negotiation: Don't mention your salary first.

Mention your online profile, and link to the relevant online links.


Part 6: The Job interview


12. The three types of job interviews: Also known as the PIE method (source: Daniel Porot)


Practice interviewing: Practicing giving the answers in mock-interviews conducted by friends and colleagues. (Tip: Practice talking only 50% of the time. Listen more)

'Informational interviewing': Talking to people who are doing the job you want, to get a first-hand idea of the job.

Interviewing for hire: Talking to employers/bosses/team leaders directly, to find out if they really find you useful, or whether you find the people/company desirable now that you know them. (Tip #1: Interviewers prefer we talk for 20 seconds- 2 minute at a time only, anything more, they lose focus, anything less, they are not clear. Tip #2: They if the interviewer starts to shift from questions about past to questions about present and future more, this shows they are interested in you now.)


13. Five types of questions employers want answers to most:


- “Why are you here? (Why us? Do you really know us? How we work? What we do?)


- “What can you do for us? (Can you really help us solve our problems/perform better? What is the proof of your skills and successes?)


- “What kind of person are you? (Do yo fit in our culture, ouy way of doing things and working? What sort of personality do you have? Adaptable? Easy to work with? Easy going?)


- “What distinguishes you from other people also interviewing for this job? (What value do you bring in? How are you better at what is needed at this job? How is your work ethic? Can you in the long hours when needed? Examples, please)


- “Can we afford you? (Do we have the budget?)


14. Four things employers are looking for their 'ideal' candidate: Hard skills and experience match- Personality and soft skills compatibility- Cultural and environmental fit- Ability to solve their problems


15. Have an 'elevator pitch' ready: Something that also answers the dreaded 'tell me about yourself' in 15-30 seconds. (Please see 'Personal branding' section' for more)


There are more interview tips, for all situations and kinds, in the 'Job interview' section)


16. Never generalize from the result of any job interview (and have other tactics and backups in hand). As long as you have done your homework, going after the jobs you think you do well/and love to do, have a tailored resume, done the research about the job/company/industry, and answered patiently and enthusiastically, you don't need to see any patterns with the rejections. There are so many variables at work in every company at any given time.


Move on to the next target. “No doesn’t mean “never.


Take some classes to improve on skills, if that was what you found during the interview.


Part 7: Don't give up.


17. Become an expert in your field.

Please see the guide to 'Personal Branding) The big idea is to come off as a person who knows all the important things in an industry- knows the latest trends, knows what works and what doesn't, knows the important people in the industry, and has some new ideas about the industry. The way to do it best is online (blog- social media posts- friending and following important people in the industry- answering questions etc) and offline (speaking opportunities in conferences, workshops etc.)


The more people who know you and your work, the more chances you have to make a new contact when you are seeking a job. 'Think about articles you could write for trade journals, talks you could give, blogs and other opportunities to build credibility in your field,' says Yeung.


18. Treat your job search like a job.

Everyday, do something that helps you get a job: Find someone who can help, search online/offline, work the streets, polish your resume (making it more relevant for the job), write a long list of FAQ (frequently asked questions) related to an important topic in your industry...just keep doing something, and good things will happen.


19. Tracking Your Job Search

Please use these sheets, adapted from university handouts for students, to plan the job search. You will most probably need the first sheet, titled, 'Job Search Checklist (starting out)', only once or twice, in the beginning.


The next sheet you will probably be using often. Please add more useful job search activities to this sheet as you see fit. 


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.