If you’re currently in the market for a new job, how long have you been searching? One week? Two months? However long it’s been, I’m sure it feels like you’ve been applying to new roles forever. According to research from Zippia, on average it takes between 21 and 80 job applications to get just one job offer. And the length of your job search can vary based on many factors, like your industry, area of expertise, and current job market. It’s been said that it can take between three and six months from the start of a job search to receiving an offer. That’s a long time!
While this might feel daunting and have you immediately search for job search hacks, there is one thing you have full control over during the process: your job search strategy. Instead of throwing resumes at job posting after job posting and seeing what sticks, a job search strategy gives job seekers techniques and a solid plan to ensure an efficient and effective job search experience.
8 Job Search Strategies
The job hunting process is tedious enough, but by taking a few extra steps, you can guarantee you’re doing your best to stand out in a sea of applicants. Try these eight strategies during your job search to help you land your next role.
Know What You’re Looking For
You can’t perform an effective search if you don’t know where to start. Before you even begin updating your resume or applying to jobs you need to get really clear with yourself on what the next step in your career looks like. Take a good look at your past roles, what you liked about them and what you didn’t, and make a list of what you’d like your next role to include. It should cover everything from job responsibilities to the size of the company and team to the specific industries that sound interesting to whether you want remote or hybrid work.
If you want to get a feel for what potential opportunities are available, a good exercise is to take to the job boards to find job titles that sound interesting to you. Read the job description and determine what interests you and what doesn’t. Find jobs with responsibilities that line up with what you’d like or companies that align with your interests. By having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for from the start, you’ll be able to perform a more effective job search.
Maintain a Strong Personal Brand
A key component of job searching isn’t just your skills and experience, but how you present them. Taking your personal brand into consideration when looking for a new job will help set you apart from your competition. “Many people go through the motions of updating their resume and LinkedIn profiles without actually considering the narrative they are shaping. It’s good practice to ask yourself what you want to be known for, examine everywhere you’re showing up, and challenge yourself to determine if what you’re saying is delivering on that goal,” shares Aliza Licht, Founder of LEAVE YOUR MARK and the author of ON BRAND: Shape Your Narrative. Share Your Vision. Shift Their Perception. “That might require spring cleaning your timelines to ensure that your online presence is helping, not hurting, your personal brand. It is, after all, exhibit B right after your resume and the first place hiring managers will check.”
Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter
Gone are the days of a one size fits all resume and cover letter. To give you the best chance of securing an interview, customization is the name of the game. The human resources team and hiring managers want to see how your experience fits with the role on their team, so it’s best to get as specific as possible, without over-exaggerating or flat-out lying. Take a detailed look at the job description and be sure to tailor your resume to call out any of the relevant experience you have. Then use your cover letter to help tell the story about why you’re the best fit for the role.
This isn’t a one-time thing either. To have a successful job search and increase your odds of scoring an interview and eventually a job, you need to do this for every role you apply for (we said it would be effective, not quick). The time spent is well worth it.
Network Regularly and Often
If you’re actively seeking a new opportunity, you need to be networking regularly and often. When you’re job searching, networking isn’t a nice to have activity, it’s a need to have. It’s been said that a majority of roles are filled through networking, so to increase your chances of landing a gig, start reaching out to your professional networks. From friends and family to previous coworkers to LinkedIn connections that work in fields or companies you’re interested in, start reaching out. It can be as easy as sending an email to your close network to notify them that you’re in the job market and sharing what you’re looking for if they happen to know of any opportunities.
For the connections you’re not as close to or don’t know at all but want to, reach out to see if they’re open for coffee, a quick phone call, or an informational interview. You’ll be surprised how kind and willing people are to meet and help others. During these conversations, if an available role comes up, and it feels appropriate, ask for a referral to help get your foot in the door. If it feels way outside of your comfort zone to directly reach out to people, attend a networking event or a job fair to help you make connections with a common interest. Be sure to ask for the email address of any connections you make so you can follow up with them later.
Showcase Your Expertise
Talking about your expertise and experience is one thing, but showing it is what’s going to help you land the job. Create an online website or portfolio that showcases your best work and the skills relevant to the roles you’re applying for. This should include everything from previous work samples to certifications you’ve earned to expertise you’re currently honing. Be sure to share a link to your website or portfolio during the application or interview process.
To really position yourself as an expert, make sure to stay sharp on important happenings in your field. “Staying up on industry news, sharing relevant articles, and adding commentary allows people to show that they have their finger on the pulse and a point of view,” Licht explains. “However, it’s always important to ensure you understand the content and all the potential angles before doing so.”
Utilize LinkedIn to Its Full Potential
LinkedIn is an important tool for highlighting your experience, but it’s also a powerful resource for making connections. When you’re in the process of job searching, step one is to ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, accurate, and active. The second step is to build and strengthen your professional relationships. Licht notes, “LinkedIn is an incredible resource for connecting the dots between people you know and people they know. Asking for a “warm intro” [from your connection to someone they know] is the best way to strategically walk your resume into companies for roles that may be interesting.”
In a world full of automation and applicant tracking systems, there’s no shame in taking any help you can to get a foot in the door at a company. “Applying online can often seem like a black hole, and in truth, with the number of applicants, it can be. Having an existing employee (or friend of an employee) pitch your application is extremely effective. It can greatly increase your chances of securing a coveted interview,” Licht advises.
Use the Right Job Boards
Not all professions are created equal. To ensure a productive job search, identify the most appropriate job sites for what you’re looking for and go all in. The best place to find jobs is going to vary based on your industry and experience. Of course, there are sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter that are great places to start your search and filter by your desired criteria. If you’re looking for more specific opportunities, here are a few other places to start.
- For remote jobs, check out FlexJobs
- For more experienced leaders, try The Ladders.
- For startup opportunities, visit Wellfound.
- For researching the company first, go to Glassdoor.
If you’re targeting a specific company, go directly to their careers site to keep an eye out for available opportunities. Another avenue to find roles is to work with a recruiter. They can help match you with the right fit and alert you of job openings and soon-to-come opportunities. If there is a professional organization in your line of work, see if they have job postings on their site you can leverage.
Allow Yourself to Rest
Job searching can feel like a full-time job on top of your full-time job. It can be tedious and exhausting. If you find yourself getting burnt out during the process, give yourself permission to rest. If you’re overwhelmed and tired, you’re not going to put your best foot forward when applying for jobs or interviewing. Allowing yourself to rest and reset as needed will ensure you have a more productive and effective job search to help you land your dream role.
Job Search Strategy Checklist
Need a little inspiration to get started? We have a job search checklist for that.