Many factors contribute to how easy or difficult it might be for you to find the job of your dreams. From macroeconomic conditions to growth forecasts for the specific industry you work in, there’s a lot that you can’t control when it comes to finding a new job.
However, that doesn’t mean that you’re left without any power to influence your job search in your favour. But it does mean that you need a strategy to do so.
Without a strategy, you’re simply sending CVs into the job market. You’re not targeting your ideal employers or creating the best chances for your own success.
That’s why we’re sharing 14 tactics you can implement in your next job search. You’ll become a strategic job search superstar. And provide yourself with the best opportunity to find a great role.
1) Create clarity around the role you’re looking for
Maybe you’re looking for your dream job. Or maybe your aspirations are not that lofty at this particular time, and you’re really trying to find your first job after college, or find a job to pay the bills.
It doesn’t matter what circumstances your specific job search encompasses. What does matter is being clear around the role you’re looking for.
We recently examined the role clarity plays when it comes to building your career in a recent post. Dream jobs do exist, but they take a bit of work to find.
Even if you’re not searching for your dream job now, spending some time to clearly think about what job you want will help you get your job search off on the right track.
After all, it’s not helpful to find a job and then discover that it’s an awful fit for you. We all have to make a few compromises with our jobs, but being in a job that completely misaligns with your values can be the stuff of nightmares and lead to physical and mental illness. Avoid this by cultivating clarity around your job search.
2 Build a target list of your ideal employers
Part of your clarity exercise could include being clear on who you’d like to work for. This serves two purposes.
Firstly, once you know who you’d like to work for, you can start building your search around them. Examples of what this might include could be researching an ideal employer online to get an idea of their company culture, investigating who to make contact with on LinkedIn and reading the organisation’s blog/news.
Secondly, with an employer in mind, you’re no longer “just” searching for a job. Now, you’re actively communicating with a specific organisation as you compile your CV, cover letter and other materials.
3) Personalise your job application materials
One of the biggest mistakes we see from job-seekers is a one-size-fits-all CV and cover letter being sent in response to multiple job adverts. It’s easy to spot these as they speak in a broad and vague tone.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating just how important your CV is in a job search. It is still one of the most essential items to help you land a new role. Take the time to tailor each CV you send out to match the job spec as closely as possible.
Another practical way to catch the attention of the professionals hiring is to list your achievements as high up as possible on your CV. Link these to your experience so that the hiring manager can quickly get an idea of your abilities.
Make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to see how you could fit into their organisation. And do this for each job advert you respond to.
4) Manage your brand
Your brand will speak volumes about what type of candidate you are. Whether you’ve invested time in building an online presence or not, hiring professionals will deduce certain observations about you. So it’s a good idea to actively create your digital brand.
LinkedIn is the most obvious place to start. Take a good look at your LinkedIn profile and see if there are ways you can improve it. Most jobseekers aren’t extracting all of the value that LinkedIn provides.
You might also want to think about showcasing your skills and experience through participating on sites like Quora or writing for industry blogs. Or setting up your own blog.
Always remember that a potential employer will look for you online. Make it as easy as possible for them to find the good stuff!
5) Set up a system
Chances are that you’ll apply for more than one role during your job search.
Give yourself the best chance of successfully staying in control of your job search by setting up a system to keep track of the applications you’re working on, the jobs you’ve applied for, and interviews you’ve been invited to. A spreadsheet works very well in this regard.
6) Network your way to your next role
Leverage the contacts you have as part of your job search. As you network online and offline, you may discover job opportunities or be exposed to potential employers you hadn’t thought of or known about. You might also pick up some useful intelligence on how to respond to job applications to jobs in a specific industry that you’re targeting.
7) Expand beyond online applications
Responding to job adverts online will most likely take up a lot of your time as your job search progresses. However, it’s a little risky to make this your only job search strategy.
It’s a good idea to also step into a proactive mindset and approach companies or recruiters that aren’t necessarily hiring at the moment. Introduce yourself, share some of your high-level achievements and express your interest in hearing more about opportunities at their organisations when they come up.
8) Set a daily goal of job search tasks
Embarking on an effective job search campaign is exciting, but it also takes time and concerted effort. You need to build in markers that give you a sense of achievement and prevent you from running on empty as you plough on.
Work with your existing schedule to identify the tasks you can achieve on any given day, and then list them. Crossing them off your list will provide a dose of motivation each time - and help you keep track of where you are in your job search.
9) Keep stress to a minimum
This one can be easier said than done, but cultivating methods to manage your stress is an essential kindness to yourself.
We all have some stress in our lives. And stress in itself is not a bad thing; it can be immensely helpful energy to drive us forward. However, when stress tips over into overwhelming territory it can have grave consequences for our mental and physical health.
A job search has got the potential to be stressful at times. Ensure that you’re supporting yourself by managing your stress in a way that helps keep you healthy.
10) Craft your story
Create stories around your experience and skills in order to be memorable to the people who are potentially going to hire you. A story is always easier to remember than a bullet point list of dates and responsibilities.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking about yourself in this way, investigate what the STAR method might be able to do for you. This method will give you a framework that lets you showcase yourself in a step-by-step, professional manner.
11) Rehearse your job interview technique
Prepare your interview technique before you get called for an interview. You can do this on your own or with a friend.
You’re not going to know every question that a recruiter or HR manager would like to ask you in an interview. However, broadly preparing yourself for an interview helps you walk into that situation with more confidence.
12) Express gratitude post-interview
Don’t underestimate the value that a quick email thank you can deliver after every interview. The hiring professional will definitely notice the courtesy. Plus sending a thank you provides another opportunity for you to show some of your personality and professionalism.
13) Keep in touch
You’ll need to keep in touch with hiring managers and recruiters throughout your job search. Obviously this doesn’t mean nagging or putting pressure on people, but it does mean checking in fairly regularly to update recruiters or hiring managers on your status and availability.
14) Prepare for a long job search
You might find the right job for you within a few short weeks of beginning your job search. But the more realistic expectation is that a job search often takes longer than you expect. That’s why you need to build in some wins along the way, such as our tip to create a list of daily tasks, and learning to manage your stress are going to be very important to your job search.
Embrace your job search for its uncertainties
No job search goes exactly as planned.
This is not necessarily a negative outcome. You can learn a lot about yourself, and new opportunities can be opened up to you, through things not going quite as you expected.
But there’s a lot that you can do to empower yourself throughout your job search. Join industry events, upskill yourself through free (or paid) online courses, follow thought leaders in the industry you’d like to work in etc.
Approaching your job search as a job is the best way to find a role that fits with your values and career aspirations. And it’s a rewarding process to go through when you do it in a professional manner.