Stop the madness with the right job-search strategy

Posted by Amanda Augustine

March 27, 2013 @ 02:00 AM

Carefully prepare your job-search strategy and you’ll be one step closer to success. 

Stop the MadnessA survey conducted by TheLadders found that nearly 70% of its members considered their job search to be “top priority” right now. However, after carefully reviewing the survey responses, it became clear that not everyone is as prepared for the search as they need to be in today’s marketplace.

This got me thinking. For the last week or so, our office has seen a flurry of emails going back and forth about March Madness. Folks are standing around the water cooler (literally) discussing their picks for the NCAA basketball tournaments. In fact, I found dozens of articles online that explain different strategies for building a winning March Madness Bracket.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I am not incredibly well-versed when it comes to sports. But for years I’ve watched friends, family and co-workers fastidiously assemble their picks for March Madness. The job search requires the same careful planning and attention to detail that many apply when building their brackets. This week I’d like to offer up my strategy for the job search by sharing my breakdown of the job-search process: (1) Prepare, (2) Search and (3) Close.

(1) Prepare

If you want to be successful in the job search, then preparation is key. As a job seeker, you are now in the business of selling a product: you. You need to put on your marketing hat and build a personal branding campaign that advertises your skills and speaks to your target employers’ needs. Begin by taking inventory of your strengths and interests to identify your job goals. Then craft a resume that supports your goals by showcasing your most relevant qualifications. After that, it’s time to review your online presence and make any necessary changes so that it aligns with your professional brand. Lastly, identify good references and develop your elevator pitch to prepare you for the next phase of your job search. While this may seem like a lot of legwork up front, I assure you, it will save you a great deal of time and frustration further down the line.

(2) Search

The second phase of the job search is all about pursuing job leads that align with your goals and match your skill set. I recommend “harnessing the power of three” when searching for opportunities. This means: (1) applying to (and properly following up with) online job listings, (2) networking with your social and professional contacts, and (3) engaging with recruiters. By incorporating all three methods into your search strategy, you will maximize the number of leads – published and unpublished – you can pursue. And when you combine these methods – such as leveraging your network to get an employee referral for your job application – you increase your chances of landing the right job, sooner.

(3) Close

Expect the Close phase of your job search to begin while you’re still pursuing leads. As you nurture different relationships and follow up on job applications, you’ll begin receiving interview requests. Interviewing is a three-step process. How you prepare and what you do afterwards is just as important as what happens when you’re sitting in the interview room pitching your skills. Before you begin negotiations, do your research to know your worth and identify your must-haves in a compensation package. Consider the first 90 days of any new job to be an extension of the interview process.

Everyone’s job-search experience will be different; however, if you approach your job search as a three-step process and set milestones for yourself along the way, it will be that much easier to hold yourself accountable and see your progress.  

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Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

Topics: Ask Amanda, Interview, Networking, Working with Recruiters, Job Application, Goal Setting, Job Search Process