I use the phrase “job search strategy” quite a bit with clients and I often wonder if I need to take a step back and explain what that actually means. It’s more than just fancy words that career coaches use to sell your services.


There really is more than one approach to a job search and it matters very much which approach you choose. A strategy isn’t about the what, it’s about the how. Any time you craft a strategy to accomplish something, you are essentially asking yourself: How am I going to do this? What action steps will I take? What will be my message?

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the components that make up your job search strategy:

What type of jobs you look for: Are you looking to make a lateral move at a different company? Are you keeping the same job function, but switching industries? Are you changing career paths all together? Each one of these is a different strategy that will accomplish different things.

Where you look for jobs: Once you’ve identified what you are looking for, you need to know where to find it. There are quite a few places to look for jobs. You can try job boards such as Monster.com, Indeed.com and others. That’s certainly the most common strategy. Or, you can network. You can distribute your résumé among current and former colleagues or contact them through LinkedIn and get referred for a position. That’s a better strategy. Or, you can do a healthy combination of both. That’s an even better strategy.

How you actually apply for them: Okay, here’s where most people go crooked in their strategy. When you apply for a job online, you are leading with the résumé. I know this sounds strange coming from a résumé writer, but leading with the résumé is usually not smart. It’s equivalent to a cold call in sales. Now, sometimes it’s the only angle that you have and that’s okay. Go for it anyway, but it’s always best to have established even a small connection with someone before sending the résumé. Then they already know something about you and have reason to look at your résumé over someone else’s. Let that concept sink in for a minute and think about how powerful that is. Imagine how much better your results would be if someone had the chance to meet you or speak with you before reading your résumé.

Focus on the company, not yourself: Once you have the opportunity to email or speak with someone at your company of interest, remember these words: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.  I know you think it’s about you, since you are looking for a job, but it’s not. Employers only care about what you can do for them as an employee. I know that sounds harsh, but really, it’s fair.

And last, but not least....

Your attitude: Maybe you didn’t expect this to make the list but it did. Your attitude and expectations will absolutely affect your results. Trust me, I’ve worked with people from very diverse backgrounds and situations, and nearly every time it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you bring to your job search is what you will find so check the negativity at the door.

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