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A Successful Method to Job Searching

I have been probed countless times by friends wanting to know what I consider is the most successful way to job search and those who know me well know it’s rather … organized! When I share my steps with my friends and they begin to apply them they find their results improve almost immediately as they begin hearing from hiring managers.

As I have preached a few times before, I always focus on quality over quantity. I have heard many boast that they applied for fifteen jobs in one day or sent out their resume to over 100 companies. My tactic is more specific. I would rather send my resume to two or three and be really excited about the opportunity than to send to countless and not even remember what the job is if I happen to get a phone call (which is highly unlikely since I wouldn’t have spent the time the posting deserved on framing my cover letter and resume).

My steps are as follows:

  1. Narrow down on your ‘ideal’ job
  2. Job search – review job postings
  3. Email closely matched job postings to yourself
  4. Review job postings that you emailed
  5. Print most suitable positions
  6. Apply for positions
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 as needed

Quite simply, my first step when job searching for family/friends or at one time, myself is to figure out what the ‘ideal’ job is. I realize many will say “something that pays well.” We all want to be paid extremely well but at the end of the day it’s the position and the people not the pay that keep you truly happy. I know many of you will scream and say I’m crazy but consider this-

How often are you truly satisfied with your pay? Whenever you get a pay bump you are satisfied for maybe a month or two and then you will fall back into thinking that a little more would be nice. So, you will also need to find opportunities that fit what you are looking for.

I typically ask the questions- What are your goals? And what would make you happy? Your answer may include:

  1. Personal growth
  2. Working for a large company (or a small/mid-size company)
  3. Ability to advance or ability to stay in one place
  4. Have your hands on multiple tasks or maybe just a few that you will specialize in
  5. New, exciting product/developments or something tried and true
  6. Solid company or start up

I find it helpful to jot down on paper what you feel would motivate you to go to work each day and what kind of environment that is. For some, they would love to work downtown while others may prefer the suburbs. All of these factors count when you’re job searching and especially if you have the luxury of being choosy.

Once you have figured out your ‘ideal’ you can now being your job search. Unless you are currently out of work and are feeling the stresses of finding a new opportunity, most people should take their time searching for that next career step. It also should not be stressful or that ‘thing you have to do.’ It can actually be rather exciting as you are starting to begin a new chapter in your working life.

I begin my job search by going to go to one of my favorite sites, such as Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com. I prefer these sites as they seem to accurately narrow in on my criteria and don’t have as many annoying advertisements. I also tend to visit the company sites that I brainstormed that may have my ‘ideal.’ Once I have entered my criteria I begin my methodical task of reviewing the postings. I review the following:

  1. The job title
  2. The company (if not on the company website)
  3. The description
  4. Random items (full-time/part-time, salary information, location, etc.)

I realize this is obvious but you would be surprised how many people do not review carefully! What I am looking for is what I consider my ‘ideal.’ I typically spend a few hours reviewing jobs and any that sound like a potential I email to myself. At this time I do not spend too much time chewing on the description but rather, spend a few hours pushing through the postings.

Once I feel I have enough to start reviewing (upwards of ten to fifteen depending on how successful my initial dig was), I begin by looking over the complete job description and decide if it is a perfect fit. I specifically focus on the following:

  1. The requirements of the position to see if it is a good fit.
  2. The position itself – is it interesting and something I would want to do?

If the position fits my criteria I then print the posting out. If it does not, then I move on to the next email. On the printed job descriptions I quickly jot down at the top of the posting the name of the company for easy reference down the road.

Like any task, you can burn yourself out pretty quickly so I typically job search and review one evening and then the next evening put together my cover letter and resume for a couple of the positions I printed out that I am most excited about. The following nights after that I order my postings so I’m applying for what I deem ‘best fits.’ By night three or four I begin the sequence again.

With my printed out job descriptions I next arrange the positions in the order of ‘most excited about position’ to ‘least excited about position’ and grab my trusty highlighter. I start with my number 1 choice and begin highlighting key words that I believe are important to the company and items they are looking for in a candidate.

Once I feel I have a great grasp of the job description I then research the company online. I review their ‘About Us’ page to see what’s new and exciting – Are they growing? Did they just land a large client? Are they a Top X Company or voted best to work for? Sometimes I’ll even Google the company to see if there are any articles in newspapers about them. Writing great notes on the posting is critical in preparing your cover letter and resume and you may also find you will refer to these notes if you receive a phone interview or face-to-face.

Only after I have completed the above do I feel I have enough information to decide if it’s a position I want to pursue. If the answer is yes, I then begin putting together my cover letter and resume ensuring I focus on the specific requirements they are looking for and anything additional I highlighted on the job description or read about on their company website or other source. I also double-check my wording against theirs on specific requirements. For example, if I state that I am familiar with Microsoft Office but they are specifically looking for someone who is knowledgeable with Word, I circle the difference to remember to change my resume to list out each of the applications I am familiar with.

Once I have applied for the position I jot down the date I applied on the original printed job description and file that in a folder (either by ‘applied to date’ or alphabetical by company name). Maintaining organization while job searching is a great strategy as you may find yourself referring back to this job description in a phone interview or preparation for a face-to-face.

Although this process is lengthier than firing off a plethora of applications the results are certainly worth the time difference. I’ve had and heard of many successes with this method and can only say, try it and let me know if you too have success!

Kerry Gustafson, a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) founded Simply Great Resumes in July of 2012 and has over 9 years’ experience writing professional resumes, cover letters, thank you letters, and LinkedIn profiles. With a working background in Marketing, IT, and Project Management from Fortune 100 to small business, Kerry brings a strong working knowledge and unique perspective to the industry. Skilled at narrowing in on client’s roles and responsibilities, Kerry has a natural ability to change the dreaded resume creation into a fun and awareness-building experience.

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