8 Job Search Strategies That Actually Work

young woman job searching on laptopLet’s face it. No one likes searching for a job.

It can be stressful and, honestly, even a little overwhelming, especially if you have other important things on your mind. 

The good news is that some of that tension can be eliminated by having a plan in place before you begin searching. 

And we’re going to help.

In order to ensure that you are setting yourself up for a successful employment search, we’ll provide you with some job search best practices. 

Here are 8 of the most effective job search strategies:

  1. Think about what you want.
  2. Build a strong online brand. 
  3. Update your resume. 
  4. Proofread your resume. 
  5. Do your research.
  6. Customize as needed, where needed. 
  7. Network, network, network. 
  8. Partner with a staffing agency.

In this article, we’ll break down how following these tips can help you focus your search, alleviate some of the pressure and make your job search both simpler and more effective!

Job Search Tips and Best Practices

1.Think about what you want.

Before you start searching online for jobs, take a moment to really stop and think about what type of job you want. And, equally as important, what you want from that job. 

Here are some sample questions to get you thinking:  

    • What type of role(s) are your skills best suited to?
    • Are there any entry-level roles you might consider?
    • Where would you like to be in your career in 5 years?
    • Are you looking for on-the-job training and development?
    • Are you interested in a healthy work/life balance?

Determining the types of roles you are looking for and what’s important to you in the workplace will not only help you tighten your focus, it will help increase your chances of finding a job that is a great fit for you.

2. Build a strong online brand.

Online presence is often something people overlook when they begin searching for work. But it is incredibly important, especially nowadays when more and more employers are using social media as a screening tool for their potential candidates.

The first thing you should do is establish your presence on professional social platforms, such as LinkedIn

It’s one of the leading professional networking platforms and a great avenue to get connected to employers, view job postings and showcase your professional skills.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one. If you do have one, review it.

Here’s are some key elements of a strong LinkedIn profile:

    • A professional photo. It’s the first thing people see and the first impression they have of you.
    • A strong summary. This is your chance to highlight YOU. Unlike a resume, the summary area allows you to showcase your personality, interests and what makes you special. Leverage that. 
    • Up-to-date information and employment. Review your profile and make sure all of your work history is accurate and highlights your top skills and achievements. If you can get recommendations or endorsements from people you know, even better! 

Your online presence is not limited to your professional platforms either. Be mindful of your personal social media usage as well, and what you are putting out there. 

Hiring managers WILL do their homework. As a matter of fact, according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder in 2018, 70 percent of employers have used social media as a tool to screen applicants. That’s right – your potential manager could be looking at your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts! 

If you have any concerns, consider setting your profiles to private. 

3. Update your resume.

Resume-writing is probably everyone’s least favorite part of the job search process. 

You have to figure out how to best lay out your experience on paper. And you have to decide whether you are going to create customized resumes for every job you apply to. 

Talk about daunting! 

But knowing what you want next, as far as job, industry, or company, can help you determine the best resume format to help you stand out.  

Here’s a quick snapshot of the three most popular resume styles:

    • Chronological – This is the go-to style for resumes. It starts off with your contact information then jumps into your work experience, with your most recent, or current, position listed first. It goes in reverse chronological order from there. Then, you can add education or any additional information, such as certificates or volunteer work.
      When to use: Great if you have a strong work history and are interested in continuing in the same line of work. Employers like this style because it’s really easy to see what someone’s experience is.
    • Functional – This type of resume focuses more on skills than it does experience. Functional resumes lead with a “Qualifications” or “Professional Summary” or “Accomplishments” section at the top. There, you will break down the skills or experience you have gained over your career.  At the bottom of the resume, you can include a concise list of your work experience.
      When to use: Have gaps in your resume or looking to get into a new field? A functional resume might be a good choice.
    • Combination/Hybrid – This style of resume is a cross between chronological and functional and focuses equally on skills and work experience. The top of the resume will showcase your skills and accomplishments. Below that you will list your work history in reverse chronological order.
      When to use: This resume format is ideal in that you can show an employer what you bring to the table, but you’re sharing your employment history in an easy-to-read way.

For more resume tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to Writing a Stand-Out Resume.

4. Proofread your resume.

Once you’ve written your resume, it’s probably a good idea to step away from it for an hour or even a day. This will allow you to go back to it with fresh eyes.

Here’s what to look for when reviewing your resume: 

    • Is your resume clear and easy to read? 
    • Are your skills and experience noticeable at a glance?
    • Are there any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors?

Any small mistake can be misinterpreted as a lack of care or effort towards landing a position, and it could be, unfortunately, an easy reason to remove you from consideration.

Remember, you want your resume to stand out from all the other resumes a potential employer is looking at – but it should stand out in the right way.

If you want to be extra safe, ask a friend or family member to review your resume for you. An extra set of eyes never hurts.

5. Do your research.

Before you begin applying to jobs, research some companies that are hiring for the type of work you are interested in, or companies you would like to work for. 

Here are some things to investigate: 

    • What the company’s mission and values are. This will help you uncover a deeper layer to the business. You’ll gain insight regarding what the employer cares about, what they prioritize and it will ultimately help you discover who they really are.
    • What former and current employees say about the job, work environment and company culture. Sites like Google and Glassdoor are great resources to see company reviews.

Doing research will allow you to learn valuable information about these companies, their clients and the industry in general. 

And it can help you determine if a company is the right place for you or not, saving you time and energy on the job search front. AND protecting you from job dissatisfaction later on. 

6. Customize as needed, where needed.

While it’s not always necessary, certain situations call for customization. 

Here are some scenarios when you would want to customize:

    • Customize your resume if you want to get your foot in the door of a very specific company. Study the job description. Incorporate keywords they use in your resume and in your cover letter, if they request one. Using similar language demonstrates that you are aligned with the company and their goals/objectives.

This is also a great way to demonstrate that you did your homework, that you are serious about the opportunity and that you are a great fit for the organization.

    • Customize your cover letters. Not all jobs require cover letters, but when they do, make sure that you are customizing for that specific employer. Visit their website. Read their story. Learn more about their company culture. Then, matching their tone, tie your skills and experience to their mission and values.

Avoid copying a sample cover letter you found online. It will not only sound completely generic, it will actually sound like you copied a template. That won’t help you land the job you want. 

Check out this helpful article on How to Write an Effective Cover Letter. 

    • Customize messages you send to your professional contacts. You may be tempted to craft a generic message when reaching out to people on professional networks like LinkedIn. Don’t. Remember that these are real people you are talking to.

It’s important to establish a real connection with them. Reference specific things you noticed on their profile or that you know about them. Touch upon things you have in common. 

This extra effort not only increases your chances of getting a response, it also creates a favorable impression of you.

7. Network, network, network!

Networking is an incredibly important piece of the job search process. It helps you expand both your reach and your visibility in the employment world in ways that just submitting your resume to jobs can’t. 

In addition to getting job leads, having a strong network allows you to get insider information about certain companies or industries. Your connections can also provide valuable advice or insight that you may not be able to get anywhere else. 

Connect with friends, family, former employers/coworkers, past or present clients and customers, and even former teachers/professors or classmates. 

When building your network, ask yourself:

    • Who do you know? And who do they know that they could connect you with? 
    • Who should you know that you don’t already do? 
    • What organizations might be worth joining to get you closer to the jobs you want? 
    • Are there job fairs and hiring events you could register for? 
    • Are there any career networking events happening near you?

And of course, you can use LinkedIn and other social platforms to build relationships. 

But remember, networking is not a one-time thing and not a one-way street. Just like any relationship, networking requires time, effort and reciprocity. 

8. Partner with a staffing agency.

Staffing agencies can be a valuable resource in your job search. 

Here’s how teaming up with a staffing agency can help:

    • They’re well-connected. Some staffing agencies work with a variety of companies in various industries. Others specialize in specific fields. Not only do they have an “in” with many local businesses, some employers work exclusively with staffing agencies.
    • They’re incentivized to help you. Unlike direct employers, recruiters do have an incentive to find you a job. After all, they make money when they make placements. They want to connect you to a job, or even multiple opportunities, where you’d be the right fit. Because when you win, they also win.
    • They can provide you with options. You’ll typically find more employment opportunities available to you with a staffing agency than you would applying directly with an employer. They also offer more variety in available schedules and employment types: swing shift, night shift, day shift, short-term, long-term, part-time, and full-time.
    • They can help you showcase your skills. Recruiters can help you highlight all of the skills and experience you have worked hard to gain, so that a prospective employer isn’t solely looking at your previous job title. Many recruiters will help you format your resume so that you are showcasing your transferable skills and will provide you with interview prep to ensure you are able to effectively discuss all the qualities you bring to the table.

There is no commitment or cost to get started either. 

On the fence about working with a staffing agency? Here are 5 reasons to work with one. 

Keep in mind that it may take a little time to get yourself set up for success. Don’t expect things to happen overnight. If you find yourself feeling like you need support in staying positive throughout the process, here’s a great article highlighting how to stay motivated in your employment search! 

But, without a doubt, having the right plan in place before you being your job search will help you focus your time and energy, and increase your chances of finding the right fit!

How TERRA Can Help 

Interested in getting some help with your job search? Consider teaming up with TERRA. 

We are connected to lots of great companies in the Seattle-Puget Sound, Portland, Phoenix, and Denver Metro areas. Our recruiters are eager to partner with you to help you find the right fit.

Want to learn more about jobs available through TERRA?

Contact us today to start a conversation and learn how we can support your job search efforts!

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