Guide to Performing an Effective Job Search

Searching for a job can be a stressful activity. How can you be sure you are doing enough to land the job of your dreams? Follow these tips and you are sure to perform an effective job search.

You should start by taking a look inward and ask yourself tough questions about what you are looking for in a new position and what your priorities are. Do you want fulfilling, meaningful work and are less worried about income, perks, and prestige? Are you willing to start at the bottom of a field that is new to you, or do you want to stay in the field you are experienced in and apply for a higher-level position? Do you have a stable position now and thus have time to really look around and be picky, or have you been laid off and are scrambling to find something, anything, quickly? Only once you answer these types of questions can you truly begin your job search.

Once you have established what you are looking for, you can begin to do research on fields, industries, and specific companies. Use websites such as Glassdoor to read reviews about companies from their current and former employees. LinkedIn is a valuable resource not only to research industries and companies but also to search for jobs once you are ready to start looking. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and is an honest reflection of your knowledge, skills, and experience. Upload a professional photo to your profile, as studies show that profiles with photos are clicked on more consistently when they come up in recruiter searches than those without photos. You can join groups on LinkedIn; the groups are mostly comprised of people in a particular industry or members of professional associations. Joining and following these groups will give you valuable information about fields you may be interested in.

Once you have zeroed in on a field (or if you already have one) you can use LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other job websites such as Indeed to search for jobs. You can also search the websites of your local and regional newspapers, or even scan the classifieds of the print versions-sometimes people just look online and you never know what you might find in the old-fashioned classifieds.

If there is a company that you are interested in working at, don’t wait to see a job posting for an open position there. Conduct online research to find an email address for the Human Resources department. Or look on a LinkedIn to find people who already work at the company (either in HR or in a department you are interested in) and reach out to them. It may at first sound like pushy or aggressive move but, if done cordially and professionally, will actually reflect very well on you. Companies like to be liked; they want to find people who are interested in working for them and generally will appreciate when you reach out to them to express that interest. HR departments in particular are happy when you can ease some of the financial burden and leg work required in recruitment. Be sure to be specific in your communication with the company; tell them what specifically interests you about their company and how you see yourself as being able to contribute to their continued success. If you don’t receive a response from the company, you could perhaps follow up in a few weeks’ time. However, it is probably better to instead just directly apply to open positions at that point. You want to seem interested, but you don’t want to become an annoyance. Keep following them on LinkedIn and Twitter, and respond favorably to their social media posts. That will keep you in their sights without being obnoxious.

Perhaps the most important job search tip is also the simplest. Once you find a job to apply to, follow the stated application directions! So many otherwise qualified candidates ruin their chances of even getting an interview by not following the directions. If they ask that you upload your resume, don’t email it! If they tell you to put the position number in the subject of an email, please do so. Companies specify these details for a reason; ignoring them will make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.

61 thoughts on “Guide to Performing an Effective Job Search”

  1. Searching for a new job is a job in itself. Customizing resume and cover letters to each company, following up, portfolios, interviews, web applications, phone interviews, etc. It takes a lot of time and energy and it is especially difficult to do if you are working fulltime and looking to make a move.

  2. I recently embarked on job searching after many years. I don’t see much future at my current job and am looking for growth and ultimately more financial gain. It has been exhausting trying to keep up with the applications I send out and the new job postings.

  3. I am not one to chase money. I don’t want a job that keeps me away from home all day and then I can spend all the money I make, but it is definitely something to think about. I live in a very expensive area and I can just barely cover my expenses – mortgage, condo fees, cable, phone, etc. I can just about cover food at the end of the day.

  4. Look into temping for a company you think you would like to work for. It’s a good way to get the vibe of the place. Summer is the best time to fill in, when employees go on vacation.

  5. Sometimes it’s just about how much money you need to make now, not about what you’d like to be doing. It’s not a lifetlong choice unless you’ve had professional training, like medicine or law.

  6. Your last suggestion is really important-follow directions. If you can’t submit your application properly, most likely you won’t be considered for the job.

  7. Competition is fierce. You need every edge. If you need to, get your resume done by a professional. It’s that first impression that the resume makes that will get you a face to face interview.

  8. Very few people get their dream job right away. Keep your resume current and take continuation classes if necessary to be ready for the next great opportunity – be prepared.

  9. As you point out the search is different for each of us because of our needs. Is it our first real job, a move up in our established profession, or maybe a total change in our career path. You do need to approach each choice differently.

  10. I’m able to retire after 40 years at my job but I won’t be idle. I plan to volunteer for my favorite charity and travel quite a bit. Some prize money made this possible and I can’t wait to get started.

  11. It takes a lot of tech & media savvy now. When I started out you had to pour over the classifieds. I applaud young people who can navigate the net to find a job.

  12. My job search through the usual websites wasn’t getting results. Just by chance I ran into an old friend from a former job, she told me they needed someone to fill in for someone on maternity leave, and three years later I’m still there.

  13. Thanks for suggesting email to the HR department. I did get one quick response asking me to fill out an online application. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  14. I’ve left two jobs the past ten years, looking for something better, something different. Now I’ve been asked to come back to the first job. They have a much better position for me and I said Yes. I think it was due in part to the fact that I still socialized with some of my former bosses there.

  15. It sucks these days. It is all about the $$$$. The jobs that I’d want to do just don’t pay. I need to afford my rent and maybe eat at some point during the day. And don’t even get me started on companies that offer no benefits.

  16. I have been trying to find a better job for a year now. It is really difficult because I have to use vacation and sick days to interview so I try to be very picky about what I apply to so I’m not wasting my time. You sometimes go through two and three rounds of interviews, not to mention phone interviews too.

  17. I have an email just dedicated to my job search. I get emails each morning and I spend an hour with my coffee going through them and saving the jobs I want to apply to. Then I spend my entire weekend sending out applications. Takes a lot of time, energy and patience.

  18. I want to get a new job, but the problem is I can’t figure out what my next move is. I don’t quite want to stay in the same field. I wish I could get someone to hand me the perfect option.

  19. I have gotten jobs just by sending my resume to companies I am interested in. Worst that happens is they keep you on file for down the road. Just make them want you!

  20. I like to set up e-mail alerts with a few popular job search sites. It saves me some of the work because the jobs I am looking for are sent to my inbox.

  21. My college has their own job search site which is great to use. You get those alumni connections and some companies are really trying to find people who went to my school because we are well known in certain fields. It is a fantastic tool that makes networking easier.

  22. Adding a professional photo, networking on Linkedin, and updating your profile are three musts. If you’ve been out of a job for more than 3 months you need to consider an online course to add to your skills.

  23. Adding to the suggestion to try temping, try volunteering for your favorite charity one day a week. You need to take a day off to unwind from the intense searching for a job. Volunteers are needed and appreciated.

  24. It’s true that being out of work will force you to decide if you want to stay on the same type of job or switch careers. Maybe openings in your field are scarce because of the economy or because the work is being outsourced. Think about a temporary entry level job in a different field.

  25. I am 10 years into my career now. It is harder to look for a career change at this point because I am asking for a higher salary than someone fresh out of college would. High-level positions are tough to come by.

  26. I got my last job as a medical leave fill in. I was supposed to stay for three months and it was extended several times. After 10 months there they FINALLY hired me with benefits.

  27. It was a lot easier applying when I just got out of college. I had all the time in the world to send out applications as I only had a part-time internship and no big bills to pay at the time.

  28. I hate playing the networking game, but it is how I’ve gotten all my jobs. Make connections with people because you never who they know or what jobs they might be able to offer you, even if it isn’t immediately.

  29. You’re right.. Job searching is really a job in itself.. You have to be willing to devote the time to it or you’re not going to get the results you want.

  30. For those just out of college, don’t shy away from internships. They are great networking opportunities and can sometimes turn into your future career. I got two jobs through past internships.

  31. Glassdoor is a really great website. A friend recently told me about it. One thing to remember though is that it is often only the people with negative experiences who review anything so take commentary with a grain of salt.

  32. I am at a point where I don’t know if I just don’t have passion for my chosen field or if I dislike my job so much that it is making me lose interest in my field. I’d hate to up and quit and start a new career only to find it was just the toxic environment I have worked in for the last few years, but it is really hard to tell until you move on. I slowly started the job search, but my current job leaves me so exhausted that I don’t have my full energy to give at the end of the day.

  33. Another good tip is to make sure you follow up. Show your interest (though not to the point of being annoying). If you have any sort of interview make sure to get a business card so you can contact them with a thank you e-mail within 24 hours.

  34. Make sure to clean up your social media presence. Remember: jobs will go to your facebook, twitter, instagram. Do you want them to see that night you blacked out in college? Be very careful what you leave for public consumption.

  35. You mentioned adding a professional photo to a profile. Please emphasize “professional”. I’m in H/R and I’ve seen photos of young men in T-shirts and young ladies in tops with “spaghetti” straps. Really? We’re an insurance office so there’s no way these people will ever interview with us.

  36. Gianna mentioned not knowing what her next move is. Out of work for over a year and I’ve been temping, hoping I’ll be asked to stay somewhere that appeals to me. Try a temp agency and try a few different companies to see where you might fit.

  37. I AM willing to start from the bottom for a new field or position, but I find employers never believe it. It can be hard to find someone willing to give you a chance.

  38. Persistence is key. You may even only hear back from every 5 or 10 places you apply, but what can you do.

  39. Double and even triple check your entire application. You don’t want to look careless.

  40. I never put much on my linkedin. I finally added a photo and updated and started getting recruiters reaching out to me. Awesome resource.

  41. I set up a website that includes my resume, information, and projects I have a worked on. It is an easy way to direct people to my info.

  42. A great way is to just network. Go out to functions and seminars. Meet people in the field you want a job in.

  43. It is so important to check in with yourself and address tough questions. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by anything.

  44. Be careful with LinkedIn searches….companies and professionals are notified when you click on and view their profile page. How awkward would it be if in an interview you pretended to not know information that was plastered on the person’s profile page when they know you saw it!

  45. Glassdoor is a great resource. Even without being a member, you can research a company, common salaries for a particular position, or get a feel for a company’s morale based on verified employee’s reviews.

  46. I like the idea of applying to a company without a job posting. The way you worded it made a lot of sense and I could see how it could be great if done tactfully. However, as a younger person I want to make note that reposting/commenting on social media posts can become a nuisance and seen as incessant or stalker-ish fast. Sometimes putting your name out there a lot doesn’t land on the company the way that you would have wished. Once you, boldly, apply to a company that has no advertised openings …I think it’s best to let it lie.

  47. Read, reread, and reread again! That goes for your application, the instructions, and especially directions to the interview. You can never be too prepared.

  48. Pro Tip: Keep a spread-sheet of all the places you apply. Include things like contact info, who you spoke to, and the status of your application. That way when someone calls, you won’t be frazzled and you won’t seem disinterested.

  49. I went to a recruiter. It helped me out a lot. She guided me in my job search and really prepared me.

  50. Love Frank’s idea of a spreadsheet! Brilliant. I appreciate that level of organization. That would be really helpful to people applying to a multitude of jobs.

  51. Job searches are always tough…remember to be confident in yourself! If you don’t hear back from a job, it’s nothing personal.

  52. I work in HR and interview everyone that comes through the office. It is really tough to try and keep track of every single person. When I receive a thank you the following day, whether it be email or a written letter, it truly does help that person to stand out so I recall their interview.

  53. If you are on a serious job hunt I suggest having a bottle of Aleve next to your desk! Along with lots of coffee. It is WORK.

  54. It took me a year to find my current job. I don’t want to leave just because the process was so horrific.

  55. I hate job searching, but I hate being unemployed more. So tempted to just start my own business.

  56. Been searching for the last five months. I hardlt even hear back from places. Definitely trying some of these tips.

  57. The dreaded job search. Something we all must do if we want a roof over our heads, but gosh it is torture sometimes. It is frustrating putting in all that effort and hardly getting an acknowledgement.

  58. I don’t like my job on many days, but the idea of looking for a new one makes me a lot more grateful for the job I have. I hate the jumping through hoops and sending out applications and not getting word back from a lot of companies. Things would have to get really bad before I put myself through that.

  59. The best advice I can give is…don’t hire jabronis! If you can keep away from that…that’s half the battle.

  60. I think Glassdoor is great because you have an idea of what it is going to really be like. I do, however, believe that people who like their jobs tend to review less, so the company may job seem as good as it is. Keep that in mind next time you search for a position.

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