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How to Job Search

Dude with binoculars

If you haven’t looked for a new job in a long time, or don’t know how to go about finding a job because you’ve never had to look for one before, I can tell you, you’re part of a huge club! Most people, I think I can safely say, don’t look for jobs on a regular enough basis, so they’re not extremely familiar with it and, to complicate matters, the job search landscape is evolving all the time. For one thing, it’s grown larger since the last time you were hired and the number of competing applicants has grown as well. But more importantly, it’s become somewhat more sophisticated and a lot less personal. In a nutshell, your job search is going to take some effort. Unless you have succeeded in your field to such a degree that your name is known everywhere and your experience is in high demand, you have some work to do.


Finding a job is a job in itself.

Finding a job is a job in itself and, as my father used to say, “Any job worth doing, is a job worth doing well”. While there are opportunities that happen

“A job worth doing, is a job worth doing well”
to fall in our laps, they are rare and are not necessarily the best opportunities we can find. Often times, we accept what happens to come along because the prospect of putting ourselves out there in the very large world and risking rejection or frustratingly impersonal roadblocks can be very disheartening. There are indeed many difficult and frustrating experiences during a job search, but many of these can be solved with a little information. The concept being; if you know what to expect, then you won’t be blind sided or quite as disappointed.

Here are some realistic facts of the job search process that you can expect:

(I’m not trying to discourage you, I want you to be prepared!)

  • There will be many applications that won’t be answered.
  • Many messages, in fact the vast majority, will not be acknowledged and
  • Phone calls will not be returned.
  • There will be many more rejections than acceptances.
  • It takes an average of three to six months to find and land a job.
  • No one will find a job for you.
  • Sending out a resume that lacks focus and explanation about you and your talents, and hoping someone will figure it all out for you, is a hopeless and discouraging strategy.
  • Hoping someone will tell you where you should be and what jobs you should be doing is also not a good idea.

No one will watch out for your interests better than you will.

Now that we've faced the worst of it, we can move on and prepare our action plan.  Making your own plan with your own interests at heart will ensure the most satisfying results.  No one else knows what you want better than you do.  For example, there are elements of every job we have to put up with, but then there are elements of some jobs that really make us miserable. Do you know what those are for you? It is up to you, and in your best interests, to define yourself professionally and have a clear understanding of what you want and what you don’t want.

“Staying encouraged and positive will be your greatest assets.”

Stay encouraged, and remember that a negative attitude will work against everything you need to make your search successful. In order for your job search to work, you need to present yourself in your best possible light. Feeling encouraged, positive, and having a strong belief in the best outcome will be your biggest assets in achieving that.


Making your resume with the tools provided on this site and being aware of your strengths and value to the employer will help you get into that frame of mind.


It also takes a plan.

The plan requires many steps and lots of time. It’s not hard or impossible, just time consuming – initially. Once you have all your tools in place (resume, letter, email notes, what to say in a voice mail, etc.) you’re ready to implement your plan. To have a successful job search, you need to cast your net as widely as possible right from the start and the following three sections cover the essentials in implementing your plan. My post on How to Communicate with a Potential Employer covers what to do when you’re contacted for a new position and what to expect.


Here is what you need to do.


Part I

Newspaper colorful with jobs

a) Search for companies that may hire your skillset. Look up as many administrative names as possible for each of those companies, including human resources. (Often states and provinces have an online database of their manufacturing, service and distribution companies that you can search. These usually include names of the top management of these companies.)

b) Perform a search for jobs that you are qualified for on all of the major and minor job posting sites and in newspapers.

a. Take note of how each one requires you to apply.

b. Then look up as many administrative names as possible for each of these companies as well.

c) Make a list of all recruiters that work in your field or industries. If you are unsure as to whether they work with clients from your industry, include them anyway. Do not include them if they definitely don’t. Look up the names, phone numbers, and emails of each recruiter, associate, and consultant at each firm.

Clip board with checks

d) Make a list of all business contacts you have made over the course of your career. Find out where they are now and find their coordinates. (telephone and/or email)

e) Make a list of family and friends that you can talk to about your job search.


Part II


1) Make a resume that intelligently reflects what you do best and who you are.

2) Make a cover letter that expresses the reason for your contact and summarizes your talent. You may have to prepare several versions, one to send to recruiters, another to send to potential employers and another to send to contacts in your network.

3) Prepare an email note in which to send your letter and resume.

a. The subject line of emails to recruiters and potential employers should say your profession and target job title of the job posting number (i.e. Financial Anaylst – M&A, or Event Planner – Corporate, or job #2468894). Be specific, be direct – it demonstrates confidence.

b. The subject line of emails to your business and personal contacts should state the subject of your contact (i.e. Seeking a new opportunity et al).


Dude at computer desk

Part III


1) Prepare a letter for each company on your list from Part I step a. Individually address each letter to reflect the company name and the name and title of the individual that you are writing to. Send each one, ideally with a statement about why you find their company or organization attractive and how your skills can compliment their needs.

2) Prepare individualized letters to each recruiting firm that is personally addressed to each recruiter, associate and consultant in each firm and send them out.

3) Prepare individually addressed letters to each business contact from your list and send them out.


This should take you a while and if you give it adequate time and attention, who knows what can come from it? Your job is to think, eat, sleep and speak about your job search and to continue to do so until you’ve found that job.  If you do only 80% of what is listed above you will be ahead of the pack.  But, you wouldn’t settle for 80%! That would be sad.


INTERVIEW TIP: Getting an interview does not mean you found a job. It means you have an opportunity to practice your interview skills. That is another aspect of your ‘job search’ job. Read up on interviews on the Interview page of my site. If you haven’t had an interview in the last year, practice with friends or in a mirror. If you have not been to five interviews yet on this job search, make it a priority to go to as many as possible, even if the job is not exactly what you’re looking for. Do it for the practice.


Most of all, have a happy job hunt!


  • pencil

    Resume Writing

    Where to begin? Start here.

  • customers

    Top 10 Rules of Engagement

    Career advice you don't want to miss! Find it here.