Still looking for a job? Get out of the rut with this search strategy

If you’ve been job searching for a long time, with little or no success, it could be because you’re making one key mistake

Zeta Yarwood
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If you’ve been job searching for a long time, with little or no success, it could be because you’re making this key mistake: You haven’t put a proper, effective job search strategy in place.

What is an effective job search strategy? Well firstly, let me tell you what isn’t. Sending your CV to every company, job portal and recruitment agency known to man is not an effective job search strategy. Sending a connection request to someone on LinkedIn and waiting for a response is not an effective job search strategy. Asking friends, family, colleagues, ex-colleagues etc. to keep an eye out for you? You guessed it – not an effective job search strategy. And if you are applying to every single job under the sun in the hope something, anything, will stick eventually, then you’re using the worst strategy of all.


The key to success in anything we do relies on having two things in place: 1) a realistic and achievable goal and 2) a clearly defined, action-based strategy for how to get there. It’s this second point where 7 out of 10 job seekers fall down. Not realising the importance of having a clearly defined, action-based, goal-orientated job search strategy will destroy your job search before you’ve even begun.

Why is having a job search strategy so important?

1) It gives you a sense of power

When things happen in our lives that we have no control over, e.g. a recession, it can leave us feeling powerless. It is essential you take back that power as quickly as possible. Building an effective job search strategy can help you do just that.

2) It gives you a clear sense of direction

Creating a list of actions you can take to reach your goal helps you see your path to success more clearly. It not only helps you see what you need to do, but also forces you to think of actions you can take when you don’t get the response or result you’re looking for. This clarity increases your feeling of control and helps keep you motivated along the way.

Most importantly…

3) It reduces the amount of time you spend looking for a new job

Setting yourself action plans with specific deadlines will help you to become more efficient. Instead of waiting weeks and weeks for someone to contact you, you can set a waiting time of three days before you take your next action.

How do I create a job search strategy?

To create an effective strategy requires time, energy and creativity. There are many steps involved and if you’re not prepared to put the work in, then be prepared to stay stuck where you are. While each strategy will be unique and personal to each individual, here are a few questions to help get you started:

1) What exactly do I want?

Is it a specific job title? The opportunity to work for a specific company? To move to a different country? A higher salary? Or do you simply need the income? Having clarity on what you want and what your priorities are is essential for any strategy. Once you know exactly what it is you really want then you can figure out what you’re willing to do to get it.

2) Where am I now?

To know how to reach your goal, you have to make a realistic assessment of your current situation and the gap to where you want to be. If you’re not qualified for the job, then chances are you’re not going to get it. Want the job? Look at what qualifications you’re missing and how to fill that gap.

3) What obstacles are standing in between where I am now and what I want?

These can be wide and varied. Some common ones are: lack of relevant skills, knowledge or qualifications, a small network, a weak CV or poor interviewing skills, lack of resources such as money, transport or time. It could also be a lack of confidence or a fear of failure.

4) What resources do I already have to help me overcome these obstacles and/or get me what I want?

Potential resources are: people, time, money, skills, education, experience, CV, the internet, publications about company news, social media etc. Look to what and who you already have in your life that could help you.

I always recommend start with you network. Identify who it is you need to know to get your dream job. Then ask yourself – who do I know that might know someone who might know someone in that company? How do I get my face in front of them? My previous article on how to build your network is a good place to start.

5) What actions do I need to take, starting today?

Once you have answered these questions, you can start to build your own goal-orientated job search strategy. When that’s firmly in place, you simply just need to commit to the process. And if something doesn’t work, reassess by asking yourself: 1) what specifically didn’t work? 2) what are the potential reasons why? and 3) what can I do differently next time?

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