I’ve been fortunate to interview many successful career professionals as an executive resume writer throughout my career, and have had the opportunity to pick their brains about what worked (and what didn’t!) during their job searches. Common themes have emerged. Here’s a list of 4 things most would do differently if turning back time was an option. These tips will help you conduct a successful job search online and offline to get hired faster.

How to Conduct a Successful Job Search:


1. Figure Out What Roles You Want to Target

Most people don’t want to pigeon-hole themselves during a job search. This is especially true for people whose skills are wide-ranging or diverse. Unfortunately, when your resume and LinkedIn position you as a jack-of-all-trades, no one will be able to figure out where to place you, and you will likely be passed up for a peer who positions themselves as an expert. The truth is that hiring managers THINK they want a specialist, but once hired they appreciate a candidate’s versatility. Until you get hired, however, it is best to ensure that your resume positions you as an expert or specialist.

executive job search

2. Look Great Online

Recruiters and hiring managers are online and will scour social media to look for people and to vet them. So looking great online is an important key to conducting a successful job search in today’s market. According to a 2017 Career Builder study, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates. Perhaps of greater interest, a 2017 SHRM study revealed that 85% of organizations recruit via social media. Control what they see by keeping the social networks you don’t want people to see private, and by putting your best foot forward on sites where you’d like them to find you. I recommend having a strong LinkedIn presence that includes a complete profile, a great headshot, a headline that tells readers the kinds of roles for which you are ideally suited, and a summary section that says why you should be hired. If you have the time (and I recommend finding the time), share and comment on articles that align with your career aspirations a few times a week – even when you are not job searching. This will keep your profile top of mind when opportunities arise, and position you as an expert in your field of interest.


3. Remain in Perpetual Networking Mode

While your job search is something you will (hopefully!) have to tackle only a few times in your life, networking is forever. Given that most jobs are filled via referral, it is much less painful to reach out for help from a friend/colleague when you speak to them semi-regularly than if you wait until you are desperate and reach out after many years of radio silence. The person you meet (and keep in touch with) now may be the same person you will work with (or wish to work with) down the road. He/she might be a potential business partner, colleague or manager. Remember that networking is a two-way street. Your approach can vary – from checking in every few months via text, email or even a good-old-fashioned call (it’s OK to leave a voicemail!), or scheduling 2 coffee chats per month with different people.


4. Avoid the ATS Black Hole

Piggy-backing onto my earlier point, most jobs get filled by referral. This means most roles posted online already have someone in mind once they’ve been published. The why’s behind this make sense if you think about it. As a hiring manager, what would be the first thing you’d do if you had an opening? Would it be to create a job description and work to get it published? Or would you instead ask yourself and others who might be a perfect candidate for the role? The bottom line is it’s human nature to try and fill roles through people we trust. While job postings are great to get a sense for which companies have budgets, and which skills are critical to possess and include in your resume and LinkedIn profile, most job seekers I know wish they had spent less time on applying online on job boards, and more time  connecting with real human beings.


Hindsight is 20/20

Take it from those that wished they’d done things differently and spun their wheels ineffectively when in job hunt mode. By spending time wisely and keeping your network and social media presence alive, you will see a far greater job search ROI.


This article originally appeared upon Virginia Franco Resumes here.


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