Job Search Strategies That Work


Maybe you’re a new graduate, or perhaps you’re currently unemployed. Or maybe you’re employed but you’ve made the resolution that 2014 is the year for a new job.  No matter what your situation, you need a job search strategy.  Job search expert Lea McLeod, author of The Resume Coloring Book, joined us with tips to help you craft a job search strategy that works to help you find a job faster!

1. Stop “applying.” Start “targeting.”

  • Research organizations that you find interesting, and where you believe you contribute. Look beyond the “headline brands” to lesser-known organizations.
  • Identify whom you know (and who they know) in those organizations.
  • Focus on having conversations, building relationships, and seeking connections to hiring managers.
  • Customize your marketing materials to speak directly to that organization.

2. Check out Small/Medium Businesses for your next employment opportunity. We can’t all work at Google!

  • Be open to organizations and brand names you may have never heard of.
  • Leverage the Business Journal book of lists, fastest growing public and private companies, your free Google research assistant, and other sources to find the hidden gems of organizations.
An annual Michigan State University study showed the most hiring for college graduates was coming from small and medium sized businesses. Not because boomers were retiring, or attrition, but because those businesses were growing. It’s much easier to grow a small business 10% per year, than it is to grow a $130 B Fortune 15 company by that same amount!

3. When job searching; spend 80% of your time offline and 20% of your time job searching on line.

427,000 resumes are posted on Monster each week. gets over 100 M unique visitors per month! The drawbacks to employer applicant tracking systems (ATS’s) according to some experts, is that 75% of applicants are not getting past the system. Gah, that’s like swimming with the bottom-feeders!

  • Conduct your job search so that you include both online AND offline activities.
  • Offline activities should include:  
  1. Conducting research on target companies
  2. Assessing your strengths & results, and compiling your performance evidence
  3. Polishing your LinkedIn and other Social Media profiles
  4. Connecting & engaging with people you want to know
  5. Making cold calls
  6. Conducting informational interviews
  7. Attending networking functions
  8. Talking to people in the Starbucks line! Everyone is a potential connection point!
I have a client who worked a second job as a waiter. Customers one night loved him and asked if he’d be interested in working in sales for them. He said sure. They said we’ll call you back at the end of summer. He never thought he’d hear from them. They called. They hired him. Now he’s growing into a great sales job in the pharma industry!
  • Don’t treat your job search like a transaction, e.g. “I submitted a resume online” does not a job search make! That is “transaction processing!”
  • Pick. Up. The. Phone! Don’t make the mistake of over relying on email, applying online, “getting alerts” or other “passive” communication methods in your job search. Recruiters have mentioned how much more memorable someone is when they call!
6 seconds: The average amount of time a recruiter or hiring manager spends reading your resume.
4. Customize every resume, for every job and invite the reader to examine it. (As a hiring manager, you can tell when someone’s phoning it in. Really.)
  • Design a resume that speaks directly to the employer, and is designed to be skimmed online vs. read. Mention the job name, and the organization. Use keywords on your resume that they are looking for in the job.
  • Use white space and bullets! Remember, they are SKIMMING!
  • Use numbers and digits to quantify your accomplishments, scope of work, and evidence.
  • Avoid including “lists of tasks” and focus on evidence of your competency.
  • Include a cover letter. But never start it with, “I am applying to such and such a job.” Instead, use an opening paragraph that really connects to the employer. Use something you read about them, recent news, or a common experience. 

94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts. 78% of recruiters have hired through social media.  (2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey.)

I heard a recruiter in a presentation say that when a resume lands on her desk, the first thing she does is swivel over to her computer, pull up LinkedIn and check the person out. If she can’t easily find the person, the resume is discarded.
In a workshop we had a gal by the name of Georgia Brown. She did not have a vanity URL. When we pulled that name up on LinkedIn, there were hundreds of women named Georgia Brown. There’s no way a recruiter or hiring manager is going to work that hard to find you. So, get your vanity URL.
  • Create and build your LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn remains the king of searching (96%), contacting (94%), vetting (92%) and keeping tab of candidates (93%).
  • Get your vanity LinkedIn URL and include it on all of your marketing material. My YouTube channel has a quick video on how to do that. (
  • Clean up any digital dirt. Google yourself and see what comes up. Lock down your privacy settings on social media sites.
  • Get a Google+ profile to improve your search rankings.
  • Get your name URL on other vanity sites, like,, Re.Vu; check how you show up with
  • Secure your Twitter handle, so you have it!

5. One thing you should NOT do in your job search:  Do. Not. LUNGE.

  • The truth is, no one wants to help you find a job. If you open with, “Do you know anyone who’s hiring,” or “I need a job, any job” you will turn people off and scare them away. It’s too much responsibility for them to help you find a job. Instead, ask people to share their stories, advice, and perspectives, and connect you to others. And, be specific in your requests. Help them help you. People can do more with a specific request than a general plea.

For example: I have a degree in marketing and I’m most interested in working in the health care industry. I am targeting areas like employee communications, corporate social responsibility, or philanthropy programs. I’d like to be in the Chicago area and have accepted a position by April 1. W

For more information on a finding a job, visit Lea's website.


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