The No BS Job Search Plan – Finding a Job that Works for You

finding a job Sep 24, 2023
target with 2 darts in the bullseye

Finding a job can be a nightmare, amirite? Endless job postings, discouraging compensation vs. experience ratios, and countless emails sent into oblivion - it’s a LOT.

But your job search doesn’t need to be THIS hard. In fact, with a concrete plan, you can turn your hunt into a motivating, confidence-building experience.

In this post, I’m sharing a fool-proof job search strategy with advice to help you in every step of the process. I’m including tips on how to get a running start, keep the momentum going, and show up confidently so that you can find a job that fits your individual needs.

Whether you’re entering the workforce, changing industries, or surviving a layoff, leave the intimidation behind with my no-BS job search plan.

Claim your power

Before you even start your job search, you need to set yourself up for success – this means tackling ownership of your own search.

You can do this by:

Setting a proactive mindset – Remember, you’re in charge of your success: take action, work on areas that you can influence, and always ask for help when you need it.

Defining success for your job search – Success in finding a job means different things for everyone. Some people may be in survival mode, surviving a layoff and needing something immediately. Others may be looking for better compensation because they’re underpaid or are searching for a higher quality of life.

Clarifying your beliefs – Acknowledge that what you want matters in your job search. Even though you can’t control everything when finding a job, there is still a lot that you can influence. Most of all, you always have the power to say “no” to things that do not fit your goals and beliefs.

Clarify your job search target

Beyond broad needs, you’ll need to narrow down your job search by clarifying exactly what you want.

Start with practical needs including:

  • Job, title, role
  • Type of company, industry
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Key tasks you love and hate doing
  • Skills you love and hate doing

Be sure that your qualifications align with these needs, or at least most of them. There’s always room for professional development.

Beyond these practical categories, also consider:

  • Work environment
  • Management relationships
  • Workplace values
  • Flexibility

These aspects affect your role and your quality of life just as much as the logistical components.

Finally, it’s critical that you clarify your ideal, target job so that you know exactly what to say yes to and what to say no to. This applies to any point in the job hunt process, including applying, networking, and accepting.

If you’re having trouble clarifying the job that you want, that’s when you can work with a career coach to really establish your goals.

Craft your brand

When finding a job, you need to know how to talk about yourself. It sounds incredibly simple, but it’s easy to blank when asked basic questions like “Tell me about yourself.”

Avoid a panicked statement by crafting your brand, first with an elevator pitch that gives a picture of you and your awesomeness in just a few sentences.

You should also prepare stories including your origins, why you decided to go into your field, and key success stories.

Beyond storytelling, you can craft your brand through your resume, LinkedIn account, and industry-specific portfolios or code repositories. One of my top personal branding tips is to ensure each component is focused, updated, and consistent across platforms AND your resume.

Warm up the network

Now, networking should definitely be an ongoing process throughout each of these steps. Timing for your networking outreach will depend on your relationships, as well as the current phase of your job search.

When you’re still clarifying your target job, you may be reaching out to close connections like former bosses, colleagues, and others in your immediate professional circle.

Once your target is established, begin casting a wider net, branching out to third-party recruiters and professionals at target companies.

My number one tip for networking is to remember to “give first and give always.” Ensure you’re not just taking information from others, but also providing them with helpful and relevant information.

This mindset will help you build and maintain a lasting professional network in good faith.

Build momentum in applications

Alright, you’ve put in the preparation. It’s time to start applying!

But the leg work isn’t done yet. This is where things get serious (and where many get discouraged).

To avoid job search burnout, focus your searches, conversations, and applications as much as possible on the target that you’ve established earlier.

People LOVE to argue with me about focusing, but I had a 15-year period where I typically applied to 5 jobs or less each time I was in the market. Also, in my 10 years of coaching, the clients who are the happiest with their new jobs typically apply to FEWER jobs than the ones who feel “meh” or negative about their new jobs.

Say no to positions that don’t meet your needs and don't apply for jobs with an obvious misalignment. We’re going for quality over quantity, here – avoid casting a wide net!

You can search for these positions through LinkedIn, job boards, third-party recruiters, networking, and more. To keep on top of your applications, try using a spreadsheet or online tool like TealHQ.

Finally, I encourage you to keep applying to relevant positions, even when you’ve found a prospect that looks really good. Many of us tend to pause our search when we've had a killer interview, but this can stall momentum if things don’t work out.

Plus, something even better may come along! We want a solid pipeline of applications and interviews, steadily taking on what we have the time for.

Interview like a boss

When you walk into an interview, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. Interviews can be with recruiting screens, hiring managers, full teams, or even executives.

No matter the format, you want to put your best foot forward, without forgetting what you want. Remember, an interview goes both ways so bring your personality, your needs, and your priorities to the party along with all the stories of your skills and experience.

You need to focus on getting the information you need in order to make a decision by asking the important questions.

It’s just as essential that you bring the most accurate information about yourself and the skills you bring to a position so that the hiring company can make the best decision possible.

Beware of interview red flags signaling that you and the company do not align in goals or overall values. If you see something that doesn’t seem quite right for you, dig in and ask more questions - and don’t be afraid to opt out if a situation feels wrong or gross.

Fielding and negotiating offers

Your hard work is paying off and you’re beginning to receive offers. As these offers come in, review them carefully. First, compare them to your own standards and targets, then against each other if you have multiple offers.

Remember that there is far more to a job than monetary compensation. Consider all of the factors that go into a job, including the ones that are most important to your needs. Think about different types of compensation, workplace culture, flexibility, work environment, and more.

A full picture is more important than any number.

Prepare to start!

Once you’ve accepted an offer (congratulations!) I actually recommend that you don’t slow down in your job search.


Well, we’re living in a time where job offers get delayed or rescinded more often than you’d think. And if this happens to you, you don’t want to kill your pipeline.

As you’re preparing for your new role, don’t be afraid to keep that pipeline going until your background checks are done and you’ve signed on that dotted line.

In addition, PLEASE don’t give notice at your previous job until you have an official, written offer. If something falls through, you may end up in unemployment limbo.

Final thoughts from a No BS Career Coach on Finding a Job that Works for You

Finding a job that fits your needs is a long and windy road. But putting in the work through my job search strategy is the best way to find a position that fits into your life and brings you true professional fulfillment.

It can be tempting to end the process by settling for something less than what you really want. But if you’re currently on a tiresome job search, do as Dory says and “just keep swimming!” The results will be well worth your efforts.
If you need help figuring out a personalized job search strategy that works for you, you may be a candidate for one of my career coaching programs. Click here to book an intro call and learn more today.