How the Right Job Search Strategy Brings You Closer to a Job You Actually WantNov 19, 2023
When developing your job search strategy, perspective is everything.
Whatever your prior notions of the job hunt were, I invite you to think of job searching, at its core, as a marketing and sales activity.
If you want to find a job that is best tailored to your needs, you can use marketing and sales principles to get you what you want. And in this post, I’m sharing how.
My job search strategy goes beyond resume tips, turning mindless job board doom scrolling into a systematic process that is guaranteed to get you results.
Whether you’re just entering the workforce, surviving a layoff, or looking for a change in industry, you can use these tactics to optimize your job hunt while saving you time and effort.
3 Key Principles in Marketing and Job Search Strategy
When finding a job, strategy is everything. And it pays to remember that a significant portion of the job hunt is marketing yourself as a candidate.
Follow these 3 marketing principles to find the best fit between what you offer, and what a position has to offer you:
Decide on your target
Your first step in a job search strategy is to narrow in on your target. In other words, decide what market you’re trying to serve.
A target will look different depending on your wishlist – you may be looking at start-ups, more established companies, or specific companies within your field.
Whatever your target is, stay focused. The first rule of marketing is that if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. Casting a wide net does not work when finding a job, so avoid this tactic.
Be clear about your product
Beyond what you want, you need to be clear about what your product is.
This may seem like a weird way to think about your job search, but I spent a lot of my IT career in product management or similar roles, so I tend to think in product terms.
Spoiler Alert: You’re the product. It’s you.
Think about it; what problems do you solve and what results have you achieved in the past that relate to those problems?
For example, a project manager may be excellent at coming into a role and saving a failing project; they can be that one person to turn a project’s red status to green. That is your major asset and selling point.
These “results” in combination with your skills and experience are your unique value, and knowing your unique value is everything in a job search.
Assess your product-market fit
Now that you’ve established your target and your skills, experience, and results, it’s time to understand how these can fit together.
Practice articulating how you and your target clearly align, fitting together in an obvious harmony. If this is difficult for you, you might consider working with a coach or a resume writer who can help you tell the story more clearly.
If you recognize gaps between who you are as a product and what the market needs during this process, you’ll need to take a closer look at these gaps.
Figure out if there is just a messaging gap or if you have a skills and experience gap and take concrete steps to close them. This could be through professional development or further crafting your talking points.
Finally, you need to demonstrate your fit using evidence of your results, work style, and professionalism.
The alignment between you and your target role should all fit into your resume, LinkedIn profile, and relevant portfolio. You’ll also need to be confident explaining this alignment when you’re networking with colleagues old and new and during interviews.
Finding a Job Through Sales Principles
No strong salesperson operates without a plan or system. Once your product-market fit is clear, use these four sales principles to turn your job search strategy into a well-oiled machine, providing you with an efficient route to a killer new job.
1. Track your progress
To view your progress, you’ll need to use some form of tracking tool.
In sales, representatives would use a CRM like SalesForce or HubSpot. You can follow these exact tracking principles while using more general applications like spreadsheets, or an online job search tool like Teal HQ.
The goal of tracking your job search is to systemize your approach for both efficiency and effectiveness.
2. Decide on your job search approach
Next, you need to decide on your unique job search approach.
Decide on the key activities you’ll complete, and how often you’ll complete them, in your overall job search strategy.
For many people, there is a big temptation to put a huge focus on quantity, applying for as many jobs as possible. But this is not the most effective strategy.
In fact, my happiest job search clients are ones who were laser-focused on their target and applied to a small number of jobs that met that profile.
Instead of doing the old “spray and pray” approach, I suggest using a mix of:
- Networking and outreach – Talking to people including friends (both inside and outside your industry) and contacts in your desired role, industry, or geographic area.
- Applications – Actively seek out opportunities and applying online through job postings or third party recruiters.
In general, I find that very few people who are successful in their search only use one of these tactics. The combination yields much more powerful results.
3. Design your follow-up process
Strong sales processes will always give a follow-up cadence that is developed ahead of time.
When you’ve already decided on your follow-up method, you reduce the number of decisions you need to make, saving you time and energy.
You may design slightly different follow-up processes depending on where you are in the application process. For example, if you’ve simply sent in an application form, your follow-up may be pretty passive, simply checking an online portal to see the current status of the job position.
If you’re further down the road with a particular opening, say after a second-round interview, you might decide to give the opportunity three touches before putting it to bed and moving on.
Your first follow-up should always be what you and your recruiter discuss. Then, you might decide to follow up once a week, then a few more times, then let it go.
Above all, make sure to flex your follow-up plan based on what the company says. Failing to follow basic instructions is never a good look. We want to follow a system that works for us while remembering to take everyone’s time into account.
The importance of follow-up
Personally, I find that this approach has dramatically reduced my stress levels and increased the number of opportunities I’ve pursued.
Without a concrete process, there are opportunities that I would have let go of because I felt scared or weird about follow-up.
But with a follow-up plan, these intimidating opportunities stayed in play for longer periods and improved my results. In my business, I managed to double my close rate about a year ago through a formalized follow-up plan.
4. Consistency is paramount
Alright, you’ve got your steps. Now do the damn thing!
Consistency of action is the most important piece of the job-search-strategy-puzzle. It's too easy to get into the mode of having a plan, then not actually going through with it.
Systemize your strategy as much as possible, whether it be in –
Remove any on-the-fly decisions as much as possible, turning every “should I?” decision into a definite “do!”
Committing to the consistency of action can be as simple as blocking time a couple of days a week to submit applications, prep for interviews, or reach out to network connections to schedule a catch-up conversation.
Remember: you own your schedule. It might take some time to find the right rhythm, but nobody else is going to prioritize your job search higher than you will.
Final Thoughts From the No BS Career Coach on Job Search Strategy
I hope you’ve found these sales and marketing principles helpful in developing a job search strategy that works for your needs.
As you’re following these steps, remind yourself that your strategy can be fluid, adjusting your target anytime you need. If you’re enjoying a different path or finding success in a different area, you can always tweak your plans to suit these new goals.
Finally, embrace the fact that you can walk away from anything at any time. If you’re in the middle of an opportunity that doesn’t feel right to you, experiencing interview red flags, or just a strange gut feeling, walk away.
This strategy is meant to serve you, not bind you. And with this approach, you’ll be able to find a job that serves you just as well.
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.