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How to develop a winning job search strategy

Have you recently found yourself so keen to find a new job, yet also so busy with your current one, that your job search strategy involves frantically pinging off your CV whenever you can find a spare minute?

Such an unfocused, scattergun approach to your job search is a false economy. If you want to be selected for the right opportunity for you, and relatively quickly, then you need to focus and develop a winning job search strategy. Here’s how.

Identify your ‘must haves’

Hays CEO Alistair Cox describes in his recent blog how he focused his job search by firstly identifying his must-haves: “I remember writing down all the attributes of the sort of hypothetical business I wanted to be a part of, what it did, how it did it, how predictable or unpredictable it might be, what sort of people would work there, how it felt etc. That alone was a very revealing exercise because it forced me to write down descriptors of my ideal work environment.”

Take a leaf out of Alistair’s book and write down your must-haves. This includes:

Your job remit: What types of tasks would you perform in your ideal role? For instance, you might like creative tasks, but find the more operational ones less gratifying. Perhaps you would like to be given more responsibilities out of your comfort zone or, on the flipside, scale back and take on less.

Your work/life balance: Next consider your priorities in terms of work/life balance. Do you want a more demanding role, or something which allows you focus on other priorities outside of work? Would your ideal organisation require you to be in the office at 8am sharp every day, or would it offer more flexible working hours? Perhaps it would even allow you to work from home.

The perfect company culture: What type of company culture suits your personality type? Are you outgoing and sociable and want a working environment where social events are common? Or do you want to log off Friday evening and forget about work until Monday morning?

Your preferred industry: Which industries interest you, and what topics are you passionate about, both inside and outside of work? For instance, I have always cared about the world of work, and felt passionate about the importance of having a job that you enjoy, hence why I ended up in the recruitment industry.

Practical considerations: Factor in what you need in terms of salary, rewards, location and commute.

Your career plan: What about your wider career goals? How would your ideal role and organisation help you achieve these? For instance, if you would eventually like to move into a senior people management role but need to work on your leadership skills, look for a role that provides you with basic leadership responsibilities outside your comfort zone, where there is room for progression and where a mentor could support your development? Whether you are looking to ramp up your career and continue climbing the same ladder, or looking to scale back and take on less, it is important that your next opportunity is aligned to your ambitions.

Plan your job search strategy

Now you know your ideal criteria for your next career move, it’s time to put together a job search strategy which allows you to apply for the right roles in the time that you have whilst keeping focused and motivated. This strategy should include:

The support of a recruiter: An expert recruiter will help find the right roles for you, and put you forward for them. This can save a lot of time and they can introduce you to roles that may not reach the open market. Save your recruiter’s details on your phone and keep it close by.

Keeping on top of opportunities: Now that you know which type of organisations you are most interested in, follow them on social media and review their career sites. Keep an eye out for updates surrounding current vacancies, and set up job alerts on recruitment websites such as Hays so you can be quick off the mark when the right role does come up.

Save your CV across all of your electronic devices (except work ones): In doing this, you are ready to apply as and when jobs crop up, wherever you are, whichever device you are using.

Be organised: Take note of all jobs applied for, what stage you’re at which each one and the name of relevant contacts. Add any meetings or interviews to your calendar and take notes. Refer to these before you make any follow up calls or emails. This can be very useful if you have multiple opportunities in the pipeline and you need to keep track of who you’re speaking to, about what and when.

Don’t lose hope: It is important that you keep your spirits high during your job search, even if you don’t get an interview for a role that you really wanted. Not every application leads to job search success, but don’t give up. It can help to talk about your next move and your search progress with mentors, friends and family. You should also take regular breaks and reward yourself for a productive job searching session. The key is to stay motivated.

These tips will make for a winning job search strategy. By understanding what you really want from your next opportunity, finding the time and resources to seek these opportunities out, and staying motivated and focused, you will in time land your perfect role.


About this author

Jane McNeill, joined Hays in 1987 as a trainee recruitment consultant in London and is now Managing Director of Hays NSW and WA.

After two years with Hays Jane began managing her own office and quickly took on larger and more diversified teams of people and responsibility for a region in the UK.

In 2001 Jane arrived in Perth , Western Australia and shortly after took over as State Director for WA. After six years of significant business growth she was appointed to the Hays Australia & New Zealand management board in 2007.

In 2012 Jane moved to Sydney and now oversees Hays’ operations in New South Wales with board responsibility for Western Australia.

Jane has an MA in Psychology from Edinburgh University.

Follow Jane on LinkedIn

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