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The Strategic Job Search: Beginning, Middle, End

You’ve seen a lot of people getting very stressed when searching for jobs.  Perhaps you’ve been that person.  Maybe the lack of success and the stress you’re feeling comes from putting way too much work into it.  A person who is spending far too many hours on the job search process is probably not thinking strategically enough.  Let’s briefly outline a strategic job search, from beginning to middle to end.


Refine the Resume

The beginning of your job search should be all about refining that resume.  This is true for your base resume as well your resume for each particular job you search for.

Refining can entail things such as updating your list of skills, weeding out the weakest, etc.  It can also entail editing this section of your resume so that your skills are highlighted with succinct, punchy prose, and yet includes all the relevant details.  It can mean editing your employment summary so that your descriptions of job duties is as relevant to and effective for the jobs you’ll be seeking as possible.


A Proactive Approach

Be Proactive in your search.  This means doing a lot more than looking at the trade journals and job sites in your field.  It means more than mining job alerts in your e-mail.  One pro-active strategy for the middle of your search is to get into the inside of potential employers.  This can be done through LinkedIn and other methods.  This can help you find out about jobs just as they’re being, posted, before they’re posted, and even if they’re not posted at all.  This sort of aggressive and strategic networking can also land you a nice referral from an employee at a target company.  Remember, it’s all about being strategic in your job search and not just mailing out the most resumes.


Know Thy Job Description

Thinking strategically often revolves around figuring out what’s most important and prioritizing it.  There are a lot of things to prep for and to be aware of when going into interviews.  You shouldn’t neglect all the little details and possible surprises.  But you should focus the most on the most important item, the job description.

Whether it be bullet points, lists, or the text at the beginning of the description, you need to have an answer for as much of it as possible.  Even if you don’t have experience with a particular thing, be ready to talk about it and how you can adapt.  You might do some research while preparing in this way, you might even be able to get in some relevant experience and skills.  Or you may just correlate the job listing to your resume and to your interview questions.

I really hate to invoke a cliché like “work smarter, not harder,” but it’s inevitable and unavoidable.  That is in fact what you have to do.  Be strategic!

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