Build a job search strategy that gets you hired

Plan your job search in advance for best results...

The thought of job search freaks most of us out !!
Every other week, one of my contacts would reach out to me s help in tuning resume and framing job search strategy.
Some of these folks hail from top colleges like IIMs and ISB. They are actually trained to present themselves. They carry a strong brand, still, they get nervous in a situation where they have to search for a job.

Why is job search so scary to many?

Here are some reasons –
  • Most people never plan in advance for a job search and get complacent when they land up a new job.
  • They don’t update their resumes, don’t plan their career well when they are at peace.
  • Many fail to network and learn about opportunities in their fields of interests.
  • They do not give enough time to think about what they want.
As a result, they get panicky if they have to switch jobs at short notice.
Lack of concrete plans and the uncertainty of job search makes them nervous.
As a consequence, they fall prey to recruiter pressure. They accept whatever roles and salaries that the recruiters offer them.
They lose their negotiation power in the game !!

What should be your job search strategy?

These are some steps that you should take when you want a job switch.

Make hay while the sun shines – Plan in Advance

Have enough time on your hands when you set out for job search.
Plan at least two months ahead of the time you want to switch. This gives

 you the following benefits –
  • Lets you decide the right career move from available options
  • Allows you to negotiate both compensation and designation well with your recruiters
  • Helps you get offers from more than one company – giving you even more scope for negotiation
  • Your current firm may decide to give you a matching deal, giving you even more advantage

Find out your area of interest or strength

Ensure that you think through on your area of interest while making a switch.
This will help you make the right career move where your job excites you. In such a job, you will deliver faster and get better growth prospects.
To find your area of strength, use the following steps –
  • Make a list of activities that you do on a daily basis – find out what excites you
  • Spot activities where you have performed much better than your colleagues
  • These are the activities that you love to do and you are strong at – try to spot jobs that rely on these strengths

Decide what kind of people you want to work with

It is well-said that people don’t leave their jobs, they often leave their managers and the people around.
Culture is a very important factor while choosing your next company.
Describe the persona of your future boss and use it to assess the people you interview with. Think of your future workplace in a similar manner.
Some of the ways to think about this are –
  • Can your future boss guide and mentor you? Is he knowledgeable in the field you want to grow?
  • Can you see your future self (4-5 yrs from now) in him? Is he well equipped to take you there?
  • Do you think he can be a good mentor?
  • How are other people in the company ( check some profiles on Linkedin)

Check if your target job role supports your 5-year career plan

Develop a 5-year career plan for yourself.


Take personal targets in financial, personal, professional, family, and social domains while planning. You can use this template to plan your life – Vision Plan Template
See if your next career move supports your 5-year vision.
Want to learn more about how to use visioning as a tool to plan your life? Read this article – ‘Visioning’ as a tool for living a successful life

Check out Job roles matching your target field or your experience

Find job roles that match either your target field or your past experience.
  • If you want to switch your field or domain to match your future plans, be ready to take an initial pay-cut.
  • In case you want better compensations, leverage your strengths and experience during the job search.
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach.
Decide what is more ‘suitable’ to you as per your future plans.

Align your resume and Linkedin profiles to your intended job role

Once you have decided your next career move, you should work on your resume and profile.
Ensure that you align your resume and Linkedin profiles to the target job to get relevant visits.
For this, you need to work on the active verbs, skill sets, specificity, and keywords in your resume. For tuning your linkedin profile, you need to work on the language and profile completion too.
This will help you to –
  • Rank better on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of recruiters
  • Get better and more relevant visits from recruiters on portals like Linkedin
  • Receive more shortlists on your resume for your target job roles
Sometimes it helps taking professional guidance for resume making. There are tools available online that check your resume.
Mentorrd hosts an effective tool to do so. Use this tool to check your resume and see how it performs against your targeted job role. Also, you can use their professional resume making services to get a targeted resume.
Decide which parts of your experience are more relevant to your job search
  • Highlight only the relevant sections of your profile if you have experience over 5 years.
  • Align your resume and your interview preparation to focus more on these sections.
  • Prepare well on these core strengths to succeed in the interview.

Network with people who can help or guide you

While searching for your target job, try to connect with people who can guide you.
This is much easier than it seems. Most people are reachable and willing to help. All you need to do is ask !!
Some of these people can be –
  • Friends, Friends of friends, working your target job role
  • Recruiters
  • Subject matter experts
  • Professors
  • Employees at your target companies
To decide who to connect, think of it this way –
Do you think this person is at a position where you want to be 3-5 years from now?
If yes, he/she is the right person to connect with.

Research about your intended job role, company and hiring managers

Use your connections to research about the job and its deliverables well. This will help you set the right expectations.
Also research about the company culture. It also makes sense to understand a company’s culture before joining it.
So talk to people and –
  • Get to know the company culture, and expectations
  • Try to understand the job role and its deliverables better
  • See if the job aligns with your expectations
  • Learn about particular hiring managers in the company and their interviewing style
Try to check the profile of your interviewer before the interview. Try to assess his area of interest, as he may ask questions around that field.

Prepare for interviews well in advance

It is very easy to guess half the questions that your interviewers can ask. Unless they have a very unique and specific interview process, they will discuss –
  • Your relevant work experience
  • The job description of the role you are interviewing
  • Core Values of the company
  • Ongoing projects and developments in the field
  • Your interviewer’s strength area and work domain
Search for questions and interview pattern of the company on the web. People share their experiences on sites like Glassdoor.
This will help you interview with confidence and accuracy.

Prepare for Salary Negotiation in advance

I have seen a lot of candidates hesitant in negotiating the salary.
This is partly because they feel that asking for money is a negative trait. Also, most of them do not value their skills well.
Please understand that recruitment is like any other business transaction. You are selling your skills for money in return.
So ensure you prepare well in advance for it. So when the recruiter asks you about your expectations, you do not go speechless.
  • Research about the average salary for your job role beforehand.
  • Decide your expected compensation. Note down supporting reasons to convince yourself that you deserve it.
  • Think of the whole package instead of only the money. Your compensation consists of in-hand cash, benefits, and the perks that you get.
  • Find out the net value ( cash and benefits) that you will get. Compare it with your present status to find the real increase.
  • Have candid discussions with the recruiter about your expectations.
With these steps, you should be able to plan well and nail your interviews.
Do you think I missed anything? Let me know in the comments.