The Four Job Search Strategies of 2017

Four Kinds of Job Searches. There are four kinds of job searches that will be conducted this year:

1. A passive job search – if an employer finds you, you are willing to explore the opportunity but you are not actively looking. This approach characterizes the majority of job seekers…waiting to be “discovered” by a great employer.

2. A reactive job search – you need a job so you jump in and start applying for just about any position for which you might be qualified and interested. Your next steps are guided by what just happened or is currently happening, so your planning horizon may be hours or at most, days.

3. A proactive job search – you begin by determining what kind of work you’d like to do and for which you are qualified. You get a good idea of how long you think your job search will take, and begin preparing your resume, applying to positions of interest, hoping to land an interview. You have a good idea of the basic steps you’ll need to follow to manage the opportunities and follow-up. Your planning horizon is typically days and weeks.

4. A strategic job search. You begin by setting aside a block of time to educate yourself on the entire job search process before developing a written job search plan covering all phases of your search. Then you begin the process of taking action on each step of your plan. For strategic job search planners, the planning horizon is typically months in length, to several years.

Strategic job search planning considers a job search in a holistic sense, not just a series of actions or reactions you take as you go along. It means that your job search activities will take place as part of an over-arching plan, not as isolated activities. It realistically recognizes that an effective job search will take months for entry level positions and likely a year or more for the most senior positions. It relies on up-front research on processes and methods with an emphasis on how each step of the job search can most effectively be executed.

Seven Questions That Demand Answers. Here are seven questions and one caution to consider during your strategic job search planning:

1. What are my specific objectives? The answer to this question is not as simple as “a job.” You need to know specifically what kind of job you want, where you’d like to live and work, the size and type of employer for whom you’d like to work, the income range reasonable to expect with what you bring to the position, and similar objectives.

2. What are my assets? Personal assets consist of your own set of experiences, knowledge, skills and talents that can produce positive results in the workplace. Networks consist of people you know and who know you from your social networks, current and past positions, your education, and your personal acquaintances. Tools consist of the equipment you’ll utilize in conducting an effective job search (phone, computer, and printer) as well as the documents, databases, checklists and other tools to help you manage your job search.

3. What is my branding strategy? Your brand is what people associate with you, based on their impressions over time. It encompasses your personal values, educational credentials, practical experience, appearance, and messaging. An effective job search draws on all of these areas to create the perception potential employers will have about you.

4. What is my online strategy? Today many important job search activities take place online, too many to not have a strategic plan in place. Areas for consideration include social network presence, electronic resumes and postings, job boards, dealing with employer’s applicant tracking systems, and electronic communications.

5. How will I manage all of my job search activities? Consider the complexity of staying on top of all the details of just a single employment opportunity. Now multiply that by 20, 50, or 100 open positions that fit your ideal criteria, and you quickly realize that a job search management tool is necessary. Whether manual, computer-based, or online, a job search database is a must to ensure timely actions and responses.

6. What is my strategy for each position of interest? While most jobs will follow similar steps of applying for the position, consider crafting a specific strategy for each opening you decide to pursue.

7. How and when will I measure progress against my plan? While you don’t know in advance the specific job opportunities that you’ll pursue, you need to establish a process that will enable you to review your progress and make ongoing corrections to your search.

One important caution: Successfully managing a career requires you to continually consider new facts and trends as they might influence or cause you to modify your career strategy. No plan, however well designed, can possibly anticipate everything you will learn in your job search. For example, your networking might expose you to a field of work that you hadn’t previously considered, but upon further investigation, that field might be an excellent one to pursue.

Bottom line: plan your search and continuously adjust it in light of the most current information.

I help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools, the Job Search Readiness Assessment for experienced professionals/skilled workers and Graduate Employment Preparedness Assessment for students/recent grads both assess and explain over 3,000 career and job search best practices. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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