29 Shortcuts To Accelerate Your Job Search

    If you’re frustrated with the results of your job search, you need to read this. Why? Chances are, that right now you don’t see many opportunities within your reach. As a result your hope is dwindling. Maybe you can’t find enough opportunities, get a response to your applications, or something about your profile has become an obstacle (i.e. age, education, experience).

    frustratedWhen times get tough, it’s easy to withdraw and limit your job search activities. We associate time spent job-hunting with disappointment, frustration and stress. I’ve been there myself.

    After 3 major job-hunts in my life, I want to capture all of the best methods I’ve used to get attention and boost my chances of success. You see, hope is based on having alternatives. A Plan B.

    Any one of these 29 shortcuts can create the job-hunting breakthrough you’re looking for.  They’re designed to jumpstart your job-hunt and create opportunities – Plan B’s.

    [You can download the cheatsheet with these shortcuts here.]

    1. Prioritize offline job-hunting over online. – Studies show that 50-80% of jobs are not online. Despite more platforms to advertise jobs on, the majority of job openings are filled by word-of-mouth. The advantage to looking offline when everyone else is online is the huge ‘hidden’ job market has no competition. Tapping into this ‘hidden’ job market is easy when you have a proven process to follow.
    2. StopStop asking for jobs. –  Have you noticed when you ask people for jobs they look at you like you have the cooties? To open more doors, ask people for career advice not a job. By reframing your ‘ask’, you remove the risk for your contact. You’ll also gain valuable contacts and insights while your contact is enjoying an overdue ego massage.
    3. Don’t use your resume. – If you’re relying on your resume to get a job, chances are you’re searching amongst the advertised jobs. Instead create a Career Outline that outlines your talents, interests, and work environment preferences. This 1-pager captures what they would want to know about you in an interview. Avoid showing up to an advice meeting with a hiring manager with a resume in hand. Using a resume in an advice meeting indicates you’re looking for work and not advice. Build trust by designing a simple Career Outline.
    4. Know what you offer, before asking for an offer – If you don’t know your own strengths, don’t expect the hiring manager to know either. Articulating your strengths in relation to the needs of the company will help establish and grow your value in the final negotiations.
    5. Don’t focus on your resume  – If you’re working on v32 of your resume, you’re spending too much time on a low value job-hunting activity. Resumes are used to search amongst the highly-competitive market of advertised jobs. The single most important activity for a job hunter’s success is face-to-face time with hiring managers. Review point #2 to discover how to fill your calendar with hiring manager meetings.
    6. Grab a PINT before each meeting – According to author and career design guru Tim Clark, job creation is driven from 4 factors known as P.I.N.T.  After researching your target company, grab one of this topics and design a dialogue around it. If you want a job to be created for you, you’d be wise to bring PINT with you to every meeting. Here they are:

      1. Pain: something isn’t working right, for example a product isn’t performing
      2. Issue: nothing’s broken, but rules, regulations, or conditions are changing
      3. Needs: something is missing, or there’s desire for something new or different. For example, the need for international expansion to drive growth
      4. Trends: things are changing or moving in new directions that drive job creation.
    1. Don’t select a job based on passion – “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” How many times have you heard that quote? The issue with using passion at your selection criteria is that it assumes you’re passionate about something. Few of us are born with passion. Passion isn’t discovered, it’s developed over time. In other words you don’t find it, you create it. Instead, focus on competencies that you’re good at or want to strengthen. Passion will follow as your competencies or skills get better.
    2. Hope is not a strategy  In a recent study, thirty to fifty percent of U.S. job seekers give up hope in the second month of their job hunt. Why? Most job hunters base their job search on one strategy. If it fails to produce a job, they lose hope. To keep motivation high, you need alternatives. Always have a Plan B. I recommend 3-4 approaches to the job market with face-to-face time with hiring managers the highest priority and online job searching the lowest.
    3. Stop selling yourself – We’ve all be told job hunting is comparable to “selling yourself”. While there are many similarities, it often does more harm than good. Most of us genuinely dislike selling. (Me too) Asking me to be good at something I don’t like isn’t going to make me better. Instead I changed my mindset to consider a job-hunt a learning journey. I want to learn what industries, companies and roles I might apply my talents in. Asking for advice from the mindset of a learner is a whole lot easier than pretending to be a good salesperson.
    4. chockRemove your chock – Have you ever noticed that the momentum of a enormous jumbo jet is stopped by small triangle chocks placed in front and behind the tires. What are the chocks holding you back from finding your next job? Most of us point to a weakness in our profile – our age, experience, or education. With little chance of making a significant change in your profile in the short-term, focus on changing your method for how you job search. Small changes in how you job search yield bigger results than small changes on your profile.
    5. Do the job – Hiring an employee is a risky proposition for a manager and company. An easy way to stand-out from other applicants and de-risk the decision in your favor. How? Do the job you’re applying for in the interview. If you’re applying to be a sales person do a sales presentation. If you’re aiming for a role in marketing do a competitive analysis. If you’re going to be a CFO create an insightful financial analysis.
    6. Live the #1 metric – Most job hunters measure progress in their job search by how much time they’ve spent looking for a job online or by how many applications they’ve sent in. However, there is one metric that is the tipping point in your job search. Like the 80/20 rule, this single activity has a disproportionate effect on your job search. It’s face-to-face time with hiring managers. Measure how much time you’ve spent in front of managers this week and you’ll have an accurate measure of the progress of your job search.

    Headhunter’s Insider Tip

    “It takes an average of 6 first-time, face-to-face interviews to land one placement.”
    ~ Skip Freeman, Author of Headhunter Hiring Secrets

    1. Limit your search – It’s much easier to job hunt when you’ve limited the number of companies you want to work in. Why? It’s easier to research unmet needs of companies, you can ask for specific help from your contacts, and your resume / business proposal can be crafted to the specific company you want to work in.
    2. Worksheet iconSend a business proposal – A resume is useful for getting a job you’ve already proven how to do. But what if you want to stretch your potential? Send the executive a proposal of what you would do to solve their unmet need. In the proposal ask for a meeting to discuss it in more detail. Since this requires initiative and a proactive approach it’s almost never done by job seekers which is why it’s so effective in your job search.
    3. Boost your value – Laslo Bock, Senior VP at Google, wrote that the easiest way to increase your value on your resume is to highlight your achievements, not just your work history. His advice was to frame your skill strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ Most people would write like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ It would be better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’
    4. Professionalize your email – First impressions matter. When you send an email from [email protected] it leaves the wrong impression. With unlimited availability to email addresses, create a new email address for your job search so that it comes across professional. Use the BigDaddy address for keeping in touch with the family.
    5. Match the job requirements – Identify the top 4-6 skill requirements of the jobs you’re applying for. In the top section of your resume, highlight accomplishments that match the requirements. For example, a bullet point might read, Customer Service: 22% reduction in customer complaints
    6. Use only job-targeted resumes – A resume needs to be focused and highly relevant in order to gain the attention of a hiring manager. Using a general resume for all types jobs of interest will prevent you from standing out. Use a separate job-targeted resume for each type of job you’re apply for. This way your skills and achievements will match the job’s requirements.
    7. Tune into WIIFM – In the top section of the resume we have tendency to write about our Career Objectives. Instead, tune into the employer’s favorite radio station (WIIFM = What In It For Me) and list out your top skills you bring to the job title your aiming for. (Hint: Use the keywords from the job description)
    8. Be Found Online – Being visible online is a must. Without an online profile recruiters and mangers will assume you’re out-of-date. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile and check what’s visible to the public on your Facebook and Twitter profile. It’s better you check what’s appropriate before a hiring manger makes that decision for you.
    9. linkedin_logoPublish on LinkedIn – To gain both visibility and credibility, publish posts on LinkedIn. Pick a topic you know well and write about it. The rewards won’t be immediate, but the exposure is valuable. With each post your picture, title and headline appear in the news feeds of others for up to 14 days. This helps you stay top of mind and position yourself as an authority.
    10. Use Status Updates on LinkedIn – Are you on LinkedIn frequently? Share your thoughts on articles you’ve read or professional events you’re attended by using the status update feature. Keep it brief with 140 characters. It’s another simple way to keep your name and headline in front of people in your network.
    11. Start at the top – “Don’t accept a ‘no’ from a person who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes’.” Your aim in a job hunt should be to connect with the hiring manager (aka. decision make)r. If you want to get a job created for you, aim high in the organization to ensure the person can say ‘yes’ to creating the budget for your job. Avoid HR and the talent acquisition specialists who are gatekeepers to the decision makers.
    12. Research before applying – When you find a job of interest, research the company and role before applying. Use LinkedIn to find a mutual connection. Ask them for advice. Get recommendations on how to get your resume in the right hands.
    13. Watch your language – Specifically your body language. In an interview consider your posture, tone of voice, and hand movements. What impression do you want to convey? With two thirds of your communication related to body language, consciously think about how your come across in an interview.
    14. Become a fan – Are you following your target companies online? Create a free Google new alert to follow updates related to the company and the executives working there. Follow the company on social media channels and engage with their content and leave messages.
    15. Video messageSend a video message – Want to really leave a memorable first impression, send a video message to the hiring manager. Use the video to introduce yourself, explain what you can do for them, and how they can connect with you. Smartphones and most computers comes with quality video recording. Practice to get the lighting, audio and message just right.
    16. Thank you notes matter – In a head-to-head competition for a role, a simple gesture like sending a personalized, hand-written thank you note after an interview is all it takes to tip the scales in your favor. Saying ‘thank you’ is never going out of style.
    17. Leave your comfort zone – If what you’re doing to find a job isn’t working, reevaluate what you can do differently. If you’re online approach isn’t yielding results, re-prioritize your offline approach (i.e. networking). If recruiters are hiring in your field but aren’t noticing your profile, refine your LinkedIn profile to get more attention. If you’ve applied for “all sorts of jobs”, consider being laser focused targeted specific companies and showing them exactly what you could do for them

    [Download the 29 shortcuts on a cheatsheet here.]


    If you want to dig deeper on some of the best techniques within job-hunting, check out this list of job-hunting classics. These are my all-time favorites based on how many times I’ve re-read them, highlighted their pages, and used their methods.