How to Get an Edge in Your Job Search

It’s been said that the one constant is change.  In today’s fast-moving world this has never been more true.  New technologies, greater competition and restructuring industries demand new approaches to find the job you want.

The good news is that there has been so much written on job-hunting – blog posts, articles and books – on topics ranging from resume writing to interviewing to salary negotiation.

The two constants in your search are: 
1. You.  You have a unique mix of background, experience and personal attributes.
2. You.  You need to take action.  No one else can do it for you. 

To get an edge in your job search today, try these three:

1) Self-Evaluate
-  Outside of your work life, what do you like to do? 
-  At work, what skills and activities come easily to you?
-  If you could describe your ideal job, what would that be? 
-  What type of people would you like to work with?
-  What kind of company would you like to work for?
-  What experience, training, personal abilities make you stand out?
-  What accomplishments describe the quality of your work?
-  What has been your favorite work experience?  Why?
-  Do you have the inner desire to go after the job you want, no matter how long it takes?

A wise mentor once said to me, “Mike, if you really, really want something and you never, ever give up, you’ll almost always get what you want.”

2) Use a Job Search Activity Plan
- Write your job search goals.  By ____ date, I will have the job I’m looking for. Each day, I will accomplish ______.  Each week ______.  Each month______.
- Research jobs.  Research companies.  Research the key people you’ll need to contact.
- Find their phone numbers, email addresses, social media handles.
- Record your research in a “Job Search Tracking” spreadsheet.
- Write an email (brief and compelling) so you can send to hiring contacts.
- Write and practice your “elevator pitch” of what you’ll say to hiring contacts.
- Find a list of industry events and/or conferences that you might attend.
- Take action.  Send emails.  Call contacts.  Go to networking events. 
- Follow up.  Follow up again.  Recording all in your “Job Search Tracking” spreadsheet. 

A wise mentor once said to me, “Mike, there’s one certainty in life: If you don’t go after what you want, you won’t get it. That I guarantee.”

3) Get Job Search Help
-  Find job search experts who can help you. 
-  Career and Life Coaches can assist with the self-evaluation process. 
-  Resume writers can help you craft the right resume and with your positioning statement. 
-  Recruiters in your field can offer invaluable advice on the steps of a successful job search. 
-  Job Search Consultants can customize a job search program and assist with all phases of your search from identifying companies and positions to working with you on your resume and obtaining interviews.
-  Go to and participate in social/community/industry groups.  Let people know that you’re looking for a new position.  Start “what do you do” conversations.  Be curious about what others do and how you might help them.  Ask your contacts how they got their jobs.  Share with them memorable stories.
-  Let the word out about the job you’re seeking.  Find a good article about online social media networking.  Connect and engage with people in your field.  Then make personal contact.  Call them and have a conversation.  Listen, engage, ask for their advice.  You’ll be surprised how many will assist when you have the right attitude and approach.

A wise mentor once said to me, “Mike, the people who get the things they want aren’t necessarily the smartest, they’re the positive ones who keep going after it.”

My last piece of advice is to find a mentor.  This could be a wise business person you’ve known for many years.  Take that person to lunch.  Or, this person could be a friend of the family or even someone you’ve known from a past work experience.  Community, social or religious groups are great places to find mentors.

The work world is changing fast.  Today, the currents are rough and swift, but with the right approach and advice, I’m confident you’ll navigate the waters well.

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7 Responses to “How to Get an Edge in Your Job Search”

  1. Mike,
    Gosh, where to start – so much great advice that job seekers can sink their teeth into!

    Your 3 points, well fleshed out, identifying specific action steps to ‘get an edge’ are easy to navigate. Job search is full of layers, and once the initial shock of having to manage one’s transition ‘like a job’ wears off, emplacing a plan is needed.

    Breaking down the introspection, the self assessment, the research, the where to go for resume/interviewing/job search strategy/recruitment help (of course, I think a resume/career strategist is absolutely essential to career transition!), are essential steps for job seekers.

    Love also the 2 constants you mention: EVERYONE is unique, so that’s why it’s imperative to treat your job search with such detailed care (Really, really, really want to emphasize this, because SO many people try to mimic others in their job search strategy. In my case, I see it daily in mini-me resumes where a friend models his resume after a friend’s resume — NO distinction there!). Plus, the 2nd constant you mentioned is incredibly true: YOU need to take action. Though many resources/experts, etc. are available and should be leveraged, your roll-up-your sleeves attitude will likely make the difference between a ‘good’ or ‘great’ result!

    Excellent advice, as always, Mike!

    Jacqui

  2. Hi Mike – what a great blue print for getting back to basics. There is no substitute for strategic activity. I would add 3 things to your list
    – getting feedback. If things aren’t going to plan – don’t worry, Plan B onwards might also work. Be open to change and support.
    – customise – the days of a standard approach are gone.
    – never give up! As you suggest, activity eventually produces results.

  3. Mike, great post! I really like #2 having a plan. Sometimes people who are in a job search (particularly if they have been laid off) are confused about what to do and have a “see what sticks” mentality around finding another job. Your blue print is fantastic!

  4. Mike Ramer says:

    Thanks very much for your comments.

    Jacqui – Yes, “everyone is unique” which is the foundation and angle to market yourself in a job search.

    Dorothy – Yes, a job search must be both strategic and customized.

    Alicia – Yes, a job seeker must have a plan and see the “end in mind”.

    Best, Mike

  5. Bill Vick says:

    Great advice from a recruiting pro who understands what it takes to get a job. I think anybody helping job hunters (coaches, consultants, others), as well as job hunters themselves, needs to read – and re-read this excellent advice. Today’s employment process is changing and the advice you have shared is a basic step to getting back on track. Thanks Mike.

  6. Mike Ramer says:

    Thanks Bill, Appreciate your comment. Yes, our jobs in recruiting have prepared us to advise jobseekers in the full process of how to find and win a new job. From resume consulting to preparing for an interview to the interview process to negotiating an employment offer, we do this day-in and day-out. Today’s search process is dynamic and it is well-advised to get professional help to guide the way. Best, Mike

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