ABC’s of Hiring #26 – 8 Keys to Effective Job Search

While most professionals are very talented and have extensive experience in their field of endeavor, few have the wherewithal and experience to manage an effective job search. It is more difficult than it appears on the surface and takes a dedicated effort, particularly in a shrinking job market. This primer is the result of many years of experience honing down what it takes to help you find your next job.


  1. Prepare yourself – before you get started, take care of the logistics.


  • Reconnect with family and friends.
  • Take time for the emotional and mental adjustment required.
  • Resolve any anger or frustration associated with your predicament.
  • Address transition issues with former employer.
  • Agree on a reason for your departure.
  • Agree on what your former boss will say as a reference.
  • Comply with your non-compete agreement.
  • Get legal advice on your severance agreement.
  • Line up your references and coach them on what to say.
  • Sign up for Cobra.
  • Consider establishing a bank line-of-credit for financial flexibility.
  • Start with a clear conscience and positive attitude.


  1. Prepare your resume – must have before you can begin your search.


  • The purpose of your resume is to get an interview.
  • Always list “what” you have done but not “how” you did it.
  • Use reverse chronological format with a 2 page limit.
  • Focus on the last 15 years or 2 positions.
  • Quantify your responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Check carefully for grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Customize your objective when responding to a specific opening.
  • Send as a Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF document attachment.
  • Print it to make sure the page breaks look right.
  • Never lie about anything on your resume.


  1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile – companies go there first to find candidates.


  • Complete your profile with a quality photo.
  • Have a strong well thought out summary.
  • You want to be “found” so, use all the industry specific buzz words that describe you.
  • Increase your connections to appear higher in search results.
  • Get recommendations and endorsements.
  • Join 50 groups.
  • Use keywords likely used in a search algorithm.
  • Make sure your profile is consistent with your resume but with more details.
  • Share your connections to build your network.
  • Be current and complete.
  • Customize your headline specific to your career field.
  1. Post and search internet sites – a necessary step but limit to 10% of your time.


  •, an aggregator of all openings posted on the internet.
  •, another aggregator with access to millions of openings.
  •, good for identifying retained search firms only.
  • Focus on industry or function specific websites consistent with your focus.
  • When applying for a position, try to find a network connection who can introduce you to the hiring manager.


    5. Identify recruiters in your niche – they have access to the hidden job market.


  • If you have, or can obtain, ‘The Directory of Executive Recruiters’ published by Kennedy Publications, which has been discontinued, it was the “go to” source listing all recruiters in America. An old version can still be very effective.
  • Use Google or any other search engine to identify executive recruiters or employment agencies. Use LinkedIn as well. There are other free sites, e.g. so you shouldn’t have to pay to create a list of recruiters in your niche.
  • Send your resume to all recruiters nationwide who specialize in your market or function. If they have a potential opening that will fit your background, you can expect to hear from them. Otherwise, they will keep your resume in their database for future consideration.


  1. Target Companies – this is where you want to network and build your brand.


  • 50% of all openings are not posted.
  • Determine who would likely want to hire you.
  • Determine who you would like to work for.
  • Understand your value proposition – avoid trying to appear being all things to all people.
  • 90% of all companies want a “been there, done that” person ready to go.
  • Use the free on-line database available at any public library. Google “Reference USA login”.  Currently “Reference USA” has over 40MM searchable company listings, 2.5MM job listings and is easy to use. Use the advanced search feature.
  • Search by SIC code, geography, company size, etc.
  • When you have your list, check out their website for job postings, then go to LinkedIn and see if you have a connection in that company. Try to connect to someone who knows the hiring manager and get an introduction.


  1. Network – 70% of all openings are filled by a networking connection.


  • Talk to family, friends, neighbors, church members, club associates, volunteer organization members, and trade association members, alumni, and college career services, former bosses, former peers, subordinates, coworkers, customers, suppliers, competitors, your banker, lawyer, financial advisor and CPA.
  • Seek advice and opinion regarding your plan.
  • Offer to share your contacts and return the favor.
  • Spend the majority of your time focused on your target market to get introductions


  1. Make a plan – written plans make us more efficient and reflect commitment.


  • Plan to touch 50 people in order to connect with 15 each day and it will take 3 months to make 1000 calls.
  • 1000 calls or connections results in 10 to 20 interviews which will result in 1 or 2 offers
  • Be proactive, patient and persevere.




The most effective job search has all of these components but most new positions are obtained with a targeted networking plan. Prepare, post, optimize and connect but most importantly network where you are you want to be found by a hiring manager.


Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.

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