How to Successfully Search for Your Perfect Job

WorkCoachCafeA job seeker recently posted his frustration about the current state of job search in a comment here on WorkCoachCafe.  He said, “I’ve applied for 11,437 jobs as of today within the past 14 months of searching. This online stuff doesn’t work, but what else can you do?”

How very frustrating for him!  But the lack of results is not surprising…

Using very strong language, recruiters have told me that when they see an individual applying for every open job, regardless of their fit with the job’s requirements, they learn quickly to ignore that applicant as, basically, a spammer.  So, all of those applications are a waste of the job seeker’s time, and just make a bad impression on the employer. 

3 Job Search Strategies that Actually Work

Obviously, as this job seeker and so many others have discovered, a high quantity of applications doesn’t accomplish what they want.  This job seeker asked what else you can do.  Combine these 3 strategies for a successful job search for your perfect job:

1.  Focus on high-quality applications, NOT a high quantity of applications.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Employers absolutely judge you as a potential employee by the quality of your approach and documents – and if the first “work” of yours they see is a poorly-done job application or a slipshod resume for inappropriate jobs, their interest in you is killed. 

  • Be smartly selective.
    Pick 20, 50, even 100 employers where you think you could be happy working.  And choose 1 or 2 job titles to target (3 at the most).  Then, focus on those jobs with those employers.  Learn as much as you can about these employers (check the employer websites, LinkedIn Company Profiles, employee LinkedIn Profiles, results in Google/Bing searches, etc.).
  • Stand out with the quality of your approach and documents, like a top employee.
    Demonstrate the quality of your work product, from your networking to resume submission and interview preparation.  This requires your “A Game” – in all aspects from initial contact and resume customized for each employer through final negotiations for the job offer.

Read Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough, and What You Can Do for more tips on what works today.

2.  Pay attention to your online reputation, the new critical necessity.

Most job seekers underestimate the impact of their online reputation and lack appropriate visibility.  

With more than 80% of employers checking out applicants with an Internet search on Google or Bing before inviting them in for an interview, smart job seekers make sure that those search results show employers good information about them – information that supports the application and also demonstrates that the job seeker understands how to operate successfully in today’s online world.  LinkedIn is currently the best method of managing a positive online image for yourself.

  • Invisibility is very bad!
    I know so many job seekers who are proud that if you do a search on their name on Google you find nothing.  Wrong!  Invisibility makes you look out-of-date (or clueless).
  • Too much casual visibility is also bad!
    On the other hand, if you have been publicly-sharing crazy party photos or complaining about being hung-over, you also have a problem.  Clean up your act – remove all of that bad visibility that you can, and build up positive visibility for yourself.  Read the You Are Being Watched! And Judged! post for more information.
  • Develop  a set of profiles that supports your job search.
    Manage positive visibility for yourself to establish your online reputation or to push the bad stuff off the first page of search results – the LinkedIn Profile is an excellent start.  If you have negative visibility to replace or bury, read the Reputation Management (or Recovery) post for additional places to establish profiles.

Worrying about our online visibility is a new issue for many of us.  But, think how the Internet has dramatically changed the way we shop, get our news, and do many other things.  It has had a similar major impact on recruiting and job search.  Ignore these changes, and your job search will be much longer than it needs to be.

3.  Network your way into your new job.

You’ve read/heard this advice a thousand times, because it is the way the vast majority of job seekers land jobs.  In comparison with the pre-Internet era, networking is thousands of times easier to do now.  Follow the 7-step process in Express Lane to a New Job – Employee Referral.

© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


By Susan P. Joyce, Online job search expert. Susan has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

More on How to Search for a Job

Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough, and What You Can Do

Is Your Job Search Too Old Fashioned?

Why Job Hunting Is So Hard, and How You Can Make It Easier

Why You Didn’t Get the Job: 10 Reasons You Can Control

7 Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers

Reputation Management (or Recovery)

You Are Being Watched! And Judged!

Defensive Googling (


  1. I’m trying for a job change. Without getting into too many details, I can’t continue working at my current employer ad infinitum. I literally NEED to get out. That said, my position is not in any immediate jeopardy, I just need a change. I have had a few interviews and have had “you were our top candidate” and simply “we will not be moving on.” Obviously, I am able to avoid the mass application stream, since I’m not concerned with where the money is coming from.

    I need to know how to get IN. What could be going wrong? I get REALLY tired of people telling me, the door God wants you to use will open when it is time.

    I really want to tell potential employers exactly why I have to leave, but you’re not supposed to say negative things about your current employer. I’m not applying outside of my experience or expertise, and I am fairly qualified, if still rough around the edges. Part of that is due to my current employer’s lack of professionalism rubbing off on me, in spite of my best efforts.

    Part of the problem is I live in a University City, with a lot of emphasis on Government in the job market. I however CURRENTLY work in Government Contracting, and WANT to be in private practice.

    Another need I have has to do with license. I need to work for someone licensed so that I can have mine signed off once I meet the experience requirement. That is part of why I’m looking.

    I hate to not tell the full truth, because I’m sure my response, to WHY ARE YOU LEAVING sounds hesitant and rehearsed. I have several reasons, and I always say the positive ones, (like the license thing) and leave out any current employer talk.

    I also hate the question, “how do you currently get along at work?” The answer is two parts. With 8 of 9 people, perfectly. We’re like family, we communicate well, get along, sure we have our moments, but none are bad enough we can’t laugh about it next week. The other one though? Well, I don’t talk about that, because, no negativity.

    I suppose I could look out of town, but I have friends, family, and a house here. I’ve built a life that I really don’t want to leave. I even have clients for my small consulting side business and I am looking to expand, if I can get licensed. I’m back in school for my MBA. I want to work in this town.

    No kidding, I would seriously consider two full time fast food jobs to stay here, even though that’s several steps back. I am unmarried, so if I were to drop my current income, I’d be out of luck.

    Sorry about the rant, and the chaotic order. Some part of me needs to let it out. I can’t talk about my problems with my family, because they just tell me to suck it up, or stop complaining, because it just brings down the rest of my life. (No venting is bad for me, though)

    What do I do? Short of telling potential employers the full reason I’m looking, and hoping to get in on pity, I’m at a loss.

    There aren’t that many more in town, and it’s getting to be time to consider moving, even though that’s not what I want.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Ben,

      Working for a government contractor gives you a perfect reason for job hunting without being hesitant or bad-mouthing your current employer (as you know, not a good idea).

      Government contract work depends on the government awarding or extending contracts. With what’s going on in Congress, government contracts are not as assured a revenue stream as they were in the past. When the government contractor doesn’t get a new contract, they let people go at the end of the old contract(s).

      SO, the reason you are looking for a new employer is (1) to find more reliable work, outside of the risky world of government contracting, and (2) the professional license.

      Regarding how you get along with your co-workers, 8 out of 9 is a VERY good “hit rate” – don’t be ashamed of it, at all. You get along just fine with your co-workers! You have no obligation to mention that one of them is not easy to get along with, and no need to feel apologetic (or unsuccessful for some reason) about it. EVERY organization has people like that (often in management, unfortunately).

      It’s a tough job market right now – competition is high – so expect lots of rejection. Most of it is not personal. Discouraging, but not personal. Do your best to gather feedback, if possible, and move on to the next opportunity.

      Good luck with your job search!

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