How you approach your job search depends on the purpose for your
search. Are you looking for an entry-level position at a company
you can grow with? Advancement? Have you been laid off and timing
is a factor? Are you a career changer looking for that first
crossover job? Your strategy will likely combine both proactive and
response-based job search approaches:
- Proactive job searches focus on
identifying where you would like to work and positioning yourself
as an ideal candidate. It is proactive because you identify
employment targets and follow a strategy to achieve them.
Advantages include the chance to target just the companies you ‘d
like to work for and development of key contacts. The apparent
disadvantage is that the process seems longer.
- Select industries, locations, occupations and
employers that interest you. We usually recommend you start with
between 4 and 7 targets.
Click here for an Job Search Organizational
Tool to help manage your job targets.
- Research them to identify which have the highest
probability of hiring you, based on your capabilities and
preferences. Use secondary research, as well as asking for advice
through your network. It is OK if your list changes as more
information becomes available, and you begin to identify your ideal
organizations, become clear on the skills you need and develop
professional relationships with contacts in your target
When job openings are posted, you already have the
qualifications and background information you need to write a
powerful resume and cover letter. Many proactive job searchers even
become “the person they have in mind” – which is perfectly
- Response-based searchesfocus on
applying to jobs that have been publically posted. This type of
search is response-based in that you are reacting to a job listing
that you find with an application or resume. The apparent advantage
is that the openings are current; the disadvantages can include
both a potentially weak resume if you lack insight information
about the company or position and difficulty in standing out from
the competition if you have no connections within the
- If you find a job opening you’d like to apply to,
use your network and background research to understand the
employer’s problems and how you can solve them in the position. Use
what you learn to create a targeted resume and cover letter. If
possible, find someone to refer you within the organization.
- Be aware that applying to huge sites (like Monster)
has the highest probability of success when you have skills that
are in high demand.
Resource: The University of Virginia Alumni
Association, Career Services page http://alumni.virginia.edu/career-services/conduct-a-job-search/job-search-process/strategy/