The 15 Rules of Modern Job Search

You probably don’t care how the job search is different today.

What you do want to know are the new rules for landing your next job as quickly and painlessly as possible!

Here is the new modern job search playbook:

1) Pain is part of the process:

Get used to rejection and learn from it because you are going to experience it a lot.

People will ignore your emails, offer to help and then won’t deliver, tell you they’ll get back to you and you’ll never hear from them again.

2) You need a plan before you write a resume:

Beginning your job search by writing your resume is like getting in your car without knowing where you are going. You will need to take many steps before you are ready to write your resume.

Trust in the process.

And by the way, your search is going to take you longer than you expect.

3) Find targets, not jobs:

Your goal is to be a referred candidate or at least learn about opportunities before they are widely publicized. A proactive job search results when you create a list of companies you would like to work for. You can use this list to help you research companies and find company insiders.

You can also share this list with your contacts and ask if they know people who work at any of those companies you could speak with.

4) Job search is all about networking:

Networking may be uncomfortable at first or difficult if you don’t know many people; but with some effort and strategic outreach, you can begin building new connections. Networking isn’t a one-time transaction. Treat each encounter with every new person as a first date. Building a trusting relationship takes more than one encounter. And you have to give as much, if not more, than you get. 

5) Explain why a company should hire you:

Everything you write and say about yourself is a pitch. It is up to you to explain how a company would benefit from hiring you. Learn how to convey your qualifications based on what companies need, not what you want.

6) Use job boards for intelligence:

Job seekers tend to obsess over job boards and spend the bulk of their time posting and praying. Only a small percent of people land their jobs because they applied on-line. Instead, decrease the time you spend on job boards and use the boards to note required skills to ensure you are using the right terms to market yourself.

7) Always use the two-step method to apply

You probably don’t know people inside companies you would like to work for…yet. The secret to getting your resume looked at is being a referred candidate. Step one is learning about a job opening, step two is asking a company insider to refer you.

8) Yes, you need a LinkedIn profile!

It would be unwise to conduct a job search today and not have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has become one of the most popular resources to find talent. Your profile can now function like a portfolio so be sure to embed files and media to show off samples of your work. If you aren’t there, they can’t find you.

9) Think like a marketer:

Build an on-line presence through a website, blog, or social media. Promote yourself by sharing content and visuals to generate interest and attract opportunities. Your reputation of excellence and an awareness of your talent will reach a much broader audience. Posting a resume on-line just doesn’t have the same Wow factor.

10) First impressions are lasting impressions:

HR, recruiters and hiring managers are human and as much as you may hate to hear it, they are judging you by how you look. Smile, act and look contemporary and dress for the role you are pursuing or one step up.

11) Make your resume a proposal:

Instead of viewing your resume as a static, tell-all document, consider it your proposal for employment. This requires you to customize your resume for each company in order to uniquely spell out how you will add value to their company.

12) Always take the hardest route:

No matter what question you have during your job search, ask this question “What is harder for me to do?” Let’s say your question is “when should I follow-up?” Your answer will require you do whatever is most uncomfortable or requires more work on your behalf. By the way, the answer was now or one week since you last followed-up.

13) Rehearse your interview answers out loud:

You only have one shot to nail the interview. This is why you must practice your answers out loud. Use the STAR format to construct your answer: Briefly outline the situation, the challenge, the actions you took and the results. Your answer should last around 60 seconds. Rambling or spelling out every detail will not win the interviewer over and omitting important and relevant details doesn’t serve you well.

14) Know how and when to negotiate:

Almost every job offer has some elements that are negotiable. This is the only chance you’ll get to increase the offer so be sure you know what is important to you and ask in the right way. You can’t negotiate anything until an offer has been extended.

15) The competition is tough – be tougher!

Companies want the “perfect” set of skills and people who want those jobs are acquiring the skills. You’ll also see job seekers trying new tactics to catch the attention of employers. The bar has been raised and the job search play book has to be updated too.

By Hannah Morgan

Hannah Morgan provides no-nonsense help for new job seekers. She provides advice and serves as a guide to traverse the treacherous terrain of today's economy by focusing on pro-active strategies for job search and leveraging social networks. Career Sherpa is one of many outlets where Hannah shares her information. Follow Hannah on Twitter @careersherpa!