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1/10/10 - 10 Steps to a Successful Job Search



Step 1: Learn the basics

1.     There is a lot of helpful people and organizations that can help you, use them, learn the techniques …don’t reinvent the wheel

2.     Attend all the career counseling classes you can: Outplacement companies (if paid by your company), church career organizations,, CareerConnection (they charge money), Jewish Family Services, etc… Texas Workforce …, seminars, books …. But don’t pay for anything…the best one’s are free.

3.     Learn about informational interviews, interview techniques, and negotiating techniques, make a career map, build your standard resume, Bio etc…

4.     Take tests (Briggs Myers, Birkman, etc..) to help you understand what you are good at, who you are and what you want to do, ask your friends and family what they think, use your career map

5.     Many of these resources are available online and on Yahoo groups go to  for the full list.

6.     Listen to Kenrick Chapman blogcast radio ( )

7.     Sign up for the ONE day free Crossroads Bible Church Seminar.  (Check the CareerDFW Calendar for the upcoming dates on a Saturday.)

8.     For a list of companies to target, use Thomas Jackson website ( ).


Step 2:  Create your value proposition 

1.     The key is to collect, identify, document all of your assets.  Inventory your life, what you did, what you are good at. Use prior performance goals and performance reviews, accomplishments, compliments or recommendations you have received.

2.     Create a single Word document basic master template (fishnet resume) that you can customize, cut and paste for each job.

3.     Prepare a variety of executive summary “templates” for each type of functions/title you plan to apply to, using job descriptions and examples of good resumes (4 to 5 lines max per summary).  Follow Dirk Spencer advice to a T.  Post it in Monster/Dice/CareerBuilder.  Watch calls from recruiters pour in!  Here is a link to his old presentation and a link to his blog:

4.     Prepare a long exhaustive laundry list of your Key Skills (or KS), professional, technical and interpersonal characteristics that you can selectively sort by alphabetical order. Identifying your key skills is CRITICAL, use needs and requirements from actual job descriptions requirements

5.     Incorporate / write CARs (characteristics, action, and result) for each KS such as accomplishments etc (4 lines maximum per KS).  See example of KS below:

1       BUDGET  Built and managed a budget of $3 Million (five divisions, including direct marketing, advertising, trade show and events) to optimize marketing dollars and instituted cost controls that saved $695K.

2       CRM Designed a customized CRM software application to allow market segmentation, enhanced customer targeting and managed contact management to increase market share.

3       MANAGING  PEOPLE  High energy leader experienced at hiring, building, coaching and motivating highly successful marketing teams.  Supportive management style, leading-by-example, inspiring loyalty in her subordinates and confidence in her peers. 

4       Etc… you get the point (I created about 80 KS with CARS to pick from…)

6.     This asset inventory will help you create a “Fishnet resume” or master /grand resume  This resume will be a long template with all your various accomplishments and assets  that you can pick from to select the appropriate one (KN) for each job. It will be composed of an executive summary plus the 5 KS taking up the top 2/3 of your resume’s first page. 

7.     Your chronological work history  etc…will be listed in the remaining space of your resume

8.     In addition to your “fishnet resume” you will need a standard resume for online job banks (no formatting) and a paper resume (with nice fonts… to stand out).  Be ware the standard resume is never very useful, A RESUME NEEDS TO BE CUSTOMIZED


Step 3: Get Organized, Make a plan, keep track

Set up a spreadsheet “My job search plan” to keep track of your campaign.  Create separate worksheets designed to track status and progress as listed below:

1.     Strategic plan (use step 1 to prepare): That might take a while to identify, review your target companies by categories weekly, use a career map (inventory of who you are and your values and assets)

2.     List of target companies and status (this will change as you go)

3.     “To do list” prioritized daily by priority 1 thru 5.  I feel spending 20% on internet or your computer, 50% on being out and about  to cheer you up and meet people, and 30%  preparing and responding in a very targeted manner to opportunities might be a good mix

4.     List of contacts you know that you should solicit for informational interviews, this is key

5.     The list of jobs you have applied for

6.     Internet job banks with logins, password and date you refresh

7.     Reference web sites and books

8.     List of head hunters you want to work with (be selective) and contact updates

9.     List of customized resumes (I have 200+ to date…) with job title, job focus and company it was written for

10.  List of staffing, temp or marketing agencies with contact status, stay in front of them

11.  List of people you know with similar skill set or function so that you can refer the jobs that are not  a perfect good fit for you but might be for them (different location, different expertise, specialties), or the jobs you lost…they will return the favor

12.  Review and update the above at least weekly to stay focused on the big picture and on your progress and update with the information you gather, this is your intelligence deck


Step 4: Use and leverage the power of Linkedin

1.     Use Linkedin as the bank for your network contacts and source of intelligence

2.     Create a compelling profile (leverage your resume and step 2)

3.     Gather recommendations for each skill you are marketing from various sources, ask them to comment on specific topic (“Barbara is a great person” is too vague). Illustrate specific attributes you can use as a selling tool.  Do not do reciprocate recommendations from the same people.

4.     Join all appropriates Linkedin groups

5.     Connect with all the people you meet and talk to in order  to expand your network

6.     Download all the LinkedIn connections to your Outlook and add notes on how you met them

7.     Update your LinkedIn profile to look like Dennis O’Hagan and David Lanners.


Step 5: Get ready, create the perfect job search kit

So much to do, so little time, get efficient: You need to have a set of master documents, templates and reference documents that you can pull from, avoid duplication of efforts and save time.  As your search progress, you need to fine tune them as you go and learn.  I carry my “job search kit” around with me in a folder at all times and have them all saved under a single folder (and subfolders) on my PC.

1.     Create a set of “cheat sheets”: large index cards for each KS with list of examples and projects to talk about, stories, CAR etc…(from your fish net resume above).  You will use those at interviews to jog your memory and help you focus on the KS.

2.     Create your brag list (list of recommendations):

·        Compile a list of all the recommendations (quotes) demonstrating what makes you special or brilliant in specific areas. 

·        Compiling Linked in recommendations (10 to 20)  is a great way to do it.

·        Customize this list of recommendations for each job based on company needs. 

·        Testimonies from real people about real skills or attribute are your most compelling sales tool

3.     Make a Bio (useful to send for informational interviews request)

4.     Fishnet Resume (see above)

5.     A standard resume (one for paper printing use and one for online) with your top 5 KS (if you have to have one or better use your bio)

6.     List of references with contact numbers etc…

7.     Life chrono of exact dates of employment addresses contacts, phone numbers.  etc… to help you complete formal applications

8.     Your Salary history, for the record and if you need to share or partially share some of the information with your potential employers.

9.     Optional:

·    A power point of why they need to hire you (detail list of accomplishments also allowing to show your ability to present a plan or an idea)

·    Other cool creative ideas to “deliver” your value proposition and stand out, cool paper, clips, get registered with FedEx online ship, boxes of sample works, your portfolio etc……

10.  Templates of all kinds:

·        Standard blanket cover letter highlighting your personality, who you are, not your skills (your resume is supposed to sells your skills and experience)

·        Asking for an informational interview, guidelines and questions to ask at an information interview

·        Thank you notes and letters

·        List of questions to ask at an interview

·        List of questions they may ask you with guidelines on how you will respond to them

·        Standard 30 sec profile, paragraph and summaries of your KS to use on the internet


You will gather many examples and templates from Step 1


Step 6: Be seen in real life, show your face

1.     Tell the world you are looking for a job, practice your 30 sec. commercial over and over

2.     Go out and meet people – network with family, friends, ex colleagues, bosses, anybody

3.     Attend all the networking events, cocktail parties, weddings, industry and chamber of commerce events, job fairs, luncheons, non-for profit events, classes, seminars, anything

4.     Secure numerous informational interviews weekly (the most efficient method)   Use all your contacts, call them or email them and meet them for coffee or lunch, or drink.  They are a wealth of information and will give you referrals, who will give you more referrals…

5.     Make sure to LinkedIn with all the people you meet, keep notes on how you met them (see 1)


Step 7: Be seen on the internet, be visible

1.     Get registered on job banks and head hunter database and refresh your resumes weekly (Monster, The ladders, Career Builder etc)

2.     Make sure you receive all targeted internet leads: Set up search agent via aggregators, saves a lot of time (Indeed is great). 

3.     Manage a good balance between being seen in life and being seen on the Internet


Step 8:  Responding to a job, aim on the specific needs

1.     Don’t bother sending standard resumes

2.     Dissect the job description, identify the KN (Key Needs) (3 to 15 at most). They are identified job requirements, skill set, characteristics, company’s needs, basically what are the unique attributes important for the job and the company.

3.     You need to make some major time investment (30 minutes to 8 hours!!) to customize your resume to the exact needs of the company and the job. Trust me it is worth it.

4.     The more time you spend on customizing, the better results

5.     Be selective on what you apply for (needs to have at least 5 matching KS/KN)

6.     Customize your fish net resume to address the KN of this job

·        The idea is to align your skills (KS) to their needs (KN)

·        Only use 6 KN/KS max per job on your resume(sort by importance to them) , don’t try to sell too much, everyone is in information overload

·        If you can,  validate the KN with insiders (see step 10)


Step 9: Stay informed, don’t miss a beat

1.     Read Linkedin daily network updates, connections and news happenings daily

2.     Sign up for the email Dallas Business journal daily news update to be abreast of business news in your area or industry and set up Google news feeds on your target companies

3.     Know who is where, and who is talking to who, you will be surprised after a while after how it all clicks together and you become the mastermind…


Step 10: Knock them dead, preparing for your interviews

1.     Have an ”interview kit” ready at all times

·        Have a “perfect” set of clean but conservative interview clothes, binder, cool pen…

·        From your master template (see step 5), prepare a list of questions to ask (customize for each specific interview)

·        Be ready to address the questions they may ask (rehearse with friends & family, see step 5)

2.     Get to know the company: Collect information on the company (Google, One Source)  and make a card (company profile and stats), read the latest press releases

3.     Get to know the people: Get info and bios of the people you will meet with,  from LinkedIn, Goggle, One source etc…and seek common threads, interest and life experience to chat about and make a cheat sheet card for each person

4.     Talk to insiders:  Get some intelligence about the company’s culture, needs and job specifics.  Contact company employees from Linkedin, career connection database, all your network sources, see if they can refer you

5.     Identify the job Key Needs:  Identify and make a KN card with a list of 5 to 10 critical needs and requirements as identified in the job description or gathered from your research above. You will need to communicate and  “sell” to them with your KS to get the job. 

6.     Get your cards read and show that your are prepared, informed and efficient:

·        A card about the company facts and figures

·        Pull all your appropriate KS cards (not more than 10), (see Step 5, 1.)  for each KS matching the KN of the job

·        Company profile card (see above)

·        People cards (see above) one per person

Last Words of Wisdom

·        Be confident, believe in your self, and keep your chin up, somewhere someone will discover how valuable you are. Never show desperation!

·        Stay happy, eliminate all bad vibes, bad news, anger, bitterness from your life

·        Join a support system to help you cope in your low points

·        Be patient, never give up, job search takes time

·        Work hard:  Job search is a 9 to 5 job, .the more effort and time you put into it, the faster it will be for you to get the right job. 

·        Help others, share your frustrations and knowledge together… they will help you

·       As they say, you one need one job to work, keep the confidence and the efforts and it will come