How to Launch a Productive Job Search or Invigorate a Stagnant Campaign

By Debra Feldman

Rethinking your job search as a project with a specific goal, measurable objectives and discreet milestones, and a plan that minimizes risks will produce far better results than leaving the process of finding a new job to chance.  This applies equally to campaigns about to start as well as job searches in progress.  Every project needs a champion, a project manager who will propel the effort forward by anticipating and breaking through barriers and removing roadblocks.  Thorough planning upfront, implementing the right techniques correctly and an objective view point willing to make adjustments when necessary are the keys to not only achieving results but also landing a better position faster.

Having the right go-to-market strategy defined, i.e. determining what unique value contribution a candidate offers that creates a remarkable impression and differentiates them from their competition while further establishing them as a first choice expert is essential. The other critical element for job search success today is specifying the type of challenges, opportunities or company needs that best match the candidate’s interests. Just running at full speed out of the gate without first sizing the market for potential opportunities and positioning the candidate to attract hiring authorities rarely generates sufficient employer interest and confidence in a candidate’s ability to deliver and be risk free. Specialization and focus are the name of the game.

From a project management perspective, most job seekers do not begin looking for their next career opportunity by applying the same principles they would to any other business challenge: define the problem, justify the required investment, demonstrate costs vs. benefits, incorporate best industry practices, etc.  While individual job seekers who wouldn’t consider running their businesses haphazardly and never would skip a risk analysis and creating a solid plan, when it’s time for their personal job search, these same cautious professionals skip over strategy development and testing in favor of implementing job search tasks as quickly as possible. They mistake activity for productivity. What drives na�ve job seekers to begin with campaign execution omitting the strategic homework, risk assessment, opportunity analysis, etc., all data points they routinely expect from their project teams?

Reason A) It’s innocence or lack of practice because usually if someone is successful in their career, they haven’t spent much time looking for work; and

Reason B) It feels better (and is less stressful when confronted with a forced transition) to jump right into doing and immediately activate job search tasks (new resume writing, sending out announcements about being available, uploading applications, scheduling appointments, ramping up LinkedIn connections, attending luncheons, �networking� with everyone you know and anyone willing to spend their time helping, participating in professional groups, etc.) compared to thinking about how to job search and be as productive as possible vs as busy as a bee .

The old method of sending out tailored resumes in response to advertised openings simply does not produce interviews like it used to before the Great Recession. Today, it’s all about not only what a candidate knows, but who knows, likes and remembers the candidate. It’s a buyers/employer’s market. They want what they want.


Almost every candidate who starts executing tasks without a plan will find that their search is not making progress.  Eventually, they realize they have a problem. Paraphrasing Marshall Goldsmith, it dawns on them that what got them where they were, or have been in the past, isn’t getting them where they want to go next. At this point they are not getting results; they need more job leads.  They relied on traditional job search methods in a modern market that depends personal recommendations, i.e., networking referrals, not applications or recruiters. In marketing parlance, every candidate must target the correct employer market that needs and will appreciate them and clearly communicate a compelling value proposition. Candidates who invest upfront to create the right go- to- market strategy land faster.

The best job search technique to reliably produce leads to potential new career opportunities is Network Purposefully which also simultaneously creates lifetime career insurance. Establishing warm contacts and promoting meaningful relationships with decision makers and other individuals who have the hiring authority’s trust provides direct, timely access to unadvertised roles in the hidden job market for both immediate openings and future opportunities as organizational needs change over time. In addition, deepening networking relationships through regular exchanges which demonstrate sincerity and generosity along with relevant knowledge and skills carves a spot in hiring decision makers’ minds. In contrast to submitting resumes online or filing volumes of applications into recruiter databases, personal relationships which require effort, time and skills  are the most effective job search method. Networking also produces better results.

The strategic plan for a swift, successful, efficient and effective new job search project includes:

  1. A go-to-market strategy: the candidate’s unique skills, knowledge, qualifications, experiences, etc. that differentiate him/her from the competition and description of target employers/companies needs that candidate is able to address with a very flat learning curve establish the individual as a first choice, go-to expert that can be trusted to deliver and without risk
  2. Define the target market of potential employers: describe the characteristics of the ideal employer organization and identify companies that meet these selection criteria
  3. Develop success stories: examples that illustrate candidate’s preparedness to address target market’s challenges
  4. Anticipate points of employer resistance and identify trade-offs to compensate for any weaknesses
  5. Identify the hiring authorities and also name individuals affiliated with the employer or those who have relationships with key decision makers and can influence the recruiting and hiring process
  6. Focus job search efforts on networking purposefully: maximize networking connections to develop mutually meaningful relationships, be generous and seek ways to volunteer help
  7. Publish resume and LinkedIn profile after the go- to- market strategy is established based on empirical research, informational interviews, database inquiries, etc.
  8. Rationalize time for job search activities including research, in person and telephone meetings, fine tuning strategy, follow up correspondence, writing self- promotional pieces designed to increase visibility and establish credibility/expert status, e.g., PPTs, white papers, letters to the editor, blogging, LI updates, etc.
  9. Carefully monitor campaign progress: measure results against interim goals and important milestones , watch for loss of momentum/roadblocks and make adjustments to sustain forward progress on the right goals
  10. Follow up with and express appreciation in a timely manner to campaign supporters and other networking contacts
  11. Concentrate connecting based on how the candidate can help address challenges faced by others rather than emphasizing how connections can provide job leads to the candidate

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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