Conduct a More Effective Job Search by Creating a Five-Step Plan for Success

Posted by in Career Advice

Finding work that you love, that also meets your financial needs, doesn't happen by accident. It requires a well-thought plan of action and an intense level of commitment. So what can you do to get noticed by potential employers and shorten the duration of your job search?

Let's examine a five-point plan of action that can ignite your job search and give you an edge over your competition.

Step One: An Honest Self-Assessment

An honest self-assessment is the first step to finding work for which you are well-suited and that you will truly enjoy. Ask yourself:

  • Where do my skills, strengths, and passion lie?
  • What skills, education, or experience am I lacking?
  • How can I fill skill gaps that could prevent me from qualifying for my ideal job?

Consider your skills and experience from the viewpoint of a potential employer. Identify opportunities for improvement and find ways to overcome problematic voids. Take a class at your local community college to learn a new software application. Volunteer to gain additional skills and experience.

Step Two: Assess Your Ideal Work Situation

Review your past work, school and volunteer experiences.

  • What did you like about each of your past positions?
  • What tasks would you never consider doing again?
  • What do you require from your work - emotionally and financially?
  • What positions, companies, industries fit your ideal work profile?

Having a clear vision of your ideal work situation will help you to focus your job search efforts. It may become necessary to take on work that you don't love to meet your immediate needs. Do not get discouraged. Simply use the information you've gathered to continue a part-time search for your ideal work situation.

Step Three: Create a Customized Self-Marketing Plan

Getting noticed by potential employers requires an effective marketing strategy. You are the product and potential employers are your customers. Develop a comprehensive plan to target ideal companies. Establish concrete marketing goals for yourself each week regarding the number of:

  • Hours you'll devote to your job search.
  • Resumes and letters you'll send.
  • Follow-up calls you'll make.
  • Face-to-face meetings you'll arrange.

Several factors determine which job search strategies are best for your unique situation. Take into consideration your personality, the industry in which you're seeking employment, and the effectiveness of each strategy. Keep track of your job search efforts and make adjustments as needed. Focus attention of strategies that yield the best results.

Step Four: Get Noticed with an Employer-Focused Resume

Your resume is a snapshot of who you are, what you've done - and most importantly - what you can do for potential employers. Its job is simple: to get you to the next step in the process—a job interview. While you are the subject of this critical marketing document, make no mistake—it is all about the employer.

So maximize your 15 seconds of fame by showing employers what you've got. And don't make them search through a two page document for applicable skills and experience because they won't. In most cases a single page is preferable. Use a resume format that will put your highlights in the top one-third of the page.

Step Five: Prepare for Your Interview Like It's Game Seven of the World Series

Prior to any game—let alone one upon which his entire season hinges—a pitcher studies the team he is up against. He knows each hitter's preferences and is keenly aware of his flaws. The pitcher will use this information to his advantage during the ballgame. What about you? How do you prepare for "the big game?"

Dressing appropriately is important. Mental preparation is even more so. Research the organization and formulate a few questions to ask about the company and the nature of the work you'd be doing. But, it is just as important to do some internal research.

  • What is it that you have to offer?
  • How have you proven your ability to succeed in the past?
  • What have you learned from past missteps?

Be prepared to clearly communicate your value to the interviewer. Provide convincing examples of your abilities and experience. This requires careful preparation. Practice with a family member; friend; career or job search coach. You'll only have one opportunity to make a lasting first impression.

Putting it All Together

Creating and implementing a successful job search plan requires discipline, hard work, and commitment. But, if you want to compete in the current job market, it is an absolute necessity. Create a plan of action that will get you noticed by potential employers:

  • Make an honest self-assessment.
  • Assess your ideal work situation.
  • Create a customized self-marketing plan.
  • Create an employer-focused resume.
  • Prepare thoroughly for your interview.

The current job market is challenging. Find your ideal work in less time by creating a five-step plan for job search success.


Roxanne Ravenel is a Job Search Coach & Consultant and the host of The Savvy Jobseeker. She teaches job seekers to become improve their resumes, strengthen their interviewing skills, and implement a customized self-marketing plan.




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  • Ginger Matthews
    Ginger Matthews
    Very helpful tips.
    very helpful, thank you!
  •  Lisa G
    Lisa G
    Intend to incorporate these tips while on my pursuit for a new job.
  • Alice Darr
    Alice Darr
    Like the information. It offers direction for a plan of action. Thanks.
  • Lawsey Thomas
    Lawsey Thomas
    Very Good! do you have a sample of an employer driven resume.
    Excellent article. Very helpful and very practical strategies for a good job search. Truly beneficial to improve oneself
  • Bequetta Washington
    Bequetta Washington
    This article was right on target and very helpful.
  • Alexander Ackah
    Alexander Ackah
    I think this information is very good should you adapt the same strategy. Good things will happen in your job search
    This assessment confirmed my belief that I was looking in the right area for employment.  
  • Rohit Patel
    Rohit Patel
    Very good hints for job- seekers! Wonderful job!
  • Jose  Terrazas
    Jose  Terrazas
  • Dorin Mistode
    Dorin Mistode
    Thank you for advice!I came to the States for four months from Romania.I am an economist and I have 64 years.Unfortunately, I do not speak English well. I am the beginning.What can I do in the first phase?
  •  Lori Erlandson
    Lori Erlandson
    Very helpful and encouraging
  •  Oomman Koshy
    Oomman Koshy
    valuable advice.
  • Tina Jackson
    Tina Jackson
    Great article.  Good advice.  
    Very helpful the point!!
  • jeffrey waldron
    jeffrey waldron
    well i see it this way ,most job seach sites are very difficult to navagate ,,they tend to keep redirecting you to other sites and the endless signing in and number of pass words to remember is mind boggling, now employers seem to be liers on lot of what they want or scam alot, went on an interview today ,,,the intereviewers says they need someone immediaely,but yet the post on craigslist has been up for 22 days now,, like really ,,to me thats not immediaely,,i had a full time job for about 30 days till i come in one morning and he says to me ,,i did promise a friend that as soon as his son came out of prison he would hire him as a favor ,,i became the victim of that situation, he let me go,even though he said my work is great ,,,nothing but good reports from clients,,,, this market is crazy,,, you have people trying every thing and any market to find a job even though they don t know that market ,its out of what they normally do,then theres the government all all the restrictions and rules that they have imposed on the people and employers ,,,time for those to be relaxed,,,licsense s and certifactions on every thing is totally not need in this job world,,it seems the more things a person can obtained,the more is neededin those areas, you can t keep up with all the wants rules and restrictions,im sorry ,,it needs to go back to the old days, you apply you get hired ,, not all the games and hoops everyone has to jump though and still not get a job .
  • Dana Davidson
    Dana Davidson
    Very good article. Can you make suggestions on how to maintain skills like Excel, Word, PowerPoint. I need a way to use these skills in order to maintain them. Thanks
  • Arthur Lee
    Arthur Lee
    I've tried all these steps before and I still get beat out on jobs!!
  • Irene Ortiz
    Irene Ortiz
    Excellent information because I need this for my job interviews and then maybe I can be hired thank you
  • Debra Bohler
    Debra Bohler
    Thank you for the pep talk. I've heard all this in the past 3 years but I haven't found anything full time. DB
  • Allison Friedman
    Allison Friedman
    Although discouraging, I try to remain positive after my year and a half of career searching. The job market is not changing for me or anyone else despite the headlines. A competitive, cut-throat, judgmental place where job seekers will either sink or swim is what we see everyday. This advice however, makes the search seem a little less grim. I thought I had heard every piece of advice possible at this point but this shows me a new perspective that I feel would be helpful to most. It doesn't give you false hope but instead a way to curve your thinking to help you adjust to surroundings instead of trying to change them.
  • Ellis Baumer
    Ellis Baumer
    This article had very good information and I was looking for more by  following the link to, however, that site seems to be in Japanese and not English.  Please let me know how to get to a site that has the information in English.
    Good Afternoon Ms. Ravenel,I thought your article was very good.  I do feel that when you have been in the workforce for as long as I have and now unemployed, that it is very hard to be as flexible as the current job market demands. I have many skills, however, my skills may not meet the current requirements most companies are looking for today. I know the economy is improving, but, the type of jobs out there are part-time and in recent cases are temporary. I need full-time employement with some benefits, and that is very hard to find. Please do not think I am being negative. I have been looking , applying, and interviewing for the past 11 months. It's hard to try and figure out what exactly is the employer looking for during the interview. Even after researching the company and knowing what you could bring to the job, I feel the person conducting the interview is not sure of what decisions he or she are allowed to make in the hiring process. Some of the jobs I have applied to and was interviewed for have never been filled.  One company took 6 months to get back to me.It is a gamble any way you look at it.Thanks for listening.Rosemarie
  • Lucila irizarry
    Lucila irizarry
    A very good advice. It helps to focus, to know what to do and how much it takes to accomplish the goal.

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