LearnHow to Craft Your Job Search Strategy

Julie Menge
writes on November 16, 2016

You may have heard the familiar saying that looking for a new job can be a full-time job in itself. It is true that a job search can (and should!) take up a decent chunk of time. But, it doesn’t mean that if you’re currently employed you need to quit your job before looking for a new one.

Just like a project for work, school, or your personal life, it will help you immensely to get organized and put together a plan before you start your job search. Here are my favorite tips:

What kind of job are you looking for?

It’s important to know that different companies will use different terminology – for example, a Web Designer and a Graphic Designer could be the same or very different things depending on the company. Be prepared to read the job description; don’t discount whether you are qualified for a job based on the posted title alone.

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Make a list of your target companies

Jot down the top 5 or 6 companies where you are most interested in working, and make it a point to check their careers page every day. Your search doesn’t have to be limited to only these companies, but it will definitely help to keep you on track when you are feeling stuck.

If you don’t already have an idea of where you’d like to work, keep up with industry news to see which company names are popping up. Your dream organization might have just opened a new office in your hometown, or you’ll find out that another organization is doing a major expansion.

Still stuck? Look around – what products or services do you love? Check out their career sites! Fun fact: many Treehouse employees were students before they came to work for us.


I know, I know. The thought of networking makes a lot of us want to throw up a little. But, networking doesn’t have to mean you put on a suit and shake hands with strangers at awkward business-themed happy hours.

It can be as easy as telling a few friends you’re in the job market. They may just know about a great place that’s hiring. Plenty of jobs never even get posted publicly, and they are filled through word-of-mouth only.

Join a local meet-up group. Sign up for an industry specific conference. Take your dog for a walk in a new park – you never know where you will make your next professional connection!

You don’t have to announce to the entire world that you’re job searching (especially if you don’t want your current employer to find out!). Networking is about forming long-term relationships. The person you have coffee with today may be able to help you out in a week, a month, or a year from now. Keep the conversations going.

Plenty of jobs never even get posted publicly, and they are filled through word-of-mouth only.

Use job boards

Indeed.com is one of the most well-known job boards, as almost every job on the internet eventually ends up on the site. This is a great place to start your search.

But you should also look into niche job boards. Want to work remotely? Try weworkremotely.com. Looking for a non-profit gig? Try Nonprofit Talent. How about a job board catering to women in tech? Check out Women Who Code.

Prepare a resume and cover letter

YES, you should have a cover letter. Not every application process will require one (for example, at Treehouse, we have applicants answer a list of questions about themselves instead of submitting a resume or cover letter). But you’ll want to be prepared.

Keep an eye out for a future post on how to craft an easy-to-understand, attention-grabbing resume. For now, have a friend look over your resume to see if it makes sense. Also, it is a great idea to tailor your resume slightly for each specific job when you’re applying.

Follow directions

Once you’ve identified a job and you are ready to apply – this is going to sound silly – but do everything the application asks.

For example, if they ask for a portfolio or a sample of work, don’t skip this section! Doing so would be a great way to get your application sent immediately to the bottom of the pile.

Track where you’ve applied

Create a list of where you’ve applied, when, and for which job. If you are hitting the job search scene hard, this is a great way to remember where you have already applied.

It can also motivate you to have a personal rule of applying for say, two jobs a week. You can also keep track of networking opportunities here, like “Had lunch with Sara from Widget Co. – follow up with her in a week.”

Carve out whatever amount of time makes sense for your life each day. Make it a routine.

Make time every day

You don’t have to spend 8 hours a day hitting refresh on your favorite job board. But, you should carve out whatever amount of time makes sense for your life each day. Make it a routine. It should be important as brushing your teeth!

[Tweet “”The average time to get a job is anywhere from 4-8 weeks, depending on your industry.””]

Once you’ve landed an initial interview, check out my post on preparing for phone interviews!

Last, but not least, keep at it. Try not to get discouraged. Know that the average time to get a job is anywhere from 4-8 weeks, depending on your industry (or even longer if you are looking for a higher level job). Putting in the proper time and effort will help you narrow down your search and land your dream job.

Let us know about any other job search strategies you’ve used in the comments below!

Pulling Back the Curtain: How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

2 Responses to “How to Craft Your Job Search Strategy”

  1. Business Networking isn’t that hard. And has a way higher chance of landing you a job. But you gotta do it right.

    First, to stress where you should focus your job search efforts, consider this. Figures are loose here but are close to actual figures 10 years ago. Can’t see it changing much.

    35% of jobs are advertised. Leaving 65% of jobs hidden. But 90% of the people looking for a job focus on the advertised jobs. Leaving 65% of the jobs being actively pusued by only 10% of the people.

    So how do you find those jobs? Networking.

    Here’s what you do. Make that list of companies you want to work with, either directly or you just admire what they do and want to see them succeed even though they will never be looking for your skill set. Study those companies. Learn their strengths and especially their weaknesses. Know who are the key players in their company, the key players in their market, who thier direct and indirect competition is and even better, what emerging technologies threaten their current business model.

    You’re saying, “Yeah, but, how do I figure out all that?” Ask them. Interview them! Take what you learn from one phone call and insert it into the next phone call with the next person. Ask for their opinion on the information you have gathered so far.

    In very little time you can gather a huge picture and suddenly you will find news articles coming up on your radar that would have passed right by you previously.

    It’s those news articles, that industry information, which becomes your weapon.

    Because now you have something to bring to the table. Call those people you are targetting again, or simply send them a tweet saying something like “Hey dude, could this be a threat to your supply chain? [link]”

    In an instant you become that person who is in the background looking after their interests. The key here is to serve them and their interests. Not yours. 100% about them.

    This works so well, that I, a complete unknown with NO experience in the industry or role I was targeting, had the local City Councillor call me because of a conversation he’d had with a CEO I had been talking to and recommend I talk to another CEO from another company who promply offered me a job because of that recommendation.

    It took one month. From the first “I have no idea what I’m doing” phone call, to the job offer. I never went anywhere. I did it from home, over the phone. One physical interview with the guy who hired me.

    Imagine what someone with experience could do.

  2. “The average time to get a job is anywhere from 4-8 weeks, depending on your industry”

    What do you mean by your industry?

    Thanks Treehouse 😀

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