5 Things You Need For A Productive Job Search

Friday, August 25th, 2017 - Resume

If you think you can land a job by applying for a bunch of jobs online – think again.

The things you need for a productive job search may not be what you think. I’m not going to talk about your resume or a good pitch! (If you want a list of those things, go here

This post is about the right mental outlook and strategy!

In all honesty, your role as a job seeker requires you have dedication and fortitude! You need grit! But that’s a different topic and you can find an example here of what you need to do to find a job.

There’s a saying that finding a job is a full-time job. Do you know what your daily/weekly job seeking responsibilities are?  Here you go! Job Search Activities

It’s been my experience that job seekers who omit or shortchange one of the four parts end up frustrated, discouraged or involved in a long job search.


Successful job seekers have focus in four areas. When you can answer as many of these questions as possible, you should see an increase in the quality of your job search materials and outcomes:

  • What is the job title/occupation you are searching for?
  • What skills/experience do you have that directly match roles you are interested in and what are you lacking?
  • Who are the companies hiring for positions you are seeking?
  • Who do you need to talk to in order to gain inside information?

If you have difficulty answering some of these questions, it’s time to arrange informational meetings with people who can advise and offer information and help you fill the void of information you need.

It isn’t enough to know the answers. You will want to communicate your goals clearly and in terms people can understand.

Have you ever heard someone say: “I am a project manager (or insert any job title here) and I am looking for a job just like the one I used to have.”

Do you know enough information to help them? Unless your company has a project manager job, there is little help you can offer.

What if the job seeker said, “I organize the work required to launch new software used by accountants. I am interested in learning more about what XYZ and ABC companies are doing and what software they plan on developing next. Do you know anyone who works at those companies?”

This question is more specific, and while the person you are talking to may not have an answer, they do know what to be on the lookout for.


You will also need to establish clear goals on how you manage your search. Daily or weekly goals might include things like:

  • Arrange a meeting with [insert name of person] at ABC company to learn about the requirements of a [specific job].
  • Establish the “right” online reputation by monitoring and creating positive and brand-consistent content.
  • Meet five new contacts who stay up to date with the industry and/or occupation.
  • Investigate additional educational opportunities to enhance skills.
  • Become active in local professional associations.

You may want to check out my list of 20 things every job seeker needs.


Many job seekers miss the routine of going to work. If this is the first time you’ve been solely in charge of managing a major project, you may not be familiar with how to manage all the moving parts. Job seekers who have created a job-search routine tend to be more productive. These are areas to pay attention to:

  • Prioritize activities
  • Create to-do lists
  • Manage time
  • Schedule follow-up

Creating a to-list generally isn’t always enough structure. Try blocking time in increments and assigning tasks like I show you here.


Focus and structure are nothing without discipline.

Following through on promises made (to yourself or others) can be challenging when you are juggling multiple balls. It is easy to let the items on your to-do list slip when you are preparing for an interview or creating a résumé and cover letter for a job you are very interested in.

And to be honest, the demands in your personal life also have a way of sidetracking your structured job-search activities. Here are some pointers to avoid becoming overwhelmed or stressed.

  • Don’t give up too soon. It takes about 30 days to start a new habit or break an old one.
  • Keep applying for jobs and following up until you receive a job offer.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve and how long it will take.
  • Use positive self-talk. Don’t beat yourself up. Celebrate the things you do well, and don’t obsess over what you are not good at doing.


Attempting to run your job search alone is like training for a marathon without a coach or fellow runners.

You will need to hold yourself accountable for sticking with the plan. It’s really hard to do this all alone. Plus you want people you can turn to for advice on how to approach scenarios you haven’t encountered before and get feedback. You are too close to the forest to see the trees and will want an objective eye to help you make decisions. You will also need motivation. Here are some suggestions:

  • Enlist the help of a past manager or mentor to offer objective feedback.
  • Join a job seeker’s networking group to learn what other job seekers have done.
  • Communicate with family and friends and ask for their support.
  • Hire a coach if you can.

The longer your job search lasts, the more difficult it becomes to land a job. Make the necessary fixes before it is too late.

By the way, finding focus, creating structure, implementing discipline and holding yourself accountable will not only help you in your job search; developing these skills will also assist you in your new job.


This post originally appeared on US News & World Report On Careers



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