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6 Job Search Strategies for your Next Career Move

Need a job search strategy for 2024? Thinking about a change or need to make one quick?

Let’s cover the top 6 ways to start a job search for your career move:

1. Get moved internally

2. Land one through a posting

3. Get called

4. Market yourself to target companies

5. Get referred / sourced / recommended

6. Create your own If you expect to be successful in your career, you need to both know where to spend your time and efforts and master the appropriate skills.

We’ll break these job search strategies down:

1 | Getting Moved Internally

Getting Moved Internally…you can help make several cool things happen within your existing employer.

The obvious one is to get promoted. While this has become harder and harder, if you know the ladder you are climbing is the right one for you, working towards this can be a good thing. One should never hang the whole success of their career on the potential of promotion internally, but it is the classic way of moving ahead.

The other way to go is lateral…into a new job, assignment, or project. This strategy can open up new opportunities, put you in front of new people, challenge and stretch you. In today’s project economy, this is a solid way to keep variety and growth in your portfolio of work without waiting for the elusive promotion.

The third, and less obvious internal strategy is to redefine your existing job. It isn’t always possible, but with reorganizations and the changing demands of the market, often, without changing your job title, you can finesse a change in responsibilities, focus or accountabilities. Perhaps you can offload things that you hate to do or that you aren’t good at. Often, job dissatisfaction comes from a person to job mismatch. If you have the opportunity to fit the job to you, seriously think about it as a way of getting

Many people automatically look outside their current employer for a solution to their career problems. Often, the most obvious solution is internal. This is doubly valid when there is soft hiring market.

Think carefully about your options.

2 | The Job Posting Route

Landing a job through a posting…ask most people what’s the first thing they do when they start a job search, and they will tell you that they searched job postings, online or in the newspapers.

Trolling through job postings is an essential part of a well-rounded job search. However, it is also at the bottom of the list of effectiveness. Most people do not get their jobs through postings.

Benefits to postings, other than finding a job:

1.Gives you an idea of who is currently hiring for what
companies that you have never heard of
3.Highlights what
skills, knowledge and experiences are currently in demand in your field
4.Gives you
ideas about job avenues other than your current path.

What doesn’t work:

I’m sorry folks, but what are you thinking, when you apply to thousands of postings, most totally unrelated to what is you can offer?

Stating the obvious:

The closer you match the requirements of the posting, the better chance you have. Period.


1. Identify all the places, online and offline, that could post a job for which you would make a good candidate. (Do not forget the career sections of the companies you would like to work for).

2. Create a pipeline so that as much as possible, you are notified when something gets posted that is relevant to you. Most of the job boards, like, offer some sort of agent that will email you the jobs you are interested in.

3. For offline, figure out what days the job listings get published, and schedule a small amount of time to peruse.

4. Monitor your pipeline on a regular basis, and spend the rest of your time on other search strategies.

Cover this channel diligently, but DO NOT assume that your next job is going to come from a posting.

3 | Getting Called by a Recruiter or Potential Employer

Receiving the call

If I could rank the pleasantness of the 6 job search strategies, this would rank right up there. Getting called means being sought out by a potential employer directly or via a recruiter. A very nice feeling and it gives you more control in the process. Here are three basic situations:

You’re Famous

Okay, famous may be a strong word, but let’s say that you have significant profile in your industry, market, or profession. You are a sought after property. Self-explanatory. And, something to shoot for.


A couple notches below famous is visible. You are visible when the people who might matter to you and your career, inside and outside your company, hear about you or can find / identify you easily should they need to.

Being visible also includes receiving recommendations from people who might know you or have heard of you. The person doing the recruiting does “sourcing” and receives names of people who might be qualified to do a job.


The least personal way of receiving the call is via a point of data relevant to the hiring manager / recruiter. You may receive a call because you hold a certain job that is relevant to them. (You are the sales manager for a specific territory and they are hiring a sales manager in the same territory). Your name might be in a directory, for example, or someone knows your name, but nothing about you other than that you hold a job similar to the one being recruited.

Now, the thing about this category is that in the short-term, you can’t create fame or industry visibility for yourself. Over time, of course you can (as long as you are great at what you do and are adept at marketing yourself). But, if you haven’t put the building blocks in place over the last years, this isn’t something you can just rely on.

This job search strategy is an attraction strategy. Over time, you are creating pathways for people to find you.

The lesson: This kind of talent/job matching happens ALL OF THE TIME. You can play this game if you invest and play for the long term. In relationships. In your profile. In learning to play the game. Ultimately, this category of job search strategy should be your principle means of finding new opportunities down the road.

4 | Market Yourself to Target Companies

Sell Yourself / Talk Your Way In. The classic “get your foot in the door.”

In some ways, this is the hardest of the 6 to do. However, talk about targeting your job search!

I am not recommending that you go from door-to-door in an office complex, park yourself in the lobby, and demand that someone talk to you (sounds like an idea for a reality show).

I AM recommending that once you have pinpointed your value proposition - that is…

  • who you are

  • what your sellable skills and talents are,

  • what you know,

  • who you know,

  • where this package of talent is suited to, etc.

And then you have identified the specific organizations you think would be the most exciting and best fits with your offering and after you have researched your target a bit, then….yes, go for it.

Figure out who to talk to. Ideally, get referred in. If not, call or email. Let them know who you are, why they should care, and request a meeting. If you are lucky, you will get an appointment, or a phone conversation.

Be polite. Be convincing. Be enthusiastic.

Be the kind of person an employer would love to have on their team. Ask questions and listen. Don’t expect to close the sale in one go. Thank them for their time. Send a hand-written thank-you note within 24-48 hours.

The advantage of this strategy is that it often uncovers hidden opportunities. For example, a project that needs a manager, but the company hasn’t gotten around to staffing it. The other advantage is that IF you are qualified, you are saving the company time and money. If they don’t have their own candidates, they will have to start a search or post the job. That takes time. That takes money.

As with all my career advice, the secret is to put the square peg in the square hole. If you really are qualified, and you happen to be passionate about that area, and there is a need, then this strategy is win / win.

5 | Networking

Getting referred. Recommended. Sourcing your way into companies via relationships.

This is almost so obvious, that I hesitate to write about it. But, it is that important. Of all the channels to obtain jobs, the most effective is via networks. That's the way it works.

I once read in one of those men's fitness magazines that you can't call a workout complete without having worked on your abs. No abs, not a real workout.

Well, in my opinion, networking, relationship building and targeted efforts to reach and establish a connection with key people are the "abs" of the job search process. If it is not already a part of who you are and how you operate, you are likely resisting this avenue.


Do you know that you could literally build your whole career on this skill? (Not to mention how important it is for doing business.)

There are two basic ways.

1. Incoming referrals. When you have planted the seeds, and tended the garden, you will be able to eat. Over and over again. 

2. Outgoing...building and working your network. This is the real guts of it. Marketing yourself to people you know, people they know, and the people you want to know.

Of course, being effective at this strategy isn't about what, but about the how. Sending an email blast to your friends and family when you are in need of work is all well and good, but very rarely will it produce the desired result.

a.) One approach is to network your way into target companies.

b.) Truly working the network means understanding what you offer, what you want, and where you fit, and then having focused conversations / communications / touchpoints with the people you know. They go something like this:

  • This is what I have been doing and this is what I have achieved

  • This is what I want to do next, this is where I am going

  • This is what I can offer

  • I would value your feedback (listen)

  • The kinds of organizations I am targeting are ________ or the kinds of opportunities I am best suited for are_______

  • Do you know anyone at Company X, or Industry X, or do you know anyone working in the field?

  • Who is doing interesting work in this area? Which companies, which people?

  • Etc.

You get the picture. Notice how this approach is far removed from "I am on the job market. If you know anyone who is hiring, can you please pass on my resume."

c.) Purposefully targeting individuals in your target field or industry is a highly effective activity. You can do this via referral, or you can go direct. When direct, it really helps to have mutual touch points that you can refer to.

  • I notice you worked at Company X. The company I was with did business with you.

  • We share a lot of the same contacts.

  • I am a fellow member of the ________ Association.

  • I have been following your articles / or have been a reader of your blog, or.. (i.e. you have taken the time to do homework on this person)

  • ...You get the idea.

The trick with this technique, and I am telling you it can be hugely effective, is to be clear that you have value to offer. That organizations generally are always interested in quality talent. And, if you are focused, and "invested" in your target market, you can do well.

You can take the approach that you are looking for your next opportunity. Or you can approach based on a desire to know the person. Or, you can approach based on seeking out industry information - not the basic kind, but around what you want to do and where the movement is. Or, perhaps you are in a position to make a connection for them that would be valuable. Or...

Again, you get the idea.


If you haven't realized it yet, this approach, when done successfully, is a side-door to the recruiting process. Why?

1. Companies can be inundated with unqualified resumes. A qualified referral can go to the head of the line.

2. The quality of the referral conveys status to you.

3. Often, the referral provides you with the opportunity to meet the decision maker, an opportunity not provided to the majority of job applicants.

4. Often, you end up being a candidate for an opportunity that hasn't been released yet. In other words, the short-list for the job is very short indeed.

5. Jobs often get shaped at an early stage, and might be shaped to take the most advantage of your offering. Pretty cool. All in all, it sounds like a worthwhile use of your time.

6 | Create your own

If you expect to be successful in your career, you need to both know where to spend your time and efforts and master the appropriate skills.


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