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It’s understandable that most people searching for new employment, whether that be an entire career shift or considering independent ventures, are not entirely sure how to approach this endeavor. It is emotional and complex with little clarity as to how to be successful, and often it takes a lot of time and energy. This is combined with external pressures for success, the weight of expenses, and our inherent desires to explore something new. The idea of a golden ticket to success doesn’t exist and advice seems to differ from professional to professional. That said, there are some common pieces of advice that are important to consider as you begin your search.


Spend your energy efficiently:   First is focus. Distractions and perfectionism can steal the energy and momentum from you, taking away from your efficiency and effectiveness. Clear the mental lens so the picture is focused.


Prepare yourself mentally:  Exploring opportunities can feel like an emotional and cognitive Rubix cube.  My own internal dialog has been my cheerleader and opponent many times in the past.  What has helped me?  I’ve found writing, routine physical training, discussing obstacles and solutions with peers, and speaking with professionals has helped me put things in perspective.


Evaluate your budget: Reduce the pressure. Remove extra expenses, cut back, cancel running subscriptions, this looks different for each of us based on our individual situations. Keep it simple seems to be the advice I adhere to the most.


Define your strike zone: Similar to a baseball player selecting which pitches they will swing for; knowing what you want to apply for will allow more efficient use of your time and energy. Jeff Bount’s, Fanatical Prospecting provides the best advice around this.


Consider the questions below to clarify what you want to put your energy into.


  • Skills- What did you like about your past jobs? What came naturally to you? Where did you excel? What stood out to you?
  • Lifestyle - What hobbies or interests do you have that would be a “dream job”?
  • Industries Sector - Are there any industries that interest you or you find important to you?
  • Location - Travel, commute to work, remote work
  • Titles/Responsibilities
  • Salary expectations
  • Timeline


Create a prospect list: Create a list of companies or jobs that fit the parameters above.   Use your discretion, but reconsider your parameters if you have far too many or too little matches. I’ve been guilty of having too many prospects in the past and as a result lose focus on my goals.


Build a simple spreadsheet with company names, locations, or job titles. Resources that you can use are City and Industry Directories, Industry websites, Linkedin, job boards, newspapers, and past coworkers.


Create your resume & Linkedin profile: This is the holy grail of confusion and time for many job searchers.  The online options and articles for  “perfect resume” can be overwhelming.  My suggestion is to pick a simple one you’re comfortable with and stick with it as your baseline.


Provide objective details and help the reader know exactly what you did; don’t leave it to interpretation. Use achievement statements.  Here are some tips:


  • Check spelling, grammar and punctuation and use full sentence structure
  • Use one font and bold only subheadings/dates, and titles
  • Right justified, standard margins, avoid tables/underlining/italics/pictures
  • Keep it concise and use inverse chronological order - include dates, titles
  • Write in 2nd person with 5 to 10 points maximum for responsibilities


On LinkedIn ensure your status is open to opportunities.  This is key as Recruiters review candidates daily. 


Automate your opportunities: Set up alerts for job openings at all of your prospects, job boards, LinkedIn, industry sites.  But be careful  with this - automated job applications could leave you receiving a call for a role that you had no idea you applied for; leaving you looking unprepared and disinterested.


Recruiters: Recruiters tend to specialize by location, industry, and job categories. Partnering deliberately with agencies aligned within your strike zone should yield the best results.  There are no costs for candidates.


Recruiters will often ask interview questions you should expect on first interviews so this is an opportunity to sharpen your answers, as well as find available opportunities often not posted publicly. Depending on the position you’re seeking, immediate matches to your specific search is a high expectation, but providing the details of your  “strike zone” ensures you will be top of mind when an opportunity is available.


Routine Action: Optimize your applications. That’s the most important action you can take, without a resume in front of a hiring manager it’s very difficult to expect results.


Deliberately schedule yourself for “application time”. 9 am to 12 pm is an ideal timeframe where you’ll stay focused, creative, and stay on the task.


Set up tomorrow today and track your applications.


Expect silence -No feedback is common, hard to understand, and react to, but it is expected.


Create space - Burnout happens. Find something outside of your search that absorbs you, hobbies, family, renovations etc. Give yourself and a chance to appreciate your value outside of your career.

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Modesty Sabourin
May 19, 2021
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Lance Chartrand
June 19, 2020
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