How to Conduct a Strategic Job Search


“I have applied to more than 100 jobs last month and haven’t heard from anyone yet”. These are the exact words that one of my clients used during our first call. He then added “you will find me a job, correct?” I had to be honest and straightforward, so I answered, “No and No”. 

I knew that out of desperation, my client like many others, was applying left and right, to any job that he came across online, specifically on LinkedIn. When I asked if he thought he was a strong candidate for any of the roles he had applied for, he said, “I don’t know! At this point I need any job”.

Sadly, my client was hitting “APPLY” whenever he saw a Sales Manager vacancy, no matter in what industry or what country. He was unable to focus on his preferences anymore, and certainly, he did NOT have any strategy or plan. During our first session, I was able to convince him that:

  1. Applying to 100 jobs or more every month won’t secure him a job. It’s not about quantity.
  2. He is going to find his next job and not me.
  3. He will not settle for any job just because he’s desperate! He will settle for a role that suits his skills and ambitions.

What my client was going through is a serious problem that many job seekers are facing today in a time when competition is fierce and the job market is changing radically.  Hitting “Apply” every time we see a job opportunity in our field will not guarantee anyone a job. What will increase my chances or your chances of finding the right job is adopting a strategic job search approach, designing a strategy and implementing it.

What is a Job Search Strategy?

A Job Search Strategy is a document that you can design yourself or with the help of a Strategic Job Search Coach. All you need is strategic thinking and a laptop (or for some, a pen and paper?! Ready to give it a try?

Identify your strengths and determine your preferences

When I coach clients on how to perform a strategic job search, the first phase of the process is to collect information about the client. In fact, I interview them for an hour or two to hear their story. I ask about their experience, areas of strengths, key skills and experiences, their preferences, what they like and dislike in terms of job and company culture, etc. Once I have all this information, I feel ready to support them in designing their own job search strategy.

So, the first step when you design your own job search strategy is to understand your strengths and determine your preferences. This is how you do it:

  1. Take some time to define your job preferences. Based on your past experience, you are able to identify tasks that you enjoy and would like to keep doing and others that you have no interest in doing anymore.
  2. Your plan will be to focus on what you like to do and avoid what you are not interested in. For example, “I don’t want a job that require travel”, or “I want my next job to allow me to be creative”, etc.
  3. Set two to three professional goals and determine what jobs or tasks are in line with that.  If you are sure that you would like to be a people manager in your next job, note that down, and don’t apply for positions that do not offer you this opportunity.
  4. Identify your strengths and ask yourself the question “what makes you a strong candidate for the types of positions you are applying for?”. Take time to think of your key skills, unique experiences, your set of values, etc. Note that down!
  5. Identify and list your preferred industry(ies), country(ies) of employment, company type(s), etc. Would you prefer working for a manufacturer or a distributor, a public, private company or maybe an NGO? Do you prefer multinational, regional or local companies? Do you enjoy working in big offices or smaller offices? Do you want to travel abroad or stay in your home-country? Your job search needs to be focused on your priorities first, and then as you go, you broaden it to include more options.
  6. Identify and list your preferred employer(s). We all have dream employers! I am not asking you to be a dreamer and seek the impossible-although you can dream- rather I am pushing you to believe in yourself and your potential. Dare to approach your dream and preferred employers. You might have up to five per country. Note them down in a different color that you like!

Have a resume that reflects your strengths and the job requirements

  1. Once you have identified your preferences, and the reasons why you think you are a strong candidate, review and rewrite your resume and online profiles to reflect that. Your resume should mirror who you really are. I always encourage candidates to have a strong Professional Summary because it is the first thing the recruiter will read, so make it impactful.
  2. Also make sure you tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. It is NOT one size fits all. 

When you take the time to modify your resume to highlight the responsibilities and achievements that are in line with the requirement of the job you are applying for, you have higher chances of being considered for the role. Let your resume stand out!


Strategic Networking

  1. Identify key contacts in your network. Go through your contact list, friend’s list, LinkedIn connections, etc., and list those who might be able to refer you now or in the future. Remember that you are designing a strategic plan. Some people in your network might not help you today, but they might be able to help in the future. These are the people you will reach out in order to let them know you are open to work.
  2. Identify key contacts that are not in your network. Probably you are not sure what I am talking about here? Go back to your list of preferred employers, industries, etc... Search for the named of recruiters, human resources professionals, previous clients or suppliers, and hiring managers who might be interested in your profile or might know people who are. Connect with them through email, LinkedIn, or even try to get introduced to them through a common friend or connection. Work on broadening your network of key contacts.


Prepare for Your Interview

Once you have been noticed and invited to a first interview, you might not have much time to prepare enough for it. While searching for a job, and way before you are contacted for an interview, it is always good to dedicate some time for interview training.

Practice, practice and practice! Get familiar with all interview techniques and questions, until you are comfortable answering any question you might be asked. You will have more confidence on the actual interview date if you are well-prepared. You can simply:

  1. Look for interview tips online and watch videos about that on YouTube.
  2. Make the effort to remember examples, incidents and facts that are related to your past achievements, skills and competencies.
  3. Master post-interview etiquette and communication.


If you wish to contact me to know more about how I can help you design a Strategic Job Search Plan and prepare you for your next interview, reach out to me here, and I will be happy to hear from you.

I hope you finds these tips useful and wish you all the best in your job search!

Good luck!


Author: Jihane Najjar, Leadership and Job Search Coach