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How to Effectively Job Search

Updated on February 26, 2011

Searching for a Job can be frustrating, disappointing and time consuming. Many people feel overwhelmed from the amount of employment search engines, online applications and resumes they encounter when job searching. Here are steps to make your job hunt less stressful and more effective.

Finding a Job is Your Job

If you’re unemployed you should approach job searching as your full-time job. This means spending at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week working towards finding employment. This doesn’t have to be spent just on employment search engines; it includes resume writing and editing, networking, job fairs and more. If you are employed and job hunting, dedicate an hour or two each weekday night and 5 to 8 hours on the weekend towards job searching. Do not job search while on the clock for your current job.

Get Prepared

Know what you’re looking for before you start filling out employment search engine profiles. If you aren’t sure what type of job you want, spend a little time perusing job ads and see what interest you. The point is to realistically narrow down your employment options. Make a list of job positions that you would like to apply for.

Write your Resume(s) and Cover Letter(s)

Yes that’s plural! Every job you apply for should have a resume and cover letter that is edited to match the job ad. A great time-saver is to create your templates before you start applying. Look at your job positions list and create a template for each type of job. For example, if you are looking for positions in either retail or administrative fields, create a template for each. Label clearly in your word document which type it is so you don’t waste time searching later. Do the same for your cover letter.

Join Online Job Search Engines

This process can be very time-consuming and tedious so it’s best not to try to join them all in one day. Instead plan on only one or two a day, each day of your first week. Depending on the search engine creating a profile can take a few minutes to over an hour. Some popular sites include Monster (which now includes Yahoo Hotjobs), Indeed, Simply Hired, Careerbuilder and Snagajob. Be sure to keep a list of your user name and password for each site as it is unlikely you will have the same for all.

Track your job submissions

You may be applying for several jobs in one day and you don’t want to get a call and not know which company and position it is for. Create a spreadsheet or word document with an entry for every single job submission. Include the Company, position title, date submitted, and website you found it on. You also want to copy and paste the job description on a word document so you can reference it later for an interview. Use a brief job description on the tracking sheet. Leave space so if you are contacted you can record the date, time and who you spoke with. Many companies will post a job listing on more than one job search engine so reference your list before applying for a position to ensure you haven’t already applied.

Job Seach Track Sheet

Company Name/Position 
Date/Time Submitted 
Contact Name/Date/Time
ABC Company/Administrative Asst. 
Feb 24/9:00am 
Perform admin duties including filing, typing and greeting customers
John Smith/March 3/3:00pm
123 Company/Retail Manager 
Greet customers, merchandize products, prevent theft
Jane Smoot/Feb 27/4:00pm
Provide a short description of each job on your spreadsheet but keep a full copy on a word doc. This saves space on your spreadsheet

Resume and Cover Letter

As stated earlier every job should have a resume and cover letter tailored to it. This may only be small changes on the resume such as the “Objective” section and “Skills”. Take a look at the work experience on the job ad and what you have listed on your past employment. A resume should be short and sweet, usually one full page. You may have past employment that involved many responsibilities and duties. It is not necessary to record every one but make sure those you do list match the job description. For example if you are applying for an Administrative Assistant don’t leave off your resume that you created a filing system at your last position. When tailoring your cover letter be sure to address it to the company and contact person in the job ad. Use the job position title and number in your opening paragraph if provided. Relate your skills and experience directly to what it is the job description.

Each time you change your resume and cover letter save them under a new title with the Company Name. If you get an interview you will want to reference what you wrote and bring an extra copy in case the interviewer needs it. Be sure to review your resume and cover letter for grammatical and spelling errors before sending it.

Some companies require you to apply with an online application form. Use your resume and cover letter to copy and paste into the form to save time. Be sure to record these on your Job Submission Track Sheet as well.


Start Searching…Keep Searching

Develop a schedule to ensure you visit all search engines every couple of days. Don’t try to do all everyday, it will become overwhelming, and you’re likely to skim the listings instead of reading them. Once you have a schedule, stick to it!

Network and Job Fairs

Talk to friends, family and past coworkers about job openings they may know of. Don’t just rely on the internet. It’s important to get out and be seen at job fairs. Most places with job fairs will provide a list of expected Employers attending before the event. Review the list, research the companies and decide who you are interested in. It is not expected to have resumes and cover letters tailored towards each job or company at a job fair. Create a general resume that covers a wide range of your skills. Your general cover letter should detail experience and education. Be sure to dress professionally and have all papers organized. Don’t chew gum or smoke before entering the job fair. Treat it as a mini job interview. After each company you stop at, record the name of the person you spoke with and any application instructions they provided you. An example would be in a representative of the company asked you to call them next week to set up a phone interview.

What’s your voicemail message say about you?

It may have been a while since you recorded that silly voicemail message and you might not even remember what you said. Or maybe your one of those people who never bothered to set it up. Either way, call your phone and listen to your voicemail. Make sure it is professional, that you state your name, and that you will return the call soon.

Get Rid of that Ring back

A ring back is a song a person hears when he calls your phone, instead of hearing a ring. By many professionals it is considered annoying and unprofessional. Get rid of it while job hunting and stick to the basic ring.

Take a Serious Look at your Social Media Presence

This step is often skipped but is vital to obtaining an interview. Employers will Google you, so make sure you know what they will see. Look at your blogs, facebook, twitter and other social media profiles. How do you represent yourself? Do you look professional and driven? Remove any comments that are unprofessional, such as complaining about a boss, remarks about slacking off or evidence that you play games or blog during work time. You might want to remove pictures of drinking or those that could appear risqué. Even if your privacy settings are all set to high there may be a way for your full profile to be viewed. You can always add your pictures back on after receiving a job, don’t let your internet presence be a reason to not hire you.


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    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 5 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      During my search, I have found it truly is a full time job just to look, research the company and respond. I have also found that today, you have to look at individual company websites for jobs too. Many do not list on big job search sites. I think it helps focusing the search too by looking at the industry specific jobs you need.

    • profile image

      Plumbing 6 years ago

      I find this article very informative and great for many job hunters in the internet. I must thank you for this kind of article.

    • profile image

      interview coaching 6 years ago

      Finding a job isn't child's play, you gotta keep the spirits up even if the odds are against you. For me it experience is a great teacher to cope up with this.

    • Sarah Griffith profile image

      Sarah Griffith 7 years ago

      Thanks so much cwarden! You're right, there's lots of competition. Someone wouldn't want to lose a shot at a job before he even got an interview.

    • cwarden profile image

      cwarden 7 years ago from USA

      This is an excellent hub! You have very important tips here that everyone searching for a job should follow. So many people forget about their online presence and their voice mail. With all of the competition out there, appearing unprofessional can cost you a job nowadays. Voted up!!!