Six crucial job search strategies
15 November 2017

Six crucial job search strategies


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Career development Recruitment and retention


With the jobs market hotting up, here are six techniques that’ll help you find – and secure – the right post for you

Searching for a new job is no longer the relatively straightforward process it once was, achieved by browsing the job section in a local paper and sending your CV to a human at an employer.

With applicant screening technology, social profile checks and a variety of networks used to advertise vacant positions it’s become imperative for you to have a strategy and give yourself as much of an advantage over the competition as possible.

Many brands are keener than ever to promote their own employer and talent brand through their online profiles. They’re proactively trying to attract talent, whether passive or actively seeking a new role.
Understanding their strategies and how you can exploit this engagement will help you to take control and be successful your job search.

1. Don’t believe the ‘80% of jobs aren’t advertised’ myth, however…..

There are still many ‘experts’ and articles claiming that 80% or more of vacancies are never posted publicly. If this is true then how are they all getting filled? Maybe the figure is skewed by high-level roles such as CEO’s and CFO’s as they often get headhunted or are referred.

For the main part though this figure is far lower. Why would a company not advertise it’s open positions? After all, it has a vested interest in filling them as soon as possible, right?!

The longer the role remains unfilled, the less money the company will make and the more stretched, stressed and ineffective existing staff will become.

If a salesperson is targeted at £750,000 per year that vacant position is potential lost revenue of £62,500 per month!

Even though 80% seems to be an inflated figure, it’s always a good idea to include proactive networking, both on and offline, as part of your job search strategy.
Engaging with brands that you have an interest in, both as an entity and those individuals within, is a vital element if you want to get noticed and start a dialogue.

Social networking sites, especially LinkedIn given its current trending status, industry forums and events and even the company’s blog are all great starting points for striking up a discussion and introducing yourself.

“I don’t buy the idea that 80% of jobs never get posted. You can’t convince me that for every thousand jobs that are posted, there are 4 thousand people cutting backroom deals.”

– Rich Grant (LinkedIn)

Most businesses will be looking for individuals that they believe will fit well into their culture, share their core values and want to achieve the same goals. If you can demonstrate that you’re that person then you’re already raising yourself above the noise of the other applicants.

It’s not just direct contact with those brands that you would like to work for that’s required to strengthen your position as a job seeker. Networking with those people that may be able to influence your profile is also important.
Approach LinkedIn connections and ask them to endorse and/or recommend you to reinforce your profile. Endorse or recommend them first or offer to reciprocate in order to build a strong and genuine reputation in your field.

“New hires sourced via referral programs produce 25% more profit for their companies than new hires sourced via other means.”

Firstbird blog

Employers know that employee referrals benefit them greatly. They save huge amounts on recruitment costs, individuals employed as a result of a referral are more likely to remain with the business long-term and have a far greater chance of fitting the company culture.

Engaging with connections, friends or family that work for businesses that you’re interested in can lead to a referral for a position. This is not only great for you but for the employer too, increasing your chances immediately.

According to Capterra, only 6.9% of job seekers check referral programs as part of their job search. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a huge oversight by the vast majority of people, and it is, but that’s great and works to your advantage!

2. It’s not only the negative stuff employers notice on your online profile

You’ve probably read countless articles reiterating how damaging it is to post inappropriate content on social media. There’s also just as many explaining the importance of making sure your security settings are correct and up to date.
The flip side of this is that you can positively influence a prospective employers opinion of you too.
By getting your messaging right and tailoring it specifically for roles you’re interested in you can not only avoid being discounted but gain an advantage over other applicants.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, recruiters look for the following when researching a candidate’s social profile online:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job (61%)
  • If the candidate has a professional online persona at all (50%)
  • What other people are posting about the candidates (37%)
  • For any reason at all not to hire a candidate (24%)
  • 69% are using online search engines to research candidates

Most employers are aware that 79% of talent use social media during their job search. As such they’ll be making efforts to be where job seekers are, taking note of what’s going on in the various communities.

Sharing content relevant to the industry of the brand you’re trying to engage with shows a common interest. If you create content (blog articles on your own website or LinkedIn for example), as well as curate it, then you can build your reputation as an expert, further improving your chances of getting noticed by employers and for the right reasons.

What your contacts are saying about you has a huge impact on an employers perception of your personal brand. As mentioned above, recommendations and endorsements are very effective in this area but so too is reaching out to industry experts, building a relevant following on social media and writing guest articles for industry publications.

The more you involve yourself and contribute to your field, the more you’ll get noticed by the right people, for the right reasons.

3. One size doesn’t fit all

Most of us have a CV stored somewhere and, other than updating a few details, is largely left unedited regardless of which role we’re applying for.

“Recruiters will spend a maximum of 20 seconds looking at your CV before deciding whether you’re right for the job or not”

Resume’s etc

Tailoring your CV for each vacancy is key to your success, after all, employers want to see how your skills and experience match the specific role they’ve advertised.
Modifying your CV illustrates to employers you’re a serious candidate, and that you really want to work for them. Most recruiters can spot a generic CV from a mile away.

Start by reading, in full, the job description of the role you’re applying for. Make sure you understand everything required and, if necessary, read the description a few times to make sure.

Use keywords and phrases relevant to the role and mentioned in the job description. This not only shows that you’ve taken the time to tailor your CV to their role but will also give you a better chance of not being eliminated from the process by any automated Applicant Tracking System filtering.

Any experience that you include on your CV should also be relevant to the role you’re applying for, with the most relevant first.

It sounds obvious but ensures that you’ve fully researched the business and understand their position in the market, their values and mission statement. If you’ve followed and engaged with them as part of your strategy then this will be a natural by-product of your efforts.

4. Use the time of year to your advantage

There are many factors that influence when people apply for jobs. According to research, there are, in fact, certain times of year when you’ll have a better chance of success:

  • Competition for jobs (the ratio of people applying for jobs to the number of advertisements) is actually at its annual lowest in January
  • The first half of the year has lower comparative competition rates for roles than the last half of the year
  • October 2016 competition levels were 28% above the January to June average

The beginning of the year (Jan and Feb) is a great time for a successful job search and probably the best time to look for jobs in most industries.

This may be because January usually starts slowly as people return from annual leave but things are running smoothly by the middle of the month.
It’s often the case that all those individuals involved in the recruiting decision-making process are in the office together too. This reduces the time to hire and you’ll get notified of your progress quicker.

Budgets are often renewed in January, encouraging a spike in recruiting activity.

5. Don’t ignore Facebook

It’s not just LinkedIn that should be included as part of your social job search strategy. Cat videos and political views aside, Facebook is a valuable tool for both recruiters and job seekers alike. With over 2 billion users and the average person spending 1 in every 7 minutes online on Facebook, employers know it’s an effective source of talent.

With Facebook’s job section it’s possible to filter and even apply for a role from within your news feed. There’s no place to upload a resume, but a 1,000-character text box allows for a cover letter-style note.

50% of users say a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than its website ”


One of the great features offered is the ability to subscribe to a company’s job openings moving forward.

When most people think of where to go online, other than dedicated career sites, to look for a new job, they’ll often think of LinkedIn and overlook Facebook.

Even if you’re avoiding Facebook because you don’t care for the nonsense opinions or baby pictures, you might want to try to bend it to your needs instead of quitting altogether.

6. Be ready when you get the interview

You’ve done all the leg work and have been selected to progress to interview stage by the employer of your dreams. Are you ready?

Making it to the interview stage is an achievement in itself. To be excluded from the recruitment process due to lack of preparation is a mistake that’s easily avoided.
Whether your interview is by phone, video or in person there are a number of key actions you can take to ensure the best chances of success:

  • Go prepared
  • Arrive early
  • Quiz yourself in advance with practice questions
  • Dress stylishly and meticulously
  • Sit up straight and speak with confidence
  • Make eye contact. But don’t overdo it to the point where you make the interviewer uncomfortable
  • Take some time to consider your answers and respond thoughtfully. You shouldn’t feel pressured to answer each question in rapid fire
  • Take time for pleasantries and a bit of casual social banter
  • Set up Google alerts to keep you abreast of the latest developments at the company
  • Spend time researching the market and the forces that are influencing the industry
  • Subtly put your name on their radar the day after the interview by liking a post on their social media account
  • Ensure that your social media accounts show something positive and professional
  • Strike a power pose before you head to the interview. It will boost your endorphins and improve your confidence
  • Use language that is appropriate for the job environment and demonstrate your experience by using a bit of well-placed jargon
  • Be yourself. You want to project an authentic and genuine demeanour
  • Understand that interviews are as much an opportunity to show the employer that you would be a pleasant person to work with as they are to demonstrate skills and experience, this is a social opportunity
  • Consider your career goals and clearly define your reasons for wanting the job
  • Practice your interview skills with a friend or colleague
  • Prepare answers to common interview questions
  • Eat a healthy and energising breakfast before going in
  • Breath deeply, relax the muscles of your face, and take the time to pause before the interview
  • Do your homework about the industry and the company
  • Don’t fidget
  • Don’t simply recap your resume. An interview is a chance to demonstrate all the qualities your resume cannot
  • You need to impress every person you encounter at the company
  • Don’t forget to smile and introduce some appropriate levity into the interview
  • Don’t fail to use the interview process as a networking opportunity
  • Don’t be late because you get lost along the way or encounter some unexpected circumstance. Plan for delays
  • Don’t forget that this is a fundamentally social situation. Be amiable
  • Keep the focus of your answers on your best qualities
  • Don’t schedule for late in the week, if you can avoid it. The ideal time for an interview is 10:30 on a Tuesday when employers are most likely to remember you
  • Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer to a question. It’s better than faking it
  • Don’t speak ill of former coworkers, employers or colleagues
  • Give a firm handshake
  • Follow up after the interview
  • Don’t brag or oversell yourself
  • Relax and act naturally
  • Don’t forget to highlight your biggest strengths

Source: The Telegraph


Due to the nature of the job search and recruitment process, there will always be competition for any vacancy. With some thought and preparation, however, it’s possible to give yourself an advantage over that competition and be the successful candidate.

Main photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash