What are the first stages of an effective job search?

One of the major concerns of job seekers is figuring out how to start their job search. This is especially challenging for individuals who have had long tenures with their past employers and are new to the job market. Over the course of their careers, they may have worked for the same employer in various roles, or gained their jobs through friends and former colleagues. Many of these job seekers have little to no job search skills or even a rudimentary understanding of the job market.  

As a Career Coach who has worked with 1000s of unemployed job seekers from entry level to senior executives, the first question most of clients ask of me is – how do I start my job search? There is usually grave concerns with getting it right, of having the most up  to date job search techniques and an overwhelming fear of what one of my clients term “the new job search stuff” that they are not familiar with.

I call the early stages of the job search the initial research stage. It is important for all job seekers, those new to job searching or skilled old hands, to know that the job search is primarily a research process – you need to research the right job, the right company, the right industry.  As such, job seekers need to conduct an initial investigation of the job market prior to launching into a full-scale job search. Through this investigation, they could prevent time wasted spent pursuing largely inappropriate opportunities.

The initial stages of an effective job search are:

  • Analyzing your target job and industry: Prior to revamping that resume and cover letter, a job seeker should analyze the type of job or jobs they will be targeting and the related industry. In essence, conduct a SWOT analysis to identify the opportunities, the weaknesses, the threats and the strengths.
  • Networking: all job seekers need to network with people  this could include  past colleagues, past managers, friends, associates etc.– to gather information on job opportunities, the job market and to generate potential leads
  • Building a list of contacts:  Once the networking has commenced, the job seekers needs to make a list of key contacts in their field. Key contacts can be recruiters, human resources professionals, hiring decision makers, former colleagues or anyone who can be of value in helping to gain an interview or find a job. Establishing key contacts is a very important tool in penetrating the hidden job market – that is accessing those jobs that are not posted to the public.


Note that parts of each initial stage will continue throughout all phases of your job search.

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