Job Basics: Search

telescope sky looking

So finally we come to actually looking for a job. Sometimes it seems this is the easy part, though that’s because the hard part is building the foundation – which is what we covered earlier.

It’s also something that you can make easier over time. If you get it down to a science and learn the ins and outs (I did a book on this too, which if nothing else is great to give to friends), it can be almost automatic. The Job Search is a skill, it’s a habit, and you can really get to the point where it runs smoothly.

I’m guessing you’re not at that point, so here’s advice on how to get there.

Find Good Job Search Boards

Yes, yes, there are job search boards you can use to look for jobs on.  There are a lot.  That makes things complicated:

  • They have different quality of postings.
  • They all act different.
  • They target different people.
  • They target different regions.

The key is to find job search boards that work for you, your profession, and your location. Some boards are specialized, some are general. Some have one advantage, others have a different one.  Some cover a tiny region, some cover a large one.  You get the idea.

Sometimes you’ll find boards that are so alike you aren’t even sure if you should use both of them, but have to pace yourself.  That’s when finding the more subtle differences really matter.

Try out job search boards and find what work for you – but when you do searches, keep a note of how well they work because on top of all of this, they can change over time.  What’s good becomes bad, what’s bad becomes good – and then they switch again.

I’m not naming names. Probably as by now some have changed . .

Now it’s hard to know what boards to use, so a few I’ve found – that work.

  • – good for technical jobs, and note that this ranges pretty broadly.
  • – Good for, you guessed it, startups.
  • – A powerful site aggregator. It gets info from all sorts of sites – and a great way to discover specialty job search engines.
  • – Another site aggregator. I’ve found it a lot like, which isn’t a bad thing. Or maybe is a lot like it.
  • – The LinkedIn job search boards are pretty high-powered and not for everyone, but the quality of postings is excellent.

Next Step

  • Take 2 hours and search for job boards that fit your interests.

Learn To use Job Search Boards

OK you found job search boards, now figure out how to use them.

Sound obvious?  It’s not.  Here’s the issues:

  • Every board is different in how it works.
  • Every board has a different set of data – postings, etc.
  • Boards that are regional or highly focused may use different language – what’s “content” in one region is “writing” in another and so on.
  • Boards update at different times depending on the board and the geographic region.

The best advice? Practice. These are tools, learn how to use them right.

Next Step

  • Take two boards you found and do different searches for the same kind of jobs. Take a look at the results and see how they differ. Try improving your search on each.

Learn To Network

Yes, yes, you’re going to hear this until you die, but Networking is important to your career. I’m just going to repeat it, so live with it.

The thing is, networking is really important – but it’s not always clear why.  We can loose why it’s important in the platitudes and the endless advice.

Here’s why you should care:

  • People can help you find a job. That’s a given.
  • People you network with can help you learn about the industry or specific employers.
  • People you network with can provide advice and guidance.
  • You make friends with similar interests, professionally and personally.

Networking is not just finding people that help you get a job – that’s a myth and a myopic view of it. Networking is basically making social connections with a professional bent. That’s it – it’s a social habit.

So how do you network?

Well I’ve gone on about that before too. But basic advice is:

  • Take time to “socialize professionally” – post to LinkedIn, go to a professional meetup, something.
  • Connect with people by whatever appropriate social media.
  • Check in on your connections. See how they’re doing.
  • Remember that networking is social – have fun with it.

But really, it’s a skill. So it’s time to recommend “Never Eat Alone” because that classic guide is worth it.

Oh and yes, when you are looking for work, go ask our contacts.

Next Step

  • Find one online group, meetup, or professional association you can go to right now and set aside time to use it, post there, read it, or whatever.  Start the habit now.

Build A Recruiter List

You will talk to recruiters constantly in your job search. They will be at a company or at a placement company, they will be freelance or dedicated, they will have contracts or permanent jobs. But you’re going to talk to a lot of them.

Make a recruiter list. Keep a list of recruiters and do the following:

  • Contact them now and then. See how they’re doing – it’s good networking, and frankly they get ignored a lot after the hiring is done. They have a lot of insight you may not get elsewhere.
  • Ask what they’re looking for and make references to them – helps you get people you know employed and help them out.
  • When you do start looking for work, let them know.
  • Be nice to them. Being a recruiter is a pain.

A recruiter list soon becomes your first tool when anyone is looking for a job. It also builds good relations with people who can help you find a job – or may just have advice or become friends.

There are recruiters I still talk to a decade later.

Next Step

  • Ask how many recruiters you know and how you’d contact them. Make a list and set aside a time to say hi via email.

The Job Search Is A Skill

The job search is a skill. The more you do it the better you get.

Of course the problem is most of us do a job search when forced. Now if you’ve had this happen enough you’ve gotten enough practice. I know how that feels.  It’s just not all of us have that “opportunity.”

However you need the practice, so I recommend the following:

  • Do practice job searches. Now and then just see what search engines work and what results you get. It keeps you in the know and keeps you sharp.
  • Extend the search, if you want, to actually sending out resumes and cover letters to gauge reactions. You don’t want to be a resume tease, but it is like sending out signals – you send them out and what you get back is informative.  Several people I’ve met over the years do a low-level job search both for caution and to gauge the market.
  • Help people out with their real job searches so you get practice.

You’re going to need this skill. Get on it.

Next Steps
* For a week do a quick job search on one of your sites for a short time (15-30) minutes Are you able to find good positions?
* What do you need to improve in your job search? Find someone who you think can help you and get pointers.

So with all of this out of the way, let’s get to closing this thing out . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at