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Can't Find a Job? Fix Your Job Search Strategy in 5 Steps

When you can't find a job despite tirelessly applying online, the entire job search process starts to feel like you're throwing your resume into a black hole, doesn’t it?

It's frustrating and demoralizing to spend hours and hours applying for jobs online only to hear crickets in response. And it's not just you—the job market is more competitive than ever, and relying solely on online job applications just doesn't cut it anymore.

Newsflash: Your job search strategy is key. Here's the thingIf you're not applying a strategic approach, you're likely wasting your time and missing out on opportunities. Wondering how to approach your job search strategically?

As recruiters, career coaches, and job search strategists, Matilda and I have seen what works and what doesn't. So, we've put together the exact job search framework that will help you set up a personalized job search strategy and land a job in an organized way without the stress and overwhelm that usually come with a job hunt.

Before we delve into that, let's take a quick look at some common mistakes many job seekers make when searching for a job. (Side note: Don't worry if you find that you've been making one of these missteps. In the next 10 minutes, you'll find out exactly what to do to overcome it and get a step closer to securing your new job.)



5 Possible Reasons Why You're Not Landing a Job

Job searching can be a tough and frustrating process, especially when you're not seeing results. If you've been applying for jobs but not getting any responses, there could be several reasons why.

Here are some possible reasons why you're not landing a job:

#1: Not having a strategic job search plan

Person writing with notebook and post-it notes, representing strategic planning in job search.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Without a well-thought-out job search strategy, you will likely waste a lot of time and effort. A strategic job search plan involves identifying your career and job search goals, job offer must-haves, target companies, industries, and networking contacts.

Without a plan, you may end up applying for jobs that don't align with your skills and interests or miss out on opportunities that you didn't even know existed because you were looking in the wrong places.

#2: Applying for any job available

"We are hiring" and "apply today" signs on wall.

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

While it's tempting to apply for any job you think you might be qualified for, this approach is actually hurting your chances of getting hired.

Employers want to feel that spark of genuine interest in their company and the job they're offering.

If you're randomly throwing out applications just because they're available online, it's hard to show that fire and enthusiasm, and trust us, it shows.

And let's not forget—hastily applying without really digging into the company and job requirements can lead to a messy and scattered approach. You'll spread yourself too thin, making it tough to customize your resume and cover letter for each position.

Plus, it's a recipe for misalignment between your interests, skills, and what the job actually calls for, wasting both your time and the employer's.

#3: Over-relying on online job applications

Bored woman in front of macbook with coffee mug thinking about her online job applications.

Photo by on Unsplash

How are you actually looking for a job? Are you just submitting job applications online? Even though applying online is the most convenient way to search for jobs, over-relying on it actually slows down and limits your job search progress.

While online job boards can be a helpful tool in your job search, they shouldn't be your only strategy. Many job openings are never posted online; even if they are, competition can be fierce. Plus, there are so many other job search methods you could try and get more success with.

#4: Using only one job search method

Woman using drawing pad at laptop, illustrating reliance on single job search method.

Photo by Josefa nDiaz on Unsplash

Building on the previous point, we can't stress this enough: If you only use one job search method, you're likely missing out on potential opportunities.

Different industries and companies may have different hiring practices, so your approach must be flexible and creative. The more diverse your job search methods, the more likely you are to find a job that's a good fit for you.

#5: Not being organized

Woman noting down her career plans on post-it notes on glass wall.

Photo by on Unsplash

Job searching involves handling lots of data, deadlines, and follow-ups. If you're not organized, you'll likely miss important opportunities or make mistakes in your application materials.

By staying organized, you'll be better equipped to stay on top of your job search and make a positive impression on potential employers. Not to mention, you'll avoid all the stress and overwhelm that usually comes with the chaotic nature of job hunting.

Now that we've explored the roadblocks to your job search, let's focus on the solution.


How to Fix Your Job Search Strategy

Follow these five simple yet powerful steps to turn things around, overcome your job search hurdles, and get a step closer to your new job:

Let's do it together, step by step.


Step #1: Identify Your Job Search Targets

Are you having trouble finding a job that fits your skills and interests? It might be time to reevaluate the foundation of your job search strategy: the opportunities you're targeting. Here’s how:

a. Research potential industries

Start by researching potential industries that interest you. Look for growth areas and industries that are hiring. You can also consider industries that you have experience in or have always been curious about.

Use job search engines like Indeed or Glassdoor to explore different industries and their job openings.

As you conduct your research, take note of the following:

  • The job outlook for the industry

  • The average salary for the industry

  • The skills required for the industry

  • The companies within the industry

Use this information to narrow down your potential industries and list the top 3-5 industries you want to pursue.

b. Look for companies that fit your skills and interests

Once you have identified your target industries, start researching companies within those industries. Look for companies that align with your values, skills, and interests. Consider the company culture, management style, and any potential growth opportunities.

Man studying at laptop, depicting doing company research in job search.

You can use LinkedIn, Google, or social media platforms to find companies within your target industries. Look for company websites, job postings, and reviews to understand the company’s mission and culture better.

c. Explore job openings in your target industry and companies

Now that you have identified your target industries and companies, it’s time to explore job openings within those companies.

Use job search engines to find job postings and check the company’s careers page.

Also, consider contacting employees within the company or industry to learn more about the job and company culture.

By identifying your target industry and companies, you can focus your job search and increase your chances of finding a job that aligns with your skills and interests.


Step #2: Define Your Non-Negotiables

When it comes to job searching, it's important to have a clear idea of what you're looking for.

One way to do this is by defining your non-negotiables. These are the things you absolutely must have in a job and are non-negotiable under any circumstances.

What are non-negotiables?

Non-negotiables are the things that are the most important to you in a job. They are the factors that you are unwilling to compromise on and are essential to your overall job satisfaction.

Non-negotiables are the things that are the most important to you in a job. They are the factors that you are unwilling to compromise on, and are essential to your overall job satisfaction.

For example, you may have a non-negotiable that the job must be located within a certain distance from your home or that it must offer a certain level of flexibility in terms of working hours.

By identifying your non-negotiables, you can focus your job search on roles that meet your criteria.

This can help you avoid wasting time applying for jobs unsuitable for you and can increase your chances of finding a role you'll be happy with.

How does having a list of non-negotiables help your job search?

Having a list of non-negotiables helps you:

  • set priorities in your job search

  • make more informed decisions

  • have a sense of control over your job search

  • stay focused on your goals.

When you have a clear idea of your non-negotiables, you can use them as a filter to screen potential jobs.

This can save you time and energy, as you will only apply for roles that meet your criteria. It can also prevent you from accepting a job that is not right for you, leading to job dissatisfaction and a higher risk of burnout.

All in all, defining your non-negotiables is an important step in your job search process. It can help you to clarify your goals, focus your search, and ultimately find a job that meets your needs and makes you happy.

Need help with planning?

A planner called "60 minutes to a smarter job search."


Step #3: Plan Your Job Search Activities

Searching for a job can be a lot easier with a little planning.

By setting weekly goals, planning your weeks accordingly, and tracking your progress, you can ensure that you stay on track and increase your chances of finding the perfect job.

Here's how to do it:

a. Set your weekly job search goals

Before you even begin your job search, setting realistic goals is essential.

Begin by determining how much time you can realistically spend on your job search each week, and then break that time down into manageable chunks.

Don't know where to start? Check out this weekly planner

designed to support you on your job search journey.

For example, if you have 5 hours a week to dedicate to your job search, you might set a goal of spending one hour a day on your search.

When setting your goals, consider the types of jobs you're looking for, your qualifications, and your experience. Set challenging but achievable goals, and don't be afraid to adjust your goals as necessary.

b. Plan your weeks accordingly

Once you've set your weekly job search goals, it's time to plan your weeks accordingly.

Start by creating a schedule that allocates time for job searching, networking, and other activities that help you reach your goals. You might find it helpful to use a planner or calendar to keep track of your schedule.

Need help with planning?

When planning your weeks, prioritize critical job search activities.

Focus on the activities that are most likely to help you land a job, such as networking, applying to jobs, and following up with potential employers.

c. Track your progress

Tracking your progress is crucial to staying on track with your job search goals.

Start by creating a spreadsheet or document that allows you to track the jobs you've applied to, the dates you applied, and any follow-up actions you need to take.

Tablet displaying job search tracking tools on screen.

Want to speed things up? Get instant access to this

done-for-you job search tracker.

As you progress through your job search, update your tracking document regularly. Use it to identify any areas where you fall short and adjust your goals and plans as necessary.

Set weekly job search goals, plan your weeks accordingly, and track your progress to stay organized and motivated throughout your job search. With a little effort, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect job.


Step #4: Explore Alternative Job Search Methods

We said it once and we'll say it again: Relying solely on submitting job applications online isn't the best job search strategy. Instead, you should try different options to get your foot in the door.

Here are three alternative job search methods that you should consider:

#1: Internal job opportunities

Internal job opportunities are job openings that are only available to current employees.

Applying for an internal job can be an excellent way to land a new job, get a promotion, and increase your earning potential. It's often the easiest and fastest way to make a career move.

If you are currently employed, check for any internal job opportunities in your company.

#2: Networking

Networking is a cornerstone of a fast and successful job search.

It's an excellent way to learn about job openings that are not publicly advertised and get referrals from people who know and trust you. Networking involves building relationships with people who can provide job leads, advice, and support.

Attend networking events, join professional organizations, and connect with people in your industry on LinkedIn.

Busy cafe with people networking and socializing.

Photo by Julian V on Pexels

#3: Job fairs

Job fairs are events where job seekers can meet with multiple employers in one location. These events can be an excellent way to learn about job opportunities and connect with recruiters and hiring managers.

Bring copies of your resume, dress professionally, and be prepared to introduce yourself and your skills.

Need more ideas? Head to this list of alternative job search methods.


Step #5: Automate Repetitive Activities to Streamline Your Job Search

When you're searching for a job, there are a lot of repetitive tasks that can take up valuable time.

By automating these tasks, you can free up your time to focus on more important aspects of your job search. Here are two ways to do it:

a. Plan and schedule repetitive tasks

One of the best ways to automate repetitive tasks is to plan and schedule them. This can include things like sending follow-up emails, updating your resume, and searching for new job listings.

By scheduling these tasks in advance, you can ensure they get done on time without keeping them in your mind constantly.

Several tools can help you with this.

For example, you can use:

  • task management apps: apps like Trello, Asana, or Notion allow you to create a list of tasks that need to be done and schedule them for specific dates and times

  • scheduling tools: tools like Calendly, or simple Google Calendar or calendar on your phone with set reminders help you stay on top of meetings, interviews, and calls with recruiters and hiring managers

Whatever tools you use, make sure that you set aside time each day or week to work on these tasks.

By sticking to a schedule and holding yourself accountable, you'll be able to stay on top of your job search without getting overwhelmed.

b. Use communication templates

Another way to automate repetitive tasks is to use communication templates: pre-written emails and messages that you can send out to recruiters, hiring managers, and other job search contacts.

By using templates, you can save time and ensure that your messages are consistent and professional.

You can create your own templates or use ones that are available online. Hint: Check out Emails That Get You Hired.

With 30+ word-for-word job search templates, you'll know exactly what to say and how to say it at every step of your journey. You can finally stop overthinking and stressing about messages you send to recruiters or hiring managers!

Ebook pages displaying job search email templates on a table surface.

These templates are your ticket to professional, confident, quick, and–above all–stress-free job search communication.

When using templates, make sure that you customize them for each recipient.

Personalize the message by including their name and mentioning specific details about the job or company you're applying to. This will make your message stand out and show that you're genuinely interested in the position.


Key takeaways

With the exact job search steps, tips, and tricks you have learned, you'll search for jobs more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

  • Define job search targets for industries, companies, and jobs you're looking for.

  • Stay focused on the right opportunities by defining your non-negotiables and focusing only on opportunities that match the criteria.

  • Explore alternative job search methods and get creative in discovering different ways to find exciting job opportunities.

  • Stay organized and keep track of your progress, so use the planner's templates and resources.

  • Automate repetitive activities to streamline the process and save time.

With persistence and determination, you will find the job you're looking for.

Remember that your job search is a journey, and finding the right fit may take some time. But with the right job search strategy and supporting tools, you'll have everything you need to navigate the process and come out on top.

What's Next?

Portrait of two smiling business women. Cutout headshots on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin

Hi there! We're Matilda and Ana — founders of MoreThanCareers, expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, career-changing jobs.

Now it's your turn. And MoreThanCareers is here to help!

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