How to Create a Strategic Job Search Plan in 2023
A strategic job search plan is a crucial tool for any job seeker who wants to stand out in today's highly competitive job market. By taking a thoughtful and proactive approach to find suitable employment opportunities, job seekers can increase their chances of securing a job that aligns with their career goals and aspirations.
A well-crafted job search plan is a powerful tool for job seekers who want to take control of their careers and achieve their professional goals. In this article, we’ll dive into the steps you need to take to create a strategic job search plan that will help you land your dream job.
3 Key takeaways you'll get from this post
- What a job search plan is
- Why it's important to have a plan before you start your job search
- How you can integrate tools like Teal into your strategic job search plan
What is a job search plan?
Simply put, a job search plan is a roadmap or a strategy that you create to help you find the right job. It typically involves steps and actions to identify and apply for job opportunities that match your skills, experience, and career goals.
A job search plan can include a variety of activities, such as networking, searching job boards, being active on social media, and following up with hiring managers. It can also include specific timelines and goals for each activity.
The goal of having a job search plan is to stay organized and focused, increase your chances of finding a job that's a good fit for you, and ultimately land the job of your dreams.
Why is it important to create a job search plan?
Without a clear job search plan, job searching is like throwing a dart at a board without aiming for a target. You're just hoping it goes in the right direction. Sure, you may luck out and strike a bullseye, but the throw itself lacks intention and focus.
Here are three core reasons every job seeker should have a job search plan in place:
It helps you set clear goals.
Having a job search plan empowers you to approach your job search with confidence and clarity so you're better set up for success in the long run. By identifying your strengths, interests, skills, values, and hobbies for your resume you'll better understand what jobs are worth your time applying to and which you can skip.
Instead of submitting applications to every job that matches your LinkedIn profile, you can run a more targeted search and be intentional about the roles you apply for and the applications you submit.
It keeps you on schedule.
Setting goals and breaking those goals down into manageable chunks is key.
Saying, "I need to find a new job"—while relatable—is vague and doesn't help you work toward your ultimate goal.
Saying, "I'm going to reach out to two former classmates at Acme Company this week and see if they're open to a coffee chat," instead, is a tangible, proactive step you can take toward your career change.
Review your progress weekly to ensure you're moving in the right direction and meeting the job search goals you've set for yourself; if not, you can adjust as you go.
It enables you to track your job search activities
Tracking is another benefit of creating a job search plan: doing so allows you to keep tabs on and manage all your job search activities in one place, staying organized through every step of the job search process.
With free resources like Teal, you can track:
- All of the jobs you're interested in, whether it's a part time or full time job (saved from all the job boards you use: LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and 40+ more job boards).
- The job description for each job posting, with keywords highlighted to identify the most important hard and soft skills to include on your resume.
- All of your professional achievements, accomplishment examples, professional summaries, and target titles. By keeping track of your career milestones in one place, you can quickly and easily tailor your resume to the specific job you're interested in.
- Multiple versions of your resume, named and organized based on the jobs you're applying for. We've hand-picked some fantastic resume samples for inspiration.
- Any company you're interested in learning more about.
- People you'd like to network with, talk to informally, or schedule an informational interview or job interview with.
- Follow-up reminders for each step of the job search process, from checking in on the status of an application to reaching out to the hiring manager to thank them for an interview.
- Notes from each job interview, including research about the company and hiring manager and any work you've done to prepare answers to the most common interview questions ahead of time.
How to develop a strategic job search plan
Determine your target job title
First, list out five roles, job titles, and/or functions you're interested in, along with five industries you’re interested in pursuing.
Maybe it looks something like this:
Bonus: You can set a target title in your Teal dashboard to help stay motivated.
Make a list of companies you are interested in working for
Brainstorm a list of 20 companies you might want to work for or companies that interest you. Consider their size, industry, location, remote-work policies, and company culture. Jot down the company details in your Job Search Planner workbook.
Here's an example of what that may look like:
Next, see if you can spot any common themes:
- Do they align with your personal interests?
- Do they have a robust careers page on their website with information about benefits, company culture, open job postings, and who the point person is to reach out to when you submit your application?
We recommend saving these 20 companies to your Teal Company Tracker so they're saved in one place.
Set a realistic timeline for your job search goals
Let's work backward here. Finding a new job takes time—often up to five months—but having a concrete target start date in mind can help you stay motivated.
You can set a target date in your Teal dashboard, as well as in your Job Search Plan worksheet. Now decide how much time you want to spend each week (on average) applying for jobs.
For example, if your target start date is April 2023 and you want to spend approximately ten hours per week on your job search, below you can access our recommendation for how many applications should be in each stage of your job search process.
While there's no hard and fast rule about how many jobs you should apply to, having a to-do list of sorts can lend structure to an often structureless process.
Update your job search assets
Before you start applying to new roles, you'll need to update your resume and cover letter. The ideal resume should be one page and contains:
- Your city and state
- Contact information (email, phone, or both)
- A target title
- A professional summary
- Work history (with bullet points summarizing your main achievements and responsibilities at each role)
- Educational background
- Relevant keywords in your bullet points and skill sections
Including each element above will increase the odds of your resume being prioritized in the applicant tracking systems (ATS) and give hiring managers a better idea of how you'd be a great fit.
To save even more time, Teal's AI Resume Builder helps you design, format, and create custom resumes for each job you apply to in one place. The AI Resume Builder automatically gives you pointers on how to improve your resume to give you a competitive edge over most job seekers.
It even has AI technology built into the tool to create customized resume bullet points, professional summaries, and even cover letters using your work history and the job requisite you’re applying for.
Develop a job application strategy
Once you've pinpointed your timeline, target companies, and titles and updated your materials, it's time to develop your job application strategy. How and where are you going to find jobs to apply to?
Some avenues to explore include but are not limited to:
- Referrals. If you have a friend or former colleague who works at a company you're interested in, you can kindly ask them for a referral. Referrals are bumped up in the hiring process and are a great way to get in the door faster than you would if you applied online.
- Contacting internal recruiters. Internal recruiters are salaried employees of a specific company. They're usually very active on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed.
- Contacting external recruiters. External recruiters, also known as headhunters, work for outside agencies. External recruiters typically work for more than one company and are usually looking for available talent to call upon when they receive open roles.
- Cold emailing. Reaching out to someone you don't know might feel daunting, but if done politely, it can help you build valuable connections. Use a free tool to find the email addresses of people you'd like to speak to, whether they're a recruiter, founder, or someone who is currently in your dream role.
- Applying online. If you're unable to get a referral or connect with a recruiter, you can apply directly to an online job listing. No matter the company's size, online applicants are still screened by a human.
- Networking. 85% of jobs aren't posted online. Instead, they're filled through networking. Great places to network include professional organizations, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, job fairs, and social clubs.
Communication templates for different situations throughout the entire hiring process are located within Teal's Job Application Tracker. You'll find templates for referrals, contacting recruiters, cold outreach, networking, and more. Use these templates as a starting point, and tweak them to match your tone and demonstrate your professional brand.
After you understand where you will look for roles, circle back to your timeline goal and determine how many roles you want to apply for per day, week, etc.
For example, set concrete goals for yourself like:
- Text Robert, a former colleague who now works at Acme Corp, to ask for a referral on Monday
- Send three cold emails to startup founders on Tuesday
- Send connection requests to at least five internal recruiters on LinkedIn by the end of the week
- Reach out to two industry professionals in your field of interest requesting informational interviews by the end of the week
- Optimize my LinkedIn profile using Teal’s LinkedIn Profile Review tool as my guide by the end of the day
Tailor your job search assets to each role you apply to
Each job you apply to will have a unique description with certain soft skills, hard skills, and keywords listed throughout. Your resume and short cover letter should be tailored to address all of the above.
To give an example, if a job listing states that the company wants a candidate who "is comfortable using VLOOKUP and creating pivot tables in Microsoft Excel," your materials should mention "VLOOKUP," "pivot tables," and "Microsoft Excel." (So long as you truly have that experience.)
Teal's AI Resume Builder will let you do this quickly, easily, and accurately. You can save and import any job listing you find on the web directly into your Teal account and check your resume against its keywords to ensure you speak to what's being looked for.
Keep track of the jobs you apply for
As you apply for jobs, keeping track of which applications you’ve sent in and where you are in each interview process is essential.
You can build your own job tracking spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel with columns that track:
- The jobs themselves (with links to the original job descriptions)
- Whether they're remote, in-office, or hybrid
- Hiring manager contact information
- The date you sent in your initial application
- Which stage you are at in the process (application sent, actively interviewing, negotiating, rejected, etc.)
- Salary ranges
- Notes on your impressions and feelings throughout the process
You'll need to update your job tracking spreadsheet accordingly throughout your job hunt. We recommend allotting time to update it each day, either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day.
A more dynamic way to keep track of your jobs, however, is through a job tracker.
Teal's Job Application Tracker helps you import job listings with a single click so you can save and monitor their progress. It even suggests how best to handle each phase of your job search process.
The Job Application Tracker also lets you generate follow-up emails, so you can be proactive and stand out to the hiring team. More on that, next!
Follow up with each hiring manager throughout the process
Sending follow-ups throughout the hiring process shows you're diligent, motivated, and highly interested in working for the company. They also help you gain more transparency into how you're progressing through each stage.
The best way to follow up with the hiring manager after an interview is through email. After your interview ends, send an initial thank you to the person you spoke to within 24 hours.
Then, if you do not hear from anyone at the company after a week (or earlier, if, say, the recruiter said you would expect to hear back in three days), send a follow-up email to kindly remind the team that you're still interested in the role.
And remember—just because you didn’t hear back when sending a follow-up doesn’t mean the team is not interested in you—if anything, it means the hiring team is likely very busy.
Here's a sample follow-up email that you could send to your interviewer:
Dear [Interviewer's Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me during the first round of interviews for the [Position] role at [Company Name]. It was a pleasure to learn more about the company and the responsibilities of the role.
After our conversation, I remain enthusiastic about the opportunity to join the team at [Company Name]. I am particularly excited about [specific aspects of the job or company culture discussed in the interview].
I would like to reiterate my interest in the position and my qualifications for it. Please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide or if there are any next steps in the hiring process that I should be aware of.
Thank you again for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Final thoughts on creating a strategic plan for your job search
Planning for your job hunt is hard work—no doubt about it. But taking the time to identify and write down your job search goals, do some soul-searching, and break down the job search process into more manageable chunks will help speed up the process and help you land a job you love faster.
Create an account here to track your job search using Teal's free resources and tools.
Here's to landing a job you love in 2023!