Job Search Guide
With an average career of between 40 and 50 years and large percentage of your waking time spent at work, don’t waste time unless you are working in the perfect job. Although the job hunting process may seem intimidating, use the following job hunting checklist to help you achieve a fantastic career that compliments your amazing life.
- You Have 5-7 Seconds to get Noticed
Recruiters spend on average 5-7 seconds scanning your resume before deciding if they will read it. Some resumes will never be read because they are rejected by the recruitment software for not having enough experience, skills or keywords that are relevant to the role. Make sure your resume is as user-friendly as possible. Include relevant experience and keep it to 1-3 pages.
- Test Your Resume
It is easy to convince yourself you have perfected your resume until you go to Pinterest and see the efforts some people go to present and write their resume. Start with friends and family who you trust to be blunt in their feedback. As you perfect your CV expand your resume testing to your professional network. Even consider trying different versions, whether it be style or pitching yourself for different types of roles, until you settle on the resume that best represents your brand and it most likely to secure you an interview. Remember to ask for a summary rather than an opinion. Don't ask "What do you think of my resume?", but rather "How does my resume distinguish me from other candidates?" If you are not pleased with the feedback go back to the drawing board.
- Network - 80% Jobs Never Advertised
Most jobs are not posted and are only found through networking. Visiting your favorite 1-2 jobs boards is not enough. Supplement your online research with real-world activities. As a first step, map out who you know. You can start by creating a list of former co-workers, classmates, teammates, and more. Then, reach out to friends and acquaintances for informal advice and to learn more about their roles. Connect with everyone you know, because you never know which contact may be able to help you with your job search or put you in touch with someone who can.
- Research… Research… Research…
Do your homework thoroughly about yourself, the marketplace and industries, target employers, roles and even learn all you can about who you are addressing your resume to. Ideally for every job you apply you spend at least two hours of research. If you are short-listed for an interview, make your research even more thorough. Start with the organization website and any press – good and bad – before you deep dive into identifying via LinkedIn or Facebook someone who works or has worked at the organization (for major corporates anyway). Try to understand what the organisation is trying to achieve and the kind of talent they are trying to attract.
- Professional Email Addresses
Wondering why your email@example.com email address is not being appreciated many recruiters? More than 30% of resumes are rejected simply because their email address were unprofessional. It is also recommended that you switch to Gmail, Hotmail or similar if you are still using your old ISP email address and have evolved with technology in the last 10-20 years.
- Your Personal Brand
Your resume, your covering letter, LinkedIn profile, attire in an interview, phone manner and who you select (and how well they are worked up) for your Referees are all important elements in your personal brand. Whether it is getting a professional to help create your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile to match your resume or buying yourself a new suit, make sure that you present as the person you want to become. Don’t let recruiters have to imagine you in the role, but instead ensure they can’t see you undertaking any other role. Now is also a good opportunity to lock down your Facebook privacy settings and Google yourself to find out what others may shortly learn about you. Remember a strong personal brand that portrays you in a professional light will provide recruiters, employers, and contacts with a strong positive impression of you as a candidate they should be interested in.
- Practice Your Interview Skills
Interviewing is often the most stressful part of a job search. You can prepare just as you would for any test. Devote your energy to preparing to answer the questions recruiters are likely to ask. Remember to prepare which questions you should ask to gain the respect of your interviewer and establish a good rapport.
- Update Your LinkedIn Profile
For many recruiters, particularly executive, professional or white-collar roles, if you aren’t on LinkedIn you don’t exist. Creating a fantastic profile and a strong online presence will build your professional credibility and help you secure your next job. Once you have updated your LinkedIn page and packed it with relevant keywords, not only will you be surprised how much attention your profile will get but you can also see who has viewed it. Remember to: (1) Professional profile photo (preferably a headshot with a simple background); (2) Engaging headline (not just your current job title); (3) Features an concise and yet engaging personal summary; (3) Ensure all your information is up-to-date (includes my most recent work history); (4) Highlights my career achievements and accomplishments; (5) Keywords are optimized; (6) Education and professional certifications are included; (7) You feature a comprehensive list of my skills; (8) Seek our testimonials and recommendations from current and former colleagues and supervisors; (9) Your profile is free of spelling or grammatical errors; (10) Is genuine and accurate; and (11) Is reviewed and even updated every week so that it appears active in talent searches by recruiters.
- Who Do You Know?
Look back over your job history and identify the relationships that may assist you to secure a new role. Very few job candidates collect reference letters from previous employers however it is definitely a worthwhile exercise. Even if you can get an endorsement from past managers on your LinkedIn profile.
- Knowing Someone Inside
Look for connections through LinkedIn. Put out a call for help on your Facebook pages for someone who knows someone. Being endorsed for the role before you even apply or are interviewed is a great way of standing out from the crowd. Increasingly companies are relying and even incentivizing their staff for referrals. Companies want to hire people who “get it” and who’ll click with the current staff. Only 7% of job applicants get an employee referral, yet referrals account for 40% of all hires! Luckily, asking for a referral is easier than you think.
- Attitude & Personality
Try to convey confidence and mirror the personality of recruiters in an interview. Whilst making sure you don’t appear arrogant, convey your confidence in being one of the best candidates for the role and enthusiasm for the position. Seek out family or friends to practice your elevator speech and interview skills. The more you practice how you convey your skills and values the more confident and articulate you will be in the interview where it counts.
- Rejection is one step closer to Acceptance
If you are offered every role you apply for you should probably increase your salary expectations or seek more senior roles. Be prepared for rejection, but make sure you learn and adapt through the job hunting process. Use a sales mentality that you need to be rejected 9 times in 10 (or 49 times in 50) in order to reach that elusive sale. You only need one job, so be persistence when facing rejection as it brings you one step closer to being offered your new dream job. One important point lost on most candidates, is often they are rejected for a role due to cultural fit, lacking skills and other factors that would mean that even if you were offered the role you may not have enjoyed it or wouldn’t have been successful as maybe you imagined. Sometimes you should be grateful for that rejection letter!
- Accomplishments… not simply Attendance at work!
Communicate what you have achieved and how a prospective employer will benefit from employing you. Highlight what you have achieved, not simply stating your responsibilities. You may need to “think outside the box” to identify tangible results of your skills and experience. You might highlight sales results, budget achievements, internal promotions, company awards, client testimonials, number of rapports and other similar achievements that stand you apart and take the imagination out of why a hirer should not offer you the role. Prospective employers can now see how your skills can benefit them much more easily.
- Best Job Listings
What are the best sites to use to find job openings fast? Check out and bookmark the best job search engine sites, jobs boards, company websites, networking sites and sites listed by type of job. Create your own ‘black book’ of recruiters who appear to work in your industry (e.g. retail), job type (e.g. accountancy) or target client (e.g. Staffing may be contracted by a company to manage all their hiring needs).
- List of Companies Where You Want to Work
Rather than wait for a Job Ad, research company information and create a list of companies to target. Generally all the information you require is on the web or just one phone call away. Once you have a list of dream employers it is time to approach them to ensure your get noticed. Many larger corporates will even let you register your interest in working for them directly on their website.
- Compete to Win
Be proactive and go the ‘extra mile’ to investigate prospective employers and understand their hiring needs. Put in the extra time to prepare for and follow-up every job application. If you are really serious about getting work fast, invest in job search, resume writing, and interview coaching resources contained here.
- Customize Your Resume & Cover Letter
It's important to take the time to write targeted resumes and cover letters that specifically link your qualifications to the hiring criteria for the jobs you are applying for. Although this advice is repeated by us regularly, it can’t be overstated the importance of this task. Recruiters will be able to see at a glance why you are a good match for the role.
- Job Hunting Timing & Intensity
Many candidates will utilize jobs boards “click and apply’ functionality to apply for 20 jobs in 20 minutes and declare they have finished applying for jobs for the day. Unless you are very lucky or have applied for a role that no one else wants, you can almost guarantee rejection which may lessen your job-hunting enthusiasm. Determine who you want to work for, what type of work you want to do, how you will go about securing the perfect job and implement a well prioritized career plan. Don’t burn your contacts unless you are clear on what you have to offer and your career plan. Slow down and pace yourself to make a lesser number of right decisions than a lot of bad ones.
- Recruitment Agency Networking
Try to establish a rapport with senior managers, or better still owners, of recruitment agencies and gradually establish a network of 10 to 30 recruiters whom you can reach out to throughout your career. Whether it is touching base every year or so to get an update on the jobs market or average salaries, it is this network who will often be contacting you when your perfect job crosses their desk. Who better for them to place into a role than someone who they know or even possibly have placed into an earlier role. Recruitment agencies are paid by their clients, however need to operate quickly and efficiently to be successful, which means you may be the only candidate for a role if you know the right person at the right time.
- Focused Job Search
Use the job search engines to find jobs by using keywords that match your interests and the location where you want to work. Narrowing your search criteria will help you focus your job search and will give you more relevant job listings to review and fewer non-relevant job listings to weed through. Use advanced search options to drill down to the location where you want to work and the specific positions you're interested in.
Sources (Updated March 2021):
- Recruitment & Employment Confederation
- the ABC
- The Sydney Morning Herald
- American Staffing Association
For more CPA Career Advice see below additional resources to find the perfect job: