10 back to basics job search tips

10 of the most basic job search tips that seem so obvious that you would think that all job seekers would be doing them


I recently completed a pan-European executive search process. In the middle of a global pandemic unemployment levels are at an all-time high, I anticipated being overwhelmed by significant numbers of on-target job seekers, with difficult selection decisions to make. I was wrong. Despite there being millions of career coaches on the market, plus a mass of free information, eLearnings, webinars and podcasts, it seems there is a need to revisit some basic job search tips

I found that even job search fundamentals are not being implemented, perhaps because of stress or burnout because it is a profoundly difficult time. But as with any activity, it’s sometimes necessary to do some revision to get the basics right.  For some this might be the first time they needed to look for a job so they were never there to start with.

basic job search tips

Here are 10 of the most basic jobs search tips that seem so obvious that you would think that all job seekers would be doing them. I can assure you they are not!

1.  Be visible

A complete online professional profile is mandatory on one of the main international networks: LinkedIn,  or any of the more local ones such as Viadeo, Xing. This is especially relevant if you are unemployed.

A hot topic is whether to attach the green circle around your LinkedIn profile photo if you are looking for work . There are many who advise not to go down this route because unemployment bias is rife even among career coaches. However, LinkedIn research suggests “that those with an Open to Work photo frame receive on average 40% more InMails from recruiters and are 20% more likely to receive messages from the broader LinkedIn community.”  

The green circle also signals to your network that you are open for new opportunities and they may refer you. Many companies don’t use LinkedIn Recruiter and this allows hiring managers to see who could be immediately available.

A major point is that it is not enough to activate a green circle and then do nothing else thinking you will be inundated with offers. This is a supplementary not a replacement step. You still have to pursue all the other basics including engaging with your network.

 2. Target your applications

In times of desperation what we call “spraying and and praying” and sending a generic CV out to everyone is going on. It is far better to target specific organisations and apply when you are reasonably on target. This can be contentious, but if you are missing critical skills, you are wasting everyone’s time and setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration.

If you meet 60% of the requirements that’s fine. Ladies take note.

3. Check who has viewed your profile

If it’s a head hunter or recruiter – contact them if you are looking for a job.

4. Be easily contactable

Make yourself easily reachable with as a minimum an email address on your professional profile. If you are afraid of spammers – open up a separate account for a job search. If you want to post a phone number so much the better.

5. Check your mails

If you are looking for a job or are unemployed, you should be checking your emails and InMails multiple times a day even at weekends and holidays. This applies also to your professional profile mailbox.

basic job search tips

6. Respond promptly

To contact requests. Check your phone regularly for messages and missed calls. I came across a LinkedIn profile with a green circle which is indicated they were unemployed. The individual responded to me after three weeks for reasons which are not clear. I am always more flexible during COVID,  but it wasn’t because they had been sick. By the time they responded it was too late. If you have a green circle around your profile make sure you respond in a timely way. Or take it down.

7. Don’t bench

This is a phrase that has been taken from the dating world which means putting someone on the back burner while you explore other options. It involves giving someone just enough attention to make sure they stay interested in you. Meanwhile, they are dating around and seeing what else is out there.

I engaged with a candidate who sent short messages from time to time but had no availability to speak. Maybe she had been “benching” me, that is lining up other better options which may have fallen through.  When she finally contacted me the search was finished. When I sent a message saying “if I haven’t heard from you by x date I will assume you are not interested”,  I do mean it.

8. Have a current CV

Your CV should be instantly available to send immediately to any prospective recruiter. If you need to update or write a CV and you are unemployed or on furlough, you are way behind the curve.

9. Be available for an online interview

Or a telephone call. We are still in quarantine in many regions and still working remotely, so it should be much easier than usual. There is no need to sneak off to find an empty conference room with lame excuses to your manager and colleagues. If it’s a problem – flag it up to a recruiter. Most are willing to schedule calls outside office hours to suit candidates. If you don’t want to be interrupted to engage in a job search process now, you may find that you have even more time to yourself than you would like or can afford, in the future.

If you are concerned about your background because you don’t have dedicated work space then use a virtual background. Bookshelf bias also exists so that should be a strong favourite. If that’s not possible, put your lap top on an ironing board or stack of boxes (free from any grocery store) in front of a blank wall and you will be fine.

10. Pay it forward

If you are not interested personally in a role share with your network. Do someone else a favour.

If you know any job seekers looking for a new opportunity or unemployed, share this post with them. It might help!

If you need help with your job search get in touch today

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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