Why Your Job Search is Off Track and How to Fix it

Candidates awaiting interviews.
Nervous applicants preparing for employment interview sitting on chairs in queue row line, african and caucasian diverse unemployed people feeling stressed about tedious waiting, job hunting concept

When the chips are down, the best businesses become more aggressive in pursuit of their goals, but are increasingly flexible on their strategies. The same applies to you!

In the best of times, searching for and applying for jobs online hardly works, so there’s no reason to consider that these strategies will be any more effective when businesses are on their knees.

The Counter-Intuitive Advice is to Stop Searching.

We have this default engine that constantly messes with us, when the chips are down, we double down, often on ineffective strategies. Digital technology has transformed our world from caveat emptor to caveat venditor; It’s now seller beware.

As someone selling your services, either as a consultant or prospective employee, you have to be aware that your buyers; recruiters, recruiting managers, algorithms all have better information than we do, and can make more discerning choices based on publicly available data.

This means, your online presence matters, and the job you want to be found for also matters.

We can no longer throw up a CV and hope that someone finds what they are looking for on it, be it a digital CV on a platform, or the PDF versions we use in company portal applications. We need to be single minded and focused on getting the job we want, so we have to know the job we want.

The element we need to be flexible on is the approach.

Knowing What you Want

What is the problem you most want to solve for your prospective employer? What problems drive you to be full of energy and enthusiasm? The passion you have for the subject usually has a direct relationship with effort and energy you put behind positioning yourself.

Positioning yourself

Being on LinkedIn, the home of 600million professionals and growing is a start, but how you position yourself on the platform requires leveraging all of your visual assets (Profile, Banner, About Page, Features, Skills & Education) and tailoring all of these to suit the specific job you want. if you are multi-disciplinary or a polymath like me, then its a good idea to isolate the problems your interdisciplinary skill set is most suited to solving, and focussing on this. I have a resource to support your profile enhancement here.

Your Network

I recently conducted a survey to explore how people have obtained new roles and business. 80% of the respondents credit their networks for their opportunities.

Networks are powerful. I’ve heard it said that your network is net worth, and it cannot be more true. These are the strategies that I recommend to activate and engage your network:

  • Contributing content relevant to the job you want. Articles, Post, Shares, Blogs. This requires research which includes the industry you want to perform that job in, and on changes in the economics of that role as well. For your research, use the following resources:
    • Top 10 google searches
    • Trade Journals
    • Quora/ Answer the public
    • Job postings related to the position you want
    • Specific company pages
    • RSS Feed related to the job or company.
  • Engagement. You want to be engaging with your network, not to ask for what you want, but to be genuinely interested in what they want so you can help them solve their problems, where it fits in your wheelhouse.
  • Leveraging the weak connections. Engagement with your network may not move your direct network to act, but can leverage more loosely held connections (2nd and 3rd party connections). This is a source of hidden gold in your outreach plan.
  • Being specific, authentic and upfront. Direct outreach is also a method to be used sparingly. When you use it, be very very specific about what you are looking for, as it helps your network to help you.


The second most popular source of next job opportunities from the survey I ran, are recruiters. Definitely a more complex beast to manage. Recruiters are businesses as any others, and are opportunists as well. You need to build relationships with the key ones, and the way to find who they are is to do outreach within your network, to find out which recruiters serve the industry or specific company you’d like to work for.


The majority of the survey felt this was a poor strategy on its own. When it comes to senior roles, most are not advertised at all. If they are, they are done with specific preferred candidates in mind. You also need to clear the ATS searches, so you need to be as standard as possible in your CV so that the automated systems do not throw your application out. There is a useful guide on this topic from Reed here.

Future Skills

The future is already here, and if you want to know what skills you need to be learning, check out the free training provided by companies such as Amazon and Microsoft, as it is a good hint. The citizen data scientist is a growing trend. People using low code software such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Tableau, Power BI and Aleteryx as examples will become the average of the future, and these skills apply to every discipline you can imagine in corporate and health care professions.

Beyond the hard skills are the power skills that help you to broaden your horizons, not the least of which is design thinking and user experience design. To learn more about future skills, you can read my prior article on this topic here.

I currently host a Facebook group to support career professionals, you can join the community here to learn more and continue to develop you employability.