I’ve shared hundreds of tips on LinkedIn based on my experience as a recruiter, and was even named a LinkedIn Top Voice for it.
This article is a compilation of my best job hunting tips and advice, taken from my posts that have received the most positive feedback from job seekers and other career experts.
If you read this entire article, you’re going to know a wide range of great job search tips and techniques that most other job seekers don’t know.
These aren’t just cookie-cutter tips. My goal here is to share unique, modern online job searching tips that can be difference-makers in your job hunt and career… whether you’re a student, new graduate, manager, or executive.
Let’s get started…
Let’s start with some important resume advice for job seekers…
The first two places a recruiter looks on your resume:
It’s not skills. It’s not education… unless it’s 100% required for a job.
But otherwise… recruiters look at these two areas:
1. Your career intro/summary
This tells me who you are as a professional and some of your key accomplishments, all at a quick glance. It’s very useful for hiring managers and recruiters, and therefore one of the first places they’ll look.
To help you write a good summary, I have 10 examples contributed by various career experts (including professional resume writers) here.
2. Your most recent work history
This is the next place I’m looking as a recruiter, and it’s where I’ll judge whether you’re a fit for the job you’ve applied for.
Make sure this appears on the top half of page 1. Don’t make employers go “digging” for it.
For 3 examples of real resume work history sections that got job interviews, go here.
1. You’ve listed a home address
2. You have an objective or statement of purpose
3. The template is text-heavy
4. There are too many stylistic embellishments
5. You included references on your resume or wrote “references available upon request”
6. You list basic skills like Microsoft Word
7. You have inconsistent formatting, which suggestions you’ve added bits and pieces over time but haven’t created a new resume in many years
8. You share personal details like marital status, hobbies, etc.
9. Your resume is too long – it should really be a highlight reel, not a list of everything you’ve ever done (Further reading: How many pages should a resume be?)
It’s about the employer.
When a hiring manager reads your resume, they’re thinking one thing:
“Does this person have the background needed to step into this job and succeed?”
They’ll decide the rest (like whether you’re a good cultural fit) in the interview.
When you realize that they’re thinking all about their job, and write your resume with the single goal of demonstrating how you’ll fit into that job, then you’ll have a resume that’s in the top 5-10% of all applicants.
And yes – if you go apply for a different type of job tomorrow, you should adjust your resume for that, too.
Tailoring your resume does take a bit more time, but it’ll get you far more interviews.
If you’ve only been sending out applications with a general resume, please give this a try.
It should help you immediately.
Applying for a high number of jobs doesn’t mean you’re being productive.
It’s all about getting interviews. This is how to get more.
Adding numbers and data to your resume:
You probably don’t have a great resume if it has no numbers/data.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.
If you’re a content editor for a publishing company you can say, “Edited and published 20+ articles per month for the company blog, read by 200,000+ monthly readers”.
If you’re an admin assistant you can say, “Assistant to the VP of Finance, who oversaw a 20-person team responsible for $19MM in annual revenue”.
I could go on and on with examples, but you’ll need to find the metrics that work for you.
My point is: They’re out there. They exist.
This is NOT just for people in sales.
Every single person with any work experience whatsoever should have numbers on their resume.
Here’s one last example, that I could have put on my own resume, from my first job as a cashier at Whole Foods Market:
“Served 100+ customers per day, handling thousands of dollars in cash with 99%+ accuracy”.
Anyone can do this. Everyone should do this. If you’re a recent graduate, then find numbers and accomplishments from your internships or even academic work. Did you lead any projects? Give any presentations? What did you do? That’s your work experience if you have no work experience!
A reader asked me for job search tips on this topic. They asked, “how can I set up my resume to get a Manager job if I’ve never had Manager in my title in the past?”
Here is the advice I gave:
If you’ve never been a manager but want that job, you need to show similar traits in past jobs.
Where did you lead in the past? Did you train anyone? Did you lead a project or task? Did you lead a meeting?
It’s not about having “Manager” in your title in the past (although I admit that helps!) – it’s about showing you’ve done some related tasks to prove you can succeed at this.
That’s where to start!
This is one of the most important online job search tips that I can share. With more than 100 applicants per position (on average), employers are always going to choose to interview candidates with resumes that are tailored to their needs and their job requirements.
Here’s how to do this quickly and easily:
1. Look at your resume and the job posting side-by-side.
2. Begin by re-ordering bullet points and other content to match the job description. If the employer mentions leadership as the first point, you should move your leadership bullet points higher up to match this.
3. Consider adding bullets and other content. Maybe you saw something on the job description that you’ve done, but hadn’t mentioned. Put it in!
4. Now that we’ve re-ordered content and added content (steps 2 and 3), you should remove irrelevant content. Many job seekers are afraid to do this, but removing “filler” content will help the employer see your most relevant info… which will get you more interviews.
If you want more help with this, go here.
A job seeker came to me and said they were struggling to condense their resume length. It was three pages.
Here’s my reply – pretty much word for word – with multiple resources to help:
I’d start to really think about whether each line or each piece of info is helping you prove to employers that you’ll be successful in THEIR job. That’s what it’s all about.
This article about “tailoring” your resume has more info.
And make sure your Employment History section doesn’t have any big paragraphs or “blocks” of text.
I’d try to keep it well-spaced and easily-skimmed. Bullet points, 1-2 sentences per paragraph in places where you’re not using bullets, etc.
Also, I just published a guide to how many pages your resume should be, dispelling the myth that your resume needs to be X number of pages and sharing what to really focus on instead. It might be worth a read if people are telling you “your resume needs to be 1 page”, etc.
1. The job – duties, goals, challenges, etc.
2. The team – goals, work environment, culture, etc.
3. The company overall – long-term goals, how your role fits into the organization as a whole, etc.
4. The interviewer – how/why they joined the company, what they like about it, what they find challenging
5. The interview process – when you can expect feedback, when they plan on making a decision, what they’re hoping someone new can bring to this role, etc.
For more unique/stand-out questions, read this article on 26 unique questions to ask employers.
They think: I need a job. Isn’t that good enough?
It’s not, though. Most jobs get 100+ applicants.
If you were the only applicant, saying, “I need a job and you’re hiring,” could work.
But since there are 100 other applicants, doesn’t it make sense that the employer would look for slightly more?
They want someone who’s interested in their type of work, who researched their company, who has career goals and can highlight how this job fits into their long term future.
Go above and beyond and be ready to impress when they ask why you applied! It will change your entire interview.
Employers also love to ask, “What are you looking for in your next position?”
So study the job description and talk about their role, not just yourself, when you answer this type of interview question!
Here’s a sample answer:
“I enjoy working as part of a team, so one thing that I’m targeting in my next position is a collaborative, team-focused environment. Based on what I saw from researching your company and reviewing the job description, it sounds like that’s the type of work culture you promote here, so I’m excited to learn more about the opportunity today.”
1. Be ready to show off specific accomplishments from your past work in detail.
2. Talk about the future just as much as the past; make them picture a future with you.
3. Get personal and sell yourself as an individual, not just a professional. Build rapport, learn about the interviewer, etc.
4. Research the people you’re speaking with. This will help you with step 3 above, and will help you anticipate what types of questions you’re likely to be asked, too.
5. Practice storytelling – this is a powerful way to make your answers more memorable.
6. Prepare open-ended questions to create a dialogue. For example, “What does it take to be successful here?” or “What is something you’re hoping a new person can bring to this role?”
7. Reference past conversations. If it’s a second or third interview, share ideas and topics you’ve discussed in previous interviews. Show you’re engaged in the process and absorbing all of the information they’re sharing.
1. End each interview by asking when you can expect to hear feedback. This will help you know when to follow up and will reduce stress.
2. If you’re unsure when to follow up, wait 5 business days after the interview.
3. Once it’s past the time they said, or past 5 business days, send a polite interview follow-up email asking them if they have any updates, and reminding them you’re still excited about the job.
4. If they say they don’t have any updates yet, say “no problem”, and ask when they’d recommend following up again. Now you know when to check back in with them.
It’s important to never sound desperate or frustrated during these exchanges, though. That will NOT get you hired. So stay calm and polite.
I’d also recommend sending an interview thank you email or letter within 24 hours of the interview.
1. They can’t see you, so take advantage.
Print out your resume. Print out the job description. Circle or highlight things you want to talk about. Jot notes to yourself (before and/or during the conversation).
This can give you a huge advantage. You can write questions you want to ask them about their job. You can write accomplishments you want to talk about in your recent work, etc.
2. The fact they can’t see you can also be a disadvantage… so don’t let it be! Here’s what I mean:
They can’t see your body language on the phone. They can only hear you. So you need to make sure you’re showing energy/interest in your tone of voice.
I recommend standing up to speak, and try smiling while you talk. Yes – smile even though nobody can see you.
This is a trick I learned working in recruitment & sales. Smiling will make you sound more friendly and enthusiastic.
If you want even more help preparing for your phone interview, here’s an article with the top questions employers ask, and how to answer them: Phone interview questions & answers.
I just watched a YouTube video where a Google software engineer describes interviewing candidates.
“I ask them about the sort of work they’ve done in the past, and what they want to do.”
This ties into a job search tip I shared earlier:
It’s NOT enough to show an employer you can do their job. You need to also show them why you WANT their job.
Right away, this interviewer is looking at both pieces together. It’s not just about what you’re capable of.
They want someone who will enjoy the role and stay a long time (so the effort they put into training you pays off).
Here are a few interview question & answer resources to help you prepare for these topics:
This next piece of advice for job seekers is important and is a topic that’s often misunderstood…
Most recruiters in staffing companies are given specific roles to work on. And they’re paid if they fill them.
So they’re working to find people for jobs; they’re not working to find jobs for people!
That’s a huge difference, so stop and read that again if that doesn’t make sense at first.
Recruiters will still help you, but here’s the key – you should try to target recruiters who specialize in your field.
They’re a lot more likely to help if they think there’s a reasonable chance that they can land you a job with one of the employers they work with!
It’s better to message 5 recruiters who work in your area of expertise than 50 random recruiters.
View their LinkedIn first.
Find recruiters whose profiles make it clear that they can help YOU. (based on industry, job function, and city).
Then, when you reach out, show them you did your research.
Say, “Hi Sarah, I saw you recruit for biotech start-ups here in Seattle. I’m a….”
You’ll immediately get their attention if you do that.
Then, you can be clear and direct. Explain your background very briefly and ask if they think it might be worth working together.
Here’s a full example:
You can find more info and templates in this LinkedIn cold messaging guide.
This next tip is some of the best advice for job seekers that I can give… and was my most popular LinkedIn most of all time.
But it also upset a few people and was a bit controversial.
If you can absorb this general idea and adapt your job search techniques and strategy around it, you’ll get much better results, though.
So, here’s the basic idea: Employers don’t care if a candidate is actively looking for jobs.
That’s not what attracts them. They’ve got 100+ applicants. They have no issue finding people who are seeking jobs.
They want someone with the specific skills needed to step into their role and succeed.
So here’s an example of where job seekers go wrong with this…
If you’re starting your LinkedIn headline with “actively seeking,” it’s a missed opportunity to SHOW these skills.
At the very least, say something like, “B2B Sales Rep Actively Seeking New Role”.
That way, you’re leading with what matters most.
I’d still prefer something like, “B2B Sales Rep | $2MM+ in Revenue 2019”
That’s better. It has more accomplishments to set you apart.
But if you think employers are going around just looking for active job seekers to scoop up, they’re not. They’re looking for talent.
Why else would they pay recruiters tens of thousands of dollars to fill a single key role?
They are getting applicants. But they’re looking for specific things.
You can use this concept with more than just a LinkedIn headline, but that’s where I see job seekers go wrong most often with this concept.
Here’s a job-landing trick nobody’s talking about:
Don’t just send a written application and/or resume… send a one-minute video.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
“This sounds like more work..”
“But I’m shy” or “I don’t do well on video”.
It doesn’t matter. Just making the effort will separate you from other job seekers A LOT.
And that’s the key… because most full-time jobs get more than 100 applicants these days!
If you think you’re going to stay 100% in your comfort zone, do what every other job seeker is doing, and still get noticed… it’s not going to work.
So research the company, record a one-minute video with your smartphone, and talk directly to them about why you like their company/job, and what you’d help them achieve/solve.
Then upload it to YouTube as “unlisted” (That way, it won’t appear in any searches. Only people with the link will see it).
Then, when you apply by email or any other method, put a note that you recorded a one-minute video for them, and share the link.
It’ll get watched, I guarantee it. And it’ll get you more interviews.
Plus, you’ll become more confident and comfortable the more you do this.
Of course, this works better in some industries than others. So use your best judgment. If you’re a marketer, for example, it’d work great. I’ve had software engineering managers say they don’t want to watch a video, though.
But my advice either way is: TEST it. Just send a few. YouTube will allow you to see how many times the video has been watched, so you’ll know pretty quickly if it’s working based on the number of views, and the number of interviews you’re getting.
Here’s the truth:
A job description is just the company’s wish-list. You never know if something is a hard requirement or not.
If you meet a job’s requirements by at least 60-70%, you should apply. You really never know.
You DON’T need a cover letter with every online job application… and you might be wasting hours sending them.
According to Harvard Business Review, there are only a few specific scenarios where a cover letter is truly needed.
I explain in detail in my new article:
In short, you should send a cover letter if you know the hiring manager’s name and/or were referred for the job or know something specific about the job requirements.
In that case, pointing out some key pieces of your background and how they relate to this job can help you win the interview. (Rather than leaving the analysis entirely up to the hiring manager).
However, if you don’t know the hiring manager and don’t know anything specific about the job’s requirements other than what’s on the job description, I recommend you SKIP the cover letter and let your resume speak for itself.
The main benefit: Saving HOURS.
I explain everything in more detail in my article here.
If you’re a job seeker who has been sending a cover letter with every job application, then this should save you a lot of time!
The most important part of online networking in a job search is: How to start the conversation and break the ice (without getting ignored).
If you don’t get that part down, then you can’t do anything else. It’s all about getting a reply.
Keep the message short and well-spaced to avoid overwhelming them at first glance, and ask for something small to start.
For example, if you’re looking for a new job…you could say:
I was thinking of applying to XYZ company. How have you enjoyed the work environment since joining? I read some positive reviews online but I always like to ask about this type of thing first-hand.
That will get you more replies and open the door to a longer conversation where you can build a relationship, which is what networking is really about.
But if you start by saying “Can you help me get a job at XYZ company?” that’s a HUGE request and most people won’t be comfortable replying.
Here’s a full article with more tips on cold outreach for networking.
I saw a LinkedIn post recently that was encouraging people to network because you’ll get more interviews if you’re introduced to a company.
(Which is 100% true, and is great job hunting advice!)
But then I saw someone left a comment saying it’s unfair that companies “play favorites” like this.
This caught my eye for a few reasons.
1. I don’t think this constitutes “playing favorites”. It’s just common sense for how to run a business.
If I need to hire a web designer, and I’ve got 100 online applicants, but then my friend says, “I know a great designer who has helped me on two projects. You should talk to them!”… then of course I’m going to interview them (probably first).
Businesses want to limit their risk. They want to hire people who are likely to succeed. And therefore, of course they’re going to trust a recommendation from someone they know.
2. I also think there’s no sense in complaining about this fact because ANYONE can go out and learn this. Anyone can network.
I teach this in my Job Search Accelerator course, and in many of my free materials. And so many other people do too.
So there’s really no excuse to not learn the basics of networking and start using it along with other job search techniques that you’re already using.
You can message new people. You can reconnect with past colleagues. You can join groups/communities online.
But it’s up to you to do it. I highly recommend learning this skill. It has a huge potential payoff.
This next piece of job search advice applies to almost everything you do – from your resume and cover letter to your LinkedIn profile.
Here it is:
If you want to get noticed by employers and get more interviews… make your messaging about THEM as much as possible.
Think about the commercials you see on TV. It’s never about the company. It’s about you.
Have you seen a McDonald’s ad saying, “We’re looking to sell more burgers. Please buy burgers this month”.
Never. Because it wouldn’t work.
The ad shows a juicy burger and is all about how YOU’LL feel with their product. Satisfied, happy, full!
Yet I see job seekers with LinkedIn headlines like, “Seeking a new opportunity”.
That’s 100% about what you want, but mentions nothing about what an employer will gain by hiring you. What are your skills? What did you accomplish in your last job? That’s what employers care about.
Companies like McDonald’s spend millions on advertising and have great people putting their campaigns together. There’s something you can learn from that!
Make your messaging be about your audience. That’s how you’ll get noticed and sell yourself successfully.
If you’re not getting interviews, it’s your resume or how you’re applying for jobs.
If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, it’s your interview skills (NOT your resume).
Job seekers email me asking for help, and they’re not always sure what to “fix” or work on, so I thought this would help.
If you need more help figuring out what to “fix” in your job hunt based on what results you’re seeing, I wrote this guide that breaks everything down further.
I see a lot of job seekers get caught up on job title…
The role is good. The pay is good. But they’re not sure about the title.
My advice: Take that job.
Future employers will focus on your past responsibilities. They’ll be able to figure out your level (by scope of work, or past salary if you share it).
Or, you could ask this employer to adjust the title. They may say “no” but it’s worth asking.
Either way, I’d take the job.
If you’re worried about a title holding you back… here’s how you could handle it next time you change positions.
Let’s say the interviewer asks, “Why are you ready for a Senior Director role? I see you’ve been at the Manager level for the past year.”
My current employer has job titles that aren’t in line with the overall market, and my role here is equivalent to a Director in other firms. When I took this job, the starting pay was $100,000, while I saw some Director jobs paying $80,000-$90,000 in this same industry. So I’m at the Director level now, and my responsibilities are on-par with Directors in other firms.
This is a huge career mistake that I see.
I think most people see job hunting or job change as “all or nothing”.
They’re either in a full-on job search…
Or they’re “not interested”… no matter what opportunity comes across their desk or what a recruiter says to them.
That’s the mistake.
Some of the best opportunities can come up when you’re already employed and pretty happy.
In fact, that makes you a lot more attractive to top employers. They see you performing well and happy in a job, and it makes them want to convince you to switch over and help THEM.
So if you’re only putting in effort on LinkedIn, networking, talking to recruiters, and considering jobs when you’re desperate, you’re holding yourself back in your career.
If you’re struggling to get hired, or just want an easier job search, find growth-stage companies that are hiring multiple people for the role you want.
This is how I landed my first job as a Recruiter.
The company was growing extremely fast and was looking to hire 10 entry-level people all at once.
So I didn’t need to be the best in the interview. I just had to be pretty good.
There’s a huge difference between going up against 10 people and having to be #1, versus just having to be pretty good.
AND – after you get hired, you’ll have great opportunities to advance and grow because the company is growing so fast.
This is how I got a chance to be a Project Manager, how I got a chance to train/mentor new hires, etc.
I received so many great opportunities that propelled my career forward (and my confidence), all because I joined a growth-stage company that was expanding quickly.
Here’s how to get started with this:
INC publishes a list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies each year. Search google for “INC 5000 fastest growing companies” and start applying!
I’ve seen so many job seekers stop everything and wait for feedback from one interview because they “know it’s the one”.
Along with risking a setback if they don’t hire you, it also lowers your confidence and raises your anxiety/nervousness when communicating with that company throughout the process, because you have no leverage and no other options!
Even if you have an amazing interview, you should still go home and apply for more jobs.
It’s going to do nothing but give you more options and boost your confidence with that company you loved!
And… there’s more than one amazing job out there. Stopping because you landed one interview for one job is a gamble, not a strategy.
At the bare minimum, wait until you’ve accepted a job offer to stop searching and tell other companies that you’re off the market. I might even wait until I’ve set a start date or had my first day of work, because you just never know what could happen!
How can you get better job security?
Is it working in a start-up? Or a large corporation?
It doesn’t matter. Both types of companies have layoffs, eliminate departments, restructure, shut their doors, etc.
The only REAL way to get job security is to build high-income skills that employers are looking for.
I’d recommend focusing on taking positions where you’ll build the most relevant, high-value skills for your industry and position.
That’s a much better approach than going through your career in fear, constantly choosing the safest choice just to slightly reduce your odds of being laid off.
Take control. Play offense instead of playing defense!
Should you accept a counter-offer?
You get a job offer so you go to your boss to resign. They say, “Wait, we really want to keep you. We’ll give you a $10,000 raise and make you a Team Lead.”
Sounds good, right?
There are a couple of big reasons to say, “no”, though.
When you go to resign, they’re only thinking about the short-term. There are deadlines to hit. Work to be done. And it takes time/energy to replace you, so they want to keep you for the short-term.
And they’ll say pretty much anything to do that.
There’s no guarantee that the long-term solution isn’t to replace you, though, when the timing is right for THEM.
This is why I recommend saying “no” to a counter-offer.
For more info on the risks of accepting a counter offer, read the full article here.
I’ve failed in more jobs than I’ve succeeded…
I started as a cashier at Whole Foods, got promoted to Supervisor, but then wasn’t mature enough, made mistakes, and was asked to step down to cashier.
I was fired from another job right after graduating from university.
Anxiety got the best of me, I didn’t learn the job well, and they let me go.
As a recruiter, I did well. But I got promoted to Project Manager and hated that, too. More anxiety. I was unhappy and asked to be demoted.
I was back to just working as a recruiter but knew this wasn’t my dream.
I wanted more.
Finally, I found something that works for ME – online business.
It’s not for everyone, but it’s what I needed to succeed and to play to my strengths.
My point is:
I’ve seen this over and over again among friends/colleagues and know it to be true!
You can fail at 10 things, and find one that you are great at, and you’re going to be successful.
You’re not limiting yourself by being narrow in your job search and targeting certain things.
Employers LOVE this.
They want to hire someone who has a clear goal in mind and can explain why this job fits what they want!
The truth is: You’re limiting yourself by NOT taking the time to identify what you want and target it.
If you’re willing to take any job, you’re very likely to end up with no job.
Sit down and think about your skills, strengths, and goals, and what type of role you really want!
I promise, you’re not missing out on opportunities by targeting one or two industries and ignoring the rest… or by targeting one or two job titles and not applying for anything else.
And you’re definitely not missing out by going into interviews and clearly explaining what you’re looking for and what you want to do!
I wouldn’t hire you until you can explain that, and most employers won’t, either.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these job searching tips, techniques, and advice. For access to even more great job search tips (200+ articles in total), visit our website homepage here.
It’s funny that people don’t start something because they’re afraid to fail… when the only guaranteed way to fail is to not start.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
How close is that to what you’re doing now?
How can you give your goals a shot without taking on too much risk?
If it’s a business idea, you can test/validate most ideas with just a few hundred dollars these days.
If it’s a career change, you can try to set up a few informational interviews or virtual coffees with people from the industry. Surely you can find one or two people who moved into the industry who are willing to tell you what it took and how it went.
And sure, you might fail. But you might succeed.
I think too many people ask themselves, “What if it doesn’t work?” and forget to ask, “What if it does work?”