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Your 4 Best Job Search Strategies for 2017

Timely advice from the editor of

By Susan P. Joyce

(This article previously appeared on

job search
Credit: Getty Images

Because they don’t understand today’s best job search strategies, many folks are struggling, searching for jobs for many months. The reason? They focus all their efforts on applying for jobs on job boards.

My advice: Stop applying for every job you find! Because:

  • Fewer than 15 percent of jobs are filled through job boards.
  • Job seekers face the most intensive competition on job boards because so many people spend all their time applying for every job they find.
  • Opportunities are limited to the jobs and employers visible in postings.

The 4 Best Job Search Strategies Today

The best strategy for 2017: Don’t gamble on winning the job board lottery.

Instead, leverage what works best. Here are four ways to do that:

1. Focus on being found  Being findable is essential for a successful job search and career today. If you aren’t visible online, presenting a coherent professional image, you aren’t going to be considered for most professional jobs.

When employers receive a job application, most then search the Internet (and, in particular, LinkedIn) to verify the “facts” on the resumé and to get a sense of personality (a.k.a. “fit”). Also, most recruiters and employers search for qualified job candidates online because that’s more effective than digging them out of the avalanche of applications, mostly unqualified, that result from typical job postings.

To be found, you must know your target job and, preferably, your target employers. Without that focus, you will be unable to find and leverage the right keywords when you apply — the words those employers use to search for someone qualified for the job you want. Without that focus, your job search will be much less effective. For advice on using keywords well, read To be Hired, Be Found: Your Best Keywords.

2. Leverage LinkedIn  LinkedIn is the “happy hunting ground” for most recruiters. It’s the first place most recruiters look for qualified candidates. If you haven’t already joined LinkedIn, stop waiting! Yes it takes time and effort to have an effective LinkedIn presence, but the longer you wait to join, the longer you will have to wait for a job offer.


Spend more time being professionally active and visible on LinkedIn than you do applying for jobs. Ideally, get into the habit of spending at least 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn. Done well, your next job may find you.

Then, raise your visibility inside of LinkedIn:

  • Connect to as many people there as you can. Because of the way LinkedIn search works, your visibility inside LinkedIn is dependent on the number of your connections.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups for your target location, your target field, your target employer, former employer alumni, your school’s alumni, your hobbies and other interests. “Lurk” for a while, and then, carefully, raise your visibility. “Like” and comment (politely and professionally) on good discussions. Post discussions (articles that are relevant to the Group’s topic and compliant with the Group’s rules). Focus on information related to your profession that is relevant to the Group.
  • Click on the “Jobs” link at the top of your LinkedIn home page,and then click on “Preferences” to make yourself more visible to recruiters and employers.
  • If you are a decent writer, post an article you have written on LinkedIn Pulse. The best topic would be something related to your job goal that would demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the topic.
  • If you don’t have a LinkedIn Profile, set one up. Be sure to include a nice, professional headshot photo of you looking like you would in an office —no friends, pets, or anything/anyone else. Just you, looking professional. (For more on using LinkedIn effectively, read To Be Hired, Be Found Where Recruiters Look.]

3. Clean up your online reputation and build professional visibility  If there is something online that will reflect poorly on you, delete as much of it as you can. Also, get yourself out there on sites like,, Google Plus, and (of course) LinkedIn. Share solid, relevant information related to your field and industry. Build a reputation, and a following, as a trusted source of good information. Visibility in those sites will help push any bad stuff about you down off the top of the first search page, gradually.

4. Practice “defensive Googling  By that, I mean you should Google yourself to see what employers and recruiters will find.

It’s possible that someone else with your name could be screwing up your job search. See if anyone with your name has done something you’d never want to be seen doing (being unprofessional, breaking the law, etc.) Potential employers might eliminate you from consideration without knowing that the evil person isn’t you.

You also want to see if there are any pictures of you doing things you wouldn’t want an employer to see, like drinking or smoking pot. And you want to check for any online posts where you’ve been nasty to someone or ranted about politics or religion. If you can, remove the embarrassing things, change the settings on your Facebook account to private, ask friends to remove you or untag you from their less-than-ideal posts.

The better you look online, the better your chances of getting hired.

Susan P. Joyce is editor and chief writer at and and chief blogger at, websites devoted to helping job seekers find employment. She is also a visiting scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Read More
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