By Irene McConnell of  Arielle Careers

What’s the #1 mistake that you can make when looking for a new job?

Well, for most people it begins when they head over to and start applying - with an out-of-date resume that is nothing more than a chronological list of roles and duties.

It gets worse when they make it their entire strategy, repeating this painful process a few times per week.

It's a numbers game, right? Well, not in 2016. It's a weak strategy which rarely leads to great results, for two reasons:

- it doesn’t leverage social media

- it relies on “let’s see what sticks” mentality, instead of taking a strategic, targeted approach.



If you’re serious about making quality, strategic career moves you can follow the 7-step checklist below into a great new role.

Before you start, a word of caution - this approach might seem time-consuming. You will be tempted to skip parts of it.

That's normal. Just notice the temptation and ignore it because if you skip parts, you'll be talking to recruiters and hiring managers unprepared - and wasting your time while throwing away opportunities.

My aim is to ensure that you don't waste time on countless resume versions, pointless emails, dead-end conversations and unsuccessful interviews.


Think of it this way. A General who is serious about winning a battle doesn’t start by throwing all of his troops directly at the enemy position.

Instead, he begins by studying his opponent, understanding their strengths, needs and weaknesses, understanding those of his own, sending troops to strategically favourable positions - and only then making contact.

(OK, so my enemy analogy might not be the best fit - you shouldn’t view recruiters as opponents that you must conquer. However the message is relevant - a targeted strategy, combined with a deep understanding of your value, as well as issues faced by your target industry/company will beat starting with a “spray and pray” approach every time.

Without further delay, here’s the checklist to guide you along:

1. Targeting:

- What kind of role(s) are you interested in?

- At which company (or companies)?

- Why?

- Do you have the skills, experience and traits that the company would be looking for in order to position yourself as a strong contender for the role?

2. Industry And Company Research:

- Are you following the company on LinkedIn and Twitter?

- Are you reading the company blog?

- Have you done extensive Googling about company's activity for the past 10 years?

- Have you searched AFR.COM.AU for the company name? (Hint: use this syntax in Google to bring up a useful list of pages: “company name”.

- How has the company performed? What has it done that’s noteworthy/interesting/dubious? What could it have done better/differently (this will come in useful in interviews later).

3. Personal Brand Positioning.

- Do you know your value, and can you articulate it?

- Are you able to connect your skills and experiences to industry challenges as well as specific organisational business challenges?

- Do you have examples of how you’ve helped a similar business or industry before (IOW you know how to work within these operating conditions)

- Do you understand intimately what the hiring manager would be looking for?

- Can you articulate (with conviction and flair) why are you the most appropriate candidate for the task? What makes you different? How does your value tie into solving the company's needs?

4. Personal Brand Collateral Development.

- Is your resume up to scratch? In other words, does it articulate your value in such a way that a hiring manager will understand how you can solve his/her problems? Are you positioning yourself as ‘unique’ enough?

- LinkedIn: is your profile up to scratch (see above)? Are you sure? Does it tell the story of your brand in a commercially relevant manner, rather than rehashing your resume?

- How is your LinkedIn profile photo looking? Does it reinforce or detract from your brand?

- Do you need an executive bio? If so, do you have one that captures your brand?

5. Online Presence Building.

- Are you publishing GOOD content on LinkedIn? (If your friend is starting a business, then writing a LinkedIn blog post in which you announce the good news does not good content make).

- Are you posting GOOD updates? Make sure what you post doesn’t de-value your brand (e.g., don’t post relentlessly that your company is  holding a seminar tomorrow - or other company updates).

- IMPORTANT: Is the content that you're posting connected to what you care about and what you value? Does it reinforce your brand (e.g., if you’re a CFO you could write about how to tackle your first IPO; if you’re a GM you could write about how to maintain culture in a rapidly growing company, etc).

6. Networking.

- Do you know how to discover recruiters/hiring managers who can help you?

- Do you know how to start building relationships with recruiters/hiring managers?

- Do you know how to connect with recruiters/hiring managers if there isn’t a particular job that you want to apply for?

- Do you know how the digital age altered the job search world since last time you’ve looked for the job? Does knowing this change your approach?

7. Interview Preparation.

- Do you know how to talk about your career with impact?

- Do you know how to talk about your achievements with impact?

- Do you know how to talk about your background in a way that is relevant to the needs of the listener, be it the recruiter, hiring manager, or HR Manager?

- Do you know how to weave a cohesive story through your career moves?

- Have you done mock interviews?


If you're like most professionals, you'll notice that you're stronger in some areas than others.

You might be a strong interviewer, for example, but a not-too-keen networker. Or your personal branding collateral might be on the ball, but your online presence might need attention.

That's perfectly normal - the checklist will help you identify your weaknesses, so that you start fixing them.

Remember that your job search strategy is only as strong as the weakest element in it.

Source: Professional Mums

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