Job Search Process

For those linear thinkers, here’s a suggested step-by-step job-search plan.

Step 1: Scan the Environment

  • Investigate trends, issues and developments in your industry (online, networking meetings, professional associations/journals, local business publications).
  • Analyze ads/online postings to determine companies and industries that need your skills.
  • Expand your network to include related industries and professions.
Step 2: Determine Your Professional Objective
  • Self assessment: What do you do best? What do you like to do? What are your priorities?
  • Professional assessment: Specialized areas of knowledge? Key roles? Specialized skills? Accomplishments to highlight?
  • Draft a sentence or phrase that concisely describes the kind of work you are seeking.
Step 3: Create Your Personal Marketing Plan
  • Determine your exit statement — why you’re looking. An exit statement should be brief, non-defensive, truthful and positive.
  • Define your unique advantage in the marketplace.
  • Create your positioning statement. It presents an overall message to your target market.
  • Target your resume to deliver a consistent and strong theme/thread.
Step 4: Define and Cultivate Your Target Market
  • Identify specific organizations/companies to pursue (50 is a manageable goal).
  • Consider geographic location, industry or type of organization, size and organizational culture.
  • Ask others for suggestions and input.
Step 5: Gather Marketplace Information
  • Collect additional information about your target list — talk to others, do Internet research, etc.
  • Compile list of questions to ask people within your target organizations so you can be most effective when networking.
  • Set up a system to organize information and keep track of contacts.
Step 6: Get Your Message Out
  • Word-of-mouth advertising about your qualifications and availability.
  • Increase your visibility.
  • Network, network, network with hiring managers.
Step 7: Talk with Hiring Managers
  • Explore their needs; link your benefits to their needs.
  • Share your target list with your contacts.
  • Direct approach with hiring managers, if applicable.
Step 8: Explore Other Search Options
  • Search firms.
  • Listservs.
  • Direct company websites.
Step 9: Interview, Cultivate Offers, Negotiate
  • Competence + compatibility + chemistry = organization’s perspective
  • Competence + compatibility + chemistry + compensation = your perspective
  • Be clear about what they need and the value you bring.
  • Do your homework on compensation before the negotiation starts.


The Encyclopedia of Associations is a comprehensive source of detailed information on more than 135,000 nonprofit membership organizations worldwide. Available online through most libraries.

Wikipedia has a comprehensive list, too.

Check the business section of your local newspaper (including your city’s business journal) for a weekly calendar of professional organization gatherings. Sign up for newsletters and event notifications so you can stay on top of what’s happening in your local market.


Aggregate Job Board: Indeed. Great for researching keywords, related positions, and locating industry organizations/sites for specialized fields.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Government site for researching careers, including training and education requirements, job earnings, working conditions, expected job prospects and job descriptions. Very little information about niche fields or more unusual career segments.

Match your skills to occupational areas with O*NET OnLine.

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Seekers
—Jay Conrad Levinson & David E. Perry

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
—Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

Monster Careers: Networking
—Jeffrey Taylor and Doug Hardy

Career Comeback
—Bradley Richardson

Now, Discover Your Strengths
—Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer
—Susan Britton Whitcomb

Work It! How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass, and Land a Job in Any Economy
—Allison Hemming

What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here?: 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired
—Cynthia Shapiro

Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People
—Carol Eikleberry and Richard Nelson Bolles

Boost Your Hiring IQ
—Carole Martin

101 Smart Questions to Ask on Your Interview
—Ron Fry

101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions
—Ron Fry

Get the Interview Every Time!
—Brenda Greene

Willamette University

Alumni and Parent Engagement

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-375-5304 voice
503-370-6830 fax

Back to Top