It’s all in the strategy: Tips for landing that dream job

Approaching the job hunt with the right strategy can make all the difference. Here are some expert tips to set yourself apart and find employment.

Work your network
Reach out to your network when you are looking for work, starting with the people you know and trust, and be specific.

“Have a real focus or target in terms of the job that you’re seeking,” says Shirin Khamisa, career counsellor and founder of Careers by Design coaching services. “When you know what you’re looking for, then you can ask for what you need.”

“Your friends and your extended networks can’t always know what you have to offer.”

Many jobs are filled without the position even hitting an online job board. Having a contact within the organization will give you an inside edge when something comes up.

A personal referral can be a real game changer – research has shown that between 30 and 50 per cent of hires in the U.S. stem from referrals.

Leverage a company’s incentive program to get a referral

Some companies offer their employees cash to find them new hires — use this to your advantage. Find out if a company you’d like to work for offers such an incentive, then see if anyone in your network, or secondary network (friend of a friend) works at that company.

“It’s in the interest of the employees to refer you in,” says Mark Franklin, CareerCycles practice leader and president.

With an employee referral you get your foot in the door, and if the job works out, your contact gets a cash bonus.

“You have to present yourself as a trusted candidate…to get a referral. What you avoid then is having to go through the front door of a regular job posting, competing with everyone else for that opportunity.”

Put yourself out there

It’s not enough to sit behind a computer and apply to jobs online.

“People hire people, they don’t hire paper,” says Alan Kearns, CareerJoy founder. “People rely too much on technology.”

These days job searchers need to have their eggs in all the baskets — asking friends for connections, networking events, online profiles (which are kept up to date, of course), and participating in courses or associations.

Know your own brand

When someone asks what you do, don’t simply tell them you’re an accountant or in sales; know what you have to offer that isn’t defined by a job title.

“Know thyself,” says Kearns. “Figure out what makes you unique in the marketplace. Know your brand.”

Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and market yourself to an employer with what you can do for them. Market yourself as an innovator in your field.

“Is there is something you can do in your industry that’s going to differentiate yourself?” Kearns says. “Organizations are looking for people that can really make an impact quickly.”

Stay positive

The job hunt can be a soul-crushing experience. Be nice to yourself, and definitely don’t hermit.

“Many people have a lot of time when they’re unemployed, that they feel too guilty to do much,” Khamisa says. “Feel like you have permission to do things that you enjoy, because that sparks creativity and connections.”

“It’s really important to be kind to yourself when you’re job searching.”