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Mark Shortall Founder & Leadership Talent Partner

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Designing your Job Search Strategy

Think about the most effective recruiting process you've been part of and apply this same rigour to your search.

Everyone in People & Talent gives the best advice, but it all goes out the window when it's suddenly emotional and your ego is on the line. It's this irony that has kept me so interested in HR recruitment over the years.

I've spoken to incredibly successful people who start to second-guess their worth when the inevitable rejection comes. I know it's hard, but you need to focus on what you can control with your search. You already know recruiting is 99% rejection, so treat it like a standard recruiting process and take a more systematic approach to remove some of the emotion. It's a numbers game about high-quality output to close that dream role.

Think about the most effective recruiting process you've been part of and apply this same rigour to your search. Here are some steps to consider:

Identify your needs & values

Do a deep dive reflection on your career so far. What environments did you enjoy, what aspects of your role gave you energy, and what are your development plans? I know it's annoying, but you need to start with your CV and not treat it like an admin afterthought. If you can't tell your own story, you need to spend more time reflecting on who you are and what you can offer. I've shared some tips and a template here to help with this.If you still need direction, think about working with a career coach. They'll give you the toolkit and a safe space to help you identify your values and needs.

Define your ideal "Company Persona"

Now that you have a clear role in mind, what does your ideal company look like? It's okay to be open-minded to all options, but you should know what sectors you are most interested in and what company growth stage is least likely to cause a meltdown. Not everyone is built for startup life or larger corporate politics. Think about how much weight you put on a company's mission and what growth opportunities they can offer you. It's honourable to want to work in GreenTech, but think about your ideal role first and who is likely to need your skillset. It might surprise you how passionate you become about FinTech B2B SaaS if their core values match yours and your role needs are met. Rank them in order of preference for the first wave of your search. Narrowing down your options will give you much more focus and help you create the company target list I'll mention later.

Promote your "Employee Brand"

You are not a brand. You are a human but think about employer marketing strategies. There's no shame in adding the "Open to Work" banner on LinkedIn if you're not confidentially searching. It's odd that people even debate this. Being an "active" candidate doesn't make you less attractive than a "passive" one. Connect with more peers in your target companies and start posting on LinkedIn for visibility. If this idea gives you palps, start with baby steps and engage with other people's posts. I know it's tempting, but don't start by bashing your industry ("Recruitment is broken", "Candidate Experience is awful") without offering some clear solutions or ideas to help. Position yourself as a problem solver.

Apply a "Source of Hire" strategy

There are four clear avenues to secure your next role, and you should distribute your energy and time across them all. Apply the average industry stats when you think about a recruitment funnel:

40% Referrals – Run through your connections and start networking with ex-colleagues and past stakeholders. Let them know what you're looking for, ask for LinkedIn recommendations and give them some value back so it doesn't feel all one-sided. They're your most likely source, so treat them carefully.

30% Direct – Ignore the number of applicants listed on a job. I can tell you it's wildly inaccurate, and you should back your chances more. There might be 500 applicants, but I can guarantee that less than 10% of them hit the brief. Take the time to tailor your CV so it's clear that you do. If you don't hear back, send a follow-up and move on. It's not worth your time taking it to heart. It's often not about you or your background. They might have an ideal "candidate persona" in mind, and it's not you. Just like every company you ruled out earlier.

20% Sourcing – Build a long list of companies you're interested in and send a message even if they aren't hiring. Letting someone know you love what they're building and would love to help is not cringe. Think about creating a pitch deck rather than sending a CV for this outreach. Communicate like a tech business would when fundraising and showcase your value-add in a concise and compelling way. You already know that LinkedIn's inbox is hell, so don't take it to heart if you don't get a reply. Assume that person means well, and it's not personal. Think about the average inMail acceptance rate and all the candidates who didn't come back to you. They're just not interested right now, but they might change their minds in the future when their situation changes.

10% Agencies – Identify recruitment specialists you can trust. You know we're paid to find "unicorns" and not to find people jobs. Think of this as a longer-term relationship. We might not have the perfect role for five years, but we try to help when possible. Send them an email that showcases your value-add and clearly outlines what you're looking for. "Can you look at my CV and let me know if you have any jobs?" puts all the work on them. Think about the candidates who have done this to you in the past and how you felt about it. And be kind. We're not all Rolex-wearing sales monsters. Most of us are often just caught in the middle of you all, stressing how to improve the process for everyone involved.

Interview Preparation

Now, the horror really begins. I'm building more interview preparation guides here on our website to help, so bear with me.