Conducting an effective job search

Finding the right job for you isn't just about working for the first person who hired you. Here are ways to find a job that will lead to a career.

You’ve created the cover letter, polished up your resume, and hit “send” on the application, but stop and think for a second: Do you really know about the job you just applied for or are you—let’s face it—clueless?

You may be thinking, “Yes, it’s a job and I need one,” but approaching your job search with that mentality can keep you from finding the right job for you. We call it “clueless job-seeking.” Lack of industry and job research is the number one reason why many job searches fail, experts say.

“When a job fits your personality and skills, you are more likely to succeed. You must see out a job that not only fits with your personal goals, but one that also requires your key skills,” says Roxanne Peplow, a professional development instructor at Computer Systems Institute in the Chicago area.

How do you avoid being a clueless job-seeker? Follow these two first essential steps along the way to finding a job:

1. Conduct a targeted job search.

Once you have identified industries fitted to your key skills, you can begin identifying specific jobs within those industries, Peplow says. Basically, don’t just apply for a job because it is available, but determine how it is the best match for you. Determine open positions in jobs for which you are qualified, which will keep you from being under-qualified or over-qualified for a job and get you hired in a position where you can excel and find professional fulfillment.

2. Research companies and their mission.

“Now that you have identified what kinds of jobs you are interested in, you must decide where you would like to work,” Peplow says. Get insight into the company’s mission and the direction they are headed (a good company will have this information on their website). You can also use this information to your advantage when being interviewed, to show you have done your homework.

If you find yourself getting discouraged in your job search and starting to submit applications for jobs and companies you have not researched, following these steps can help you renew your focus and land the best job for you.