Job search is not a ‘fun’ project for most of us. Few people really understand that they are selling themselves. You need to look at job search as if it is a marketing plan. Because, yes, it is.

First: What are you selling to what audience?

Focusing on exactly what you want to do next is a basic step in job search. Too many people just assume that if they are in job E, the next job is job F. But is that really what you want to do?

Try this exercise:

  • List the specific things you love to do most in your work and volunteer or community activities.
  • Then look at  jobs which build on those skills and interests.

So, someone who is an intelligence analyst might also discover cleared and non-cleared jobs in police work, corporate security, big data, marketing, cybersecurity, or a wide range beyond.

Once you have some ideas of the skills and interests you want to use most, plug those into an aggregator such as or a job board such as ClearedJobs.Net if you want to remain in the cleared community.

  • Take a look at 70-80 jobs.
  • Pick out the 15-20 which most interest you and explore them in depth.
  • What are the requirements and how do you match?
  • What employers are hiring for these positions?
  • Then research the employers who need those jobs done and find the ones which match your goals and needs.

You may still decide that job F is actually where you want to go.  Either way, you are far more ready to build a solid resume that clearly demonstrates how your past achievements offer value to your target employers. And understand what you want to target in an employer.

Second: How will you connect to target employers?

Far too many job seekers sit at their computers looking for jobs and applying online. But that is not the smart way to get hired. So set up a job agent at the right places, like niche boards in your field, to get the best jobs sent to you. Then spend your time doing the work to find the job match where you really can grow and succeed.

Most companies love to hire employee referrals and research consistently shows that is a top source for new hires. This means you need to be working your current network for assistance in all aspects of your job search. You need to find people at your target companies, whether through your existing network or online, and develop real connections with them.

The same networking principle is true at professional and trade groups’ meetings and job clubs. Reach out to speakers you hear or those who write articles of interest or are regularly commenting on your LinkedIn groups. Connect with the recruiters at potential targets via LinkedIn too. Follow people on Twitter. Join the right Google+ groups. Participate in webinars and hangouts and tweetchats. Find the best resources for your needs and use them.

Go to job fairs. Don’t go to just any – but do go to those which are targeted to your field and needs. Prepare first by researching the employers who will attend. Make sure you target those you are interested in and research others which may be a match. Prep your elevator speech so that each recruiter will know immediately what you want and why you are interested in their specific company. Don’t forget to talk with other attendees too. You might learn useful information about a company or the market. You might be able to help someone as well – which actually improves how you come across to the recruiters you talk with.

Also consider the direct approach. Find the manager you want to work for and use your network to get an introduction. Then write/email the person directly and explain your interest and say what you could add to the function and company. Ask for a telephone conversation or meeting. Follow-up.

Third: Review Your Presentation

At every job fair, there are individuals who are not dressed correctly for the event. Across social media, there are people who are the equivalent of badly dressed for the event. Don’t be ‘that guy.’  Present your best self in person and in all your marketing materials.

Ask people in your network or family to check your marketing materials. This includes your resume, business/networking card, LinkedIn and other social media profiles. You want to be sure each is clear, presents your best skills and attributes, is focused for your targets, and has correct grammar and spelling. That may mean you want ideas from several connections – then take the best and use them. Don’t forget a crisp headshot, in business attire, and smiling for your online profiles.

When you are attending a business event or a job fair, be sure you are dressed right for the job you want next. In government contracting or big companies that often means traditional business attire. Transitioning military? Get into business clothes, since the message your uniform sends is mostly that you are not mentally ready to transition yet.

Do you come across as a ‘product’ your targets want to buy? That is your goal. Being visible as someone with clear goals, great skills and achievements relevant to those goals, professional, and with a positive attitude goes a long way to getting you the job you want!

Adapted from as originally published on