You know the drill.

We go to school, get the degree, and somehow land that first gig. But one thing colleges and universities don’t teach is how to actually find a job. You would think after investing fifty, eighty, or maybe even one hundred thousand dollars or more in an education the least they could do is actually help you land that first gig. But they don’t.

And what about after college? How many people really keep up with what works and what doesn’t in the job search? Unless you own a career transition company, like me, not many.

I’ve seen many, many smart, well-educated and experienced professionals tread water and spin their wheels for months on end not because they lack the skills for the job, but the skills to actually land the job.

It seems for every piece of good advice, there’s the antithesis or an equally bad piece of career advice to counter it.

So, what’s to believe?

Technology is changing, which means the economy is changing, which means the job market is changing – especially in how candidates are evaluated, interviewed, and ultimately hired. Most of the job search techniques that were commonplace even 5 years ago are now outdated and ineffective.

Here’s your remedy: Four DIY-friendly actionable steps you can take right now to reduce your job search time by 50% or more. Not theory, not hypothesis, not lip-speak or smack-talk. These techniques have all been tried and proven to work by many of our clients and myself and they will work for you too—guaranteed.

1- Use LinkedIn for more than just connecting

If you’re going to do business—any type of business—in 2018 you need not just “a” but a super-strong LinkedIn profile. You can build a network of solid professional contacts, conduct company research, investigate key decision makers, detail your brand, areas of expertise, and work history, and search jobs.

One of the little-known power techniques we employ at Ascend is using the InMail function to reach out to decision makers after applying for a position, and in some cases preemptively, when no position is advertised. The success rate (response resulting in meeting or conversation) using this technique is 20-35%. Are you getting that from clicking “Apply Now” on a job board? Probably not.

2- Networking is a must!

You’ve heard this a thousand times. But, are you actually doing it?

Remember humans?  You know, those fleshly creatures with arms, legs, and eyeballs? In addition to a solid LinkedIn strategy, if you’re not getting out there and building your brand through plain old fashioned face-to-face contact, you’re greatly reducing your chances of finding an ideal position. More people are hired via networking than any other job search technique, so make it a point to regularly attend functions, events, MeetUps and association meetings per your career objectives. Ensure you’re well-prepared with a short conversational description of who you are and what you are targeting. Never ask for a job but for tips, advice, and recommendations.

 3- Assemble a Branded Resume and Optimize it for ATS Programs

So, what’s an ATS program? It’s the computer program that is now reading your resume once, and maybe even twice or three times, for the position as it weeds out the unqualified candidates for 70-80% of the positions you’re applying for. There is simply too much competition right now for the good jobs among highly qualified applicants to take a bland, vanilla approach where your resume is concerned. Utilizing a resume that describes you as a jack-of-all-trades (and ultimately master of none) in an attempt to cast a wide net to catch any sort of job is a sure-fire method for ensuring a long or endless job search.  Determine your respective job search target and assemble a Branded Resume for the type of job you are pursuing. Optimize it by working in relevant keywords from the job description—this will up your ATS score. Couple it with a highly-focused and detailed cover letter where appropriate. Circle back with an InMail to the hiring manager at the target company as described earlier and you’ve just maximized your chances for success.

4- Ace the Interview: The Job Business Plan and Brag Book

A Job Business Plan (around ten PowerPoint slides) is a mini-business plan you present to the prospective employer during the interview or, in certain cases, before the interview phase.  It is designed to show them that you took the time to assess their business needs and have used your creativity and business intellect in designing a results-based action plan to offer solutions. This one step can literally win the job for you.

Good interviewers also want to see testimonials, references, and validation of the product (you!) before they buy. A Brag Book is a professional portfolio—usually a three-ring binder or PDF on an iPad or similar—that details documented academic and professional achievements.  By employing this strategy and presenting it during an interview, you are stating to Company XYZ that you are someone who always does more than expected, are a high-achiever, and approaches your job in a very well-organized and pragmatic manner.


How much more would you actually earn if you could chop two, three or maybe even six months off of your job search? $5000, $20,000 or even $100,000? Then the time is now to employ new strategies for a new job market. Yes, some of these techniques take guts and courage to employ. Practice. Anything worth having is worth failing for at first.

Good luck!

Want samples of impactful LinkedIn InMails, Job Business Plans, a Brag Book Checklist, or Branded Resumes? Great! Send us an email at [email protected].