Blog

What Successful Job Seekers Do Well

By Gerald Walsh ©

As a recruiter, people often ask me what they’re doing wrong when it comes to finding a job. They worry that their resume is poorly written, their interviewing skills are bad, or their qualifications are dated.

But what I’ve learned over the years is in many cases people aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s what they’re not doing that matters.

There are reasons why some people are more successful than others in their job searches. Here is what I have learned about what successful job seekers do:

1. They take care of themselves.

Successful job seekers live active, healthy, and balanced lives. They eat well, and get lots of exercise and plenty of rest. They spend time with family and friends, and participate in activities they enjoy.

They know that if they follow these simple strategies, they will have energy and enthusiasm for their search, and be able to withstand the occasional reject letter.

2. They build and maintain strong personal connections.

Successful job seekers build and maintain an array of personal connections and relationships that includes friends, relatives, former employers, colleagues, business associates, association members, community leaders, former professors – just about everyone they know.

But here’s the key: Even if they’re not looking for a new job now, they maintain these relationships by reaching out regularly. They send a holiday or birthday greetings, invite them to lunch, and offer help when needed. They know that giving now may help them down the road at critical stages in their career.

3. They are passive job seekers at all times.

The most successful job seekers are ones who always keep their ‘eyes and ears’ open for good opportunities – even if they are not actively looking to make a change. They may be satisfied in their current role but they are always aware of the job market in their field. They have a good network of contacts. They know who is hiring and they know what they are worth.

4. They maintain an active online presence.

Successful job seekers make themselves visible using social media as employers are increasingly accessing tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to find and screen candidates.

But they don’t limit themselves to posting a profile or checking news feeds once a day. They actively participate by contributing relevant articles and blogs in their field of interest. They also ensure that any inappropriate photos, offensive comments, or evidence of excessive drinking, are non-existent on various sites.

5. They customize everything.

When applying for jobs, successful job seekers take the time to customize their cover letter, resume, and interview answers to match the employer’s needs. They do the opposite of what most other job seekers do, which is to send in templated cover letters, use the same resume for every job they apply for, and give vague, generalized answers to any interview question they are asked.

Instead, successful job seekers stand out by using their cover letter and resume to show the employer how their background and experience meets the stated requirements, and they give detailed examples when answering interview questions.  

6. They make a strong first and lasting impression.

Successful job seekers follow a few simple strategies to make a good impression: be on time, have a strong handshake and friendly greeting, dress appropriately, maintain eye contact, listen well, be engaging, and smile.

Employers prefer to hire people they like and who impress them. In fact, employers will often reject candidates who may be stronger technically but come across as arrogant or egotistical.

7. They anticipate the interview questions.  

When preparing for interviews, successful job seekers review the job description and prepare a list of questions they will likely be asked. Then, they prepare their answers to those questions and conduct a practice interview with a friend or family member. They know that good preparation and planning are key.

8. They always follow up with a thank-you note.

Successful job seekers use the most under-utilized tool in the job search process: the thank-you note. They recognize that a well-written note gives them the chance to highlight key points about their background and summarize why they are a good candidate. It also gives them the opportunity to point out any things they may have forgotten to say in the interview.

And, finally, it gives them an occasion to express their gratitude for being given the opportunity to meet with the employer, even if they were unsuccessful in getting the job.

A question for you: On a scale of 1 – 10, how do you compare to successful job seekers?

To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at walsh@geraldwalsh.com


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.