Job search strategies

Finding the right role

An effective job search strategy focuses on quality, not quantity. Here’s how to develop your plan and target the right employers and roles.

In this Section


Before you get started, we suggest you do the following:

  • Identify your first, second and third function and industry preferences and outline them in RCareer.
  • Review the Career Curriculum Calendar, which includes dates for Campus Recruitment events and workshops.
What is RCareer?


RCareer is your “go to” career portal, where you can create your profile (career preferences, work experiences and skills), sign up for coaching appointments, upload your resume and cover letter, review and apply to job postings, and register for career workshops and company events.

Targeting jobs and companies

The most common job search method is to scour online job boards. However, studies have shown that only 20% to 25% of all jobs are formally advertised. People who don’t tap into the “hidden job market” likely miss out on a wealth of opportunities.


Finding unadvertised opportunities requires a proactive approach: targeting. This is a highly effective job search strategy, yet it’s also the most underused. Rather than sending out hundreds of applications and hoping for the best, we recommend focusing on specific companies and job functions, and finding the right people to connect with for key information and access. Doing your homework makes you a well-informed candidate, and it narrows your search to the opportunities that fit you best.


  • Focus on companies that meet YOUR specific criteria, such as industry, type of organization, size, growth potential, organizational culture, location, length of commute and other factors.
  • Become a subject matter expert in your target industry or industries to learn about trends (are companies growing or downsizing, what skills are in demand, etc.) Make use of what you learned in the Scanning your horizon section.
  • Develop and maintain a target company list and then network into those organizations.

The 2-Hour Job Search

There are many ways to develop your target company list, but we recommend using the LAMP method by Steve Dalton, as explained in his book The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Find the Right Job Faster.


L – Generate your LIST of potential targets (minimum 40 employers).

– Focus on ALUMNI contacts.

M – MOTIVATION – rate employers from 1 to 5, with 5 denoting your dream employer.

P – Does the company have a job POSTING? This is a proxy measure of whether the company is hiring.


Sort employers first by Motivation (high to low), second by Postings and third by Alumni. Focus on your target employers that are currently hiring.


Find the LAMP list spreadsheet on the first sheet of our Job Search Tracker workbook.

TIARA: Questions for informational meetings

TIARA is the acronym for Steve Dalton’s suggested approach to asking questions at informational meetings: Trends, Insights, Advice, Resources, Assignments. Dalton includes TIARA in his book, The 2-Hour Job Search.


This structure maximizes the likelihood of a successful informational meeting that not only builds rapport with your contact but also elicits usable information. TIARA is built on the premise that you begin the conversation by treating your contact as an expert. Over the course of the meeting, your questions will shift in tone and depth so that you frame your contact more personally as a potential mentor or coach, maximizing the chance that you’ll turn them into an advocate.




  • What trends are impacting your business/field most right now?
  • How has your business or field changed most since you started?
  • How do you think your business or field will change most dramatically in the next several years?
  • How do you see the industry evolving (e.g., current state, new entrants, etc.)?




  • I would appreciate hearing about your:

Time at ________________

Career path in the ______________ industry

What you enjoyed doing the most in your career to date

  • What surprises you most about your job/field/employer?
  • What’s the best lesson you’ve learned on the job?
  • What’s been your most valuable experience at your employer so far, and why?
  • If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be?
  • Is that trait shared by many across the organization, or is it unique and you’ve adapted it to your advantage?




  • What can I be doing right now to prepare myself for a career in this field?
  • If I got hired, what should I be sure to do within the first 30 days to get off to the fastest start possible?
  • What do you know now that you wished you’d known when you were in my position?
  • If you were me, what would you be doing right now to maximize your chances of breaking into this industry/field/function?
  • What skills and abilities are most sought after in/at [field/employer]?




  • What resources should I be sure to look into next?
  • What next steps would you recommend for someone in my situation?
  • Can you think of anyone I should speak to next?




  • What project(s) have you done that you felt added the most value?
  • Have any projects increased in popularity recently at your organization?
  • Have you had interns/new graduates in the past? If so, what sort of projects have they done?


Read more about informational meetings in our Networking section.

Assessing your career change risk

Career transitions involve effort and risk. We all have different capacities for each, and it’s important to consider how much you can handle. This will help you develop realistic expectations and plan your job search strategy.


Download our Risk Tolerance Self Assessment for Career Switchers worksheet to assess your preparation and risk tolerance.

Identifying your work environment preferences

What kind of work environment appeals to you? Company characteristics vary widely, so it’s worth thinking about which settings you work and feel best in. If you have strong preferences, this could narrow down your search considerably.


Download the Identifying My Work Environment Preferences worksheet.

SWOT analysis

Completing a SWOT analysis for your career search will help you distinguish yourself from your peers and identify your gaps. It will also help you understand what you can and can’t change, so you can focus on what’s within your control



What makes you unique?

What do you do well?


What areas need improvement?

What are others likely to see as weaknesses?


What is occurring in the market (industry/location/organization)?


Who is your competition?

Learn more

Next steps


Next: Campus recruiting