Take Control Of Your Job Search

A 5-step checklist to make sure you're taking the right initiative when looking for a job.

4 min read


When it comes to looking for a new job some people opt for the ‘shotgun’ approach. This approach applies when sending your CV out to as many companies as possible, or posting it to a job board. Then waiting, and waiting some more …… and maybe a little bit more.

You may get a response from a company – wahoo! But do you even remember applying to them? And what is it that the company does? But you have been asked for an interview, so that has to be good, right?!

This is actually quite a common approach. Why?  Because people believe this is how you search for a new job.  Do we get taught how to search for a new job anywhere along the way?  I think we just figure it ourself as we go and learn from past experiences and those around us.

When you take control of your job search and put a plan in place, the process will feel a whole lot easier and it will help you land the job you want, much faster.


When the lure of a new job or company is tempting, it is a sign that something is amiss in our current situation.  This could be a result of a few factors including; salary, job responsibilities, a feeling that you are not appreciated or an unhappy work environment, whatever it is that is making you unhappy – identify it and be clear as to why you are looking to change.

Identifying the root cause will really help you in discovering what you need and want from your next position. It is also possible that when you have identified what is making you unhappy you might be in a position to rectify this with your current company.  If the decision is clear and it is time to move on, follow the next steps wholeheartedly. This is about your life and your career and it’s time to take control.



Make a list of your top companies. The following questions may help;

  • What company(s) would you love to work with? (Don’t hold back here)
  • What sector interests you?  If you want to change sectors have a clear understanding about why you want make the change. 
  • Do you want to work for a startup,  a mid-sized company or a large organisation?
  • Do you want to work with a Recruitment Agency? If so, I would recommend you choose one (max two) to help with your search.
  • What job boards are best for your industry? When you find an exciting job that is advertised and you are not familiar with the company add this to your list and do step 3 before applying.



This point is really important when applying and interviewing with a company. Conducting research will give you a greater insight into potential employers and it will allow you to make informed decisions. At this early stage those decisions will help you understand if this is a company you would like to work for, or at the least a company you wish to explore further. Knowledge is a powerful tool and the company will also be very impressed that you have taken the time and interest. Do remember that this process is as much an exploration for you as it is the company.

  • What does this company do?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What value can you add to this company?
  • Does the company’s mission fit in with your values?

From a Recruiter’s perspective: It is a wonderful start to an interview when you speak with a candidate who has prepared and who has researched your company. Get off to a good start.


4.  CV

Your CV is going to tell your story and should highlight your experience, your strengths and your achievements. Remember your CV needs to get you noticed.  Take the time to review your current CV and if you have been using the same version for the last number of years, perhaps it is time to revamp completely (as opposed to continuous updates). 

A word of advice – It is always wise to ensure your CV (and cover letter if you decide on one) is relevant for the job you are applying for! Read this post for more tips on how to improve your CV. 



Option 1:  You go to the careers site of one of the top companies on your list and they have a suitable job advertised – winner!  You can apply directly or if you know somebody working at the company you can reach out to them and they can refer you.  Most companies run a referral program where your application will be highlighted as a referral and reviewed as a priority. Should you be successful in joining the company your friend will receive a bonus and everybody is happy.

Option 2:  You go to the careers site of the top companies on your list and there is no suitable job advertised. Keep faith all is not lost, it just may take a little longer.

The world of recruitment moves at a very quick pace and you don’t know what might be in the company’s future plans.  If there is a company you are passionate about working with, I would advise you to network:

  • Alumni from university or previous companies may be working there.  You can make contact and ask if they are available for a coffee, expressing that you are interested in working at the company. Even if you don’t know them directly people are willing to help.
  • Make direct contact with somebody at the company that has a similar skill set to you or a manager in your field. Chose one person, you can connect via Linkedin and express your interest, start building your network.
  • Reach out to the internal recruitment team, you never know they may have a role opening up.
  • When appropriate send a follow up email and keep in touch with in your network.


Finding a new job can take some time, but by taking control of your search you are creating the career you want.


Originally posted by Katie Byrne, whose own life and career has taken her from Dublin to London (and back again), to India and Silicon Valley and back to London, where she now calls home. When she is not speaking with clients about their careers or writing career advice you can usually find her on her yoga mat! A dedicated Ashtangi, a wannabe photographer and hopeful writer.

Drawing on her background of over 10 years experience in recruitment, she knows first hand what separates a good candidate from a great candidate. She has interviewed thousands of people and hired hundreds into jobs ranging from graduate to director level. 

Want to change jobs and need consulting? You can view her services on her new site, Work & Life