7 Tips to Kick-Start Your Job Search

by Tracy Marshall and Mary Plum

Posted June 26, 2024

The journey to finding a new job starts with a single step, and having a clear plan can make all the difference. Whether you’re reentering the workforce, seeking a promotion, exploring new career opportunities, or hoping to find a remote job, these seven tips for job seekers will help you kick-start your job search. By focusing on key areas such as resume enhancement, online presence, and networking, you can approach your job hunt with confidence and clarity, setting yourself up for success from the very beginning.

1. Chart Your Course

Before searching for and applying to jobs, consider what you want out of your next position. Are you looking for a promotion? To gain management skills? To grow a department? To join a strong team? To change careers?

Having a clear sense of what you are looking for from a job or an organization can help you evaluate opportunities better and focus your efforts on the jobs you actually want.

Exercise: Grab a sheet of paper and create the lists below:

  • What do you most enjoy about your current or most recent job?
  • What are your current hobbies/what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • What are your strengths, both personal and professional?
  • What would you like to be/do if money were not a consideration?

Consider these lists side by side and identify where there are overlaps. Use these to help determine what direction you want to go in next.

2. Enhance Your Resume

When you are updating your resume, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reorder: put experience at the beginning and education at the end.
  • Reflect: use your accomplishments as your main bullet points. Reference your job description and transform your key responsibilities into your key accomplishments.
  • Include metrics: quantify your accomplishments.
  • Less is more: try to keep it to one page, 2 pages max. If you have had less than 3 jobs stick to one page, and only include the last ten years of experience unless it’s highly relevant.
  • Tense: write in the present tense for your current position; otherwise, write in the past tense.
  • Proofread: be sure to have someone else proofread for clarity, spelling, grammar, or spacing-related issues.

If you aren’t sure where to start or need more assistance, check out our advice on writing resumes and cover letters that recruiters will love.

3. Refine Your Online Presence 

Now, it’s time to update and scrub your social media presence. 

Start with LinkedIn. Read our 5 tips to stand out on LinkedIn here, and find our advice for crafting a personal and professional brand on LinkedIn here

Beyond LinkedIn, hiring managers will use Google and social media to learn more about you, so make sure it reflects what you want people to see. Or at least be able to address any questions that might come up.

4. Dive Into Job Boards

We recommend searching job boards regularly, in addition to LinkedIn. Job boards can be sector-specific or even regional across certain disciplines like fundraising. Here are some that are reputable:

5. [Re]Establish, Grow & Leverage Your Network

You do not need to start at square one with every job search. Even if your LinkedIn connections are not as robust as you’d like, you can still leverage your existing network to meet professionals in your space and get your name out there.

Start by looking at organizations you admire and identifying someone who has your ideal position or who is managing it. Send them a LinkedIn message or an email introducing yourself and explaining why you are reaching out. If you are not comfortable doing that, see who you are connected to and who could introduce you to other professionals based on their connections.

This is also a great opportunity to find a recruiter in your field. They can match you with positions and provide invaluable tips throughout the job interview process. Recruiters can be a great resource even beyond your current job hunt. We’ve compiled some advice for establishing and maintaining a relationship with an executive recruiter here.

6. When In Doubt, Apply Anyway

Research shows that men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. We encourage you to apply anyway. In most cases, the list of qualifications is intentionally a bit lofty. If you are excited about a position, let the hiring manager decide if you will be a good fit.

When crafting your applications, be targeted. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the position by using relevant keywords and demonstrating that you understand the organization. You will likely have more success with this method than sending the same resume with the “Easy Apply” button on LinkedIn.

7. The Time is Now

With some positions receiving over 500 applications, you have to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Beyond tailoring your application for the position, you can do that by making sure you are one of the first applicants in the pool. One way to do that is to scour LinkedIn and Indeed daily. Another option is to set up a Google Alert for job titles, locations, and maybe even organizations. Attempt to get your application in within the first 24 hours of a job posting going live to increase your application’s visibility. Don’t hesitate to touch base after a week or two if you have not heard anything. Politely asking for an update on the status of your candidacy and reiterating your interest is a good follow-up.


Use your preferred AI tool (ChatGPT, Teal, etc) and type in this prompt:

“Help me create a boolean Google search for jobs in [location] that include the words [insert job titles, or keywords]”

Your result should look like this:

(“location 1” OR “location 2”) AND (“Director of Development” OR “Director of Major Gifts”) AND (“remote jobs” OR “hybrid jobs” OR “full-time jobs”) AND (job OR jobs OR career OR position OR opening)

Paste your result into the Google Alert search box, and click “create alert”

Similarly, if you are looking for a change in the next few months, get started now. Between finding the right position and going through, sometimes lengthy, interview processes, job searches can range from 3 to 12 months.

With these seven tips, you’re now equipped to kick-start your job search and take the next step in your career journey. Read more of our job search tips here, or join our candidate network and become a candidate here.


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