“I really need a new job.” That’s how it begins. Most of the time, at least. That little voice inside your head telling you that something’s not quite right, not exactly as you’d want it to be, or not quite as challenging and interesting it used to be.

Sometimes, beginning a new job search is an impulsive decision, born out of frustration, routine, burnout, a fight with a colleague or your line manager, or a feeling of dread when you wake up in the morning. Other times it’s a decision you’ve reached after days, weeks or even months of careful consideration, after analyzing - or overanalyzing - your daily reality. Regardless of the path, we’ve all been there and we’ve all gone through the process of finding the job - the one that feels just right and promises to improve our daily reality.

Ideation: From Thought to Intention

However you came to the decision that it was time to start a new job search, it’s important to understand why you felt motivated to make a change. There are no right or wrong reasons, but identifying the source (or sources) of dissatisfaction with your current job - which surely you thought of as the job when you accepted it years back - will help you in your job search and, in all likelihood, it will also increase your candidate appeal to employers and recruiters.

Execution: From Intention to Implementation

Once you understand the triggers, you’re halfway there. The only thing left is to lay out your action plan for finding the job. Here are eight tips that, I hope, will make it easier for you the next time you find yourself considering a job change.

1. Open Your Eyes

Check out career pages at companies that appeal to you. See what opportunities are available. Search recruitment platforms for jobs that interest you. In short, do your research. You might be one of the lucky ones who know exactly what they’re looking for in their next job. But you might also find yourself in the - somewhat troubling, but certainly not unique - position where you can not quite pinpoint what the next step in your career looks like. Doing your research and acknowledging what is available on the market will provide you with a better understanding of what you are (not) looking for and help you narrow it down to what you really want.

2. Leverage Your Network

You have a gazillion connections on LinkedIn - friends, former colleagues, professionals that you follow and admire, people you liked to work with in the past, and so on. Reach out to them, start a conversation, and share your intention. The people in your network can help you get instant visibility with the recruiters at their current employers. One thing to remember is that all companies are big on employee referrals. And there is a good reason - or rather eight of them - why employee referral programs have become such a hot topic in the HR and Talent Acquisition space.

Additionally, your connections might know of, or learn of opportunities that could be of interest to you from the people in their own networks. Do not overlook your networks on social platforms either - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter can prove highly effective in landing you your next job. Bottom line: this is a good time to nurture your connections.

3. Your LinkedIn Profile

If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, create one. LinkedIn is still one of the most popular recruitment channels used by both in-house and agency recruiters. Having a professional profile on LinkedIn increases your visibility, and not only to recruiters. There is a plethora of professional groups to join, where you can virtually meet and interact with people who share the same interests as you, and who can help you with your job search.

4. Update Your LinkedIn Profile

This is the right time to update your LinkedIn profile. The information you provide on your profile helps recruiters understand your work experience. Ideally, this understanding will also lead them to approach you for opportunities that are actually relevant to you. Since you’re at it, throw in a summary - use this section to highlight your journey, your aspirations, and your unique selling points. Use the work experience section to highlight your individual contribution and your achievements in past jobs. Combine the power of narrative (paragraphs) with that of numbers (bullet point key accomplishments). Remember to use action verbs and focus on results (rather than tasks).

5. Reach Out to Recruiters

Reach out to recruiters who approached you in the past - I can tell you for a fact that they’ll be pleased to hear from you. Also, make new connections - get in touch with recruiters from companies that appeal to you, reach out to agency recruiters, and let them know what you’re looking for in your next job. Remember, a direct approach is always welcome.

6. Signal Your Availability to Recruiters

Use the settings on your LinkedIn profile to let recruiters know you’re open to new opportunities. This will make you appear in recruiter searches that match your career interests (plus a side tip: the keywords you use on your LinkedIn profile will influence how high up you rank in recruiter searches). You can also choose what type of opportunities you’d like to be connected with, and you can change your settings to signal your interest to recruiters at companies that you have created job alerts for. Get more tips on how to privately signal your availability to recruiters with LinkedIn Open Candidates from Dan Shapero.

7. Apply, Apply, Apply

You found the job. Apply! In my experience, both as an agency recruiter, and in-house recruiter, I found that there is a reluctance among candidates to apply for jobs. As an agency recruiter, a good deal of answers I received when addressing this topic with candidates pointed to a common misconception that the recruiter’s placement fee would come out of their salary offer. This is utterly untrue and also illegal. Addressing the same topic with candidates as an in-house recruiter pointed to another common, but equally unfounded misconception that headhunted candidates were somehow preferred over active job seekers. As Chris Sale rightly points out, though, the Superiority of ‘headhunted candidates’ is a myth.

8. Delivery

You get the call. The company you applied to wants to meet you. Meeting the recruiter is when you (would most) want to stand out from the crowd. This is your first interaction with the company where the job awaits. Regardless of whether the recruiter approached you or applied for the job yourself, do take some time to research the company and prepare for the interview. Second “regardless of”: whether you get the job, or not, you (would) want to make a good impression and feel good about yourself during and after the interview. A piece of advice (and something that I always tell myself before an interview, or even a business meeting) - at the end of the day, it’s less about them and most about you. “How did I do?” “Am I comfortable with how I communicated and interacted?” “Was my behavior representative of who I am as an individual?” I’m always happy if I can positively say “yes” to all those questions.

Bring it all together and remember that when recruiters ask the same, run-of-the-mill-question - “What do you know about the company?” - it’s not a test, but a conversation starter. They are not expecting you to know every nook and cranny about the company, but they - good recruiters, at least - will use whatever you share to set the informational common ground and build up the conversation from there. You already went through all the trouble of accommodating the interview in your busy schedule. Then why not have the recruiter provide you with new information? This is the right time to share what you know about the company, but also what you would like to know. Last, but not least, (do try to) remember that recruiters - good ones, at least - are your partners.

I’ll share more on how to spot a ‘good recruiter’ in a future blog post. Meanwhile, I’m always happy to connect on LinkedIn and start a conversation. Do reach out.