New Study Details Secrets of Highly Effective Job Seekers

Job Study Survey

I am always interested in real stories and research evidence related to the job search. For that reason, I was pleased to learn about DeVry University’s recent study,“ What the Most Successful Job Seekers Do Right,” on the secrets of successful job seekers, conducted by its Career Advisory Board. 

The study of 589 U.S. professionals of varying ages, career levels, and industries found that job seekers “perceived as the ‘complete package’ by hiring managers target and customize their searches, and are organized and realistic about their opportunities.”  

The study explores the strategies that successful job seekers felt most helped them land a new job quickly. Below are four notable findings and associated statistics.

1. Successful Job Seekers Were Selective and Focused on Specific Targets 

  • 90%  of active job seekers wanted to be at least 75% qualified before applying for a position. They made certain that they met the requirements outlined in the job posting, which helped them get an interview for 1  out of every 2  positions they applied for.

2. Successful Job Seekers Customized

  • 67% included “keywords and skills listed in the job description”  in their resumes.
  • 56% customized their emails and cover letters  to pertain “specifically to each open position.”  
  • Even once an interview was secured, 84% of both active and even the passive job seekers (those who weren’t actively looking but were recruited) “updated or created a new resume for that opportunity."

3. Successful Job Seekers Were Organized and Dedicated Time to the Search 

  • 73% kept files on each opportunity they applied for.  This is particularly important if job seekers are doing a great deal of customization. It’s important to remember which version was sent to which employer and for which position as well as when a resume was sent.
  • 64% stuck to a weekly to-do list.  It’s helpful to spell out the specific tasks associated with the search to keep from being overwhelmed or having things slip through the cracks.
  • 50% used an online calendar or smartphone app to manage appointments. 

4. Successful Job Seekers Went Beyond Job Boards/Social Media, Conducted Research, and Used Every Opportunity to Connect 

  • Before applying, 67% of active job seeker respondents reached out to the contact person to inquire about the position.  Doing this before applying often helps in further customizing resume and materials to ensure that they match up with what the hiring manager is really looking for.  
  • 32% reached out to their network to get inside information on the role and company.
  • 65% asked family, friends, and mentors about target companies.  It’s often easier to network when you have specific companies of interest in mind.  
  • 60% Googled companies to learn more about them.
  • 47% tapped contacts in their business networks.
  • 42% attended one-on-one meetings (informational meetings), conferences, and industry gatherings.
  • 28% leveraged industry associations. 

Other characteristics of successful job seekers included being realistic and prioritizing which aspects of the new job were most important (for example, role, industry, company, salary, or geographic location). The findings also show that successful job seekers were consistent in their approach to the search regardless of their age or years spent working. 

Based on the study, the DeVry Career Advisory Board offered job seekers the following advice:  

  Be focused and prepare to put the time in. Noted the board, “You will have better results if you concentrate on a few choice opportunities and understand what’s most important to each hiring organization,” and then customize materials and interview preparation accordingly.  

✔  Use a mix of job search activities.  “Our respondents employed a mix of job search techniques, ranging from occasional use to frequent use.” Networking and researching employers were particularly effective strategies. 

  Keep social media use in perspective. It’s important to be there--particularly on LinkedIn, but don’t let it dominate the search, said the board.  “Somewhat surprisingly, most of our respondents did not find opportunities directly through social media, and only 33 percent used the professional network LinkedIn occasionally or frequently.”  

  Continue to sharpen job search skills. With today’s constantly changing workplace and continued technological advances, strong job search skills are critical for good career management. The board noted that even those these job seekers  who did well with their searches, were still “on the lookout for constructive feedback, and when they received it, 82%  looked for ways to incorporate it into future efforts.”  

For more detailed tips from the advisory board and more details on this study, click here for more information.

If you're interested in getting some personalized feedback on optimizing your job search, please feel free to contact Phaedra at to learn about her complimentary, no-obligation consultation.

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