This should seem elemental, but trust me, it’s needed. Here are my top tips for best-practice job search:

1. Introspection – this is the stage of honing what you are looking for, what you bring to the table, what will bring you joy – the ideas behind one the most popular job search books ever – What Color is Your Parachute? Before you can start putting a resume together, thinking about where to send your resume, and prior to interviewing, you must go through this deeply reflective process.

2. Uncovering Job Leads and Referrals – this is the blending of traditional networking with social media to cast a large net and generate an abundance of opportunities from the hidden job market – the 80% or more of job openings that are never advertised. The vast majority of candidates rely on job postings in their job search – which at best yield 15-20% of the available opportunities.

3. Resume and Cover Letter – This is one of the most important documents you’ll ever create – yet most candidates give this the least amount of time in their job search. Very few understand how to create an exciting marketing-oriented document that captures the attention of HR, Hiring Managers, and recruiters. The vast majority of resumes and cover letters yield a response rate of less than 1%. You cannot conduct an effective job search if your response rate is less than 1%.

4. Interviewing – Very few candidates recognize that the secret to acing the interview has nothing to do with what goes on during the interview. It’s all in the preparation. The small amount of time and effort most candidates spend in preparing for interviews is a complete waste of time and is essentially worthless. Interview preparation is like preparing for a battle – was it not Napoleon Bonaparte who claimed that battles were won in the planning tents of the generals – not on the battlefields?

5. Closing the Deal – Just because you had an interview does not mean you’re going to get an offer – and even if you get an offer it might not be appropriate for your ability and market potential. This best practice is about showing your value, keeping the process moving forward, convincing the company to extend an offer, and negotiating a great package. Many “deals” that should have come together as perfect fits for company/candidate fall apart at this stage due to poor management of the “deal closing” process.

FIVE Simple Best Practices that result in reducing the time it takes to conduct a job search by at least 50%.

How are you doing against these five simple best practices of conducting an effective job search?