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Job hunt cheat sheet: A guide to landing your dream job

Best job search guide

A job hunt can be an overwhelming and challenging process. However, with the right strategy and mindset, you can navigate your way to success. In this cheat sheet, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide to acing your job search and securing your dream role. Let’s dive in.

Job hunt cheat sheet

Before diving headfirst into your job search, it’s crucial to lay a solid foundation. Take the time to identify your expectations, do your research, think like a brand, and broaden your social circle. This is especially important if you’re an intern with little to no previous work experience.

A. Identify your expectations

To set yourself up for success, it’s essential to identify your expectations honestly. Consider factors such as minimum salary, career progression opportunities, perks, company culture, industry exposure, location/relocation preferences, training requirements, and flexibility. Understanding what you truly desire from a job will help you focus your search and make informed decisions.

B. Do your research

To ensure that your expectations align with the industry and role you’re targeting, conduct thorough research. Perform a SWOT analysis of yourself, evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

Identify your hard skills, soft skills, transferable skills, and qualifications. Take note of any trends in the industry or job market that could benefit you, and leverage your social circle for potential opportunities. Make a list of top job-hunting sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor, and FlexJobs, and explore them regularly.

When assessing your strengths, consider your hard skills, such as technical expertise, software proficiency, or language fluency. Reflect on your soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, leadership, or teamwork abilities. Additionally, identify your transferable skills, which are relevant across different industries and roles.

On the flip side, be honest about your weaknesses. Recognise any unhelpful habits or skills you lack that could hinder your job search. By understanding your weaknesses, you can take proactive steps to address them through training, self-improvement, or seeking opportunities that complement your strengths. Identifying opportunities is crucial to capitalising on industry trends and finding avenues for growth. Stay updated on the latest developments in your target industry. 

Are there emerging technologies, market demands, or specific skills that are highly sought after? Additionally, leverage your social circle and professional connections to uncover potential job openings or referrals.

Assessing threats involves understanding the competition and potential obstacles in your job search. What skills do others applying for the same roles possess that you lack? How can you bridge that gap? 

Consider the challenges you might face, such as limited job openings, intense competition, or specific requirements that may pose difficulties. By acknowledging potential threats, you can devise strategies to overcome them and position yourself as a strong candidate.

C. Think like a brand

Your talent and skills are your products, and you need to market them effectively. Craft a compelling CV and LinkedIn profile that reflect your unique value proposition. Highlight your strengths, achievements, and relevant experiences. Tailor your messaging to your target audience, showcasing the skills and expertise that are in high demand in your desired industry or role.

Your CV (or resume) should be concise, well-structured, and tailored to the specific role you’re applying for. It should include your contact information, a professional summary, relevant work experience, educational background, skills, and certifications. Focus on quantifiable achievements and results to showcase your impact in previous roles.

Your LinkedIn profile is an essential tool for professional networking and job search. Optimise your profile by adding a professional photo, a compelling headline, and a well-written summary that highlights your skills, experiences, and career goals. Actively engage with industry professionals by sharing relevant content, joining groups, and participating in discussions.

D. Broaden your social circle

Networking plays a crucial role in finding the right job. Connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn and engage in meaningful conversations. Join social groups, communities, and attend events where you can meet people from your preferred industry or role. Building a robust professional network increases your chances of finding hidden opportunities and getting referrals.

Attend industry conferences, seminars, and workshops to expand your knowledge, gain insights, and make valuable connections. Engage in conversations and actively listen to others. Networking isn’t just about seeking job opportunities but also building mutually beneficial relationships that can support your career growth in the long run.

Kicking off the job search

With a solid foundation in place, it’s time to put your plan into action. Here’s what you need to do to optimise your job search:

A. Utilise job-hunting websites

Refer to your list of job-hunting websites and search for opportunities that align with your expectations and qualifications. However, resist the urge to shotgun your CV at every single opening. Quality over quantity is key. Take the time to do a targeted application for each role, customising your CV and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and experiences.

Make use of advanced search options on job portals to narrow down your search and find the most suitable positions. Pay attention to keywords in job descriptions and tailor your application to match those keywords. This helps demonstrate your fit for the role and increases the chances of your CV getting noticed by recruiters.

B. Don’t apply for multiple vacancies within the same company

While applying for multiple positions at the same company may be tempting, it’s essential to exercise caution. Applying to too many vacancies within the same company can make you appear desperate rather than qualified. Focus on the most suitable position and tailor your application to that specific role.

Research the company thoroughly to gain a deeper understanding of its culture, values, and mission. Look for insights into their work environment, employee testimonials, and career progression opportunities. By focusing on a single position within a company, you demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment to that specific role.

C. Thoroughly research the vacancy and the company

Before applying for a job, take the time to thoroughly read through the vacancy description. Understand the requirements, responsibilities, and qualifications sought by the employer. 

Additionally, research the company itself. Visit their website, explore their LinkedIn page, and try to understand their culture, values, and mission. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your application to match the company’s needs and demonstrate your genuine interest. When researching the company, pay attention to recent news, achievements, or initiatives. 

Find points that connect your skills, experiences, and the company’s goals or projects. This allows you to tailor your application to showcase how you can contribute to the company’s success.

D. Tailor your CV and cover letter

Work backwards when crafting your CV. Start by carefully reviewing the job description and identifying the key skills and qualifications required. Then, tailor your CV to highlight those specific skills and experiences. 

Emphasise your achievements and provide quantifiable results whenever possible. Craft a compelling cover letter that showcases your passion, knowledge, and suitability for the role. Customise your CV and cover letter for each application to demonstrate your understanding of the role and how your skills align with the company’s requirements. 

Highlight the most relevant experiences, accomplishments, and qualifications that make you a strong fit for the position. Use keywords from the job description to optimise your application for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that companies may use to screen CVs.

When shortlisted for an interview

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the interview stage! Now, it’s time to prepare thoroughly to make a strong impression.

A. Do your interview prep

To excel in the interview, preparation is key. Start by conducting in-depth research on the company. Visit their website, explore their social media profiles, and read up on their recent news or press releases. 

Get a sense of their organisational structure, products or services, target audience, and competitors. This knowledge will not only impress the interviewer but also help you ask relevant questions during the interview.

Additionally, research the industry to stay current with the latest trends, advancements, and challenges. Brush up on your technical skills and theoretical knowledge related to the role. 

Consider how theory is put into practice in the real world and think of examples or anecdotes that demonstrate your understanding.

B. Prepare for behavioural questions

Behavioural questions are designed to assess how you handle specific situations, your problem-solving abilities, and your overall fit within the company’s culture. Refer back to your SWOT analysis and anticipate potential behavioural questions. Reflect on past experiences where you demonstrated strengths, overcame weaknesses, seized opportunities, or addressed threats.

Prepare concise and compelling stories that showcase your abilities, accomplishments and the positive outcomes you achieved. 

Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses and provide concrete examples. Practice your answers to ensure they are concise and articulate, and demonstrate your relevant skills and competencies.

Online platforms and resources

There are numerous platforms and resources online that can significantly enhance your job search. These platforms provide unique opportunities for networking, skill development, and accessing job listings. Here are some essential online resources to consider.

A. Industry-specific boards

In addition to general job boards, many industries have specialised job boards that cater to their field. These niche job boards can be an excellent resource for finding industry-specific opportunities that may not be listed on mainstream job sites. 

Research and identify job boards that focus on your target industry or niche, and regularly check for relevant job postings. For example, if you are interested in the technology sector, platforms like Dice and GitHub Jobs may have listings specifically for tech-related roles.

B. Professional networks

Apart from LinkedIn, there are other online professional networks that can expand your reach and connect you with industry professionals and potential employers. Explore platforms like Xing, a popular professional networking site in Europe, or AngelList, which focuses on startups and entrepreneurship.

These platforms allow you to create a professional profile, join industry-specific groups, and connect with like-minded professionals. Engaging with these networks can provide valuable insights, job leads, and opportunities to build your personal brand.

C. Learning platforms

Continuous learning and skill development are crucial in today’s dynamic job market. Online learning platforms offer a wide range of courses and resources to enhance your knowledge and acquire new skills. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning provide courses on various subjects, including technical skills, project management, leadership, and more. 

Invest time in upskilling or acquiring new skills that are in demand in your industry. These additional skills can make you a more attractive candidate and increase your chances of securing your desired job.

D. Webinars and podcasts

Webinars and podcasts can help you boost your professional development. They are valuable resources for staying updated on industry trends, gaining insights from industry experts, and expanding your professional network. Many organisations and industry leaders host webinars or podcasts where they share their expertise, discuss relevant topics, and provide valuable advice. 

Look for webinars or podcasts related to your field and join them to enhance your knowledge, network with professionals, and stay connected with the latest industry developments.

E. Freelancing 

Freelancing and gig platforms have gained significant popularity in recent years, offering opportunities for flexible work arrangements and project-based assignments. Platforms like Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr allow you to showcase your skills, find freelance projects, and build your portfolio.

Consider taking up freelance work or short-term gigs relevant to your field while you continue your job search. This can provide you with income and allow you to gain additional experience, expand your network, and demonstrate your capabilities to potential employers.

F. Professional publications

Stay updated on industry news, trends, and best practices by following professional blogs and publications in your field. These resources often provide valuable insights, tips, and advice from industry experts. 

Reading and engaging with these publications can help you stay informed, showcase your industry knowledge during interviews, and identify potential employers or networking opportunities. Regularly contribute to discussions on these platforms to establish yourself as a thought leader and expand your professional network.

By leveraging online platforms and resources, you can enhance your job hunt, expand your network, acquire new skills, and stay connected with industry developments. Incorporate these online resources into your job search strategy to gain a competitive edge and increase your chances of finding the ideal job.

Final thoughts

Embarking on a job hunt can be difficult — particularly for first-timers — but we hope this cheat sheet gives you the tools and strategies you need to successfully land your dream role. Remember to set realistic expectations, do thorough research, think like a brand, broaden your social circle, tailor your application materials, and prepare diligently for interviews.

With persistence, determination, and the right approach, you’ll be well on your way to landing the perfect job. Good luck!




Kahless is a writer with a special interest in sociology. He spends much of his free time travelling, reading, writing, and stopping his cats from ripping apart everything he owns. It’s advised to bring along a strong cup of coffee (3 espresso shots minimum) when approaching him.

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