7 keys to job search success

What it’s really like to find a job in 2019, Part 4 (of a 5-part series)

My recent, months-long job hunt was for a mid-to-senior level digital marketing job in New York City. I was let go unexpectedly and it was the first time in my career I was confronted with a full-time job search and no paycheck to fall back on.

7 Keys to Job Search Success = Perseverance + Timing + Skill + Flexibility + Customization + Optimization + Fit

Here are seven elements that I found most to a successful job search. Full disclosure: some may seem obvious and there’s no silver bullet! Still, I hope this helps you find what you’re looking for.

Job Search Success = Perseverance + Timing + Skill + Flexibility + Customization + Optimization + Fit

Turning this into an equation brings me back to the lyrics from that one Fort Minor song. It’s a little like that.

This is ten percent luck / Twenty percent skill / Fifteen percent concentrated power of will / Five percent pleasure / Fifty percent pain / And a hundred percent reason to remember the name — Fort Minor, “Remember The Name”

7. Perseverance

Charting my morale over time during a recent job search. Watch out for the Valley of Despair.

Rejection sucks. Never hearing back is worse. You know the job search is a marathon, not a sprint, but you have to remind yourself of this all the time. Try checking in with yourself every few days and plot your current emotional state on a chart like the one I made here, showing the relationship between time and morale. Understand where you’re at and you’ll learn how to get yourself out of the trenches aka The Valley of Despair, something I detailed in Part 3 of this series.

6. Timing

The job you land will be based on who’s hiring while you’re searching. This is crucial. You can’t hold out for the perfect position at the perfect company in the perfect amount of time. It’s like that common business adage: good, cheap, fast—pick two. The same goes for your job search: ideal position, ideal company, ideal timing—pick two.

5. Skill

You’ll need both hard and soft skills to succeed. Hard skills are your trade—the elements of what you do. Soft skills are the attributes that make you a savvy business professional: your communication style, how you speak to your experiences, how you work with others, and what they would say about you—that sort of thing. Prepare stories for how to speak to your hard skills and your soft skills. You’ll get asked about both.

4. Flexibility

As I discussed in Part 3, it’s crucial to consider roles above and below your experience, in companies you’re passionate about and industries you’re less passionate about. Casting a wide net is key because the job search is filled with the unexpected. The interviews you nail for the positions you think you’re best suited for aren’t necessarily the ones that are going to come to fruition.

3. Customization

You’ve heard that you’re supposed to tailor your resume to each job you apply to. When you’re applying to a couple of hundred positions, that’s not realistic. I recommend you solve this in two ways:

1. Create a few different versions of your resume. I had three main versions: digital marketing (generic), content marketing (specific) and growth marketing (specific).

2. Change the job title on every resume to match the job you’re applying to. This will help potential employers see you in your next role rather than the one you’re in.

2. Optimization

One way to optimize your job applications is to use a word cloud generator to match up keywords on your resume to the job description.


It’s entirely possible that your beautifully crafted resume is getting ignored because you didn’t optimize for ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, the software nearly every company uses to filter candidates. Keywords count, so be sure to generously incorporate them without going overboard. Try this ATS scanner service and this article for ideas on how to optimize your resume. One of the ways I optimized my resume was using a word cloud tool to visualize the top keywords in both my resume and job descriptions to maximize alignment.

1. Fit

Like a good pair of pants, fit is everything when it comes to finding a job. But here’s the thing: your fit at a company isn’t solely determined by you. The same way businesses must evaluate product-market fit, you must evaluate yourself in a similar way. Understand what your job title means across industries and company size and, of course, if you have the skills and experience being requested. Don’t be dismayed by job descriptions asking for unicorns or twice your experience for half the pay. If that’s your competition, you won’t be hearing back anyway. Keep at it and fit will inevitably work itself out.

Part 1: The Black Hole of Job Hunting in the 21st Century

Part 2: How I Scienced the Crap Out of My Job Search: A Data-Driven Analysis

Part 3: This Small Detail Can Make The Biggest Difference In Your Job Search

Thanks for reading! Slide into my DMs on Twitter or LinkedIn. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Dan Ucko is a marketer and writer living in New York City with his wife and adorable French bulldog Murphy. He turned his journalism degree into a marketing career, working at startups and in the media industry. He now focuses on e-commerce marketing at PepsiCo. His views are do not reflect those of his current or former employers.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.