Preparation is crucial to any successful job search strategy. Walking into a job search blindly will not serve you well and can be a waste of valuable time. When you begin your search, you should have a firm grasp on what you want out of your career and have goals in place that will help you attain those career results. Many of us do not know where to begin when setting career goals, so we wanted to give some advice to help you out. Just remember – set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals and you will be on your way to finding the perfect fit.

SMART Job Search

Create a SMART Strategy for Your Job Search

Set SPECIFIC goals.

  • Getting a job is an obvious end goal, but it should not be your only goal.  Think about what you want to accomplish throughout the job search process and you will be more focused with an end in sight.  Things to think about when setting your goals:
  • What industry do you want to work in?  How long of a commute are you willing to make (or do you want to relocate)?  What type of role do you want to play in a company?  These can be challenging questions, but they must be answered to provide direction and focus to your search.  This information also helps you tailor your resume, cover letter and portfolio to fit the positions to which you will apply.
  • What would be your ideal company culture?  Knowing what type of working environment that best suits you should be a big factor in your job selection process and is vital to your success at the job.
  • Categorize your job criteria as “desired” or “required” to help focus on what is most important to you.

Set MEASURABLE goals throughout the search process.

  • Quantify your goals.  Establish targets that can be easily measured, and use numbers as targets whenever possible.  (E.g. number of companies you research per day, number of applications you submit per day, number of interviews you want to schedule per week, etc.)


  • Know how you will accomplish your goals and what steps you need to take to reach them.
  • You want the goals you set to challenge you, but you also want to have the ability to reach them.  If your goals are too lofty, there is the chance that you will lose motivation and never reach them.

Make sure your short-term goals are RELEVANT to your overall goal.

  • Each short-term goal should relate to and bring you one step closer to achieving your overall career goal.

Set a TIMELY schedule to accomplish each of your goals.

  • Make schedules in order to meet your criteria for researching companies, preparing resumes, cover letters, social media, and sending applications. (daily, weekly, monthly)


Creating your Search Strategy – Cheat Sheet

Below we have provided a “cheat sheet” to assist you in defining and setting SMART goals for your next job search.

Select the following culture and business identifiers that are most important to you. Add any additional qualities you feel are important to your search process.

Culture Identifiers

____Team oriented

____Individual oriented

____Flexible schedule

____Work week

____Fast paced

____Slow paced

____Formal Environment

____Casual Environment




Business Details


____Health Benefits

____Retirement Benefits

____Size of Company

____Career Growth Opportunity


____Vacation Time



____Organization Structure

____Internal Training

Prioritize your  selected criteria from categories above in order to help focus your job search.
Required Criteria






Desired Criteria






From the prioritized criteria above begin your search into the type of position you want to work in and the industries that are available to you. 

Industry _______________________________________________________________

Type of position_________________________________________________________

Overall career goal ________________________________________________________

Judging on how many your criteria fit the available position; decide if it is worth applying. Would getting a job with those values (criteria) bring you closer achieving your overall career goal?


* Jobs may not have all the required or desired qualities you are looking for, but it may be worth applying in an effort to gain interview experience. This could be a valuable short term goal to have.

** If you are not finding the type of jobs that meet your criteria, you may need to re-evaluate the values you have set for your job search and weed out those that are not absolutely necessary.  Also think about re-prioritizing your criteria or rethinking the goals you have set for yourself along your job search process.