Get Hired! Your Roadmap for How To Create a Job Search Plan 

Get Hired! Your Roadmap for How To Create a Job Search Plan - Style Nine to Five

In today’s competitive market, finding a job can be tough, to say the least. Whether you’re a new grad just stepping into the workforce or a seasoned professional looking for a career change, job hunting requires a job search plan that includes strategic planning, strong assets, perseverance, and a positive mindset.

In this guide, we’ll explore what a job-search action plan is, including strategies, examples, and practical tips to help you successfully navigate the search process and land your dream job.

How (and Why) To Plan Your Job Search 

How you plan your job search is strategic and flexible to your needs. You might be asking if creating a job search plan is really necessary. Can’t you just wing it? Yes and no. If you’re casually looking or applying for a job as a one-off task, you’re probably ok without a full-blown plan (although it can’t hurt). 

But if you’re seriously looking for a new position, find yourself unemployed, are trying to get out of a toxic work environment, or are dedicated to making a career change, taking the time to execute a plan of attack will make all the difference in the success of your job search. You’ll be fully prepared, well organized, and ready to spring into action as soon as a great new posting or an invitation for an interview comes your way. 

What Does an Effective Job Search Plan Include?

A job search plan includes a step-by-step roadmap laid out in an actionable way. There’s no one right or wrong way to approach your job search and there’s no set-in-stone plan that you must follow—it’s up to you (with the help of this article!) to determine which steps make the most sense for you and your needs. For example, building a portfolio is an important step if you’re in a creative field, but it’s likely not relevant if you’re an accountant.

In this guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive example of a job search plan—it’s yours to tailor and customize as you see fit and use as inspiration for what’s right for you. 

What are the steps of a job search plan? We’re uncovering four main components of job-search planning: preparing, creating, enhancing, and continuing. Let’s get into it and learn how to make a job search plan that you can put to work for you!

Preparing Your Search

To begin your job search plan you’ll want to take some time for an assessment of your skills, experience, goals, and career options. You can keep this on file in your mind, but writing it down can be a helpful exercise and will give you something tangible to draw on when you’re working on your job applications. These steps will help you prep your job search and get ready to start applying:

Understand Your Skills

Start by reflecting on your professional experience to date and conduct a self-assessment of your skills and qualifications. What technology skills do you have? Think of things like software or platforms that you have experience in. What soft skills do you excel in? These are things like time management, leadership abilities, or having a team-player attitude.

If you’re changing industries, what transferable skills do you have that you can apply to jobs in other fields? These are hard skills like technical expertise in areas like photography or editing, languages that you speak, or certifications you might have in certain frameworks like project management. 

Understanding your strengths and pinpointing any areas for improvement will better equip you to market yourself effectively to potential employers. 

Set Your Goals

Identifying your career objectives will help you focus your job search and allow you to tailor your applications to roles that align with your interests and aspirations. What are you passionate about? Are there certain brands that you connect with and aspire to work with? What’s your dream job in five or 10 years? 

Answering these questions will help you determine the types of jobs you want to apply for and will give you direction in your career trajectory. Seek out jobs that line up with your goals and pass over any openings that aren’t a good match for your objectives.

Research Your Options

Now that you have a strong sense of your strengths and goals, it’s time to start exploring the types of roles that are available. Even if you’re not quite ready to apply yet, it’s always a good idea to test the waters and see who’s hiring, what kinds of positions are trending, and what the requirements are for the types of jobs you’re interested in. 

LinkedIn is a great place to look for jobs, and you’ll also want to keep an eye on niche job boards too. For example, if you’re looking for a job in fashion, you’ll want to check a fashion-related job board like Style Nine to Five for new postings. If you’re a recent grad, look at job boards from your school to see what opportunities are available. 

While you’re doing your detective work, pay attention to the salary ranges of the roles you’re interested in, whether the positions are mainly remote or on-site, what the common education and experience requirements are, and what types of job duties are listed. All of this information combines to give you a pulse on the current job market in your field so you can start applying, networking, and potentially elevating your skill set. 

Creating Your Assets

The job application assets that you create and send out are the first impression you’ll make on hiring managers and potential employers. Given how competitive today’s job market is, you’ll need to build a job application package that jumps off the hiring manager’s screen, makes them take notice, and entices them to learn more. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to create a killer application package that has you outshining the sea of competitors:

Update and Tailor Your Resume

If you have one general resume that you send out to every job, you’re at a disadvantage to your competitors who are creating a customized version for each of their applications. Tailor your resume to each job application by emphasizing relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments that prove your suitability for the role. 

How exactly do you demonstrate that you’re a great fit for the role? Go through the job description and take note of the skills they’re looking for. What specific duties does the job entail? How do they describe their ideal candidate? Pluck key words and phrases directly from the job description and sprinkle them throughout your resume (without overdoing it), so when hiring managers are reading your application they’ll easily see a match with what they’re looking for. 

Use action verbs and measure your achievements whenever possible to showcase your impact in previous positions. Did you grow user engagement 45% or improve conversions by 20? Or did you exceed forecasted expectations on new sales or customer retention? Metrics matter, so add those wins to your resume! Make sure to spell out your successes to showcase your career highlights and prove that you can do more than just talk the talk.

After your tailor-made resume is ready, save it as a PDF and title it using your name, the company’s name, and/or the job title—this shows hiring managers that you’re submitting a resume that’s written specifically for them. Avoid generic names that make it look like you have one resume that you’re sending to everyone. See the difference in these examples:

Good resume file names:

• Jeanine Gordon–Style Nine to Five–Managing Editor Resume

• Jeanine Gordon–Managing Editor Resume

Bad resume file names:

• Resume

• Resume 2024

• Editing Resume

Create a Customized Cover Letter

In addition to a tailored resume for every application, you MUST customize your cover letter to address the specific requirements of the job and company you’re applying to. Personalize your cover letter by researching the company culture and including direct examples of how your skills and values align with theirs. 

Yes, this means writing a new cover letter for each job you apply for, but you can be efficient about it by starting with a solid template. Come up with a cover letter you feel good about, then change key company details and relevant skills with each new job that you’re applying for. 

A great cover letter follows a basic format:

• Paragraph 1: Start with a catchy opener that explains why you want to work at the company and summarizes who you are professionally.

• Paragraph 2: Do a deep dive into your career highlights, using select language from the job description sprinkled throughout as you describe your capabilities and skills.

• Paragraph 3: Conclude your cover letter by establishing a connection between the company’s values or recent success and your own values to conclude your cover letter. Explain that this alignment makes you a great fit for the role and thank the hiring manager for their consideration. 

Make sure you’re addressing the hiring manager by name if you can, and if you don’t know their name you can at least use the company’s name. Avoid outdated openers like the plague. For example:


• To Christie Lohr, Style Nine to Five

• To the Hiring Manager, Style Nine to Five


• To Whom It May Concern

• Dear Sir or Madam

Finally, name your file following the same framework outlined above for your resume. For example, something like “Jeanine Gordon–Style Nine to Five–Managing Editor Cover Letter” is perfectly personalized and specific—just what the hiring manager wants to see.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Fact: Hiring managers are looking at your LinkedIn profile. This means that you need to update and optimize every detail of your profile section so it works for you and acts as an extension of your cover letter and resume. Beyond the basics of filling in your LinkedIn profile, there are a few extras you can do:

Change your profile URL to your name instead of a string of numbers. For example: instead of Once you have your new profile URL, hyperlink it on your resume so hiring managers can simply click on it. 

• Oomph up your profile Headline so it serves as your professional elevator pitch. For example, this is mine before and after doing this step:

Before: “Content Marketer + Strategist”

After: “Content Marketer + Strategist | Specializing in DTC eCommerce in Apparel + Lifestyle | 10+ Years Experience”

Another example is Style Nine to Five Founder Christie Lohr’s headline which reads: “Founder of Style Nine to Five (job board) + Resume Writer + Connecting Top Talent with Leading Brands” 

A detail-rich headline means that hiring managers don’t have to scroll down and read your entire job history to get a snapshot of who you are and what you specialize in. 

• Add Skills to any job you list and make sure your job description is filled with specifics, key metrics, and career highlights. Here’s a before and after example of my job description:

Before: “Freelance content marketing, writing, and editing” 

After: “Working with apparel and lifestyle DTC businesses to create compelling copy that converts. Content marketing services include blog copy, category pages, landing pages, articles, buying guides, PDPs and product copy, topic ideation, content strategy, SEO strategy, and AI content generation and editing.”

• Add the Open to Work banner to your profile photo (if you’re comfortable with your current employer seeing it). You can also write a post saying that you’re looking for work in X, Y, or Z areas and highlight your experience.

Build Your Portfolio or Website

Creating a portfolio is an optional step that’s a smart idea for those who work in creative fields like graphic design, photography, copywriting, fashion design, styling, etc. In many cases, creative job posts require a portfolio as part of your application, but even if a company doesn’t ask for it, including one can make all the difference in setting you apart from the competition. 

Your portfolio can be a one-pager that showcases some of your best work or a more complex catalog of your talents. You can opt for a PDF format that you can attach to job applications or choose a website format that you can link in your resume and LinkedIn profile. 

You don’t need to be a tech whiz to make a website—there are plenty of templates and user-friendly platforms, like Squarespace, that make it easy to set up a website with minimal know-how. If you want a sleek–looking portfolio that coordinates with your cover letter and resume, many of Style Nine to Five’s job application templates include a portfolio page that makes it easy to create a cohesive asset package.

Like your resume, make sure to keep your portfolio updated with your latest projects and remove outdated or less relevant work as you continue to grow. You might also have different versions of your portfolio depending on the type of job you’re applying to, like a photography portfolio as well as a graphic design portfolio. 

Enhancing Your Applications

You’re doing it—sending out resumes and checking applications off your job-search to-do list like a boss! It takes more than just hitting send though—if you want to boost your chances of success and come in as a top contender for the jobs you want, there are a few things you can do to oomph up your game:

Connect and Engage With Your Network 

We all know that networking is an invaluable tool in business, so you’ll want to make job search networking part of your action plan. Reach out to former colleagues, classmates, mentors, and industry professionals to inform them of your job search and ask about potential opportunities. 

It’s not enough to simply connect and wait for things to happen. Be proactive and join groups and participate in discussions. Engage with recruiters and hiring managers by sharing relevant content, commenting on posts, and reaching out with personalized messages expressing your interest in their company or job openings.

Level Up Your Skills

If you’re experienced but don’t have formal education to back you up, it’s a great idea to look at your options for taking online certifications or courses to strengthen your skill set. Even if you do have an education in your field, it’s always smart to keep your skills up to date by taking supplementary courses or workshops.

Thanks to platforms like Udemy or Coursera, you can take online classes or earn certifications in a huge range of topics from different organizations. Think Social Media Marketing, Data Analytics, Coding, Project Management, and more. You can also level up your existing skills by taking refresher courses in topics ranging from Photoshop to JavaScript.

Most importantly, you’ll want to promote this learning on your resume and cover letter. Even if you haven’t completed your class or certification yet, you can list it as “in progress” as a way to show that you’re dedicated to growing your knowledge and stepping up your skills.

Prepare for Interviews

Woo hoo! You’ve gone through the steps of your job search plan and finally secured an interview! Now it’s time to prepare, prepare, prepare.

All the company research you did when writing your cover letter will come in handy again. Make sure you’re familiar with the company’s history, mission, values, products, and services to demonstrate your interest and knowledge during the interview. Familiarize yourself with the job description and be prepared to discuss how your skills and experiences align with the role’s requirements.

Practice common interview questions and prepare concise and compelling answers that highlight your qualifications and achievements. Anticipate behavioral questions that assess your problem-solving abilities, teamwork skills, and decision-making processes. Make notes if that helps you—even jotting down a few bullets with key points you want to convey can help when you get into the interview. 

Conduct mock interviews with friends, family members for feedback and to improve your interview performance. It might feel awkward, but if it helps you ease your nerves and get in the right headspace for the interview, go for it!

Finally, get ready to ask thoughtful questions about the company culture, team dynamics, and potential growth opportunities to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the role. Don’t go into an interview empty-handed—have at least a few questions that you can ask your interviewer, whether they’re about the logistics of their hybrid work structure or asking them what they like best about working for the company. 

Continuing the Search

How long should you plan for a job search? There’s no one-size-fits-all timeframe for finding a job. Some people might get hired after sending out one or two applications while others may spend months looking and applying for jobs. If you’re in the latter group and are seriously looking for a new job, here are a few things that will help you along the way.

Establish a Routine

Get into the habit of using a job-search routine that sets you up for success. Depending on your field and the jobs that are available, you might be doing this on a daily basis or you might set aside time once or twice a week—whatever works best for you. Either way, block off time from your day that you can dedicate to these activities:

• Read industry news online

• Search for the latest jobs posted and save or bookmark the ones that catch your eye

• Create your application package and send it off

If you land an interview, you’ll also want to add interview prep time and sending follow-ups to your routine. Once you have your daily or weekly job-search routine in place, you can lather, rinse, and repeat as many times as it takes until you find your dream job.

Maintain a Positive Mindset

Unless you’re lucky enough to find your dream job right off the bat, the job search process can be challenging and is often filled with rejection, ghosting, comparing yourself to others, and other setbacks. Take care of your physical and mental well-being by practicing self-care activities such as exercise and spending time with your friends. 

Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family members, and mentors who can offer encouragement, advice, and assistance when needed. Remind yourself of your qualifications and strengths to keep your motivation up.

If you’re having a tough day in your job search, it’s ok to take a break. Step away from your job search routine to reset and start fresh the next day. 

Following Up 

Part of your ongoing job-search routine includes following up after any interviews you have. Send a thank-you email to express your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the position. Use your follow-up as an opportunity to reaffirm your qualifications and briefly summarize why you believe you’re the right fit for the role.

If you don’t receive an immediate response, don’t be discouraged. Follow up with the hiring manager or recruiter within a week or two to inquire about the status of your application and express your continued interest in the position. Meanwhile, continue exploring other job opportunities to keep your momentum going.

The Bottom Line

Finding a job that aligns with your interests, values, and skills requires time, effort, and perseverance. Using the strategies and steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the job-search process with confidence and increase your chances of landing your dream job. 

Remember to stay focused on your goals, leverage your strengths, and keep positive even when you feel like giving up. With determination, persistence, and a clear action plan, you’ll be well on your way to find new career success.


Struggling to find the right words to craft a killer resume? Try Style Nine to Five’s Resume Refresh where Founder Christie Lohr works her magic to highlight your skills and experience in a way that aligns with what hiring managers are looking for.

Jeanine Gordon is a freelance content marketer with a passion for creating stellar strategies for global brands and small businesses alike, specializing in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.