7 “Aha!”s Experienced During My First Job Search In 18 Years

Feedback from the recipients of career advice that I’ve been offering to students and engineers (and others) for the past 20+ years suggests that I’m fairly well-versed about the job search process. 

Job Search

But I must tell you that nothing opens your eyes wider and teaches you more than jumping into the job search fray yourself! 

Yes…I Recently Conducted a Job Search

For a variety of personal reasons (reduced travel being a big one), I recently conducted a job search that focused on corporate training and development roles.

Fortunately, I’m pleased to tell you that the process was a great experience, and a successful one too. 

Reflection Is A Valuable Learning Tool

Now that my search is over, I thought I would step back, reflect a bit, and share with you seven of the most important “Aha’s” I realized. Of course there are far more than seven, but these are the biggies that I believe have excellent potential to help you during your next job search. 

7 “Aha!”s For Today’s Job Hunters

#1. Always Be Building Relationships (Long Before You Need A New Job)

One job I pursued landed in my lap before I had even started a formal search. It came via a LinkedIn message from a friend who I had met a few years ago in a local professional organization. The job opening was in her department. She reached out because she thought I would be a good fit and might have an interest in it.

Aha! Action: Always be connecting with others and be building authentic relationships. Do it everyday in your workplace, in your community and online.

#2. Volunteering Your Talents Will Make Them Visible

My friend (mentioned above) knew about some of my skills because I had volunteered for the professional group that we both belonged to. She and committee members had gotten a chance to experience my support for the chapter, along with a training class I designed and delivered for the chapter’s annual development conference.

Aha! Action: Share your time and showcase your talents by volunteering.

#3. Tailor Your Resume To Each Job

As a result of contacts I had both inside and outside of the various companies I pursued, I had good access to solid information about the companies and the positions they were looking to fill.

This information helped me to craft targeted resumes that were full of keywords and experiences that closely matched the job descriptions.

Aha! Action: Take the time to tailor your resume to each and every job you apply for. You can do this best by investing time to research and learn more about each role.

#4. LinkedIn Is THE Recruiting Platform Today

In today’s world, to recruiters and hiring managers, you are what your LinkedIn Profile says you are. It’s the quickest way for them to get a complete picture of who you are, what you’ve done, and whether you seem to match the job they need to fill.

Therefore, it’s vital that at a minimum your Profile should accurately reflect what’s on your resume. Beyond this key starting point, the sky is the limit because LinkedIn offers so many different options for you to add rich content about yourself in the form of text, photos, video, posts, slides, endorsements, recommendations, and much more.

Aha! Action: Take a class or scour the Internet to learn how to maximize the content rich options that are available to help you build a unique and engaging LinkedIn Profile. Then do it!

#5. Practice Answering Interview Questions

Behavioral style interview questions are used regularly by many companies, even in their automated video-recorded interviews. To answer these questions effectively, you need to have reflected on your past and developed personal stories (ahead of time) to share as a part of your answers. I blogged about this in the past HERE.

Aha! Action: The only way to get really good at answering behavioral style questions is to practice, practice and practice some more with many different questions. There are no shortcuts for this if you want to shine in the interview.

#6. Smile…You’re On Camera

Needless to say, this one was brand new for me. Many companies today are using automated video interviews to replace live phone interviews. It’s a huge time and cost savings for them, so I fully understand this shift.

As with LinkedIn (and virtually anything else), the Internet has a wealth of great information to help you understand this process and to prepare for it properly. Because I have a lot of recent video experience, I found this interviewing method to be very comfortable and enjoyable.

Aha! Action: For anyone with limited time in front of a webcam or video camera, I would suggest plenty of preparation and practice. Be sure to also pay close attention to your attire, the lighting, the sound quality and your backdrop.

#7. Always Save Past Examples of Your Work

This may sound like a bit of a stretch, but for one of my examples of past training development, I shared pictures of a class (and me delivering it) from the summer of 1990. Even though it was from 25 years ago, this example let me clearly illustrate my long-time habit of using a variety of creative elements in the training programs I develop. 

Aha! Action: Don’t try to keep everything, but when possible (and legal) keep representative samples of your best work (both individual and group work). Make this a habit and do it month after month and year after year. 

#7.5 (Bonus)- Write & Mail Handwritten Thank You Notes To All Interviewers

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know how I feel about handwritten notes because of THIS POST and THIS POST.

During my job search, I continued this habit. What did I do? After every interview I immediately sat down, wrote short thank you notes to each interviewer, and popped them in the mailbox so they would be on their way that same day.

Aha! Action: Do the right thing, but also set yourself apart in a positive way, by properly thanking every hiring manager and interviewer with a handwritten note.


I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of the Aha! Actions we all should be taking during our job searches, but hopefully you found one or two here that will help you snag the perfect job the next time you’re in the market.

Question: What are the Aha! Actions you’ve found to be most valuable when job searching? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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