5 Habits of Successful Job Seekers

5 Habits of Successful Job Seekers

by Amy Phipps

After working in employment services for a few years and seeing hundreds of job searches up close, you start to notice patterns. Effective job seekers often share a common set of traits and habits. Fortunately, anyone can develop them. Here are five habits of successful jobseekers:

1. They are open-minded 

A successful job seeker is someone who is open to new possibilities and exploration as part of their search. The benefits of openness can extend to all areas of job search. Effective job seekers evaluate potential employers not just on salary, but for work culture and opportunities for growth. 

They take opportunities to network, not just for immediate job prospects, but for the purpose of connecting and learning something new. 

Being open, positive and inquisitive in your search can help you find paths you haven’t yet considered or uncover opportunities in the elusive hidden job market.

If a suggested job search strategy makes you uncomfortable (networking, anyone?), try not to reject it immediately. Give it a try in a low-pressure situation. For example, if the idea of doing informational interviews makes you break into a cold sweat, start with a networking coffee date with a friend or former colleague and see how it feels.

Speaking of which….

2. They accept that networking is part of the deal

Networking is an important part of any job search. And yet, it is still very common to spend several months of conducting exclusively online job search, competing with hundreds of applicants per posting, before turning to networking out of frustration. 

Effective job seekers accept and even pursue networking early in the process, and complement their online job search with building in-person connections. 

3. They target their search

Savvy job seekers tailor their application materials. I’ve heard many people argue that this is too time-consuming, but in reality, targeting your resumé to a specific position should take less than 10 minutes.

Here’s what to focus on in that 10 minutes:

  • Highlights of qualifications: this should be a checklist of the posted position’s most important qualifications. Don’t make the employer go digging for this information!
  • Identify keywords in the job posting and ensure that the majority are included in your application
  • Eliminate or minimize your less relevant experience and education

And don’t forget about your cover letter. Employers can easily tell if a cover letter is generic. Show your genuine enthusiasm and take the opportunity to show the employer what makes you exceptional. Show the employer that you want this job, not just any job.

4. They are confident

Confidence can be very difficult to maintain during a job search when you are weathering rejection often. But taking time to develop or rebuild confidence is important: successful job seekers feel confident that what they have to potential employers is truly valuable.


  • Forming a network of fellow job seekers to reduce isolation and remind yourself that other skilled people are struggling with the same issues that you are. 
  • Volunteering your time to add structure to your schedule and bring back your sense of your productive, professional self.  
  • Acknowledge your past successes by developing accomplishment statements for your resumé and behavioral interview questions. 

5. They ask for help

Looking for work is hard to do alone. Remember that no matter how fabulous you were in your last job, it’s normal to struggle as you flex your skills for interviewing, cover letter writing and networking. 

Successful job seekers don’t hesitate to reach out to family, friends, former colleagues and employment professionals for support. 

You can find fresh ideas, an expanded network and help in identifying why you’re great (for free!) at WorkBC Centres. Find your local centre.