Needle in a Haystack: A Practical Guide to Finding Your Next Job

By Bill Murray, NCA, CEO

The following is an edited post orignally published on LinkedIn


The U.S. Department of Labor reported last month that there were 5.9 million vacant jobs in the U.S., while the rate of people quitting their jobs has been rising steadily.  Companies are hiring, and people are moving on – and up.

Unless you plan on working for one employer forever, at some point you’ll be looking for that next job.  The best time to prepare is now – especially if you aren’t actively looking.

Of course, there are endless job-hunting resources available on specific topics, like resume writing and writing a cover letter. [Ed. note: Including our recently launched Coffee Career Center.]

The key to success is not only successful execution of each step, but also having an overall strategy, much as you would for any long-term project.

Here’s a checklist of strategies, tactics, and considerations:

Success in Your Current Job.

“The reward for good work is more work.” Being passionate about what you do, meeting the goals you’ve been given, and delivering for your supervisors builds your reputation, your resume, and your future. Better to build upon on success than flee failure.

Set Clear Goals.

You should be able to describe the goal you have in moving to your next job, even as you remain open minded.  Know where you want to work, and what you want to do – the kind of organization, the role.  As you search job postings and network, you need to be able to summarize your skills and your objective – something you’ll see referred to as your elevator pitch.

Speaking of networking…


Weak connections can be the most interesting ways to find opportunities – you can often learn more from strangers than people just like you, one of the very reasons we celebrate diversity.  Vendors are a great source of connections, like your outside legal counsel.  Develop a system, and start by asking for referrals, not for “a job.”  “Can you put me in touch with three other people I might speak with?”

Be Visible.

Host a panel discussion at a convention.  Deliver a presentation.  Offer to lead an industry committee.  Write a guest blog post. Gain recognition, and build your reputation. (And if you’re interested in sharing your expertise with the coffee community, let us know.)

Resume and Linkedin Profile.

Build a resume when you don’t need to.  Keep it updated, and stay focused on presenting transferrable skills.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile mirrors your traditional resume, and is also up-to-date.  Keep a list of references with your resume.

Design a Cover Letter Template.

A good cover letter makes it easier for an employer to hire you.  Your resume is built for you – to generally showcase your skills.  Your cover letter “translates” your resume into a match for an open position.

Read the Job Description.

Before applying for a job, ask for a copy of the position description.  Make sure the job is right for you. Use that position description as a guide for your cover letter.  “I note in the position description that wrangling small rodents is required in the position of Warehouse Supervisor.  You’ll be pleased to know that I was a champion 4H guinea pig breeder in fifth grade.”


Ace the Interview. 

  1. Have a short pitch. Get a list of “typical” interview questions. Underline the questions you can’t easily answer. Practice the whole thing – out loud, and ideally to a compliant friend who can critique you.
  2. Prepare. Read about your potential new employer. Scour the web site. Look for media. Do your homework.
  3. Bring questions and work examples. Good questions are a sign that you’ve done your homework, that you are thoughtful, and that you’ll be an inquisitive staff

Be Gracious.

Don’t be critical of your current employer.  Send a thank you note after an interview.

Tap Good Job Sources.

Don’t try to sift through all the listings on a huge job board if you are looking for work in a specific industry. Save time with tailored industry resources such as the Coffee Career Center.


Yes, you need to “only” find one job, but that can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. A methodical approach, and relying upon the wealth of resources that are freely available, will result in your best chance for success.

And when you land successfully, pass it along by taking those “information and networking calls” from those still looking.  Whether  “common courtesy” or “good for your karma,” it’s the right thing to do, and something you’ll need sooner or later.


Read the original post on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s