If you haven’t looked for a job recently, you might find that a few things have changed. Slapping together a resume and shotgunning it out to positions you saw posted online will usually result in … nothing at all. Really. Don’t bother.

One thing about job search has not changed much; job hunting is still a miserable experience. Everything you do in a typical job search makes you feel like you are the only person in the world who is going through it. When you are sitting at home in front of your computer, you feel alone. When you scour the job boards and see very few jobs, and they all require some skill you never learned, you feel dejected. And after you write a thoughtful cover letter and spend an hour applying online, only to get no response … well, then you feel rejected.

Yeah, the one big change you will notice right away is that employers are far more rude than ever before. Your resume goes unacknowledged, and even after an interview, you rarely be told that the position was filled…even getting a rejection letter is harder now.

The other big change is harder to see; you have access to better information now. You have better ways of connecting to your dream job than just sending resumes. In fact, sending resumes to strangers is now one of the worst ways to introduce yourself.

Access to better information can put you in control of your job search. If you want a better job now, you can precisely target jobs that closely align with your strengths, in organizations that have a bright future, and then find a way to get yourself introduced by a real person. You know, a human introduction?

But, of course, almost nobody knows how to control their own search for a dream job, most people are too busy being the victim of applying for any job.

That’s why I started a step by step guide to landing your dream job, published weekly by The Washington Business Journal. The series is designed for mid to senior level professionals working in large urban job markets like Washington DC. (That’s the kind of job market I’ve spent the last twenty years studying).

I’m including just one action item each week. Here is a summary of the first three installments:

  • The first step toward finding your dream job is knowing your strengths so you can find a work environment that places a high value on what you do best.
  • The second step is knowing what kind of work is like kryptonite to you–activities that drain your energy. Kryptonite work may be necessary, and you might even be good at it, but it leaves you tired, irritated and bored. Grinding away at the wrong work–even if you think it’s currently marketable—is a recipe for failure. But instead of leaving this kind of work behind, and actually making their next job better, most people unwittingly write their resume in a way that makes this kind of work haunt them, following them from job to job.
  • The third step is finding a work environment that puts you in control of your destiny. People who have built successful careers know how to find work environments that encourage high performance, and have the courage to leave work environments that make doing your best work impossible. So what should you look for in your next job? What factors will give you the greatest job satisfaction, and what factors will give you the most job security?

I hope you find the series helpful.

You can read part two here.