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Land the Right Job: How to Take a Structured Approach to Job Searching

Who says employers are the only ones who can take a structured approach to the interview process? Chelsea Cohen—who leads recruiting enablement for Form Energy—says applicants should be doing the same.

A starling bird holds a hiring scorecard with the words "Starling On Work & Life" below it

We were lucky enough to host Chelsea for a members-only event at Starling yesterday. She’s been recruiting since I met her at the D. E. Shaw group nearly 20 years ago. Along the way she worked at Google, started her own recruitment company, and is now working for a company noted by the MIT Technology Review as a climate tech company to watch in 2023.


Part of Chelsea’s message was that the online job market has a problem—while it was hailed as technology that would increase efficiency for all, it seems to have done the opposite. According to a study conducted by recruiting platform Ashby, the number of applications per open position has increased significantly in the past couple of years. Many applicants feel like it's gotten harder and harder to land the right job, and, as Chelsea says, “Recruiters are tired.” Her advice to candidates was to cut through the noise with a structured approach that leads to a higher quality application.


What is Structured Interviewing?

A structured approach to hiring involves three key elements:

  1. The recruiter and hiring team deeply understanding the knowledge, skills, and characteristics of candidates that will make a candidate successful in the role

  2. A consistent approach to asking the same questions of each interviewee

  3. And a systematic and methodical approach to evaluating candidates with a rubric

Research has shown that structured approaches to hiring are more predictive of job performance than unstructured approaches. Why shouldn’t that be true in the opposite direction?


How to Land the Right Job with Structured Job Searching

Chelsea suggests that a structured approach to interviewing can help you land the right job and recommends:

  1. Being clear on your must-have and nice-to-have criteria for the job and work environment. Create a two-by-two matrix and write it out. She says it is a “gift” to recruiters when candidates have a clear understanding of what they want.

  2. Coming up with consistent questions that you ask each employer to understand where they stand on your criteria.

  3. Scoring your interviews with a rubric

I love this, because interviewing is as much about you interviewing the company as it is about the company interviewing you. Similar to online dating and trying to find an apartment to rent in New York City, it’s easy when job searching to get blinded by the first promising thing to come your way and fail to really evaluate if it’s the right fit. Honestly, I can’t help but think that had I taken a more structured approach to all three of the above, I might have avoided some of the “bad fits” in my past.


Playing the Long Game

The other thing that struck me as Chelsea was presenting was that this is an approach to career development that we should all be taking on an ongoing basis and not just when we are actively looking for jobs. Many job seekers don’t have the privilege of choice right now—we have to take what we can get and there is no shame in that. But being clear on our must-haves and nice-to-haves, researching companies or roles that fit the bill, and making connections with people who are relevant over time can help set us up for success and happiness long-term.


For access to more events just like this and other opportunities to learn, connect, and give back—join Starling today.

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