We recently heard from Amanda, a reader who had conducted a terrific job search and took the time to pass along what she learned from the experience. She not only found a job, but managed a step up in title and pay. Let’s start with part of her first message to us.

AMANDA: Putting in 50-60 hours per week paid off handsomely in approximately four months’ time. I attended industry trade shows, joined job-search networking groups, exercised my mind by enrolling in retraining courses and conferences, and also made use of an outplacement firm provided by my former employer. While not ignoring job boards and career Web sites, I spent most of my time driving EXISTING network relationships. It was through that method that I landed my superior career opportunity. The position was not yet posted, and therefore I found a “hidden job” through networking. It also helped that I developed a world-class portfolio at the suggestion of a colleague, which really set me apart from other applicants.

Dale: We called Amanda to hear more about her experience, particularly to learn what was in her “portfolio.” She sent us a copy, and the first thing you see is a side-by-side comparison: Each of the company’s job requirements listed on the left, and her experience/qualifications next to each one. This is a marvelous way to let people know that you have paid attention to what they need, and that you have made it easy for them to evaluate how you fit in. (Doing so makes me think of a great book title, “Don’t Make Me Think!” Although the book is about building Internet sites, the don’t-make-me-think philosophy applies to helping hiring managers embrace you.)

J.T.: Also in the portfolio was Amanda’s 30-60-90-day plan, adapted specifically to the company she was applying to and setting out what she hoped to accomplish once hired. She told us that this seemed to really impress the hiring manager, and we can understand why — he’s overworked and looking for help, and here she is, saying that she won’t sit around waiting for him to tell her what to do, that she is already, even before starting, thinking about how she can get up to speed and how she can start to contribute. What manager wouldn’t fall in love with that attitude? Brava, Amanda, and thanks for passing along your hard-earned search wisdom.