By Amanda Augustine
When you’re looking for a job, never rely on only one method to source opportunities. I recommend:
By incorporating all three methods into your search strategy, you will maximize the number of leads – published and unpublished – you can pursue.
- Applying to (and properly following up on) online job listings
- Networking with your social and professional contacts
- Engaging with recruiters
Here are a few tips to help you take full advantage of each job sourcing method:
CareerXroad’s 2012 Source of Hire Survey showed that among the 200+ companies who were surveyed, 20.1 percent of their external new hires credited job boards with finding the job posting. What does that mean? If you’ve given up on job postings and applications, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities! I recommend applying to around five well-fitted opportunities each week. There are a few things you can do to improve your return on investment with each application.
- Do your research. I know it can be hard, but fight the urge to apply to any job you qualify for before you’ve learned more. Granted, this doesn’t apply to confidential postings, but for jobs where you know the company’s name, do the research. Review the employment section of the company’s site, use resources such as Vault and Glassdoor, and talk to connections who’ve worked at the company to get a better understanding of its corporate culture.
It’s great if you have the right skills and experience to do the job, but chances are you won’t make it through the interview process if you don’t fit in with the team. And frankly, you probably wouldn’t enjoy working there in the long run. Whenever possible, review the latest news articles using Google News and financial reports to get a better understanding of the health of the organization.
- Apply to the right jobs. Job descriptions often contain a laundry list of nice-to-have items the hiring manager wishes the ideal candidate would possess; however, they rarely expect a candidate to have all of those. Your job is to zero in on the must-have core requirements for the role. If you possess these must-haves, apply away. (And don’t forget to properly follow up.)
I recommend using a T-format cover letter to spell out your qualifications, and make sure the key terms from the job description are woven into your resume. Your resume gets 6 seconds to make an impression with a recruiter – make it as easy as possible for them to quickly see why you’re a good fit for the role.
Whether you love it or loathe it, networking is an important part of any job seeker’s strategy in today’s job market. It will help you learn about job leads that may not be published anywhere else. Another benefit is the possibility of getting an employee referral from one of your connections for a position. This type of referral can be very powerful – it can help you bypass the gatekeeper and gain valuable insight for the interview process.
- Map out your network and grow it. In a recent post I discussed the two types of network connections that are considered most valuable during your search – professional connections you’ve made during your career, and the social butterflies among your group of friends who can connect you to other acquaintances in your current or desired line of work.
Before you tap into this network, develop a strong professional online presence that aligns with your resume, supports your career goals and showcases your expertise. Make sure you’re connected to all of your contacts online so you can easily view their work experience and other connections.
- Get involved and show off your expertise. If you feel your current network is not very strong, then it’s especially important to get out there – physically and virtually – and develop new relationships with those in your field. This could be in the form of joining online groups and getting involved in discussions; joining and participating in Meetup groups related to your profession; reconnecting with alumni from your school; or attending professional trade shows, conferences or membership meetings focused specifically on your targeted industry or line of work.
Don’t discount recruiting events, job fairs and other events dedicated to job seekers in your field. Not only will you meet recruiters, but you can also develop valuable connections with other job seekers, doubling your search efforts.
Job seekers are often skeptical about working with recruiters, either because they’ve been burned in the past or can’t stand the lack of response. I agree – it’s not an ideal situation for a job seeker. You can’t expect the recruiter to treat you like the customer because in their world, you’re not. However, they can be a valuable source of job leads and company insight when you’re the right fit for their sourcing needs. There are two primary ways you can capitalize on recruiter engagement:
- Build a strong professional online presence so recruiters find you. If you’re following the tips I mentioned for networking, you should be set from this perspective. When your resume is uploaded to sites such as TheLadders and you have a polished profile on sites like LinkedIn, recruiters will find you as they search for potential candidates. Also, recruiters typically monitor online groups relevant to their recruiting needs in search of candidates. Your activity within professional groups and through online discussions will help you build your personal brand and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
- Develop a recruiter outreach strategy and put it to practice. This requires you to research which recruiting firms source for positions in your industry or line of work, to identify which recruiters at those firms can be contacted, and to send tailored messages to those people. I recommend using sites such as Oya and TheLadders’ Follow Recruiter feature to find the right recruiters, and then visiting their individual websites or LinkedIn profiles to locate contact information and reach out to them. Check out these sample messages to get an idea of how you can communicate with the recruiters.
This is a numbers game, so make it a goal to reach out to three to five new recruiters each week, and follow up every couple weeks – you never know when they’ll have the right opportunity for you and will respond.
Over the years, my team of career coaches and I have learned that different job search methods work for different people. Some job seekers will get a great deal of response from their online applications, while others gain much more traction through working with recruiters. And then there will be others who find their personal or professional contacts to be the best source of leads.
The key is to incorporate each method into your search and see where you gain the most traction. Give each method a good try for at least three months before you give up on it. For many of you, this will require you to go outside of your comfort zone.
As you get a better idea of what works for you and suits your personality, you can move more of your job sourcing activities to that method. I don’t recommend giving up any one method entirely – you might miss out on opportunities that way. But you should spend the bulk of your time on the activities that yield the best results for you.
Also, remember that these strategies can work in tandem. It’s important not only to apply to a job listing, but also to utilize your network for insight and employee referrals.