An aggressive job-search is not centered solely around one method, such as online job boards, newspaper ads or networking.
Based on my experience as a resume writer, some job hunters mistakenly think that their job search can be conducted entirely from their home, sitting in front of the computer.
Instead, experts say that a successful strategy should employ multiple search methods for the best chances of securing interviews and, ultimately, offers. For example, a job seeker might use networking, online job boards, cold-calling, a staffing firm and professional associations as part of an overall strategy.
Utilizing all of these different methods could help with tapping into the so-called “hidden job market.” Statistics have shown for years that most job openings are not advertised. Employers seem to like candidates who were personally referred, too. A 2001 Forrester Research study found that 62% of hiring managers said that word-of-mouth referrals were the best source of new hires.
That means that networking continues to be one of the most valuable tools in any job-seeker’s toolbox.
As a job seeker, you should aim to find out about the job openings that will never be advertised, and to be one of the first candidates considered as soon as a company decides to hire someone – before they have even told anyone they’re hiring.
How do you go about this?
Contact friends, family and all of your professional contacts, such as people you worked with at previous jobs, vendors or clients you worked with at previous jobs and people you’ve met through professional associations. Tell the people you know from church, service clubs and other organizations. Do not forget about other people you have relationships with, like your financial adviser and eye doctor.
Ask all your contacts if you can send your resume to them. Even if these people know you, they might not know all of your qualifications and be able to convey them to someone else effectively.
Ask your contacts if their companies might be hiring, and if they can get you an informational interview with their employer. See if they know anyone who is hiring, and if they will keep an eye out for opportunities for you.
Begin researching them. Find out as much information about them as possible. Identify the appropriate point of contact there (such as the manager of whatever department you would like to work in), and make contact. Put in a phone call. Give him or her a 30-second “elevator pitch” explaining your qualifications in a very direct way. Yes, toot your own horn!
Even if the company is not hiring, request a short informational interview so that you can find out more about them and they can find out more about you. Afterward, send that individual a thank-you note. Then, keep in touch with that individual.
Pay particular attention to business newspapers that cover only business news. Most major markets have business papers, but you might have to hunt for this type of paper (they are not always sold on newsstands). Look for stories about companies that are moving to town, companies that are expanding, new business developments that are in the works and any other news that would suggest possible job opportunities. Columns with announcements about recent promotions and staffing changes are a gold mine. Whenever someone gets a new job, there is usually a job opening created by that person’s departure. As you identify leads through the media, determine if anyone in your network can help you get your foot in the door to the organization, and make contact either way.
Most professions have associations that provide professional development opportunities for members. Most major markets have local chapters of national associations, and these local chapters typically have regular events, such as monthly luncheons with speakers. These are great opportunities to learn more about your profession and keep up with the latest trends. Perhaps most importantly, these meetings provide the opportunity to meet peers in your profession and people who might be in a position to hire you. Additionally, some professional organizations offer job listings for members only. This might be on the organization’s Web site in a password-secured area or in its members-only newsletter. Often, employers might list jobs with a professional association but not list them with any major job boards. It is probably cheaper (or even free), and they can have a reasonable expectation that the candidates will be dedicated professionals who are successful in the industry.
Your contacts in a professional association will also be valuable should there be any job openings at their companies. You could speak to a contact about a job opening at his or her company to get information about the job that another candidate would not know. You also might be able to have your contact hand your resume to the hiring manager, which would get the manager’s attention and make you stand out from the dozens or hundreds of strangers sending resumes to HR.