I think Albert Einstein said it best:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Yet, as career advisors, we see this practice all the time. And usually it’s the people who are struggling to land their next job that are doing exactly this. They tell me they’ve been using Indeed.com and sometimes Monster.com or LinkedIn…exclusively.
Have you been networking? I ask them. No, that doesn’t work for me, they say. And so they continue using the job boards to distribute their resume, and they wait. Weeks pass and when I see them next, I ask how their search is going. Not so good they tell me.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that my clients abandon the job boards. Plenty of people land interviews and eventually a position. It just takes them longer. What I am suggesting is that my clients use other means of looking for work.
Use Different Methods to Look for Work
But before we go further with my suggestions for looking for work, you must know what you want to do, as well as where you’d like to work. I find this to be a challenge for some job seekers, who give me a blank stare when I ask them these questions.
Most know what they want to do but aren’t quite sure where they’d like to work. They don’t have a target company list of even 15 companies, let alone 10. Without this list, networking will be extremely difficult, as you won’t know exactly who to approach.
1. Networking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Spreading the word in your community and asking your friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. to keep their ears open is a start.
Attend networking groups a couple of times a week. Search on Meetup.com to see if there are smaller events might be more to your liking, particularly if you’re more introverted and prefer the intimacy smaller groups provide.
Supplement your in-person networking with LinkedIn. Make initial contact online and then follow up with a phone call. Ask to meet your LinkedIn connections for coffee, or talking on the phone and Skype-ing may be the way your connections want to go.
2. Reach out to recruiters or staffing agencies. Recruiters have a pipeline of their own of employers that are looking to fill positions. They may work directly with employers or assist internal recruiters at large corporations.
Their job is to present the best candidates to extremely busy hiring managers. They are loyal to said hiring managers because the employer pays their salaries. Make no mistake; recruiters work for the employers, not you.
Therefore, it’s important that your marketing campaign is strong. Your resume and LinkedIn profile must be powerful. As well, you must sell yourself in phone interviews conducted by recruiters. If you can impress the recruiters, you’re one step closer to the face-to-face interview.
3. Leverage your alumni association. Your college, and perhaps your high school, has a vast network of alumni who are more than willing to help you. Why? Because you share something very important in common; you went to the same school.
In addition to a vast network, there are a number of services your alumni association offers: networking events, career advice, mentoring opportunities, informational meetings, and possibly job fairs.
Not all college alumni associations offer these services, but for those that do you should take advantage of as many of them as possible.
4. Knock on companies’ doors, if possible. Some of my clients who are in the trades benefit more from simply going to work-sites and talking with foremen to see if they need any help. Resumes are rarely needed, but confidence matters a great deal.
This doesn’t mean others can’t “knock on companies’ doors.” What I mean by this is sending an introduction of yourself to the companies for which you’d like to work. (Remember that company list?) These are called networking emails and can be very useful in asking for informational meetings.
Some believe these can be more valuable than cover letters, and I’m inclined to agree. This is a great step for those who like to write, as opposed to speaking on the phone. In other words, introverts. The goal is to penetrate the Hidden Job Market.
5. Volunteer in your area of expertise. Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use.
Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending all your time sitting at home behind your computer. There’s something about getting out of the house and getting into a routine that’s very cathartic. It gives you a sense of achievement.
Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones. For example, you’re a web developer that needs more experience in PHP language. So you volunteer to develop a non-profit’s website. This is also great fodder for your resume.
6. Applying online. With all the negative talk about job boards, there has to be something said about doing it effectively. One way to do it wrong is to simply leave your resume on Monster, Dice, Simply Hired, etc., and wait for the calls to come rolling in.
Similarly, to apply for advertised positions on the company’s website—which is purported to produce better results—will not be enough. The fact is that the majority of job seekers are applying online for the 30% of jobs out there; so there’s a lot of competition.
Now, to do it correctly requires 1) a resume that is optimized for the advertised positions, 2) applying for positions you’re qualified for, and 3) following up on the jobs for which you applied.
There are some barriers, though. For instance, you would have to tailor each resume to the particular jobs. And often you cannot reach the decision maker at the companies. This said, people have told me they’ve landed interviews by applying online.
To use only one method of looking for work would not be productive. If, for instance, you were to network alone—which garners a 70% success rate by some people’s measures—it would not be as successful as if you were to combine that with using job boards and contacting recruiters.
And if networking is not your forte, you may find the going slow. So use the methods of looking for work that you feel are most productive. Just don’t limit it to one method, particularly applying online.
Photo: Flickr, marccm