You need a job search strategy that includes more than scouring the job boards. Build your plan and take action towards a proactive job search.
A Proactive Job Search Strategy
So you’ve finally mastered your pitch and your resume is done.
Now it’s time to do the really hard work of putting all the pieces together and developing your job search strategy. But not just any job search strategy, a proactive job search.
Your proactive job search strategy has lots of moving parts. You may even feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do. But with some planning and keeping your eye on the end result (getting conversations with people who can potentially hire you), you’ll be able to work your plan.
Only A Small Number of New Hires Comes Through Job Boards
Hiring managers prefer to hire people who are referred to them.
Referred applicants are 5 times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.Jobvite
Your chances of writing a resume that makes it through the ATS are slim. Plus there’s a lot of competition.
However, your odds of getting a conversation with a hiring manager are quite good if you are referred.
This is often referred to as the “hidden job market.” It’s not really hidden. The job openings exist, they just haven’t been publicized.
Being an early candidate gives you the advantage.
3 Lists You Absolutely Must Have
In order for your plan to work, there are three lists you must make (and update).
- 25 STAR stories
- 50 companies that could potentially hire you
- 100 people you know well
Your STAR stories will be used when you have conversations with people, when you have job interviews and are embedded on your resume. Identifying these stories ensures that you know your strengths and the value you offer.
Your list of 50 companies will change. It’s a starting point. As you learn more about these companies, some will be deleted from your list and new companies will appear. Consider these companies as potential leads.
Start with a list of 100 people you know. (Technically, you know more than 100 people but start with those you know well.) Write them down, type them up, but please, record this list somewhere – Word, Excel, notepad or whatever.
Work Your Contacts
Your list of 100 contacts is a mix of people you know and who know you.
Begin with the safest, easiest conversations first. This will build your confidence.
1. Reach out to 5 contacts every day to touch base.
Update them on your search and ask what they know about some of your target companies.
DO NOT send a mass email to your contacts. That’s impersonal and will not generate results!
2. Add new referral names to your list
Ask this simple question at the end of each conversation with your contacts and your list will continue to grow!
“Who else would you recommend I speak with?”
Work Your Target Company List
Your target company list is just a list of companies that seem interesting or meet some of your criteria as a place you may want to work.
1. Invest time researching the company on LinkedIn.
Identify your first and second degree connections who work there.
Keep a list of all your first and second level connections inside target companies so you can contact them.
These are people you will reach out to and ask questions. An informational meeting with insiders helps you understand the company better and whether you would be interested in working there.
Company insiders can serve as referrals if there are openings inside your target companies.
Reach out to insiders early and often. You want them to remember you when they learn about an opening.
2. Follow each target company on LinkedIn.
3. Set alerts on the corporate career page.
Go to the career page for each target company and set alerts for jobs you are interested in.
4. Follow the company on social media.
Follow the active company accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially those related to career news.
5. Watch for news about any of your target companies
Monitor the news about your targets so you can share on social media and mention when you reach out to insiders.
Attend Networking Events
Always be on the lookout for networking events, conferences, industry presentations or any event where people from your target companies or desired industry will be meeting.
Ask past colleagues what events they are attending or recommend you attend. These colleagues work in your industry so they may know of events or happenings.
Also be on the lookout for events where employees from your target companies will be presenting or attending.
Check Local and National Professional Associations
Professional associations host professional development events, information sessions, and networking events. These events may be in person or virtual. Associations also often have private or semi-private job listings just for their members.
Not only will you meet people from your industry, but you will also be upping your industry knowledge.
Check the member directory to see if people from your target companies belong to professional associations you are interested in. You can also check the LinkedIn profiles of employees at target companies to see which associations or groups they belong to and use those organizations as a way to build relationships with employees you want to meet.
Reconnect With Your College/University
No matter when you graduated, check your school’s alumni resources. They may offer networking events, a job board or have other services for alumni.
There’s a special bond you share with each and every alumni from your school. Don’t underestimate that connection.
Also search for alumni who may work in target companies. It doesn’t matter what year they graduated/attended, you still share the school experience.
Connect with Local Job Clubs
In almost every city around the country, you’ll find job clubs. These are networking groups specifically designed for job seekers.
Many who find themselves unemployed don’t know about job clubs until they start asking around. These groups offer you a way to connect with other job seekers and help one another through rough times. They often have guest speakers.
Investigate Staffing Agencies and Contract Houses
If you are staying in the same field/industry/occupation, then third party recruiters may be a viable option.
Staffing agencies or contract houses do not find you a job. They work for their clients. Their primary mission is to find qualified candidates for jobs companies have asked them to fill. Therefore, if you have the exact experience and skills they are looking for, they may be interested in you.
Just make sure you are using every source to uncover hidden job opportunities!
Schedule Your Time
If you aren’t used to working unsupervised, then you may find the lack of structure and accountability challenging.
Having a system to manage your time will help greatly! Try the suggestions in Structure Your Week During Job Search
Proactive Means You’re In Control
Rather than the feeling you are chasing jobs, a proactive job search gives you a sense of power and control.
With each conversation you have, you are creating awareness of your skills and talents so that the right opportunities find you! Or at least you learn about them before they are posted on any job board.
It’s extremely important that when someone, anyone, uses a search engine like Google to look you up, that you show up! And not just your name and address, but your LinkedIn profile, positive mentions in the news, awards, recognition…just the good stuff! Learn more about being findable here:
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.