Elizabeth called yesterday inquiring about career counseling services saying, “I read about all these job opportunities available now, but my job search is going nowhere. It’s been over ten years since I looked for a new job. I must be doing something wrong, but I don’t know what.”
After a few minutes of talking with her, it was clear that she needed a minicourse in job search best practices. Here are some key tactics to help you succeed.
- Networking is the top strategy. This is the way many people land a new job. LinkedIn has made networking easier as you can search your all connections and easily send them a message. Inquire about their company, ask for some insider information, or help with an opening you want to apply for.
- Ask for a referral. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, getting a referral increases your chances of landing the job by 45%. Ask your friend or connection to refer you to their employer and pass along your resume. This should be your primary objective if you know someone who works at that organization. It doesn’t matter if they are in a different department or not. (For more specifics, read the article “Here Is A LinkedIn Secret Weapon To Land A Job”)
- Target the right jobs. The shotgun approach where you apply for anything and everything is never effective. Instead, you’ll be more successful if you apply to the more appropriate job fits and concentrate on making that application the best possible. Also, look for companies that you’d be excited to work for. You are seeking a new long-term home—not a brief stint—so choose wisely.
- Stay on top of industry trends and news. Read everything you can find from reputable sources about changes and challenges in your industry. Know how these affect the type of job you do. This insight will allow you to impress an employer once you get a conversation going.
One of the country’s top job search strategists, Hannah Morgan, who writes a newsletter and blog, offered her best advice on getting hired.
- Uncover the hidden job market via LinkedIn. An impressive LinkedIn profile is where you start. Ensure that recruiters find you by creating a more compelling headline instead of the default that lists your current job title. Customize your headline to spell out the type of roles you are looking for. Example: Supply Chain & Procurement Leader | Global Product Development | MBA
- The LinkedIn “About” section needs to tell your story. Do include info you’d use in a cover letter or how you’d answer, Tell me about yourself. And write in first person, which means use “I” throughout this section.
- Add results to Your LinkedIn Work Experience section. List your accomplishments and take credit where credit is due. Be specific on how the employer benefited. Did you save time or money? Did you create something new? Don’t just list the job title, employer dates of employment. (For more details, read the article “How to Write an Impressive LinkedIn Work Experience Section”)
Ready to up your LinkedIn game?
- Connections are key. Ensure you are connected to all former managers, colleagues, vendors, customers, friends, clients, etc., as these are vital sources of insider information and knowledge about job opportunities.
- Have a conversation with someone from your network. Reconnect with anyone you know who can help you. Emails and messages aren’t enough. Warm up the relationships using Zoom or call on the phone. Make your list of potential people to call and have at least one conversation a week.
- Line up your references. You need three to five references, but you may not have talked to them in quite a while. Call them and tell them about your job search. Ask for updated contact info. Best to use a former boss, but only if they won’t be a bad reference. In that case, it’s ok to use a colleague you worked with or your boss’s boss. Vendors you worked with also make excellent references. An added plus is when you call them, they may know of other opportunities for you to apply to.
- Make a list of companies you want to work for. When there is an employer you are dying to work for, take a proactive approach. They may have no openings on their website. Don’t send anything to HR or recruiters. Use LinkedIn to find the head of the department. It does take time to sleuth out the right person, but once you do, ask, “Yours is a company I’m very interested in. I’ve done some research, and my experience includes (list two to three accomplishments), then ask for a conversation. Include your phone number. Do not include a resume. A personal conversation is what you are after.
Mark Dyson is the podcast host of The Voice of Job Seekers. He said, “Conducting a job search is one of the hardest things to learn to do. It’s full of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. However, networking is the single most useful tool in a job seeker’s job search toolbox.” He offered a few other tips.
- Have the right Mindset. Job seekers must show they are the company’s remedy to their problem. Candidates need to project a consultant approach to uncover the employer’s needs for that role. Then, show how you are the solution. You do this by clearly demonstrating experience and how you would bring value to their company.
- Let passion guide you. If we learned one thing from the pandemic, life is too short to be unhappy at work.
- Do some soul searching. Uncover what your purpose is. What motivates you? What drives your passion for your work? Your reasons should be your own — not those imparted by others. Direct your career. Find your unique purpose, embrace it, and let it propel you.
- Join professional organizations. These are people in your industry. They can help you advance your career. In addition, join social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Don’t just take. Add value by helping others.
- Presentation during interviews is everything. Show personality. People remember others who tell stories with flair as it makes you memorable. Companies can’t train personality, but they can hire people who have it.
This article was originally published in Forbes.