Sunday, October 20, 2013

How to Get a Job - 4 Ways to Kick-start Your Job Search

Whether you are a recent grad or a tenured professional, starting your job search can be daunting.  Many people go to the job boards first.  That is definitely a great resource to find job openings, but there are many other things you can do to supplement those efforts.  Here are some more ideas to get you started:

  1. Leverage LinkedIn.  Most people have no idea how powerful a tool LinkedIn can be.  It is by far my favorite.  Here are some ways you can optimize it for your benefit.
      • Check Out Your Fellow Alumni.  Open an advanced search.  Under School, write whatever college you attended in quotation marks.  Enter your postal code.  Designate within 25 miles or whatever commute distance you are comfortable with.  Click Search.  You should get a list of professionals who attended your school.  Check out the companies they are working for.  If you are a recent grad, then focus on the ones who graduated in the last couple years.  They may be more likely to hire grads if they have had successful hires in the past.  Feel free to message the ones in the same field as you.  Mention you are a fellow alumni.  It's a great excuse and instant connector.  Offer to take them to coffee in exchange for hearing their success story.  Do not outright ask them for a job.  Instead make a genuine connection.  Let them know you are looking for your next opportunity and would appreciate them keeping you in mind if they hear of anything in their network.  If you did not attend college, then brainstorm another instant connector you can leverage.  For example, if you are a stay-at-home mom, fitness buff, or lifestyle blogger, find other stay-at-home moms, buffs, or bloggers who work at the companies you want to work at.  Hang out where they hang out and leverage the coffee idea I mentioned above.  Again, it's all about making a real connection. 
      • Build Your Connections.  The more connections you have on LinkedIn, the more people LinkedIn will let you see.  It is okay to connect with strangers.  When people say "It's all about who you know", it is true.  Most of the time, the people who get jobs are the ones who networked their way in.  They still have to have the qualifications, but they only found out about the job or got the interview because they knew someone.  I would recommend connecting with Recruiters, HR professionals, and individuals in your field.  Make sure to customize the note in the connection request.  It can be as simple as this, "Hi John, I'm always looking to connect with other local HR professionals.  I'd love to add you to my network.  Thanks so much, Raina".
      • Join Groups.  Join as many groups as you can.  Start with your alumni groups and then professional associations.  If you need ideas, look at the groups your idols are in and join those.  Jump into the discussions.  Make thoughtful comments.  Read the discussions.  Make connections and network to find out about local opportunities.
      • Optimize Your Profile.  Make sure your profile is SEO friendly.  Basically, you want me, as a recruiter, to be able to find you.  How you do this is by finding a job description online of a role you want and incorporating as many of those keywords into your profile.  This results in people like me being able to find you when I do keyword searches for roles I am recruiting for.  The more keywords in your profile and the more connections you have, the more likely you are to turn up in my search results.
  2. Contact an Agency.  You can always sign up with an agency.  It does not cost anything.  Basically the agency gets paid a fee by the company for introducing you to them.  Sometimes an agency will know about an opportunity that is not posted.  Or they might have a relationship with a company and be able to get you an interview where you might not otherwise be able to get one.  You can ask for a direct placement (meaning you get hired full-time immediately by the company) or temp-to-hire opportunity (meaning you work a period of time before the company hires you).  Many times it will depend on the company.  If you want to hedge your bets, then let the agency know you are open to both.  You can always turn down an opportunity if it is not a good fit for you.  Make sure you have your phone with you at all times.  Sometimes, it can come down to which candidate calls back the agency first, so make sure it is on you.
  3. Join a Professional Association.  Another great place to meet your future manager or coworker is at a professional association.  Sometimes there are even opportunities at the beginning of meetings to introduce yourself to the crowd and let them know what you are looking for.  They may even share job openings they know about as well.  If you are ambitious, volunteer on one of the board committees.  It is a great way to meet and network with local professionals in your field.  The membership committee, for example, usually checks in with current members to see how they are enjoying their membership and also reaches out to new potential members.  This would be a great opportunity to reach out to the exact people you would want to work with.
  4. Have Realistic Salary and Role Expectations.  This might be the most important one on the list.  I truly think career articles do recent grads a disservice when they list the average salary you should expect after graduating.  Unless you are in a profession that requires specific technical or medical skills, like a physician or an IT programmer, then $50,000 is actually pretty unrealistic without 5-10 years of experience in the role.  If you are really serious about working, then you need to objectively look at your skill set and the job market.  Check out my post on How to Ask For a Raise.  The Do Your Research section will give you steps on how to figure out what you should be realistically making.  If you are a recent grad, be open to entry level jobs.  Many of us started as an administrative assistant or receptionist and worked our way up.  You can choose to wait for the perfect opportunity that pays you what you want and is at your dream company, but I warn you that you may wait for a while.  And as the months tick by, you become less and less employable and miss out on the experience and compensation you could be earning if you had accepted that "less than perfect job" 3 months ago.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to conducting a job search.  It is a topic near and dear to my heart since I am on the other side of it, recruiting as a career.  I know it can also be hard and frustrating.  Do not give up.  And if you need help, do not be afraid to ask for it.  Be humble and positive, and you will go far.

You might also enjoy:

Salary Negotiation
How to Ask for a Raise
Interview Prep
How to Prepare for an Interview

Interview Tips and Resources
Job Tips and Resources


  1. Raina, these are some great tips. Thanks for sharing. I'm actually in the process of looking for a job and it's not easy after being a stay at home mom for so many years. Thanks for stopping by my blog on my SITS day this past Monday!

  2. Hi Susi! Thanks for stopping by. If you need any help or even just want to run any questions by me, please feel free. Good luck on your job search. You'll do great :)

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