To catch a fish, you must put your pole in the water. You have to use the right lure, know where to fish, and understand it takes time before the fish bites the hook. But you also need to be able to recognize when you’ve been in one spot for too long and be ready to move on to better waters. If you’ve been in the job search for a long time, this metaphor may resonate with you.
If you find yourself doing the same job search activities day after day with nothing to show for it, or aren’t finding leads that pique your interest, you may need to mix up your efforts. Common job search tasks include: searching for openings, applying, and setting up job alerts. But how can you do more to utilize your time more efficiently? Below, you’ll discover which methods are the most effective, and how to become a big fish in the networking world.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Job Search Efforts
Before we dive in on where to focus your efforts, we want to first expose avenues that may not lead you to as much success. These are the least effective job search methods:
- Using the internet.
- Mailing out resumes to employers at random.
- Answering ads in a professional or trade journal.
- Answering local newspaper ads.
- Going to private employment agencies or search firms.
- Job search support groups.
- Asking a former teacher for leads.
- Going to the state/seeking jobs from the state.
Now that you know where the waters may be sparse or just not have the type of fish you’re looking for, where should you be positioning yourself to succeed? Here are the most effective job search methods:
- Asking for leads from family, friends, and people in the community.
- Knocking on the door of any employer, factory, or office that interests you, whether they are known to have a vacancy or not.
- In a COVID world this may look like: Getting dressed, driving to the location, and giving your resume to the gate keeper. You then express your gratitude and let them know you’ve already applied online. Stopping by to introduce yourself can go a long way.
- Researching companies to create a target list of 200 prospective employers and calling them to ask if they are hiring for the type of position you desire.
Treating your job search like a full-time position is an effective way to stay focused and prioritize your time. Life can sometimes get in the way, so here are a few ways to combat daily interruptions to your job search:
- Wake up and get dressed like you’re going into work.
- Block days and times off your calendar to work on your job search efforts.
- Establish an email account solely for the use of your job search. This blocks distractions!
- Create daily tasks and set goals to accomplish.
- Work in a dedicated space that you recognize as an environment where you get things done.
Your search efforts are going to take time and dedication. Stay organized by setting up an excel sheet to track your applications and include details such as the position title, company, date applied, file name, and interview date. This can help you keep track of where applications are and follow up appropriately.
How to Approach Networking
A strategic and effective job search is best conducted through networking. It is easier than ever before to attend a virtual event in your field or reach out to connections online. While networking may not initially sound like an enticing use of your time, it is extremely important to go to events or meet-ups virtually, or in person when these resume. Doing so allows you to talk with someone who is already employed, leading you to more strategic connections that are formed quicker than they would be on the other side of a computer screen. When attending a networking event, instead of saying, “I’m in transition,” try, “I am actively engaged in my job search.” This allows the conversation to flow more naturally. Plus, the person may be more likely to help you get in contact with the right person or lead you to a networking or informational interview.
There is a common stigma that networking is intimidating or scary. If you are nervous about a networking event, here are some options you can consider:
- Ask a friend who has recently been successful in their job search how they navigated networking.
- Seek advice from someone who just retired from an organization or field you would like to work in.
With networking, the rule of thumb is to take 15 minutes to chat, discuss advice, and share what you are looking for in a position. If you’re unsure how to start a networking conversation, opt for an important question: What advice would they give someone in your shoes? Once the time is up, let them know you valued their time. This interaction may help you stand out and potentially gain a follow up, or more time to help you achieve your goals. Regardless of if you hear from them first, it is important to follow up on the resource or connection the two of you discussed. For a special touch, send a thank you note for their time.
Your job search will take effort and determination. By knowing where to drop your lure and how to approach the networking process, you can find success in your job search. For a further, in-depth analysis of effective job search activities, visit our Xavier Learning Center: Webinar Series page to view the webinar, Effective Job Search Activities & Networking.