Phil is a professional career coach, working-life guru and all round nice guy. In the second in his series of articles, he provides advice on the way to organise a successful job hunt.
You might be finding that one of the most frustrating parts of a career change is finding the right opportunity. Even If you have a good idea of what you want to do next, it can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack to track down the perfect job. This post will arm you with a job hunting strategy and tactics that work.
The great news is that the right opportunity IS out there – with a good plan, dedication and the right attitude you can find it.
Traditional vs. Modern Job Hunting
The traditional model for job hunting is waiting for the right job to be created, finding the opening and then beating off the competition to land the role. This involves using channels such as newspaper and online job postings, company job boards and recruitment consultants.
The modern model for job hunting is to proactively find or have the right position created for you in an organisation you’d like to work for. This involves using a great deal of networking, targeted searches and informational interviews.
There are obvious pros and cons to each of these models. The traditional model means you are going for jobs that actually exist, however you tend to have much more competition and it can be hard to land the role. The modern model allows you to create your ideal role that might not exist yet, however it can take a lot of time, patience and hard work.
Most research on the topic suggests that around 50% of jobs are filled by each of these approaches.
Given all of this, I suggest that the ideal job search strategy is to make sure you are consistently using every appropriate tactic (i.e., do both!).
How to Structure your Search
It’s best to think of your job search as the most important work project you’ll ever undertake. You should be as professional, organised and committed as you are with your day job.
You may have a favourite approach for structuring a project (I’m sure your inner Excel/Powerpoint geek will come out). If not, I suggest you create a strategic overview of your job search. This will outline each tactic you plan to use and then the specifics of what you are committing to.
You can then keep a weekly to-do list which outlines specific, measurable commitments about what you will accomplish (for example: create a target list of 10 organizations I want to work for, check the job boards of those organizations for new roles, use movemeon to find the right recruitment consultant and set up a meeting, etc). This makes it easy to tick these off as being successfully completed.
Use this summary of Job search tactics to create your strategic overview:
- Review newspaper advertisements for job postings that fit your criteria
- Review online job boards for new jobs that fit your criteria
- Review company job boards for new jobs that fit your criteria
- Work with recruitment consultant(s) to identify roles that fit your criteria
- Use LinkedIn postings and Groups to find advertised roles that fit your criteria
- Approach HR and leave your CV for the type of job you want
- Apply for posted jobs identified using CV, covering letter, etc.
- Immediate network – look for people in your immediate network who work for organisations you’d like to work for, or who do the type of work you want to do. Ask for an informational interview (a meeting where you can ask about their career, the industry etc). Ask for further connections in the field.
- Wider Networking – tell your network about what you want to do and the organisations you want to do it at. Ask for introductions and connections to people they may know at these organisations or in your chosen field. Organise informational interviews.
- Fresh network – attend events that relate to your chosen field/industry and make new connections. Follow up and aim for informational interviews.
- Targeted Search – create a hit list of organisations that you want to work for in the area(s) you want to work. Research these companies and identify the personnel you’d like to contact.
- Use the following techniques to try and get a connection with these people, or more broadly at the company; your existing network, your network’s network, alumni connections, LinkedIn Group connections, research and reading to find out more about the person (a bit of online stalking), trade associations, trade events they may be attending/speaking at.
- Cold calling – call and try to get in touch with the person (your research of the company and their work will help you here).
- Walk-ins – consider showing up at the organisation you want to work for (again you should be well prepared).
- Internships/Volunteer – try to find a way to work in the organisations on a volunteer or temporary basis to show your skills.
- Get creative – the only limit to making a connection or finding a job is your imagination.
What does this all add up to?
As you can see, this can be a serious project and you’ll need to work hard to get optimal results. The key is to stay patient and remember that you have a great strategy which will get you results.
Make sure you use a good system to track opportunities, connections and follow-ups to stay professional. You can use your strategic overview if that is helpful, or create a separate tracking sheet.
All these job search approaches have been successful and continue to be successful.
By using traditional and modern methods in tandem, and having a well-structured approach, you go from a needle in a haystack search, to giving yourself a great chance of finding the ideal job.
Feeling organised and ready to go find that opportunity? Now you’re ready to move on to my next post, How to apply for a job: create a powerful story.
You can also click here for my previous post: How to find a fulfilling job.
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