Searching for a job is like having a full time job. You have to put in a tremendous amount of energy while staying focused and positive. For me, I was looking to re-enter the workforce after being a stay at home mom, which presents its own challenges. I used this three-prong approach to secure my current job. It took me less than two months to get an interview. Before we get into the three-prong approach to job hunting, the first thing is to get clear about what you want to do. My advice is to pick two to three career fields or job titles of interest that you have some experience in and work from there. My three-prong approach is very simple and the idea is that if you do a little of each, eventually you will get some job prospects. They are Networking, Career Placement, and Direct Applying.
Networking to me is the most important. You should spend at least 80% of your time here. Why? Because networking gets your foot in the door and most job hunters have had greater success landing their next job this way than any other efforts. When appropriate, let people know you are looking for the next job opportunity. It could be while having lunch with a friend, or at a party. Just bring it up in conversation if you can without asking for help. Most people tend to offer advice, keep their ears open for you, occasionally offer you a job opportunity, or connect you with one.
The most effective way to network, however, is to get in front of people who are doing the job you want to do, or talking with a hiring manager about the field, and/or company you are interested in. This is called an informational interview. The goal is not to get a job, but to learn more about your field and company of interest, and to build a professional relationship with that person after your initial contact (i.e.: follow up). Occasionally an opportunity appears, but don’t count on that going in. Never ask for a job, only show your resume if asked, and never ask about job opportunities in the company. Finally after your interview send a thank you note, thank them by email, and then follow up from time to time. You could email them about your progress in the job search, send them an interesting article, or send them a holiday card.
Career Placement Agency, also known as Staffing/Temp Agency is the second approach. I like to work with at least three at one time. You should spend 10% of your time here, once you are set up. Depending on your skills, you might look for a placement agency that specializes in your field. For example, there are several agencies that specialize in placing Marketing and Communications positions. There are also several good general placement firms as well. The key is to submit a strong one to two page resume that is tailored to the job you are interested in. If you don’t hear from a recruiter in two weeks, than contact them and request a meeting. Once you have been assigned to a recruiter, touch base with them by phone and/or email every two weeks to stay on their radar.
Direct Applying, is the final approach. You should spend 10% of your time applying for jobs directly. Why just 10%? Because you are a small fish in a big online application pond and even if your resume is top notch, completely tailored to the job, there is a very high chance you will never get to an interview. It’s like playing the lottery. One hiring manager I spoke to recently said that it isn’t enough to just tailor your resume you have to demonstrate throughout your entire resume that you meet not only the minimum qualifications, but the desired qualifications. It’s much better to apply and have an in to that company than apply blindly. However, it’s still worth doing, because you never know which of these three approaches will lead to a job. Apply and tailor your resume, just don’t spend days on end tailoring a resume and cover letter, when you could have put that effort into networking