At Least 7 New Ways to Look For Work (That You Haven’t Tried Yet)

Hitting up your local newspaper classified ads is probably not going to land you the job you want– if any job at all.

(Honestly, the days of newspaper job ads have probably been gone since people were wearing Members Only jackets unironically.)

But as I work with entry-level job seekers, I hear my clients using a strategy that is almost as ineffective: sending out hundreds of blind applications to companies’ hiring portals, hoping to hear back.

And as a caveat, companies do hire from these portals. For some organizations, it might be an internal policy to field every application through this portal to keep things tidy, fair and legal. And you should keep an eye on these portals and apply without making them your sole focus.

If you’ve ever sent out dozens of applications through these portals, you’ve probably had the feeling you were throwing your résumé out into a cold, uncaring universe, hoping for a call back if the stars align. And you may not be far off.

Many of these portals use a keyword scanner to identify relevant skills and experience– or a busy recruiter or HR person reads through them individually. Some studies have shown a recruiter spends just 6 seconds scanning a résumé before moving onto the next.

Yikes.

Sure, you might be the perfect woman for the job but if the keywords didn’t generate interest or the recruiter has a stack of sixty-seven other applications– what then?

You need a new strategy.

When I used to work for a NYC staffing agency, part of my job was to find clients to place our talent with. One of the best methods for finding new clients was to find a need. In other words: who is hiring and what position are they looking to bring on?

In the case of a job seeker, by using alternative strategies to find who is hiring, you’ll stand out and not end up as just another application in a stack. It’s going to take some thinking outside of the box, some rejection and getting out of your comfort zone, but these seven new ways of finding work will have a huge impact on your job search and career.

 

Try your network

Your network is easily your most powerful and helpful place for finding work because you have a personal relationship and rapport with these people. And when I say network, I mean every co-worker, brunch partner, friend, neighbor, pick-up basketball teammate, yoga buddy and family member you have.

They don’t need to work in marketing or be an engineer or own a business relevant to what you do. They don’t have to be a recruiter or know anyone hiring right now.

But simply making it known that you’re looking for work can open up doors. In fact, it’s a very similar strategy that business networking group, BNI, employs to help its members: it’s not who is in the room, it’s who the people in the room know who may be able to help.

Obviously use your discretion. If you’re in the middle of a discrete job hunt your employer can’t know about, maybe try the circle of people you trust the most with sensitive info.

Drop a text or make a phone call to someone who may not know you’re looking for work. InMail your buddy from that job you had in college who looks like he’s working for an interesting company. Offer to buy your neighbor a coffee and see if any of his buddies he plays cards with know of an opening.

Expand your network

 

“But I don’t know anyone who can help me,” you might be thinking.

Maybe you just moved to a new area. Maybe you don’t speak the local language. Maybe your friends and family make their living raising goats or are all employed with NASA and their only friends are also slinging goat cheese or shooting stuff into space.

No worries. It’s time to find people who are more in line with the job you have in mind and that means something that will strike fear, anxiety and hate into the heart of every introvert and many others: networking.

Networking is a lot like swimming: you fear it until you do it a few times. I’m on the line between an introvert and extrovert, so don’t think this advice is coming from someone who hops out of bed at 6AM and excitedly makes small talk over muffins.

But networking really is the way to expand your professional network. 

There are plenty of options: Chamber of Commerce meetings, Young Professionals mixers, trade and industry-specific meet ups. There are a crazy amount of events happening and I’ve used MeetUp to find them.

It doesn’t even have to be a professional setting. Join a free softball league, go volunteer at a homeless shelter, invite all the neighbors you haven’t spoken to in 7 years over for a bonfire or strike up a conversation at a coffee shop. Bring a buddy along.

Networking when you have something you want can sometimes feel greedy or self-involved, especially when you’re meeting new people specifically to find work for yourself.

It doesn’t have to be that way. One of my favorite things to do in a networking situation is ask the following questions:

• When you come to these types of events, who do you hope to run into or meet?

• Can you tell me more about what you do?

• What’s the best advice you’ve ever received while networking?

Sometimes you might know the perfect person to introduce this person to– or you may just make their day by expressing interest in what they do or know. I’ve begun making an honest effort to provide value to others whenever I can and people seem to appreciate it.

Use your social media

Sure, your social media channels might be full of cat pictures, memes and heated political debate, but there’s still value here and it’s twofold:

You can use social media to alert people you know about your job search and what you’re looking for. You can find people at companies you want to work for and easily reach out to them through messaging. You can create cool content showing your value– and someone might notice. Social media is amazing for communicating thoughts, ideas and breaking down barriers that used to separate the hiring from the hopeful hires. Don’t hesitate to direct message a hiring manager or HR Director; you’ll definitely get ignored, rejected and maybe told to “just apply online like everyone else” a few times, but someone will find your proactive approach interesting.

Alternatively, keep people in your city aware of your availability:

“Anyone CD’s in #Austin looking for a #copywriter? Experience in beauty, auto & tech clients. Check my portfolio here: (Bitly link)”

Maybe less obvious than using social media to communicate is using it to gather data. You can absolutely use social media to find who is hiring and even predict it! That cool startup in town just mentioned on Twitter they’ve secured funding? Guess who WILL be hiring within days or weeks. Many, many times each week I see requests for certain professionals or skill sets on social channels.

Another outside the box idea: search hashtags relevant to your profession. Maybe someone is having trouble with #Excel and you’re a spreadsheet god? Maybe a recruiter just posted an #accountant position you’d be perfect for? Try narrowing it down by location, hashtag and get creative.

Assuming your job search isn’t a total secret, use social media frequently during a job hunt. Don’t become that guy who vents on his Facebook about how frustrated they are about an interview that didn’t pan out, but stay active on industry LinkedIn groups, retweet relevant industry news on Twitter and keep people posted about what you’re looking for.

And keep in mind: new employers CAN see your social media, often even if you’re set to “private”. Post accordingly.

Bonus points if you run an ad on social media advertising your experience or service. Extra bonus points if you use social media to cold email or message someone and ask them to meet and discuss the company or open positions.

 

Market yourself like a product

Job hunting is no different than selling a product– except that you’re a sentient being doing your own marketing.

So do what the pros do and get into content marketing. If you’re not of a sales or marketing background, one of the biggest names in the content game, Hubspot, explains content marketing this way:

What is content marketing? Content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

It may not be necessary to create workflows, email campaigns and use software like in a traditional content marketing strategy, but let’s focus on what this is suggesting you do in a job hunting sense:

Create valuable, relevant content (videos, blogs, articles, podcasts, etc.) that speaks to the decision makers of your industry and drive them to offer you an interview and then a position.

So what does this look like?

Recently, I worked with someone who had been out of work but was using some of his free time to create how-to videos on software used in his industry. I encouraged him to share this across all of his social channels; you never know who might love what you’ve written and decide to reach out and form a connection. Again, maybe they’re not a hiring manager– but it’s an additional means of growing your network.

My recommendation is to start a simple WordPress site or a Medium account. Start writing. Use Answer the Public to figure out topics. Ask your partner or friend to proofread. Publish your articles on LinkedIn, WordPress and Medium. Share them over your social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and forums.

The added benefit? If you’ve been off work for some time, this is a GREAT way to fill that gap on your résumé. Yes, you’ve been unemployed by an employer since February– but you’ve also been creating awesome articles and videos relevant to your career and industry. You have something to show for your time and you shouldn’t hesitate to list this on your résumé as relevant experience.

Align your interests with others

There are incredibly talented, brilliant and caring recruiters and staffing agencies out there. There are staffing agencies and recruiters out there who are exactly the opposite. Again, I’ve worked in staffing so I have a soft spot for these folks– but I’ve also been on the wrong end of recruiters.

Don’t let one bad experience you or your friend’s brother’s neighbor had with a staffing agency or recruiter sour you on the whole idea. Yes, staffing agencies and recruiters will be paid by the employer in the way of a nice bonus. Yes, it’s possible they’ll make a killing off your placement.

But that’s my point.

By working with a few recruiters or staffing agencies, you’re working with people who are going to get paid as soon as they find you work. Your interests are aligned in this specific area. They want to find you work. They’re going to work full-time trying to find you a position. And a good recruiter or agency will recognize that, one day, you may even hire them to find you a good candidate and become a client.

There are hundreds of agencies and recruiters out there, but having worked for a specialized staffing agency that had a rather narrow expertise, I’d recommend working with a recruiter or agency who is industry or job specific. They’ll likely know more about your role and have better clients to introduce you to than someone who staffs everyone from line workers to salespeople to writers.

 

And if you’re on the fence about recruiters or agencies, it’s fine to politely let them know you’re apprehensive. Good agencies and recruiters will understand and probably have great reviews online and evidence of their success. Use your gut when deciding who to work with and, if possible, use that network to find a recruiter.

Create your own job

Maybe this career change is exactly the push you’ve been waiting for to finally take your prototype product and start shopping around for vendors. Or maybe it’s time to begin working on a consultant or freelance basis.

Whether it’s to keep the bill collectors from calling as a way of generating income while you search or to actually start your own business, during a job transition you may find yourself in the perfect spot to create your own position.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Financial pressure, unknowns and patience may make it a difficult time to transition from job seeker to business owner while out of work– but keep the option open. It’s unlikely you’ll soon have this much free time to learn, grow and build something.

If you’re still in your job with steady income rolling in, it might be the perfect time to start working after hours to prepare for this move. Entrepreneurial guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, is actually quite adamant about only starting a business with either serious savings on hand or a full-time job to help stay afloat.

Stay proactive and ready

The best time to look for work is when you don’t need to.

Even if your company is rock solid and you have job security for the next 10 years (you think!), be active in your career. It’s easy to fall behind trends, dig into a 50 hour work week and collect a paycheck.

Have informational interviews when a company reaches out if you can do so without jeopardizing your job. Know what’s happening with your competitors and peers at other companies. Stay active on social media and be a whatever-your-profession-is that people know about. Go to networking events. Write articles. Take classes.

Keep your résumé updated– always– so you don’t need to think back three years to what the exact figures were on the project you lead that made the company millions and got you a raise.

You may have no intention or plan of leaving your job, but if the last two decades have taught us anything at all it’s that even the most concrete plans and careers can change. You’ll be better off if you’ve been in “career mode” without the pressure of needing a paycheck.

Job hunting is like fishing

Did you ever go fishing when you were a kid? If you were like me, you probably dropped a single soggy worm on too short of a line into a murky pond and didn’t catch anything.

And that’s what people do when they’re looking for work: they rely on one really bad, singular method.

Whether you’re fishing or looking for a new job, you need as many lines and hooks in the water as possible; your friends, recruiters, alumni contacts, traditional job portals, networking meetings, article-writing, social media activity are some of the best tools you have.

You need to use different baits, ask for advice, try crazy ideas and do everything you can to increase the chances that someone– or something, in the case of fish– is going to bite.

I’m confident that these 7 new strategies are going to invigorate your job search.

And if you’re looking for more ideas, guidance, or advice, don’t hesitate to contact me for help!

Photo credit to Matthew Henry.

 

 

4 Big Reasons You Need a Career Coach For Your Next Job Search

I was always a personal trainer skeptic.

I’d go to the gym, lift weights and try to figure out what the machines did. And it showed: the results were underwhelming.

When I moved back to Ohio after years in NYC, I went from walking ten miles each day to ten miles per month. I tried to eat healthy. I tried to hit the gym on my own. Pretty quickly, however, I had to figure out something else as my waistline expanded– and I didn’t have the tools or knowledge to turn it around.

So, I hired a personal trainer.

I’ve never thought of myself as the type of person who hires a personal trainer and I figured I’d need to start shopping at Lululemon (or wherever men buy expensive active wear) and put kale and whey protein on everything.

Instead, I worked bi-weekly with an expert who not only passed along his incredibly valuable knowledge and helped me get results, but also kept me motivated. When another set of squats felt impossible, he was there to talk me through it and how to work on my technique. When I wanted to cancel because I was still sore from yesterday’s workout, he held me accountable and gave me pointers on food intake. His expertise, guidance and motivation helped immensely.

During our few months of working together, I’d learned more about fitness than I had throughout the rest of my life. I could hold a plank longer, lift more, bike farther and felt amazing. 

I thought about how my gym lessons could be applied to my personal and professional life and an idea began to formulate. I’d worked for a top creative staffing agency in NYC and over the past few years I’d very accidentally started mentoring entry-level job seekers based on a few Reddit and Twitter posts I’d written.

As more and more people started to reach out and I spent time working with a personal trainer, the worlds merged:

Why don’t I help people with their job hunt in the ways my trainer helps me with my fitness?

I’d had some very successful, short job hunts. I applied what I know about sales and marketing to the job search. I’d been an active part of dozens of clients and candidates exploring the hiring process while working in staffing. I knew what hiring managers loved, hated and wished candidates would do. And this information didn’t seem to be reaching university classrooms.

(For all the time we spent learning about the Pythagorean Theorum and Shakespeare you’d think they could’ve mentioned how to look for work, right?)

A career coach is a personal trainer for your career

Both a career coach and a personal trainer offer their time, knowledge, strategies and motivation to achieve goals.

For example:

You know how there’s that ONE interview question you always bomb and hope they won’t ask– but they always do? A career coach will role play that exact question with you, finding the best way to answer truthfully and strategically.

You know how your aunt told you it just takes showing up in a suit and applying in person to get a job? A career coach encourages you to find methods that really work in 2017.

You know that thing you really don’t enjoy doing when looking for a job? A career coach encourages you to do it anyway if it’s effective, plus helps find a few ways to make it suck less.

And just like a personal trainer, working together through repetition, practice and strategy makes you stronger– and builds skills you can use longterm.

As I watched the folks I’d worked with go on to receive job offers and internship opportunities, it solidified the idea that there just might be something to this career coaching thing.

The more clients I worked with on their job searches, the more I began to realize a few important aspects of why career coaching should be more of “a thing”.

Employment is changing

As employment transitions into what experts call “the gig economy”— short-term, project-based and freelance employment not tied to one main employer– it will be increasingly vital to know how to get work quickly and predictably. While the idea of having to look for a job frequently may sound overwhelming, these skills can be learned and taught by a career coach.

In the world of freelance it’s already known that those who make the most money aren’t necessarily those who are the best at what they do– but rather those who can close the deal and get the work.

I spent four years in high-pressure sales roles. I found very quickly that what I’d learned in sales training had direct applications to job hunting. In both instances you’re trying to help your client navigate a need or issue– and you need them to choose you, often in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars. Persistence, positioning and strategy come into play in both areas and the lessons I learned in sales training (and on the job) I pass along to my clients.

Job hunting skills are rarely taught

For the majority of clients I’ve worked with, job hunting wasn’t covered in their K-12 or university coursework. If it was, the lessons were basic and outdated. There’s so much more to know than just putting together a spell-check résumé and hoping it lands on exactly the right hiring manager’s desk– but that’s all most of us are ever taught, if that at all.

I was lucky to have a few great professors at Kent State who did spend time helping us with interview etiquette and résumé writing– but there’s no replacement for one-on-one coaching, role playing and being tuned into amazing technology available to job seekers.

Unfortunately universities are happy to turn out well-educated, informed students– but often fall short in the step of giving them the skills to actually win the job offer.

Looking for work has evolved in the past 5, 15 and 50 years– immensely

Because I primarily work with younger, entry-level job seekers, I run into advice given to them by professors and parents. Some of it is wonderful guidance, given from years of experience and wisdom mixed with up-to-date knowledge. Sometimes, it is advice that should’ve been left behind during the Carter presidency.

And it’s no fault or bad intentions of these parents or professors, however, the job market has shifted greatly– and along with it, so has technology, techniques and etiquette. It simply doesn’t make sense to type out a cover letter for a UX role at a cool startup, drop off the application in person and then show up to the interview in a suit and tie. Nor does it make sense to only rely on job posting boards when half of all job openings aren’t even advertised.

It’s a career coach’s job to stay up to date with new technology, new platforms and new ideas. I stay in touch with multiple recruiters, listen to their feedback and candidate stories to see what’s fresh. I read blogs, follow folks on Twitter and strategize new ways and methods of helping my clients. It’s my job to dispel myths and help job seekers use what’s current for 2017 to nail that interview or negotiate their salary.

Changing jobs is inherently stressful

There’s a reason why the top 43 most stressful life events on the Holmes-Rahe Stress scale are littered with events surrounding work and employment. Even if the job search is warranted and wanted, uncertainty around change can be difficult to manage. If the job search is unexpected or unwanted it’s even more difficult as our finances– and ego– take a hit.

I worked with a client recently who’d been unemployed for months. He’d applied to dozens of jobs in the past few days. He felt he was doing everything he could to market his valuable skills– and yet he rarely received an interview. Understandably he felt depressed and hopeless.

From our hour long call, we discussed new strategies for attacking his job hunt more effectively, but I also spent time boosting his confidence about his qualifications and how his perseverance will pay off. Job hunting can be lonely– but it doesn’t have to be.

Work– and the time we spend at work– is important

Assuming we work full-time from ages 22 to 65, we’re spending 43 years of our lives working.

If we’re working 49 weeks of those 43 years at an average of 47 hours per week, we’re spending 99,029 hours doing something we should enjoy or, at the very least, find acceptable. It’s no wonder that as Millenials take up more and more of the labor market we’re asking for better work/life balance and work that matters.

If you’ve just graduated college, are navigating your first jobs after graduation or are looking to transition from your current role, I’d love to set up a time for us to chat. If you don’t know where to start on your job search, this is the perfect jumping off point, starting with an always 100% free consultation to understand where you are and where you want to go.

Let’s chat soon.

 

Photo credit to Marc Mueller.