When you launch your job search, the ocean of possibilities for where to get started can look overwhelming. With so many job-posting sites, companies posting jobs on their own sites, Craigslist, aggregators, job fairs and press releases, there is little wonder why you can go from overwhelmed to a dead stop in less than a second.
Not all job search methods are created equal in terms of how effective they will be in helping you to find a job. In this context, effective is defined at how fast you can find a job using a specific method and how you can exert some influence. Some of these methods, while highly visible, are so depersonalized that they can leave a job seeker depressed and feeling out of control.
All of the methods I’m going to outline have strengths and weaknesses associated with them. For some job types, these characteristics are softened up. For other job types, they may be worse than what I’m about to describe. Save it to say, you need to understand these characteristics and plan accordingly with your daily activities. It is also important to deploy at least 2 methods at all times, because you will find that the pros and cons of one method can be offset by another method. I believe many job seekers make their mistakes around search methodology by simply spending too much time on a single method or not fully understanding what their specific actions need to be.
Job Search Methods: (I’ve lumped together ones that are fairly similar in their characteristics.)
1. Networking. This method is the best method. If you ask most people how they got their job, the answer is generally because of some personal connection. The adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” has to be describing the use of your network in finding a job.
- This is efficient in that it can cut through the resume submittal process and skip over HR, which is usually a gate keeper in the process.
- This process allows YOU to sell yourself rather than your resume having to do most of the work. It’s more personalized and therefore, you will feel more in control.
- It’s more fun. Usually you are out there meeting up with your network or at some social setting to meet more contacts.
- It takes time. Time in this regard has two dimensions. First, it will take more of your time to interact with your network be it email, coffee dates or a casual drop in, and second, it takes more calendar time. In order for your network to become a good source of job leads, it will take time for you to connect with them, for you to lay out what they can be looking for, and for them to find out about job leads that might work for you and then tell you. It’s like turning a battleship.
- Not all of your network can or will help. For various reasons, some people simply will not be of any use for giving you job leads. That doesn’t mean they don’t like you, they just don’t want to do it. It doesn’t mean you cut them off or give up, because you never know when they will wake up and help.
2. Online/Internet. This can include companies that post openings, places to post your resume, job openings listings, aggregators, etc. This category is online and it will involve your submittal of your resume and sometimes filling in a form. You may or may not know the name of the company with the opening.
- Extremely convenient. Since most people have computers, it’s easy to sit down in front of the TV and surf a job-posting site for the jobs you’re seeking. You can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time due to the power of the internet.
- If you’re looking out of state, it gives you greater access to openings in other geographic locations.
- Ubber competitive. Since millions of people have access to the same thing you do, there will be a high applicant flow submitting their resumes. It’s hard to stand out in the crowd.
- The perfect match. Job openings in this category are often using resume-management software to weed out any resume that isn’t a perfect match to the criteria of the opening. This depersonalizes the process and doesn’t allow your personality or values to play in to the process.
3. Agencies and Recruiters. This is a situation where the charter of the group (be it profit or nonprofit) is to match up applicants to openings. Most of the businesses in this category make their money from the company who has the opening.
- Someone else is doing most of the foot work. You only get contacted if there is something that seems to fit your background. The recruiter will work hard to get to know you, not only from a resume perspective, but also your personality and needs.
- Saves you time. If you are working, this is a great arrangement, as you only have to do a minimum amount of effort on your end to set the wheels in motion.
- Specialization. Most of the time the reason why companies use recruiters is because their opening is specialized and applicants are hard to find. Unless you are lucky enough to be in that category for jobs, they probably aren’t going to be interested in you.
- Perfect match. Even if the recruiter isn’t specializing in hard to find applicants, they are expected to bring applicants who are not only a perfect match to their criteria, but are fully screened. They are expecting any applicant who comes from a recruiter to be ready for hiring. They only want to speak to a few people who are perfect in every way. A recruiter will kick you out at resume screening if they can’t see the perfect match, because that’s what they’re paid to do.
4. Volunteering, Temp Work and Job Fairs. These are not necessarily “standard” job search methods, but they have been known to produce full time jobs for many; so I toss these in the mix for consideration.
- Each one of these will give you the opportunity to gain greater exposure to people inside a place of business. This builds your network and, therefore, gives you greater access to openings.
- Gain experience. Not with a job fair, but with volunteering and temp jobs you gain work experience which helps to fill gaps in the resume, as well as has income potential.
- No real job. Even with companies going to job fairs, these aren’t always representative of something with a job attached to it. Job Fairs are often done to support community efforts and companies that show up are sometimes there for PR, not because they have any openings.
There is no perfect job search method. Each one has aspects to it that are appealing and all come with known disadvantages. Once you understand both, it allows you to figure out how best to focus your actions.