Updated: Nov 6, 2020
I have noticed something about job seekers.
Most of them have the same frustrations when it comes to finding a new job. As a Career Strategist and Coach, I work with a lot of job seekers and am privy to the same complaints.
Do any of these sound familiar?
"I am putting a lot of time and effort into job boards but not getting any meaningful results".
"I feel stuck in my career and don't know what to do to get unstuck".
"I can't figure out how to make money from my unique skills and expertise".
"I don't have any plan on how to use LinkedIn so I am randomly posting stuff or hiding away."
"I'm applying to everything and anything without a defined strategy."
"I don't know how to follow up with prospective employers and hiring managers".
"I don't know how other professionals less qualified then me are seamlessly moving into new careers".
If any of the above resonates with you, then you have come to the right place.
In this blog post, I am going to share 11 job search strategies you can start implementing right now to attract and engage employers based on work I have done with job seekers throughout the years.
I know these strategies work because I have seen them work for different career professionals.
If you are a job seeker and you would like more hands-on help then email me today, and I will happily give you more details on how I work with clients.
Now, on to the strategies! Warning, this is one of my meatier blog posts, so mute the distractions, boil the kettle and get busy envisioning your new career.
1. Smart Use of Job Boards
You don’t need to use every job board at your disposal.
Just because Glassdoor, Monster, Total Jobs, Adzuna, Indeed, JobVite, Experteer, and a thousand other platforms exist doesn’t mean you have to use them.
All of the above Job boards have more than enough people on it for you to achieve success beyond your wildest dreams so break from the feeling that you need to be everywhere.
The fewer platforms you use, the more likely you are to succeed on them.
Plus applying to every job board requires a significant commitment of time and energy — if you spread yourself too thin, you won’t be able to generate the optimal results.
So pick your two or three (at most) favourite job boards to use and focus your energies on them.
By using niche job boards you can discover the latest opportunities that match your needs & expectations. Most job boards have advanced search tools that enable you to find the roles you’re looking for quickly and easily. Another major advantage of effectively using job boards is the sudden interest from recruiters and employers. Your CV if optimised is searchable due to terms related to the role you are looking for, eg, ‘Project Manager’, ‘Data Scientist’, ‘Performance Marketing Manager’, making it easier for hiring managers to find you.
So instead of blasting your CV out to everyone, do your due diligence. Also, ensuring your CV is fully optimised for key terms so that you are directing it at employers in your chosen industry.
2. Apply for Fewer Jobs
Don't apply for every job you think you are qualified for.
Don't apply for jobs that are below your desired salary range.
Don't apply for jobs that you are genuinely not interested in.
The fewer jobs you apply for, the more time you have to create tailored applications to great opportunities. Quality trumps quantity.
What you apply for sends a signal to the job board’s platform algorithm about your interests and therefore what companies may be interested in you. The more random jobs you apply for, the more difficult it becomes to discover and connect with a specific company.
Instead, spend your time on defining exactly what you want and how you are going to help specific companies reach their goals. It’s important to take the time to create a resume that emphasises your quantifiable skills and how you have helped companies in the past. If you are changing careers the onus is on you to explain how your transferable skills make sense, this may mean curating a cover letter that encapsulates your value.
3. Use LinkedIn to connect not show off
The most common mistake job seekers make with LinkedIn is to assume its purpose is to promote their creations and treat it like a broadcast tool.
That’s the fastest way to wind up feeling like LinkedIn is an overrated waste of time.
Yes, you can use LinkedIn to promote your job status, but it’s a terrible broadcast tool because these days the algorithms mean few of your followers will even see the updates you share.
On most platforms, you’re lucky to get 10% of your followers to see one of your posts— unless you pay to promote them.
The real strength of LinkedIn is to use it as a connection tool.
It’s a powerful way to connect with individual professionals, companies, and hiring manager who you otherwise may not be able to reach. Using it in that way will generate way more value for you than simply blasting out as a status that you are open to working or asking people to share your status.
Come up with a list of individual people – or at least types of people – who you’d most like to connect with and use LinkedIn to follow, interact with, and develop relationships with them.
Your list might include industry people like line managers, executive search consultants, CEOs, talent acquisition managers, and career coaches or it could include like-minded professionals who are in your realm of industry.
For example, if your job search is geared toward's media companies then the more media employees you have a relationship with on LinkedIn, the better.
4. Prospect Companies
A job search is essentially a job marketing campaign and you are the product/service.
If you are already in job search mode, you should know what you want to do and what value you bring to the market.
A great strategy is to start prospecting companies who require your expertise and skills. Once you have targeted prospective companies, your next goal, like any good entrepreneur, should be to find a minimum 2 points of contact at each target company — 1) The hiring manager in the relevant group you are targeting (e.g. the Director of Market if you are targeting a sales position OR the CEO directly if it's a small company) AND 2) the relevant recruiter for job openings for that hiring manager/team.
You should find at least 50 companies to target. If you struggle to find that many in the relevant industry in your target city then you must either a) expand the number of target industries to target that your background is relevant or B) expand the list of locations you can consider/open yourself up to relocation if practicable.
If you can develop a list of 50 companies that means your contact list should have a minimum of 100 names (2 per target company).
From here you should contact with the person who feels the most pain…
5. Go directly to the Source
Like any good entrepreneur, I would begin a strategic 1 by 1 campaign to connect with every single person on the list BEGINNING with the person who feels the most pain. That person is likely to be your next line Manager or Direct Report, they could be looking for their next team member, so find their pain and create a compelling value proposition. If you are a Marketing Manager, you may want to map out the names of Head of Marketing or Marketing Directors. Again use LinkedIn as a resource to qualify your contacts in each company.
This campaign would be using an “all of the above”/whatever it takes until you connect with your targeted people approach. By that I mean don't restrict yourself to simply one attempted outreach and/or using only 1 platform (e.g. only using email or only using LinkedIn). Try LinkedIn with the person with a personalised invite message and your reason for reaching out. Then try emailing them at their work email address which can usually be guessed by googling their companies email address format.
Your goal is first to establish contact and introduce yourself and ideally get a virtual meeting/phone call with your targeted contacts.
6. Pitch Perfect
“Hello Anya, I am struggling to get a job, can you help me”? I receive several of these requests on LinkedIn. A request like this tells me why you are struggling to find a job.
First, you are making me do all the work, you ask me an open-ended question which requires me to do a lot of digging. Most decision-makers and CEO’s are busy and do not have time to be forwarding emails back and forth.
Get specific with your request or risk facing never hearing from anyone.
1. Offer a quick introduction. “Hi, I’m Olivia I currently work as an HR Manager for…, I see X is currently expanding their portfolio in France.” OK, we got that out of the way and I understand exactly why Olivia is contacting me.
2. Make it clear why you have reached out to them in particular. Let them know that you did research to arrive at their email address and you need their help in particular for a specific reason.
3. Make a direct ask for something that is simple, actionable and requires no other thought process but yes or no. If you start with the highest level person you can find, that ask is most likely something like “Will you please forward this email to the person directly responsible for hiring this position?”
7. You don’t need more referrals you need the right referral
The first step to a new job should be to focus your efforts on reaching out to professionals you worked with before. They know you professionally and have built a network that can move your career forward in the right direction.
Again you need to be specific when requesting an intro to a hiring manager or senior manager.
Write the referral letter for your mutual connection:
Make your connections life easier by drafting the email yourself. Not only are you saving your referrals time, but you are also controlling the narrative. It is also important to highlight keywords relevant to your industry or niche.
Think about creating a great UVP that positions you as a person of knowledge and expertise.
Example of referral email
I'd like to introduce you to Michelle whom I worked with at Q Media. I am confident you two could benefit from knowing each other.
As a Marketing Manager for Q Media, Michelle helped her company increase brand awareness and expand the client base by 88% in two years by consistently delivering goal-surpassing marketing results and ensuring client satisfaction. Michelle is interested in learning more about your company's vision and your current goals to expand your product range to a new demographic. I'll let Michelle take it from here. Have a great day.
8. Use Linked as an Engagement Tool
When nobody is coming to you, what do you do? It has never been easier to share your skills and talents and how to leverage them to gain an advantage. You can start now by creating high-level content that offers value to prospective employers—paying particular attention to create organic content that reflects their most urgent needs. If you don’t have time to create organic content then think about featuring curated content that represents the viewpoint of your industry and peers and is designed to provide value to a specific target audience.
Not every one of your LinkedIn posts needs to be about you (and they probably shouldn’t be). Take a magazine approach and curate as much content as you create.
Creating, sharing and providing educational topics helps to establish you as a thought leader and someone who can be trusted to take on extra responsibility. It also encourages other professionals to share your content as they too want to be seen as relevant, hence helping you to gain access to a new audience.
9. Partner with the best recruiters
If you are already in the job search process, remind recruiters and hiring managers that you are still looking. If you are not staying front and centre of a recruiter’s mind, you will fall off their radar.
It’s not their job to manage your job search; hence why communication is vital.
A simple website browses, or LinkedIn search will give you the name of the person who looks after your area of specialism. Connect with them ASAP and request to have a virtual meeting- Showing that you are serious about your job hunt and that you expect the company to do their due diligence.
Adopt a more consultative approach when first contacting a new recruiter. Call the recruiter and tell them how excited you are about a job that you have just seen advertised and how your expertise realigns with the companies vision.
By taking control of the conversation, you are letting them know the purpose of the call, and you are showing that you can effectively solve the company’s problem. Most importantly nurture relationships with recruiters as you would with any other professional contact, get to know them, follow up every three weeks and stay on top of new jobs that they post.
10. Follow up, Keep Priming for a response
You can’t just hit send and not expect to follow up. Job hunting is not dating, there are no rules. So instead of waiting by the telephone, pick it up and start calling employers directly.
Remember to have your pitch ready, what you applied for and what kind of work you are looking for, i.e Full time, Part Time etc.
When you are prospecting let the employer know that you will contact them on a specific day at a particular time. Also, let them know what you expect when you follow up. E.g. I will call on Wednesday at 2 pm to discuss how I can add value to your new marketing division and to provide you with further info on my candidacy and my Career to date.
Expect to get a lot of no's, and expect to not get through the first time. It's all about being consistent, patient with laser focus.
Career Prospecting means that you are taking the initiative and also taking ownership of your Career. Prospective employers will see this as brave, forward-thinking and admirable.
So if you are starting to feel demoralised by continually having to wait for someone to contact you, why not start setting your career precedents by creating your opportunities.
11. Stay Consistent. Keep the Momentum. Think long term
We made it! Ok I know that was a lot of advice.
You certainly don’t have to follow all the strategies I laid out above, but whatever you decide to do make sure you’re consistent, stick with it, and recognise job searching is a full-time job.
It’s not about a quick win, and getting one interview here and there (which isn’t a bad thing), it’s about building a career that is authentic and genuinely fulfilling. An employer who truly cares about you and your work.
These strategies will help you do that.
If you feel like you could use some additional help figuring out where to start and what to do, connect with me here and I’ll let you know how I work with clients.
One more thing…
I spent hours writing this because I want to help as many job seekers as possible. I know it’s hard out there and it’s frustrating to not get called for an interview or have your job application ignored.
So, if you found these strategies helpful, I’d love it if you would share this post with others you know who could benefit from it directly or share it on your social media platforms.