The job search…ugh. Most of us will go through it or have gone through it. Some of us are going through it right now. It feels like your life is on hold as you go through the process. So how can you get a new position as fast as possible? I’ve gone through job searches a handful of times, so I know how tough it can be. I’ve learned a few things in my searches that work well and can help you stand out in a crowded candidate field.
It’s always good to follow the Beatles’ advice and “get by with a little help from your friends.” We all know networking is the key to finding your next position, so I’m not going to go talk much about that here. You can Google the thousands (or more) of articles and blog posts with networking tips and tricks. This post is going to focus on five job search tips and tools that have helped me on top of reaching out to friends.
It’s hard to find the silver lining when you lose your job, but keeping a positive attitude is important. You’re dealing with stress, frustration, fear, uncertainty and more. It’s ok to have those feelings and to deal with them. But, remaining positive through all that will help you do the things you need to do for your job search. It sounds cliche, but a positive attitude keeps your energy up and leads to positive results. I wrote a blog post a few years ago that outlined the way that I stay positive, especially when in a job search.
Also, understand what you can control and what you can’t. In my current search, there were a lot of positions available a few weeks ago. The economy was great and I was getting calls and interviews weekly. Flash forward to the Coronavirus pandemic. You know what’s happening now. The economy tanked. Companies are laying employees off in record numbers and freezing their hiring. There’s nothing I can do about the situation. But, what I can control is how I conduct my job search. I’m reaching out to more contacts, writing more content, and looking for more freelance work (including building a website…coming soon). I’m making sure that hiring managers can see what I’m doing to stand out from other candidates.
Job Search Plan
The #1 most helpful document I’ve put together is my job search plan. I’ve received a lot of compliments on how useful this document is from contacts and recruiters. It shows exactly what my strengths are and the types of positions and companies I’m targeting. Instead of a vague “let me know if you hear of any job openings” statement, I show them a list of companies I’m targeting. They can see if they have any relationships with any relevant employees. If so, they can also mention one or two of my strengths when making an introduction. Recruiters appreciate the level of organization the document shows. It makes their job easier and makes them more comfortable in recommending me.
If you’re working with an outplacement company, they are having you create this type of document. That’s how I first created it years ago. If not, then it’s not hard to create. The first page is your top strengths with some descriptions. The second page is the profile of the type of companies you’re targeting with a list of examples.
Creating the document also helps you think through the types of companies that bring out your best work. Even in a tough job market, you want to be as selective as you can. You want your next opportunity to be the right fit, not the “right now” fit. Employers have a much larger pool of talent to choose from than they did a few weeks ago. Spend your time putting your best foot forward on the positions that offer you the most success.
Show Your Work
I almost always get asked what I’m doing during the job search. While searching for a job is a full-time job, I like to be able to show I’m also doing things beyond that. Because I like to write, I try to draft new posts for my blog, as well as guest posts for other sites. I also look to learn or develop new skills. This might be through practice or taking online classes (there are a lot of free options). Employers appreciate seeing you doing things to help your career while you’re in a search.
I also increase my social media posting (now that I’ve got more time). And, I’m more strategic in what I’m posting. I share more marketing-related articles and comment on my contacts’ posts more often. I tend to post things that are safe for work in general, but I’m extra careful during a job search. Other social media tips include:
- Use your bios to let people know you’re in a job search. This isn’t the time to be shy or secretive. You never know who might lead you to your next big opportunity. Use an occasional post to ask for help.
- Take part in social media communities like Facebook Groups or Twitter Chats. You can show your expertise in a number of subjects and possibly catch the eye of a potential employer. Again, don’t hesitate to say you’re searching for a job. No one can help you if they don’t know you need it. That said, make sure you follow any protocols so you don’t get on the bad side of the administrators.
- Take the time to experiment with new media or platforms. I’ve tried to add a video here and there as I haven’t done a lot of videos in my career. And, I’m not comfortable on camera so it’s helping me get past that. If there’s a platform you haven’t tried yet (TikTok?), try it out. You may find that helps you in your next position.
Another great way to get your work out there is to pick up some freelance jobs. Not only does it keep you active, but it also brings in some cash when you need it. If you’re new to freelancing like I am, then it’s not hard to get started. I talked to a few freelance friends to find out how they started and what I needed to know. They had some great advice. I would recommend you do the same and get advice from those already doing it. There are also a bunch of articles and posts you can research.
Develop the Brand of You
Now more than ever it’s important that you build your personal brand. Following the tips above will help you. Being active in your industry (for me, the content marketing community) helps more people become aware of you and your expertise. This may open up new opportunities for you and/or employers may become aware of you before you apply for jobs.
For more information on building your brand, Dennis Shiao wrote a post for Content Marketing Institute. In it, he explains how he created his personal brand after his former company laid him off years ago. For a step-by-step plan, check out Mark Schaefer’s book, Known: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age. I can’t recommend it enough.
Dig Into Your Toolbox
There are many tools that can help you with your job search. Here are a few that I’ve been using.
OK, this one is obvious. But, be sure you’re using it for more than looking at people’s contacts. Post often. Remember to share helpful articles at a higher rate than promoting your own content. Comment on posts in your stream and start conversations. Publish articles on LinkedIn (you can duplicate posts from your blog).
I’m sure you’re already checking for network connections at companies at which you’ve applied. Take it one proactive step further by looking up the target companies before they have a job opening. Ask your contacts for introductions to key employees. Then follow up by asking them for coffee or a call to learn more about the company. When a position does open up, you’ll have a contact who may be able to refer you.
Make sure you’re taking full advantage of the dashboard on your profile page. Your dashboard includes:
- Who viewed your profile
- Post/article views
- Number of search appearances
Social Media Examiner explains what you can learn and offers tips to get the most out of this data. And, you don’t need a premium account.
LinkedIn only offers limited access to see who is viewing your profile if you don’t have a premium account. But, here’s a hack provided on Quora for getting more vision into who’s looking at you. It’s the first answer on the page (as of when I published this).
Nimble isn’t a job search tool, but it’s proving to be a useful resource. What is Nimble? In their own words:
Nimble is an easy-to-use CRM that works for you in Office 365, G Suite, and everywhere else you work. It automatically combines your contacts, communication histories, email inboxes, and calendar appointments.
One of my contacts introduced me to Jon Ferrara, Nimble’s Founder and CEO. He was nice enough to offer me a free year of Nimble to see if it could be helpful in my job search (full disclosure). In general, Nimble brings all of your contacts’ information together in one place for easy access.
For my job search, what I’m finding most useful is its Prospector feature. When in email, social media or a company website, the feature pulls information on company employees I’m looking up. It searches for their contact information and social media accounts. I can also search for specific contacts. This comes in handy when I’m researching the hiring managers.
Slack is a tool that you can use for internal teams or external communities. It replaces endless email trails and offers easy-to-follow threads for conversations. It also offers direct messaging. It’s like Facebook groups (without dealing with ads) and LinkedIn Groups (without as much self-promotion).
It can help you in a job search because it gets you involved with Slack groups. The groups offer opportunities to interact with current and new contacts. Show your expertise by answering questions and offering perspectives. Being active in groups can help people get to know you. Many groups also share job opportunities. You never know when a hiring manager may be part of the group.
There are a variety of Slack groups you can join. I’m a part of three: Content Marketing World, Spin Sucks and Analytics for Marketers. Do a little research and you might find a whole new world of opportunities for any field you’re in. Interacting for even a few minutes a day can expand your network.
Job searches are a full-time job. You have to work at it to find and secure the position you want. It’s all about networking, but there are other things you can do to help yourself and to help others help you. Take advantage of the recommendations above and you’ll be ahead of a large number of other job seekers. Good luck to you and if I can help in any way, let me know. Thanks for reading and use the comments to ask any questions and share your great new job when you get it!