Top Five Job Search Strategies

Would you like a job that is a great fit for your interests and strengths, can offer you more money, or a better work/life balance? Unless you’re a stay at home parent, a student, or retired, you’re probably interested in a job (and career, bigger picture) that gets it done for you.  If you’re not working, perhaps you have a vested interest in a good job for someone close to you.

Some folks are truly 100% happy in what they’re doing, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, ever. For the rest of the working world, it’s always important to take stock of one’s career, and where the current job fits with long-term goals. Along those lines, we often have to spend our time looking for another job, or at least exploring opportunities. Nobody wants to have a job lost to outsourcing, for example.  If we have no job, and aren’t totally working for ourselves, it’s imperative.

So, if you’re exploring job prospects, it’s important to have a road map, right?

Here are 5 Job Search Strategies that can be used to find the right opportunity:

  1. Networking.  It’s often said that most jobs are obtained based on who you know, whether directly or indirectly.  This seems to be universal advice that is dispensed regularly, though my last 3 jobs were not obtained that way. In any event, there is clear evidence from many others that networking can work very well, and I believe in it. The two aspects of networking that I have observed are:
    • Direct Networking.  Here, I’m referring to directly contacting someone you know about a job. That person doesn’t have to be the hiring manager; rather, he or she can simply working at the company and have access to decision makers. In a job market with many qualified candidates, it helps to be the one with an internal reference.
    • Indirect Networking.  In this case, it’s not about contacting someone with direct access to a job. Here, it could be about getting in touch with someone who knows someone else who is a decision maker or who has access to one. Or, it could be simply contacting people to do informational interviews, to get information and to make a networking contact. Whichever way, these approaches can help build your network and lay the groundwork for you to find a job.
  2. Online Job Boards.  For online job boards, there can be two sources:
    • Independent Boards.These include sites such as Monster and Career Builder, which are two of the most popular job search sites. There, you can find job listings at companies while filtering by different variables, such as geography (for example, I’m based out Chicago) and keywords, among others. One site that gets attention is of course Linkedin, which has primarily been a source of networking, but also posts jobs directly.  Another cool site is Jobtonic, and you could get a job in Illinois here.  Another good site is Indeed, which sources listings from various sites.
    • Company Boards.  The websites of specific companies you’re interested in are the most direct places you can look. This can be helpful if you’re targeting a specific company, so you can simply see all jobs publicly posted rather than a filtered view from a larger board.
  3. Recruiters.  In this category, I’m including individual recruiters and search firms. These people don’t work for you; rather, they work for the client company that hires them. That’s important to note when working with them, as even though they can be very helpful, one needs to be careful.  Sometimes they find candidates in specific fields, other times the candidates have already gotten in touch so that the recruiter knows about them. There are two general types of recruiters:
    • Retained Search.  These people are paid by a client to search for candidates for open position, and are often the exclusive searchers for the client.
    • Contingency Search.  Instead of being exclusive search firms for their clients, these people compete with other firms and get paid when they source a candidate that actually gets hired.
  4. Cold-calling.  By this, I mean contacting a company and expressing interest in employment opportunities, by not using the methods above (networking, job postings, recruiters). This represents more of a scatter-shot, mass-emailing/calling type of approach. As with most such marketing efforts, your response rate will likely be low.  I would recommend the other approaches unless you have plenty of available time and can’t utilize the other ones – in which case, it could work.
  5. Let the Job Find You.  Yes, this might not seem like it makes sense at first glance. It’s certainly shouldn’t be the primary option. However, sometimes people could come knocking. You never know. My suggestion here is to utilize Linkedin. By preparing a smart, strategic profile, you can be located by recruiters or companies themselves.  More likely, you’ll be contacted by others who want to network with you.  You never know where that might lead.

Personally, I recommend taking an active approach, no matter how you do it. Nobody cares more about your own future than you.

What about you?

How have you found jobs throughout your career? Have any of these job search strategies in particular worked for you?


    • Squirrelers says

      Krantcents – true, volunteering can be another option. Internships are beneficial as well, both for getting your foot in the door and also learn about what you want to do. Of course, securing that internship might require use of job search strategies.

  1. Everyday Tips says

    I have not job searched much since my job found me – mom. However my husband has made several job changes over the years. I think his number one suggestion would be to always be willing to talk to a recruiter if they call you. A couple times he had no interest in leaving but after having some discussions with a headhunter, he ended up making a switch. Plus these headhunters always remember you so it is great to have them in your corner. You never know what opportunities are out there so always keep your ears open.

    As mentioned, network as much as possible, in good times and bad.

    • Squirrelers says

      Everyday Tips – yes, it doesn’t hurt to talk to recruiters, just be careful. Sometimes if they send your resume to a company, they can claim to have “introduced” you. If a company doesn’t want to pay a recruiter, that could make such a candidate a less-likely hire. But in general, it’s good to talk and keep in touch with good recruiters. And yes, networking is good to do.

    • Squirrelers says

      Molly – that’s impressive that you got a job by cold calling, much less a dream job. I suppose there are some cases where the demand for a specific job could be so high that a call that displays one’s passion for the job can work. It would be interesting to know how you made the call and closed the deal!

    • Squirrelers says

      Well Heeled – Good tip on the alumni network. Some schools have fantastic networks that can be tapped into.

  2. says

    So far only networking and interning has worked for me. When I say to people to work for free when there are starting their career, they see me like I am crazy. But as someone who did that in the last 5 yrs, nothing kick starts networking and opportunities like volunteering/interning. I know a lot of people who got job without too much trouble due to networking. I didn’t find a job by cold calling but I have got some leads from cold emailing people via linked in.

    Good post!

    • Squirrelers says

      Suba – for me, Linkedin has been great to stay in touch and network, though the networking did not directly lead to a job. Nonetheless, I do recommend that people use it. As far as interning goes, absolutely it’s a great thing – I did it before and got a lot out of it even if I didn’t go back to work for that company. But, if you do want to work at a particular place, that’s a golden opportunity.

  3. says

    This is a good post, Squirrelers. Networking by keeping in touch with former colleagues is an excellent way keep your pulse on future opportunities, and LinkedIn is certainly the facebook for professionals. My current job found me through a recruiter, who in turn found my resume on a site that used to be (I think it’s CareerBuilder now). My jobless hiatus lasted 2-1/2 months and over 1,200 resumes emailed out. This was in 2000, I don’t know what the online jobscape looks like these days.

    • Squirrelers says

      101Centavos – great way to put it – Linkedin in Facebook for professionals. It’s good for keeping in touch and networking. I just got some networking request today, from a random person I don’t know. All good though, I believe in the boomerang effect.

  4. says

    Gotta say networking is the number one way to find job that I’ve experienced.

    And I think too many people undervalue the indirect side of things. You’re pretty much networking whenever you have any interaction with anybody. If you work your butt off and build your street cred and treat everyone you meet with respect, when the time comes, opporunities will often find you!

    • Squirrelers says

      CNC – Yep, I agree that people underestimate the indirect side of things. Those efforts might lay the groundwork for opportunities in the future. Always treat people well and have a good professional reputation.

  5. says

    I used to work at a big fortune 100 company where you were encouraged to change jobs every 2 years. Networking was a big part of the process. You set up informational interviews, talk to mentors or former colleagues. Now many of these same people are working at external companies.

    I use linked in to keep track of where people have gone. It’s been a good resource for me.

    • Squirrelers says

      First Gen – I have been in similar corporate situations where people rotate jobs. And even if rotations do happen, networking is still required for the right rotations. It’s important in the largest organizations without a doubt.

  6. says

    I think networking with co-workers or clients is the best way to go to find a job. They will know who you are and what you are capable of. Online job boards and cold calling usually have the lowest chances of success! Great post though on a great topic!

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