Job Hunting Tips for your New Years Resolutions - Proactive Search

In my previous post, I provided job hunting tips you can use to increase your chances when using a reactive search approach (i.e. identifying and applying for jobs online).  However, as most of you know and how numerous research has shown, only few of the jobs available are ever advertised.  Indeed, as reported in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of job filled are never advertised.  An analysis conducted by in 2010 further confirmed that about 70% of positions filled were not advertised and were instead filled by people the employer knew prior to the job becoming available.  This means that applying for jobs online can be helpful in getting interviews, the best way to get interviews (and job offers) is to use a more proactive job search strategy.

What do I mean by this?  Instead of only applying when you find a job posting from a specific company (i.e. using a reactive search strategy), you need to dedicate a majority of your job searching time to become more visible among organizations you are excited about.  Here are three ways for you to do so:

Proactive Search Job Hunting Tip #1 - Smaller Means More Opportunities.  A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation has shown that, across sectors, most jobs in 2010 have been created by small and young organizations.  Therefore, go beyond the traditional well-known organizations, and identify smaller growing organizations that get business done better in a way that aligns with your values.  Previous justmeans posts on growing organizations that get business done better can be found in our responsible careers section (see here and here for starters), in our social enterprise section (see for example here and here), as well as in our corporate social responsibility section (among many others, see here and here).  All of these articles and resources will certainly help you identify possible employers that are dedicated to getting business done better.  I would suggest that you list about 10-20 organizations of diverse size that you are interested in working for.

Proactive Search Job Hunting Tip #2 - Leverage Social Media.  Importantly, remember that hiring managers are busy and will therefore use strategies that will save them time while quickly assessing how truly interested in their organization you are.  To do so, they are likely to check if you are following their company on twitter or other social media channels.  And, of course, it does not send a good signal if you are not.  Similarly, if you only started following a company on twitter two weeks ago, it might not be in your interest to start your cover letter with 'I have been admiring and following the growth of your company for a long time'.  Trust me, in numerous conversations with hiring managers and recruiters, this one has come up often.  Given the growing importance of social media presence in hiring decision, it is best for you to be ready rather than sorry.  Therefore, for each of the organizations you identified using the resources above, make sure to follow them on twitter, facebook and LinkedIn.  In addition, make sure to do the same of key people.  In addition, make sure to find out if these key people have blogs that you want to start reading.  For example, if you are interested in marketing, follow not only the organization's main twitter account, but also follow their Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).  Furthermore, find out if the CMO has a blog, and if so, start reading his/her blog entries.  Feel free to offer additional information via twitter or a comment on a blog post.  Starting an informal information sharing conversation online can go a long way in building a relationship as well as learning more about whether this company is really a good fit for you.

Proactive Search Job Hunting Tip #3 - Make new friends.  Networking often gets mistakenly interpreted as 'approaching people so that they will refer you to the right person and get you a job'.  In contrast, I think of networking as nothing else but making new friends with whom to share information, resources, and yes, when opportunities come up that make me think of them, job opportunities.  As a result networking is a continuous process that starts before needing a job, and evolves over time depending on the circumstances and the people you know.  Connecting with people in your organizations of interest is not about asking for a job, or trying to find out whether they have job openings that they haven't advertised.  It is about learning more about how this person got to his/her current position, what his or her current successes and challenges are, and how you could be helpful to that person by sharing information with that person moving forward.  Learning more about a person that is ahead of you might help you build a strategy that will help you avoid pitfalls and best position yourself for opportunities at that company and beyond.  Of course, today's online networking sites make it easier than ever to identify and connect with new contacts.  However, there is no better way to get to know someone than to meet the person face to face.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that if possible you connect with previous and current employees of your organizations of interest in person to learn more about their career path, how things get done in the organization, and get their advice about the best strategies you can adopt to optimally prepare for a career in that field or a position at that company.

In this tough economy, leveraging these three job hunting tips will help you emerge as a candidate that has dedicated the time and energy to understand his/her fit with your companies of interest.  Actions speak louder than words, and taking these actions will have a significant impact on your ability to secure interviews.  In my next post, we will review a search type only available to students:  On-Campus Recruiting.  As always, I look forward to reading your questions and comments on responsible job hunting tips!

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