I’m writing today’s post in response to some posts on a military spouse social media site (big shout out to you awesome spouses!) about the frustrating process of applying for numerous jobs advertised on some of the big job sites and not only not getting an interview (let alone a job) but not even hearing back at all.
Whilst applying for advertised jobs is the traditional way of job searching the reality is that in today’s job market it is probably not going to get you a job. I’ve written in a previous post about the hidden job market and the fact that up to 85% of jobs aren’t advertised. Given that statistic you can understand why applying for advertised positions is not your best strategy for getting a job. In fact, your approach to finding a job should include a number of different strategies.
If you’re past the career exploration stage, know what you want to do and have polished your required skills then one job search strategy is to target employers you would like to work for. Put together a list of about 20 organizations that appeal to you and for which you are suited. Identify your top 5-10 and focus your efforts on them. Do as much research as you can about the company to find out what they are looking for in an employee. This research can include online research (there is so much information available on the internet, particularly about large companies), connecting with people you know who work there or have worked there (as I discussed in a previous post about networking) and perhaps request an informational interview with the company itself (more on this later). Don’t just limit yourself to companies you know about but instead ask around your network, look at the employers of people in your LinkedIn network and check out some of the suggested groups and employers on LinkedIn.
Once you have done your research on your preferred companies you should have a really good idea if a) you do want to work for them and b) what they are looking for in an employee and whether or not you are suited, and c) whether there are skills you need to brush up on. Now target your job search on this company or companies. Regularly monitor the companies websites for vacancies, get in touch with the HR department to find out if they are hiring and how they hire, reach out to people you know in the company (this is where LinkedIn is really useful) to register your interest, get some “inside knowledge” or ask for a referral. Put together a targeted resume and cover letter and send it to the HR department (always try and get the name of the HR Manager) to have on file. You never know when a job vacancy may arise.
The key here is to not only be active in your job search but proactive. If you rely on advertised jobs on job boards you are not only missing out on the majority of job opportunities but you’ll be competing with hundreds and thousands of other applicants (it’s little wonder they don’t reply to everyone). Get ahead of the crowd and target the companies you want to work for and go after them.
Happy job searching!
P.S I really recommend reading some books and articles on the various methods of job searching such as Richard Bolles’ “What Color is Your Parachute“