Landing a job isn’t easy. With unemployment stubbornly high and constant competition from overqualified candidates, overseas labor and overzealous robots, getting hired is getting harder.
I recently watched several friends go through the job hunt, and one thing became clear: The traditional method of applying for posted jobs won’t cut it anymore. Times are changing, and that means that job seekers must adapt as well. Now more than ever, it’s your network — not just your resume — that matters. Up to 80 percent of all jobs are “hidden.” They aren’t advertised, and those that are often get filled by candidates with an inside track.
Notice the word “work” in “network.” Your contacts won’t just hand you jobs. There’s effort involved. If you don’t ask, you’ll never receive. Put yourself out there and you’ll be shocked at how open your contacts are to lending a hand.
With this in mind, I recently set out on my own job search. I didn’t apply for a single posted job, and yet was able to get a few offers including the position I accepted at Snagajob, a leading HR tech company. This process works especially well if you are looking for roles at startups and smaller companies, since they rely heavily on referrals from current employees. But these seven steps can be applied to any job search:
- Figure out what you’re looking for. Before embarking, plan. Think about the industry, company size, role, salary, culture and other priorities. Write down the things that matter most to you. Decide in advance whether to cast a wide net or to go laser-focused on one role. Most experts will tell you that focusing is a more effective approach, but be careful about closing doors too early.
- Discover the goldmine that is LinkedIn. Start by searching for people in the city or cities you’re considering. This will show you a broad range of contacts, not just your immediate circle. Wharton Professor Adam Grant, in his book Give and Take, discusses how we often overlook the value of not only “strong ties,” but also “weak ties” and “dormant ties” — the people we’re no longer close with, but who can still be surprisingly helpful. As you scroll through the contacts, ask yourself two questions: “Might she know of interesting positions?” and “Would she agree to meet with me soon?” If you answered ‘yes’ to both, add her to the spreadsheet.