How to Find Work: One Critical Strategy That May Be Missing From Your Job Search
Are you focusing your job hunting efforts only on the big job boards like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com? If so, your odds of finding work might be far lower than you realize. According to AskTheHeadhunter.com, only a mere 4% of job seekers were able to find work this way. With odds like that, it’s time to add an important missing ingredient to your job hunting strategy.
My experience confirms what the AskTheHeadHunter.com survey revealed; personally, I’ve never been able to find work online. Every position I've ever had was always found through somebody I know, such as a friend, family member, or past colleague. Companies prefer referrals from trusted individuals because the referred candidate is less of an unknown quantity. When a recruiter reads a resume posted online, they have no idea who the person really is and if even half of what they’ve put on their resume is even true. It's far easier to find work if you can get somebody to vouch for you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t post your resume online. By all means, do so! It’s additional exposure for your skills and it's possible something could end up working out. However, if you want to significantly boost the effectiveness of your job search, I highly recommend focusing most of your efforts on networking.
As I’ve already said, you have a much better chance of getting into a company if somebody can vouch for you. If you're not already doing so, start working your existing network of family, friends, past colleagues, or past work associates. Let them know what skills you have and what kind of work you're looking for.
If you’re not on LinkedIn, I highly recommend getting an account set up - it's easy to use and is a great networking resource. Once you have your profile complete, begin adding past contacts to your network and let them know you're looking for work.
Once you’ve begun working your existing network of contacts, it’s important to begin expanding your network. The following are a few great ideas for how to do this:
1) Attend mixer events in your local community. Many cities have mixer events for local professionals that are well-attended by people from a wide variety of fields. Take the time to attend these events if your community has them. You never know who you might meet and it may just lead to your next job.
2) Attend adult education classes and seminars. Adult education classes are also a great place to meet people because they are often attended by professionals looking to increase their knowledge or enhance their skills. Often you can "audit" classes for free and spending your time this way will help you keep your knowledge and skills current.
3) Volunteer for charities. Volunteering for local charities can be a great way to meet people and help you keep a positive attitude that will look great on you when you’re talking with prospective employers. Additionally, volunteering will give you something you can put on your resume to fill that growing employment gap. And what interviewer wouldn’t be impressed that you chose to spend your free time helping a great cause instead of sitting at home watching soap operas?
4) Do free consulting work for local companies. If you have a useful skill that is needed by local businesses, help them out by doing free consulting work. This will help keep your skills current and will allow prospective employers to take you for a free “test drive” that could lead to a new job. And even if the company you're doing the work for doesn't have any available positions, if they like you enough they may be able to refer you to another company that is hiring.
5) Most importantly of all, keep a positive attitude. Being out of work is not fun, but it's important to do everything you can to keep a positive attitude. Prospective employers can smell a bummed out attitude from a mile away and you don't want a whiff of that anywhere near you when you're networking and interviewing. You can help keep a positive attitude by maintaining a normal sleep schedule, good eating habits, and by exercising regularly.
I hope these tips are helpful in your efforts to find work! Being out of job certainly isn't fun - believe me, I know. But when life throws you avocados, make guacamole! Get out there, meet people, and stay positive.
Best of luck in your efforts to find work!
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