Job hunting can be a tedious task, and without a job search strategy it can be easy to lose focus.
How do you continue to be a focused job seeker when you feel like it is all going wrong? Create a job hunting strategy! While finding a job, submitting your resume, and waiting to hear from the employer are all part of job searching, there are additional steps you can take to help you stand out.
Here’s how to create a job search strategy to find and land your dream job.
Know What You Want
Perhaps the most important part of formulating a job search strategy is to figure out not just what kind of job you want, but what type—full-time, part-time, freelance, remote, a combination of on-site and remote, etc.
What type of company do you want to work for—a nonprofit, an agency, a firm in a specific industry, a small company, a large corporation, etc.? Do you need a traditional 9-to-5 schedule, or do want alternative hours where you work late or overnight? Do you want to work on the weekends, or only Monday through Friday?
Figuring all of these things out before you start your search will help guide your job search plan more effectively.
Build Your Portfolio
A portfolio is essentially samples of your work. This can include links to articles you’ve written, screenshots of a project you completed, a report you compiled, a video you created, and more. Depending on the type of role you’re seeking, having samples of your work will be more requested or less requested.
For example, a graphic designer or a writer will definitely need examples to work they’ve created, while a sales professional may not be requested to provide any samples.
Portfolios can be a personal website, a splash page such as About.me, or even a section on your LinkedIn profile.
Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter
There’s a reason you hear this tip over and over again. If you’re simply swapping out the job title and company name in your cover letter and sending it off, you’re doing it wrong.
Many companies now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter qualified and non-qualified candidates. You have to include keywords that are relevant to your title and industry in any online applications. You should also closely follow the formatting instructions when submitting your resume through an applicant tracking system.
Don’t upload any materials until you’ve verified the exact requirements, or else the online system may not be able to properly register them.
If you make it past the ATS and your application is in front of human eyes, the hiring manager will be looking for signs that you researched the company and that you are truly interested this particular role. Include reasons for why you want to work at this company and in this role. Tell them what they will stand to gain if they hire you.
Ask for Informational Interviews
An informational interview may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a unique way to expand your network and potentially meet with people working at your desired company, making it an effective job search strategy that can also build your network. Try reaching out to someone via LinkedIn or email to see if they would have 20 or 30 minutes to sit down for a cup of coffee to discuss their job or their company.
To be clear, an informational interview isn’t a time to ask someone for a recommendation or for a job. It’s simply to gain information and create a new contact.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Many recruiters are on LinkedIn, and it’s likely your profile will be viewed by a prospective employer. The first step to optimizing your LinkedIn profile is to fill out as many sections as you can. Upload a professional photo without any social media filters. Write a headline and summary using common keywords in your industry. Fill out your employment history and add skills.
Once you’ve completed your profile, you have to keep up with it. The best way to show up in recruiters’ feeds and stay top of mind is to share updates and articles and to comment and interact on other’s posts. Use hashtags to make your posts searchable. Share articles related to your industry and even consider joining groups.
Use the Right Job Boards
Using large job boards can provide a great way to find a wide swath of jobs and to maybe even discover new companies hiring in your area. But, consider more focused job boards to help narrow your search and provide better results.
Find out if there are job boards geared toward your industry or specific job. Or consider using job sites that focus on freelance or remote jobs if that is what you are seeking. FlexJobs, for example, focuses on flexible and remote jobs. Other sites may focus on short-term gigs or contract jobs. Use these sites to make your search more fruitful.
Attend Industry Events
Take advantage of networking opportunities. The more you engage in targeted networking, the more real connections you will make that could produce sustainable leads.
While networking is always a useful job search strategy, to make it more effective be sure to look into industry events and professional associations that align more closely to your skill set. Often these events are held weekly or monthly, allowing a more natural way to network since you’ll have the opportunity to see people regularly and not just at a one-time event.
Job Search Strategies for Success
It can be challenging in a competitive job market to stick it out until you find work that you want. But knowing and using these job search strategies can help get you noticed by employers. The hard work you put in now can pay off later.
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Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on September 7, 2013.
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Jessica Howington, FlexJobs Content Manager
Jessica Howington is a prior stay at home mom with a background in education and healthcare. As a Content Manager for the award-winning site FlexJobs , she strives to support those in search of flexible employment opportunities by providing job…Read More >
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