Stacy Zapar’s Top 10 Tips for Job Seekers

Job Seeker Super HeroEven though we keep hearing about an “improving” economy, job seekers today face a ton of obstacles just to get an interview… nevermind the actual job!

You’re competing with a lot of great talent, avoiding the recruiting black hole, and wading through all the conflicting advice… some of which gets you all fired up, but doesn’t actually tell you how to get the interview!

I’ve been recruiting for 15+ years and know a thing or two about the job search / recruiting process and am happy to provide some clarity about what works and what doesn’t. So, here’s what I know works, right now, regardless of the economy:

1. Apply Online via the Company’s Careers Page

First things first… Always submit your resume directly to the target companies where you’d like to work via their website or public email address. It shows that you’re willing to work with their process but still have the initiative and interest to follow up in other ways…

2. ALWAYS Follow Up After Applying Online

Once you’ve applied online, be sure to send a follow-up message via email or LinkedIn to the likely recruiter or hiring manager at the company, referencing the specific req number of the positions for which you applied. (Feel free to request a formal LinkedIn introduction to any of my connections by clicking “get introduced through a connection” on that person’s profile and I’ll gladly forward it along on your behalf.)

Briefly let them know you’ve applied online and tell them specifically how your skills fit with the advertised position and what you can bring to the table. Reiterate your interest in the company and show enthusiasm.

3. Use LinkedIn Groups to Network and Establish Yourself as an Expert

Using LinkedIn Groups Search Engine, join LinkedIn groups relevant to your career path. Specifically, I recommend you join several good-sized LOCAL groups rather than the giant we-accept-anyone groups that show up at the top of the search results. There, you’ll get a lot more traction with local contacts rather than getting lost in the shuffle and chaos the megagroups sometimes bring.

Once joined, use the Discussion and Job boards to network with your fellow group members. They may know of a relevant opening that’s perfect for you, especially if you bring value to the discussion and establish yourself as an expert in your field! Added bonus: LinkedIn lets you send messages to fellow group members without a premium membership!

4. Grow Your Network to Expand Your Reach

Link up with as many former coworkers, colleagues, former classmates, friends, family, neighbors, etc. as possible and ask them if they know of any relevant openings or contacts who might be able to assist you with your search. You’d be surprised how connected your acquaintances are!

It’s all “who you know”… right? And recent grads, be sure to leverage the power of your alumni network, either through the university or via LinkedIn networking. Of particular note: most alums love to help out grads from their alma mater!

5. Proactively Share Your Resume Online

Post your resume on as many job boards as possible (Monster, Dice, HotJobs, CareerBuilder, Craig’s List, alumni boards, etc.), confidentially if you prefer. There’s no shame in it and it gets your info out to your target audience (recruiters and hiring managers).

You might also want to include it on your blog, link to it via Twitter, attach it to your FB profile, create a cool visual resume for Pinterest (great for web designers, creatives, etc.).

6. Consider Using Third Party Recruiters 

Consider working with external recruiters and staffing agencies – it’s free for you since it’s the company that pays if/when they hire you. Don’t know any agency recruiters? Find them via LinkedIn and look for the ones with the most relevant contacts and most impressive recommendations.

They might happen to know of a relevant position or even be willing to shop your resume around, but just remember that a recruiter is NOT a job-finder!

7. Leverage Social Media to Strengthen Your Brand

In addition to LinkedIn, be sure to use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Blogger, WordPress, etc. to establish yourself as an expert in your industry and develop a following.

In addition, “Like” your target company’s Facebook pages and interact with the employees and recruiters who post there. I’ve seen this strategy work for job seekers many times!

8. Go Where the Recruiters Hang Out

Seeking out recruiters is a great way to be proactive, show that you’re motivated and stand out from the pack. Look to local recruiter networking organizations where you can network with local recruiting professionals, post your resume, view job openings that aren’t posted elsewhere, etc. Try Meetup, local SHRM (Society for HR Management) groups or just Google to find local groups in your target location.

For instance, closet to my home in San Diego some of the biggest HR networking organizations are the San Diego HR Roundtable / SDHR (formerly known as the San Diego Recruiters Roundtable / SDRR) and San Diego Employer.

9. Take a Leap of Faith and Make the Move

If you’re not local and all else fails, move first and then look for a job. Or you can put a local address for your target city on your resume, either a PO Box, address of a friend or family member or even a hotel where you can temporarily stay! Many resumes these days simply list the city and state [no street address] anyway!

10. Connect with Me and Let’s Network!

And last, but not least… If we’re not already connected, be sure to link with me on LinkedIn so that we can network together: I love to forward introduction requests and help my network contacts find their next position!

Even if you keep hearing the economy is getting better and more jobs are being created, you need to do anything you can to differentiate yourself from the dozens (or hundreds!) of other people who applied for that same opening. As they say: For job seekers, there’s no award for “Second Place”!

What’s YOUR top piece of advice for job seekers? What’s worked best for you? What’s your biggest challenge? Share your thoughts below and let’s all share our best tips and tricks!


StacyZaparHeadshot-SmallAbout the Author: Stacy Donovan Zapar is a 16-year recruiting veteran for Fortune 500 tech companies and CEO & Founder of Tenfold Social Training, a recruiter training company for talent acquisition and staffing teams around the world. In addition to in-house recruiter training, she is also currently working for Zappos as their Candidate Experience & Engagement Strategist, working on fun projects around social recruiting, talent communities, talent brand, candidate experience and more.

Stacy has been the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn since 2008 and currently has more than 40,000 1st-level connections. She has her own blog, is a LinkedIn Publisher, a contributor to LinkedIn’s Talent Blog and speaks regularly at HR / Recruiting conferences globally. Connect with Stacy on Twitter and, of course, LinkedIn!


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