This Year, Take Control with a Proactive Job Search

proactive job searchWhat exactly is a proactive job search strategy? And how is it different from what are doing now? Hannah Morgan answers these important questions…

So you’ve finally mastered your pitch and your resume is done. Now it’s time to do the really hard work: Putting all the pieces together and developing your job search strategy. But not just any job search strategy.

You need a job search strategy that includes more than scouring the job boards. You need a proactive job search.

The Proactive Job Search

Your proactive job search strategy has lots of moving parts. You may even feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do. But with some planning and keeping your eye on the end result (getting conversations with people who can potentially hire you), you’ll be able to work your plan.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the components of a proactive job search…

Get a Referral

Never underestimate the value of an employee referral. After all, hiring managers prefer to hire people who are referred to them.

Your chances of writing a resume that makes it through the ATS are slim. Plus there’s a lot of competition. However, your odds of getting a conversation with HR or a hiring manager are quite good if you are referred. This is often referred to as the “hidden job market.” It’s not really hidden. The job openings exist, they just haven’t been publicized.

So employ a proactive job search. And gain an advantage by setting yourself up as an early candidate.

Make Your Lists

In order for your plan to work, there are three lists you must make (and update).

  1. 25 STAR stories
  2. 50 companies that could potentially hire you
  3. 100 people you know well

Your STAR stories will be used when you have conversations with people, when you have job interviews and are embedded on your resume. Identifying these stories ensures that you know your strengths and the value you offer.

Your list of 50 companies will change. It’s a starting point. As you learn more about these companies, some will be deleted from your list and new companies will appear. Consider these companies as potential leads.

You know more than 100 people, but start with those you know well. And yes, you really need to record this list somewhere – Word, Excel, notepad or whatever.

Work Your Contacts

Your list of 100 contacts is a mix of people you know and who know you. Begin with the safest, easiest conversations first. This will build your confidence.

Reach out to 5 contacts every day to touch base. Update them on your search and ask what they know about some of your target companies. Do not send a mass email to your contacts. That’s impersonal and will not generate results!

Then, add new referral names to your list. Ask this simple question at the end of each conversation with your contacts and your list will continue to grow!

“Who else would you recommend I speak with?”

Work Your Target Company List

Your target company list is just a list of companies that seem interesting or meet some of your criteria as a place you may want to work.

Invest time researching the company on LinkedIn. Identify your first and second degree connections who work there. Keep a list of all your first and second level connections inside target companies so you can contact them.

Follow each target company on LinkedIn and set alerts on the corporate career page. Go to the career page for each target company and set alerts for jobs you are interested in.

Follow the active company accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially those related to career news. Monitor the news about your targets so you can share on social media and mention when you reach out to insiders.

Attend Networking Events

Always be on the lookout for networking events, conferences, industry presentations or any event where people from your target companies or desired industry will be meeting.

Ask past colleagues what events they are attending or recommend you attend. These colleagues work in your industry so they may know of events or happenings.

Also be on the lookout for events where employees from your target companies will be presenting or attending.

Check Local and National Professional Associations

Professional associations host professional development events, information sessions, and networking events. These events may be in person or virtual. Associations also often have private or semi-private job listings just for their members.

Not only will you meet people from your industry, but you will also be upping your industry knowledge.

Check the member directory to see if people from your target companies belong to professional associations you are interested in. You can also check the LinkedIn profiles of employees at target companies to see which associations or groups they belong to and use those organizations as a way to build relationships with employees you want to meet.

Reconnect With Your College/University

There’s a special bond you share with each and every alumni from your school. Don’t underestimate that connection! No matter when you graduated, check your school’s alumni resources. They may offer networking events, a job board, or have other services for alumni.

Also pay attention to alumni who may work in target companies. It doesn’t matter what year they graduated/attended, you still share the school experience.

Connect with Local Job Clubs

In almost every city around the country, you’ll find job clubs. These are networking groups specifically designed for job seekers.

Many who find themselves unemployed don’t know about job clubs until they start asking around. These groups offer you a way to connect with other job seekers and help one another through rough times. They are also known for having guest speakers that can shed light on the local job market.

Investigate Staffing Agencies and Contract Houses

If you are staying in the same field/industry/occupation, then third party recruiters may be a viable option.

Staffing agencies or contract houses do not find you a job. After all, they work for their clients. Their primary mission is to find qualified candidates for jobs companies have asked them to fill. Therefore, if you have the exact experience and skills they are looking for, they may be interested in you.

Just make sure you are using every source to uncover hidden job opportunities!

Schedule Your Time

If you aren’t used to working unsupervised, then you may find the lack of structure and accountability challenging. Having a system to manage your time will help greatly! Try the suggestions in Structure Your Week During Job Search

Proactive means you’re in control. So rather than the feeling you are chasing jobs, the proactive job search gives you a sense of power and control. With each conversation you have, you are creating awareness of your skills and talents. That way, the right opportunities find you! Or at least you learn about them before they are posted on any job board.


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Hannah Morgan hiring prosAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!




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