There is an epidemic in this country regarding employment. It seems like even in this economy, it is getting harder and harder to find a job. There are more available jobs, but the jobs that we want still seem to be out of reach.
Society has sold us the promise of a fulfilling career once we complete the prerequisites. Go to college, get your degree and then your dream job will be waiting for you, or at least a step in the right direction.
That is not working anymore. Getting a new job has become more and more challenging and the old tricks are not working. Even as companies have begun to hire again, the job search process remains ineffective.
The New Normal
With the advent of global companies and the internet, there was a need for an efficient way to receive resumes. As a result, most companies have moved to a model where you submit your resume online.
Your resume enters an Applicant Tracking System that automatically reviews your resume for relevant skills and experience related to the position you applied for.
After it reviews your resume, the ATS may reject it automatically without ever making it to someone’s desk. However, the ATS is not good at deciphering some of the language we use and could easily (and usually does) reject perfectly qualified applicants.
Therein lies the problem.
You are putting your career in the hands of a computer. That is why you never hear back from the jobs you have applied to.
What you should do is what so many people have been doing all along…leverage your network.
However, for many people, that is not an option. They simply do not have a network. What needs to happen is they have to learn how to grow and nurture their network.
Your network is simply a collection of the people who you know, in any capacity. I can show you how to grow it.
To start, you need to begin your job planning. You should identify what you want to do, where you want to work and how much money you need to make.
First, search for open jobs in your target industry in your area. Make note of the big companies that are hiring. You are going to use this information when you begin reaching out to your network.
Next, you should research the jobs on Glassdoor.com or Salary.com so you can get an estimate of what that particular role pays. If the pay is in the range you are targeting, then this will be your target job.
Now you have your target job, the list of potential companies where you are willing to work and your expected salary.
Grow your network:
The next step is to search for people within your network who already work at these companies. Preferably you want to find the person with the highest position. They will be more likely to be able to assist you.
It all starts with LinkedIn. There is an entire platform made purely for connecting with others in your field, company or from your school.
The first thing you need to do is find all of the people who you actually know, from previous jobs. Connect with them on LinkedIn and begin to reach out to them.
Send them a message to ask how they’re doing, how their families are, and how work is going. This is something that you should plan to do every 3 months.
Now you should start to add new people to your network. Start with your second and third level connections. These are people who your friends know, or who their friends know.
They will connect with you because you have a mutual friend.
Next, you should search for anybody in your city who also went to your school using LinkedIn’s search tool. You can even narrow it down by your target company. Send them a request to connect which they will most likely accept because you are an alum of their school.
When people think of networking, they don’t typically think about Facebook. However, your facebook community and friends can be your strongest network. These are people you probably already have a connection with, either directly or indirectly.
I suggest that you make note of the friends who work in a similar field as you. Then find them on LinkedIn and connect with them there. These friends may work at your target company or know someone who does.
Connect with their friends on LinkedIn so they are part of your network now.
Once you have your list of contacts, you’re going to reach out to them individually and ask for an informal interview.
Don’t know what an Informal Interview is? It is a meeting where you speak with someone who has knowledge of the position you would like to apply to. You will talk to them to better understand the role and see what skills are needed to excel in that position and if your skills align.
Most people will know that if you ask for an informal interview you are searching for a job. It is really just more polite to not directly ask someone to help you get a job.
The application process can go smoothly if you have a great networking connection. If not, you may still have to go through the normal channels.
When you reach out to the contacts for networking to ask for an informational interview, you should mention any open job you are interested in.
If this person has the right connections and is willing to help you, they may send your resume to the hiring manager for you.
Other times, they may not know anybody in that group, but they may allow you to use them as a referral. If you acknowledge that you are a referral for a job, you may get your resume in front of the hiring manager or the recruiter.
With any of these methods, the materials you will use are the same. You need to change your resume to accommodate the position you are interested in applying to. Even if it doesn’t have to go through the ATS, it is still a better resume. See my resume guidance here to help you with this.
You should also change your information on LinkedIn to match what you have on your resume. On LinkedIn you can have more jobs than you will have room for on the resume, but the language should match the resume.
You should also adjust your cover letter to fit the position in question. You will note on the cover letter which position you are applying to and why you are a good fit for that role.
Rinse and Repeat
The steps above are how people are advancing in their career, even in a down market. When you are searching for a new job, you should follow these steps for each job you apply to.
Find your target job
Locate those in your network with connections to this job
Ask for a referral
Send in your resume and cover letter
I know this sounds easy, but you will have to get out of your comfort zone to be successful with this. However, this is how the job search process works for the most successful employees.
Don’t let your dream job pass you by!