5 Ways to Supercharge Your Job Hunt
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
First, finally, some good news: companies are hiring during COVID. The bad news is that many job seekers struggle with job hunting savvy and miss out on opportunities to move on, move up, or get back into the workforce following pandemic-related dismissals. Job hunting isn’t as simple as uploading a resume and waiting for a phone call back. It's also not enough to comb major job boards and assume that you're seeing all positions that are out there. There are some specific strategies, platforms, and connections to leverage that will add serious strength to your job search efforts. If your job search has stalled, try some of these tactics to get out of your rut:
1. Get off of job boards. Job boards are excellent resources and if you’re seriously looking, you should be consulting them daily. However, not all companies actively use them, so you might be missing out on opportunities with that company you can’t wait to get an interview with. It doesn’t hurt to visit the websites of companies you’re curious about and see what their hiring process is. Some will make it clear that the only way in is when a position opens up, but others accept resumes constantly to keep their eyes peeled for future candidates. If the company doesn’t have an open position that works for you but they do accept resumes, go for it. Join their candidate pool and you’ll be ahead of the game when your dream position does become available.
The big job boards also don't get some positions that are very specific to an industry because hiring managers know they're unlikely to reach qualified candidates for those types of roles by casting such a wide net. Do some research to find the job posting sites that are specific to your industry. Whether you're a marketer, engineer, or healthcare professional, there are industry-specific boards that are sharing positions that never make it to large public job sites.
2. Customize, customize, customize. If you’re dumping the same resume and cover letter into all application software you encounter, you’re hurting your chances of standing out. It’s time consuming and tedious, but you must tweak your resume and cover letter for each position you apply for. If the job description calls out specific software or experiences that you have, make sure you have those items clearly identified on your resume. If you have a personal passion or connection to the company, let your cover letter speak to that. As a recruiter, it’s irritating to get a cover letter at your company addressed to another company – it’s obvious the candidate couldn’t be bothered to personalize their application materials, and if they can’t take five minutes to do that, they’re not a good fit for my team. Details matter, so pay attention to them before you hit “submit”.
3. Use LinkedIn. I really feel like this should go without saying at this point in LinkedIn’s existence, but I’m constantly talking to job seekers who don’t use this essential tool. Recruiters comb LinkedIn for qualified candidates. If your profile’s in good shape and your keywords are working for you, you will get contacted by recruiters without having to lift a finger. Plus, companies leverage LinkedIn in ways they don’t leverage job boards so you might see opportunities on LinkedIn before they make it to Indeed. You can search for jobs, network with recruiters, and showcase your experience all in one place. Keep your account fresh by posting or resharing articles, interviews, and news from your industry. Get on it.
I should add, I’ve gotten two jobs thanks to LinkedIn. The first was a position I applied for and then didn’t hear anything from the company about. Three months later, I was still job hunting, and saw that the company’s president had viewed my LinkedIn profile. I contacted him through the platform to say “I noticed you viewed my profile. Thanks for taking the time. If you’re still hiring for the position I applied for, I’m still interested and would love to chat with you about it. Let me know if you might have some time.” I was hired two weeks later. The second position is my current role, which just happened to be at the top of my LinkedIn feed one day and sounded perfect. I applied and was hired within a few weeks. The system works.
4. Discover and leverage your Seven Degrees of HR. It’s a good idea to have a friend or family member proofread your resume and cover letter, but if you’re struggling to get interviews, turn to your wider network: you know an HR person, I assure you. Ask around and connect with someone who works in hiring to ask them to view your resume and cover letter. They can provide tips specific to your industry or call out difficult-to-read formats, keyword opportunities, or other ways to strengthen your materials and boost your candidacy. If you can’t find someone, go back to LinkedIn – knowing that many people are struggling to find work right now, many HR pros are offering free reviews of resumes and cover letters to help job seekers get a leg up.
5. Get on board with a staffing firm. I cannot recommend working with a staffing firm enough. Many companies partner with these firms to fill open positions that never even make it to the public to apply for. Employers trust the firms to do the work of vetting candidates so they can increase their chances of making the right hire from the get-go. It does not cost you, the job seeker, anything to work with a staffing firm. You submit your resume and a recruiter will follow up to talk with you about your experience and the type of role you’re looking for. As employers submit job opportunities, staffing firms go through their candidate pools to find qualified individuals. They do the heavy lifting of coordinating interviews, providing feedback, and moving the candidate through the process. As the candidate, all you need to focus on is your interest in the position and doing your best in interviews.
One caveat of staffing firms is that many of their positions are contract positions, but don’t let that deter you. Most job seekers are hoping for a classic full-time gig with benefits, but those jobs are becoming less and less available. More and more and companies are opting for contractor positions to save on staffing expenses. Salaries are generally comparable in contract positions to what you’d make full time, but benefits aren’t often provided. To fill in the gaps and make it easier to fill these increasingly common positions, staffing firms may hire you as a contractor and offer benefits to you through their firm. As the contract nears its end, the firm will get back to work to find you your next contract opportunity or a full-time position if available. There are definitely pros and cons, but don’t immediately turn down a contract opportunity because it’s not permanent full-time. Ask questions to make sure you’re aware of the pay and any benefit packages that may be available.
Good luck and happy hunting!