Here’s the second secret: a successful job search is more like a marketing campaign than an actual search. The traditional picture of job-seeking is that you look for open positions posted somewhere and follow a formal application procedure to be considered for them. But if seventy-four to eighty-five percent of jobs are never advertised, how effective can this be? And with thousands of job-seekers applying for only those announced positions, the competition can be overwhelming.
While a portion of your job search may be devoted to locating posted positions, the only way to beat the odds and the competition is to market yourself and find positions before being advertised actively.
Marketing yourself as a job-seeker means locating the people who can offer or lead you to opportunities and telling them what you are capable of, over and over. You do have to seek them out—you can’t wait for them to find you. There are many ways of telling them what you can do—in person, in writing, by phone—but you must tell them. And you have to tell them over and over. No one will remember you if they hear from you only once.
Just as any company selling a product or service works from a strategic marketing plan with proper tactics to put the plan into action, so should you. In this case, you are the product.
Finding job opportunities takes a disciplined approach using strategies that are proven to work. The three most effective job search approaches are networking and referral building, making direct contact with potential employers, and arranging informational interviews. Each of these approaches can produce:
- Contacts—An increased number of people in your network helping you seek out opportunities.
- Referrals—Introductions to new people for your network or people with the power to hire you.
- Leads—Information about open positions or companies that might have opportunities for you.
Networking and referral-building will provide you with the maximum number of all three payoffs, so that approach is ranked as the most effective. Contacting prospective employers and informational interviewing are about equal in terms of their potential gain, but contacting employers (once you are ready) is more likely to lead directly to a job.