If you foresee a job search in your short-term future, how are you planning to get your resume into the right people’s hands? This key question is one many job seekers fail to consider until their search is already well underway.
There are 5 major ways to market yourself in a career search that you will want to consider. I have summarized them briefly below along with the pros, cons, and likely success of each. Note that I have listed these search strategies in the order they are most likely to be successful, i.e., help you land a new job.
- What It Is: I like to define networking as an ongoing, organic outreach to your personal and professional network for career, market, and business intelligence.
- What It Isn’t: A one-time mass email you send to everyone you know. Asking people to find you a job.
- Who Should Use It: Networking is such a powerful search methodology that nearly everyone should use it. Only those in very small industries whose search will go public as soon as they begin networking should plan not to use it.
- Likelihood of Success: When done correctly, networking yields success more than 80% of the time. Note, though, that most job seekers do not network correctly.
- Pros: A +80% chance of success is surely reason enough to network. And with LinkedIn making it easier than ever before, you have nothing to lose. I should add that networking is the #1 way to penetrate the Hidden Job Market (all the jobs that are presently unpublicized outside the companies you’re targeting).
- Cons: Most people, aside from sales professionals and others who network as part of their jobs, don’t know how to network, so there is a learning curve. Introverts often feel uncomfortable with networking.
- What It Is: Company targeting is the process of sowing seeds for job creation with firms that don’t necessarily have an opening for you at present.
- What It Isn’t: It doesn’t involve going to a company’s website and applying for open positions.
- Who Should Use It: Most senior executives. Anyone with an atypical career path that will fail to interest internal or external recruiters. Anyone with stringent geographic preferences who needs to remain in a single area and cannot relocate. Anyone who generally doesn’t fit job descriptions perfectly.
- Likelihood of Success: Like networking, company targeting typically has a more than 80% success rate, though it is generally slightly less successful than the former.
- Pros: Company targeting is a terrific way to penetrate the Hidden Job Market. It positions users to co-create a job with a target company that fits the candidate like a glove.
- Cons: This methodology is more time-consuming than applying for jobs online, and requires networking to be effective. Again, most folks don’t automatically know how to do this, so they often need coaching or instruction.
- What It Is: A thought leadership job search strategy is the process of sharing your unique insights, perspectives, opinions, and original content within your target industries for the purpose of attracting recruiters and hiring executives to your candidacy.
- What It Isn’t: It isn’t the passive reposting of others’ links, articles, or blog posts.
- Who Should Use It: Senior executives and mid-career or mid-management professionals aiming to join the executive ranks. Job seekers with a clear track record of successes to draw from in their careers. Professionals seeking to position their career success for the short-, mid-, and long-term.
- Likelihood of Success: No statistics are available yet on this strategy, but anecdotally it is yielding significant results. Considering that there are hundreds of millions of LinkedIn users, for example, and only 1-2% are currently using this social network for thought leadership purposes, the opportunity is huge.
- Pros: Most job seekers over-rely on “push” marketing strategies which, well, push their candidacy at recruiters and hiring executives. This strategy leverages “pull” marketing to attract your target market toward your candidacy.
- Cons: Most candidates have to get their minds around this strategy before they can evaluate it. It’s something most haven’t heard of or don’t know much about, so “how” questions abound. The good news is that there are many technology solutions which can greatly ease implementation of this strategy.
- What It Is: Shopping your candidacy to recruiters who have been hired by companies to source candidates for their open positions.
- What It Isn’t: It isn’t paying someone to place you in a position. True recruiters are paid by their client companies, not job search candidates.
- Who Should Use It: Candidates with a track record in the types of positions they are pursuing. Candidates who are not in a hurry in their search and who do not have time for the above strategies. Candidates who are unable to leverage networking because their target industry is too small.
- Likelihood of Success: Typically, using recruiters as a job search strategy is successful 20–25% of the time. This may have decreased since 2008, though no recent statistics are available.
- Pros: If you are able to form a relationship with a recruiter in your target industry(ies), they may be an excellent ongoing source of job leads.
- Cons: Currently recruiters are overwhelmed with the resumes of great candidates. As one noted, they have tons of applicants and not enough jobs to place them in. Even though the job market is improving, it is still quite crowded which means intense competition for your candidacy. Recruiters specialize in working with jobs being publicized outside the company; hence this strategy aims for the Visible Job Market of publicized jobs. Keep in mind that 85% of jobs are never advertized, which means only 15% are.
Online Job Search
- What It Is: The process of searching for, finding, and applying for jobs via job boards (such as Indeed.com or LinkedIn) and company/association websites.
- What It Isn’t: As easy as it looks. Due to the use of Applicant Tracking Systems used by job boards and employers to organize, analyze, and prioritize incoming resumes, it is quite difficult to rank high for a job and win an interview.
- Who Should Use It: This strategy is most likely to be successful for those pursuing non-executive and technical roles.
- Likelihood of Success: Online job searches are typically successful only 15-20% of the time.
- Pros: This is the most familiar job search strategy and the one most folks already know how to execute. It’s also one of the strategies most friends and family will urge you to implement.
- Cons: Because this strategy targets the Visible Job Market and is so widely used, it guarantees you a small job pool (only 15% of the available jobs at any given moment) and maximum competition. To achieve an above-average result, it is necessary to tailor your resume based on each position’s key words. An exemplary resume helps, especially if it’s written by an experienced professional.
As you can see, the simple question of how you plan to promote your candidacy is much more complex than it appears. If this brief introduction to the subject doesn’t answer the question for you, or if you need more help to leverage the above strategies, make sure you consult a Job Search Coach who specializes in helping candidates to do so.