The 5 Best Job Search Strategies for 2017

WorkCoachCafeBecause they don’t understand today’s best job search strategies, many folks are struggling, searching for jobs for many months. The reason? They focus all their efforts on applying for jobs on job boards.

My advice: Stop applying for every job you find! Because —

  • Fewer than 15% of jobs are filled through job boards.
  • Job seekers face the most intensive competition on job boards because so many people spend all their time applying for every job they find.
  • Opportunities are limited to the jobs and employers visible in postings.

The 5 Best Job Search Strategies Today

The best strategy — don’t gamble on winning the job board lottery. Leverage what works best today:

1. Focus on being found.

Being findable is essential for a successful job search and career, today. If you aren’t visible online, presenting a coherent professional image, you aren’t going to be considered for most professional jobs.

  • When an application is received, most employers search the Internet (and, in particular, LinkedIn) to verify the “facts” on the resume or application submitted for a job and to get a sense of personality (a.k.a. “fit”).
  • Most recruiters and employers search for qualified job candidates because searching for them is more effective than digging them out of the avalanche of applications, mostly unqualified, that result from typical job postings.

To be found, you must know your target job and, preferably, your target employers. Without that focus, you will be unable to find and leverage the right keywords (the words those employers use to search for someone qualified for the job you want).

Without that focus (target job and employers), your job search will be much less effective.

[Read To be Hired, Be Found: Your Best Keywords for more information.]

2. Choose – and consistently use – a professional version of your name.

For example, let’s assume that your name is “James Earl Jones” – just like the movie star. If you use that version of your name, you won’t be easily found in Google (or Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.) .

So, change the version of your name you use professionally to minimize confusion. Become James E. Jones (or Jim Jones) so no one looking for you runs into all of the search results for James Earl Jones. Then, consistently use that version of your name for LinkedIn, resumes, applications, business cards, name tags, etc. so employers and people you meet can easily find your online professional presence.

Claim that name with your LinkedIn Profile.

[Read Ego Surfing or Smart Self-Defense for another perspective.]

3. Leverage LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is the “happy hunting ground” for most recruiters. It’s the FIRST place most recruiters look for qualified candidates (because most job applicants aren’t obviously qualified for the jobs they apply for).

If you haven’t already joined LinkedIn, stop waiting! Yes it takes time and effort to have an effective LinkedIn presence, and the longer you wait to join, the longer you will have to wait for a job offer.

Spend more time being professionally active and visible on LinkedIn than you do applying for jobs. Ideally, get into the habit of spending at least 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn. Done well, your next job may find you!

Then, raise your visibility inside of LinkedIn —

  • Connect to as many people inside LinkedIn as you can, former colleagues and co-workers, friends from school, family, neighbors, etc. Because of the way that LinkedIn search works, your visibility inside of LinkedIn is dependent on the number of people you are connected to.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups, particularly the Software & Technology Group which has nearly 1 million members and is where thousands of recruiters hang out.
  • Join Groups for your target location, your target field, your target employer, former employer alumni, your school’s alumni, your hobbies, and other interests. “Lurk” for a while, and then, carefully, raise your visibility. “Like” and comment (politely and professionally) on good discussions. Post discussions (good articles that are relevant to the Group’s topic and compliant with the Group’s rules). No politics, religion, or sports — focus on information related to your profession that is relevant to the Group.
  • Click on the “Jobs” link at the top of your LinkedIn home page, and then click on “Preferences” to make yourself more visible to recruiters and employers.
  • If you are a decent writer, post an article you have written on LinkedIn Pulse. The best topic would be something related to your job goal that would demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the topic.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn Profile, set it up. NOW! Be sure to include a nice, professional headshot photo of you looking like you would in an office – no friends, pets, or anything/anyone else. Just you, looking professional.

[Read To Be Hired, Be Found Where Recruiters Look for LinkedIn success tips.]

4. Clean up your online reputation.

If there is content that will reflect poorly on you, remove/delete as much of it as you can, AND —

Build professional visibility (using your professional name) on sites like Twitter.com, Medium.com, Google Plus, and (of course) LinkedIn. Share solid, relevant information related to your field and industry. Build a reputation, and a following, as a trusted source of good information.

Visibility in those sites will push the bad stuff down off the top of the first page, gradually.

[Read Online Reputation and Your Job Search for more.]

5. Practice “Defensive Googling.”

Now, Google yourself to see what employers and recruiters will find. Someone else with the same name could be screwing up your job search.

  • Anyone else using the same name who has done something that someone in your field would never want to be seen doing? Breaking the law, being unprofessional, being nasty, etc. Potential employers will eliminate you from consideration without knowing that the evil person is not you.
  • Any pictures of you drinking too much, smoking pot, etc.?
  • Any posts on sites where you have been nasty to someone or ranted about politics, religion, or sports?

If you can, remove the embarrassing things, change the settings on your Facebook account to private, ask friends to remove (or un-tag you) from their less-than-idea posts. Anything else embarrassing will hopefully be pushed down in search results by your other positive social media visibility.

[For more, read Ego Surfing or Smart Self-Defense.]

For More About Today’s Successful Job Search Strategies

You Are Being Watched! And Judged!

Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough and What to Do

Critical NEW Job Search Skill: Reputation Management (or Recovery)

The New Rules for Successful Job Search Today

Improve Your Job Search Process

Finding a Job Without a Job Board

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org and is a columnist on HuffingtonPost and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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