September 16, 2010
Need a new approach? Here are 16 ways to find job openings
If you've been searching for a job for more than six months, it's probably time to evaluate your job-seeking strategy and see what has been working and what hasn't. It's human nature to repeat comfortable behaviors, but without success, these patterns only lead to decreased motivation and increased frustration.
Today, I want to give you some ideas you may not have tried yet. Here are some external recruiting practices human resource managers use to source candidates. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list; it's intended to give you some new avenues to explore. By the way, I've noticed that different companies favor different techniques. If you have particular companies in mind, it's helpful to find out their specific recruiting preferences in order to increase your odds of getting hired.
Traditional print media: Even with the presence of Internet job boards, some companies are still using traditional print media (newspapers, magazines) to advertise their openings and it's their preferred method. Prominent newspapers such as The Seattle Times still feature major employers, such as the University of Washington.
Internet job boards: While this is the default search for most candidates, choosing a job board that features local employers is key to finding jobs in this area. Many companies have moved away from larger, more national job boards such as Monster and CareerBuilder, and are instead using more locally targeted sites such as NWjobs (a service of The Seattle Times Company) and Craigslist. The main complaint about larger job boards such as Monster is the large amount of unqualified submissions to a particular opening.
Community sites: Business networking sites such as LinkedIn, and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, are also being used to advertise for openings and search for candidates. Having a professional presence on these sites can greatly increase your odds of getting noticed by employers. But it's not enough to just have a presence on LinkedIn or Twitter today. You must join groups, engage in professional conversations, RSVP to events and get your name circulating in these networks to maximize your presence and findability.
Company websites: Many folks forget about the employer's website as a source for learning about and applying to openings. If you have a list of favorite employers, visit their sites frequently and apply for opportunities within 48 to 72 hours of a position becoming available, to make sure your application gets noticed first by the recruiter.
Colleges and universities: Most companies in Seattle leverage this avenue for meeting sharp interns they can test out, groom and hire for future roles inside their organizations. If you're a student (or even a recent alumni), ask your career center when and which employers will be visiting your school so you can adequately prepare to meet company representatives.
Job fairs and career mixers: These types of gatherings give you the opportunity to meet decision-makers in person. Job fairs are focused on resumes, and attendees stand in line to get a couple of minutes with a company representative. Career mixers, on the other hand, do not have lines and are more social in nature. Regardless of which events you choose to attend, check the list of attendees ahead of time to see if the gathering will have the types of people and companies with whom you're interested in networking.
Former employees: HR folks will regularly reach out to former employees (in good standing) to get referrals for their openings. Networking with these former employees can help you get your name known to the hiring company. (And keep in mind, if you left your former employer on good terms, the door may still be open for you at your old company).
Previous applicants: I've had several clients get jobs with companies at which they were first turned down. Companies often hire someone who doesn't work out, and if you keep a positive, healthy relationship with the hiring managers, you can be considered as the replacement candidate.
Employee referrals: I've written several articles on this topic. Employee referrals are a good source for recruiting. Get to know the employees inside a company and leverage them for introductions to their hiring managers. In most cases, they'll be recognized in some way for their referral, so it's a win-win.
Vendors and suppliers: Referrals from vendors and suppliers are one of the most overlooked, but important sources for recruiting. When there is a long-term relationship between an employer and its partners, they become aware of each other's cultures, interests and needs. Research the major vendors that do business with a particular employer, and add them to your list of contacts with whom to network.
Labor unions: If a union is involved with an employer, it is a good source of leads for openings with that company.
Professional associations: You can get a good list of professional associations in Seattle by visiting The Seattle Networking Guide. It's organized by industry, and you can associate with relevant groups through memberships, volunteering or networking. Many employers leverage these networks to find quality candidates.
Employment agencies: The state of Washington makes WorkSource and related agencies available to employers for recruitment purposes. Get to know the WorkSource counselors in your area and the types of services they provide to you.
Contingent and temporary agencies: Contingent agencies contract with employers for temp-to-hire positions and permanent placements. Temporary agencies place employees for contracts of a specified length, and this can often be a good way to prove yourself to an employer and put you in a position to learn about and apply for full-time openings when they occur.
Executive search firms: Included in this category are headhunters who typically specialize in helping to fill senior management positions. Many times, positions at the VP level and above are not advertised and you might need to work with an executive search firm to uncover these opportunities. Some firms charge you to find a job, while others get paid by the employer.
Walk-in candidates: Last, but not least, people find jobs by either calling or walking into the employer's office to apply for an opening. While walk-ins are encouraged for many hourly roles, it's typically discouraged for corporations. In those cases, I suggest calling with the techniques discussed in my recent post.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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