If you’re starting a new job search, or need to re-energize an existing search — you’re not alone! These moments often bring a mix of anxiety and excitement. The best way to address the anxiety is to make a plan, then best channel that excitement to power your execution. So let’s go!
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to read my prior post: “Job Search Step 1: Prepare Your Search” before proceeding.
A large percentage of open roles are not posted (in an easily accessible place), so you need to network to become a candidate for these hidden roles. Only after that’s done well should you focus on applications (for a bit). Here is a suggested priority of focus:
- Networking Contacts
Sit down and make a list of 20-30 people who like you, who work in your target industry segments and/or companies (or who have connections in them). Think of past colleagues (even if you haven’t talked to them in years), friends, business contacts. If you’re just getting started in your career, think of professors, family friends, and classmates. Once you’ve made the list, do the work needed to find their email and phone.
Email each person, starting with something warm and personalized, then transition:
“I am starting a search for a new role and thought to reach out to you. I would really appreciate your help connecting with relevant open roles. Are there any colleagues or friends you think may be able to help? As a reminder, here is a short summary of me, and I have attached my resume:
Remember that your email is most likely going to be forwarded to someone who doesn’t know you. So they should be able to read the forwarded message and get a full snapshot of who you are and what kinds of roles you are looking for — as well as already have your resume to review.
Then call each contact and ask for the same.
Use your target company and industry list to start connecting with relevant LinkedIn members. Search for HR Managers, Talent Acquisition, Recruiters in each area, then search for the supervisor for each of your target titles. (For example, if you’re looking for a Merchandising Assistant role, look for Merchandise Managers or Directors.) LinkedIn limits the number of invitations you can send each day, so get organized and do this daily for several weeks.
Each day review your new connections and send them your pitch. Thank them for connecting, introduce yourself, and add your pitch. End the message with something like: “If you have any relevant roles coming up I would love to talk with you about them! Alternatively, I would be so appreciative of any introductions you might be able to facilitate with any friends or colleagues who may have a fit.
Connect, connect, connect, then message, message, message
Use your target industry segments to search for recruiting firms that work in the industry and target markets. Build a big list. Ask friends for recommendations, and check out our friend Ron Thurston’s list here. Use their website to send your application and cover letter (adapted from your pitch).
Then go on LinkedIn and start connecting with recruiters in each firm and repeat the same process as above — connect, message, connect, message. Don’t worry about connecting to many people at a single firm, because sometimes people won’t reply to your messages. But once you have an actual conversation with someone at a firm, you can usually consider that firm covered. In most (but not all) cases a firm will want you to deal with 1 person instead of many. When in doubt, keep going until they suggest you stick with just 1 person. Better to over-connect instead of under-connecting.
Shoot to get engagement (reply to your message and discuss your profile) with 20-30 recruiters.
There are lots of events with networking opportunities — especially online these days. Use them! Sign up, Zoom, meet, introduce. This can often be the hardest, but it’s worth it. Practice talking about your background and what kinds of roles you’re looking for. Ask what you can do for others — you will find these offers pay dividends in the long-run.
This is the part you already know. Use job search sites to find relevant open roles and apply. Don’t forget to also visit the websites for each target company you listed to see if they have their own careers section and apply there too.
Now that you have made it to the end of the first cycle, its time to follow-up on everything you have done. In my experience more results come from follow-up messages than the initial outreach.
You may not want to annoy networking or internal HR teams with a 3rd followup, but don’t worry about annoying recruiters. Wait a little longer for the 3rd follow-up, but keep checking in periodically. Eventually they will have a relevant role and will reply.
Remember the order of importance, and that the personal engagement with networking, HR, and recruiting contacts is much more likely to be effective than cold applications. Many people get stuck in the applications step and don’t focus enough on the others. Applications should only take up 10-15% of your job search time — the rest should be meeting people.
THIS WILL WORK — it’s only a matter of time!