Imagine you have been gifted $20,000 towards the purchase of a new car. You begin to make your mental wish list. You narrow it down to 2 or 3 brands, a particular dealership, a top choice of color, your must have accessories, and a price range. If you didn't take these steps to eliminate some auto choices (all equally able to get you from point A to B), your test drive experience would take years, because there a literally thousands of cars on any given lot in every city and in every state.
Now you understand the recruiter's dilemma.
In this installment of Job Search 3.0, I'll share tips on maximizing your time spent on job boards, using advanced search to streamline search results and advice on structuring your "job search days" just as you would your work day. After all, job searching requires the same time and energy as working an actual job.
6. Maximize your time on the job boards. To do this, it’s implied you've already assessed your skills and narrowed your area of interest. If you have not done this, it's imperative that you stop now and do that. Come back for part 6B in a few days once you've done the work to evaluate your strengths and opportunities for growth.
6B. Seek additional help if you need it. It never hurts to have a professional coach if you're having difficulty narrowing down career options. Consult a career counselor. Find free advice online. There are lots of career coaches on Twitter offering their free advice via Twitter chats and blogs. Pick their brains and use their insight and expertise to guide you. Search Twitter for #careercoaching, #careeradvice, #jobcoach, etc.
6C. Now let's talk about maximizing your hunt by using the right keywords in your searches.
We will use advanced search to target our results. Take for instance a search for an Administrative Assistant in Los Angeles. Start with the advanced tab on Indeed.
(a) Enter the name of your desired position in the "title" field. Use quotation marks for titles with more than one word (Accountant, Baker, "Administrative Assistant," "Sous Chef")
(b) Sort jobs by date instead of relevance. The more recent the posting, the better. (c) Use the "with none of these words" field to remove certain words that you do not want to appear in the job description. This could be an industry you want to avoid or a skill that you do not possess.
For example, if you are looking for an Administrative Assistant position but are not bilingual, consider typing "bilingual" in the "with none of these words" field. When you view your results, you will see title:"Administrative Assistant" -bilingual in the search box.
Here's an alternate example. From the Advanced Indeed search page, you can enter "nonprofit" in the "with none of these words" field and Accountant in the title field. Your results will show Accountant jobs with private, for-profit businesses in the city you specify, and will eliminate all jobs with non-profit in the description.
Using Indeed for my test search in Los Angeles, using the "with none of these words" parameter reduced my initial 355 jobs to 320 jobs. Using this technique, your results are fewer and more targeted (think about your new car search). This saves you a lot of time, and saves the recruiter time because you are only applying for jobs that you're fully qualified to do.
7. Use LinkedIn's Job Searching tool. This tool shows you who posted the job and lets you save and track which jobs you've applied for right on the site. Though you can search jobs directly from here, you will need to be logged into your account to apply.
Also take advantage of LinkedIn Groups. Joining only takes a click, and you can immediately start participating as a member in most cases (some groups are private and require approval). Once you're in the group, set up an alert to receive a daily or weekly digest of the discussions. See what your peers are talking about and answer questions using your subject matter expertise. Many recruiters are also using LinkedIn specialty groups to find talent, so your activity may be viewed not only by peers but also by potential employers. That's why it's so important to keep it professional. Part 3 of Job Search 3.0 will explore your digital footprint on the Web and how it can work against you. (Bonus: Interesting article on what to say on LinkedIn when you've been laid off.)
8. Use Twitter/Facebook for job searching. As I mentioned in Part 1, there are quite literally an infinite number of social networking sites, many organized by category/interest. I'm emphasizing these two sites, because these are the primary ones (along with LinkedIn) that recruiters are currently using to find talent. (I'm sure that will be different 5 years from now.) On Facebook, you can 'like' employer pages, get active in discussions and interact with company representatives. But again, watch what you say, as all of this will be tied to your "brand" as a job seeker/future employee. An interesting story was released today about employers asking applicants for their Facebook passwords. WEIRD!
Follow your target companies, and Tweeters like TweetMyJobs. Register yourself with WeFollow or another Twitter directory, and search for people with similar interests to follow. Just yesterday on Twitter, I was using hashtags (keywords) to find what I was looking for (recruiters who would be open to networking). I found a recruiter at one of the country's largest not-for-profits who shared his full e-mail address with an open invitation for candidates to contact him. I did just that and he replied to me within 15 minutes. Had I not been poking around on Twitter (with a purpose), I wouldn't have made that connection. And don't forget, even if you're on the go, there may be an app for that!
9. Be strategic. Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge (which can feel like overload), you need to pace yourself. I suggest setting aside time on your iCal or other personal calendar app specifically for job searching. During this time, you should try to avoid distractions and really get into a zone. Job searching, if you haven't noticed, is hard work. But be advised: sitting at the computer 9 hours straight every day looking at job after job is likely going to drive you crazy.
Set up alerts and apply for jobs 2 or 3 days a week. Set a clear goal for each of those days, e.g., "I want to apply for 15 jobs today and add 5 new LinkedIn contacts," or "I will spend 45 minutes in my LinkedIn Groups searching for potential job leads."
On your "off days," when you're not searching for work, do things that will still make you feel productive. Schedule and attend interviews. Volunteer or meet up with friends or networking peers you've met online. Exercise every day (it really helps with stress). Imagine yourself gainfully employed. Read articles about your industry. Take naps. Pick up a part-time job. Resist the urge to worry, because guess what? Worrying doesn’t make recruiters call you any sooner! Enjoy your days off because you'll be back to the 9 to 5 grind in due time.
In Part 3, I will finally get around to sharing my favorite job boards, handling the salary question, and how to manage your digital footprint.
Notes for Candidates
*All of the links provided come from quick Google searches or my experience using certain sites. I am not affiliated with any of the companies/products linked to here. The links are provided as a courtesy to get you started. Countless resources are available online if you take the time to dig around! Happy searching!
**Thanks to Robert Starks, Jr. of Career Tipster for providing the great mobile app resources.
Maisha Cannon is a Senior Recruiter and Researcher committed to introducing employers to talent that will enhance and grow their businesses. Over the span of her 15 year career in Human Resources, Maisha has filled over 1,000 positions, and has coached hundreds of candidates on resume writing, interviewing skills, and career planning. She spends her free time blogging, engrossed in social media, and singing along to the thousands of songs in her iPod.