You probably already know that it’s difficult to find a job. It takes time and effort, and most likely you will be rejected at least once in the process. Are you also making it even harder for yourself by limiting the ways you look for a job? Do you too reply to job ads only? However, there are more options! To be precise, there are four main ways of searching for a job. Each has its pros and cons, and each can be used with a little trick to increase your chances of success.
Below I explain each in detail, so you can decide which one will work best for you and use this information to make looking for a new job easier.
- Advertisements – By advertisements I mean ads on job boards, as well as any publicly available information about a vacancy, e.g. those posted on the company website.
+ There are several pros to this option. They are easy to find, easy to follow and easy to apply for. Additionally, over 90% of the ads are about real, existing vacancies that need to be filled. So, as long as your profile meets the requirements, you may get a call from the potential employer and things will get moving quickly.
– As for the cons, there is only one, but it’s significant. At the same time as you, hundreds or even thousands of other people read the same ad. Even if only a small percentage of them decides to answer, it will still mean facing a lot of competition. Of course, not all of the ads attract a crowd – though a lot of them do. And many people will apply faster or will have a more suitable profile than you.
Who for? This method works best for those who have unique / niche / unpopular specialisation, or want to make a surprising or unusual change in their career, e.g. move from a big city to a smaller one. Such circumstances mean that there is less competition in their field, and their application will be less likely to get lost in the pile of CVs.
The trick: prepare your CV to match the requirements listed in the advert. Read the ad, trying to ‘read between the lines’ – seeing through the sometimes generic or puffed up language. Who are they really looking for? Then edit your CV so that it shows how you fit the bill. It is time-consuming, I know, but it does pay back.
- Networking – By this I mean informing your friends, attending meetings in your sector, reaching out to people you don’t know yet.
+ I’ve heard many times that “it isn’t fair to give a job to friends of your friends”. Well, if they don’t have required profile and are being chosen over another candidate who does, it is unfair, indeed. But first of all, – this is not always the case, and secondly, personal recommendation from a trustworthy source is for many people as important as the right set of skills. It provides information about the personality and working style of a candidate, and in some processes, these “soft” characteristics are the basis for the employment decision.
So, it makes sense to invest time in building up your network and maintaining contact with it. And most certainly tell them about your job search!
– the main disadvantage of this solution is that it is time–consuming. It takes time to create a network and maintain it, and it may take months before your network will turn up a suitable job offer. Additionally, you need the right network to have results – a small group of friends, or a very homogeneous one, where everyone has the same experiences or works for the same company, is unlikely to result in a new job offer. Nonetheless, it is always worth giving it a go.
Who for? This method works best for people employed in a popular area and who are likely to face a lot of competition in the recruitment process. Having the benefit of a personal recommendation can help their profile to be singled out in the process.
The trick: use “no pressure.” When you let your network know that you’re looking for a job, leave people space to decide what they want to do with this knowledge. Piling on the pressure, or constantly asking if they know of any offer, will only result in them trying to avoid you.
- Recruitment Agencies: headhunters, recruiters, employment agencies, and any other player in the market who is hired by a company to find the right candidate for a job.
+ For people who haven’t come across the concept of a headhunter before, this comes as a big surprise: agencies have access to offers that aren’t otherwise advertised on the market. It is said that over 83% of positions are so called “hidden” vacancies, which means that only small group of people know they exist. That would mean that only 17% of vacancies are advertised… Well, I think you can argue with these numbers, considering how big the job market is, but it is certainly true that for high level vacancies (i.e. director and board level roles), going through an agency is the only way.
– The fact that direct recruitment is an expensive service results in only certain kinds of positions being recruited for in this way. You are likely to find offers through headhunters when you have at least 10 years’ professional experience and you are currently working at a managerial or director level. Having said that, I need to add that there are agencies that specialize in particular sectors of the market and may recruit for specialist level roles. You need to browse and ask around to find who is working in your market area.
Who for? it may take months from you contacting a headhunter to them having an offer that suits your profile, so this is definitely a method for those who are not in a hurry to change jobs, but like to keep an eye on the market and jump when the opportunity comes.
The trick: reaching the right person! Each consultant specializes in a particular sector of the market. Invest time in finding out who the best headhunters are in your field and get in touch with them. For headhunters, their network is one of the key tools of the trade, so they are likely to be interested in at least having an exploratory conversation.
(for more tips, check out the post I have previously written on how headhunters work)
- Unsolicited applications, i.e. sending your CV and cover letter to a company you want to work for, even when they aren’t currently advertising any vacancy. Though it may seem strange at first, it is a perfectly legitimate way of looking for a new job.
+ It gives you a chance to be ahead of the curve. When the firm finds itself with a vacancy, your CV is already there. If you have the skills they require, they will contact you directly, saving themselves cost and hassle of the regular recruitment process. Win-win!
– The downside is that the company may not have a recruitment need for a long time and you may never hear from them again. You need to be mentally prepared for that.
Who for? people who want to work in smaller or medium-size companies. With these,, searching for new employees is more of a challenge (often they have no HR departments nor the budget to hire an agency). Your CV in their mailbox can then appear like an unexpected gift under the Christmas tree!
The trick: make your application as targeted as possible. And a cover letter is essential in this case. You have to tell the firm upfront why you are sending your application to them. Why do you want to work for this company? Also, if it isn’t crystal clear from your CV, you have to explain what kind of position you are interested in.
(you will also find more tips on how to apply to companies that don’t advertise vacancies in my previous post here)
I have written this post because I have found that the majority of people I know think of job advertisements as the only way of looking for a job. Yet here are at least three more!
Have you tested any of them?
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