Get Connected to Land That Next Job

By Toni Vranjes

March 25, 2009

The most important part of a job search is networking – not only the traditional handshakes and phone calls, but also online connections. So go ahead, meet your colleagues for coffee, drop in at those cocktail parties, and pick up the phone to chat — but also make sure you’re staying in touch through LinkedIn.

But your job-search strategies shouldn’t end there. You also should develop a list of employers that you’d like to target. Internet job boards and recruiters may play a role, but don’t pin all your hopes on them. In addition, a career coach may help you figure out how to market yourself.

Networking

About 70 percent to 80 percent of new jobs are found through networking, according to career consultant Ellen Sautter, who works in the Atlanta office of outplacement firm Right Management.

One of the popular networking options is LinkedIn, which caters to professionals and has 37 million members worldwide. But there are some holdouts. Some people don’t understand the value of the site or believe it’s too time-consuming, Sautter says.

Although getting started on LinkedIn can take a while, once you get going, the technology can make your job search more efficient.

“Being on LinkedIn and networking online saves you a lot of time,” says Sautter, who co-authored the book “Seven Days to Online Networking” with her Right Management colleague Diane Crompton.

The book, which focuses mainly on LinkedIn, shows how online networking can aid job seekers. The contacts that members gain through the site can provide career advice and support. Those contacts also can let you know about job opportunities and introduce you to people in companies where you would like to work. And membership also can help you attract the attention of recruiters and corporate hiring managers.

Sautter isn’t the only career-transition expert singing the praises of online networking.

John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says that online-networking sites are essential for job seekers.

“The search is about building relationships and connections, and those facilitate your ability to do that,” Challenger says.

List of Target Employers

You also should develop a list of employers for whom you’d like to work. The traditional sources for this information are databases, directories, chamber of commerce listings, and trade publications.

In recent years, online networking has become another valuable source. For instance, your LinkedIn contacts can recommend companies to add to your list. When you’re ready to contact the businesses on your list, LinkedIn can come in handy again. Even if you don’t know anyone in the company you’re targeting, your contacts may be able to help you find the right people.

Internet Job Boards

Some people, especially the more introverted types, may be tempted to sit at home all day and apply for jobs through Monster, CareerBuilder or Yahoo HotJobs. But after a while, posting resumes on Internet job boards may seem like throwing them in a black hole.

Only 10 percent to 15 percent of new jobs are generated through Internet job postings, according to Sautter.

“When you’re applying for those jobs — which you’re doing with thousands of other people — it’s hard to get your resume noticed,” she says.

If you plan to search for jobs online, you may want to look on “aggregator” sites like Indeed, Simply Hired, and LinkedIn, which pull job listings from the Internet job boards.

Aggregator job-search sites can save you time by avoiding the need to visit the job boards individually. Even though the postings on the aggregator sites tend to be slightly delayed, their efficiency makes them the better option, Sautter says.

In the job-search area, LinkedIn offers a range of benefits. LinkedIn isn’t just an aggregator; it also allows employers and recruiters to post jobs on the site. And it provides a free “JobsInsider” tool that shows you whether you have contacts at a target company.

Even if the Internet boards don’t land you a new position, they can be valuable in other ways. The job listings can tell you the kinds of skills that are in demand and the types of keywords to include in your resume. The boards also can provide names of companies to add to your employer target list.

Recruiters

If you want a recruiter to play a role in your search, LinkedIn can help. It can make you more visible to recruiters, who use it to find qualified candidates.

Apart from LinkedIn, you can identify recruiters in your field through databases. Two key ones are The Directory of Executive & Professional Recruiters, published by Kennedy Information, and a database provided by Custom Databanks Inc. Both are available at public libraries and through outplacement firms.

Although recruiters can play an important part in your job quest, their role has diminished as the Internet has grown.

“The Internet has given companies more of a direct access to the talent pool, so they need to use recruiters less,” Sautter notes.

Career Coaches

Career coaches can improve your marketability in various ways. They offer guidance on resumes, interviewing, networking and other aspects of job search.

Some people have access to career coaches through corporate-sponsored outplacement. Under these arrangements, companies buy services from outplacement firms on behalf of their terminated employees.

If you don’t have access to corporate-sponsored outplacement, you can hire your own coach. Trade groups, including the Career Management Alliance, the Association of Career Professionals, and the National Career Development Association, can help you find one.

Take a Break Once in a While!

Unemployment may leave you slumped on the couch in despair. But it’s crucial to find healthy ways to cope.

Remember to keep balance in your life. Get off the couch, and start exercising. Meditate to focus your mind. Spend quality time with your family and friends, and do your favorite hobbies.

“Building in fun time – that should be a part of it,” Sautter says.

Challenger suggests sharing your feelings with a few people you can trust, such as counselors or spiritual advisors.

“Find a place where you can work on your emotions,” he says.

Spiritual solace is available in other ways. Some churches are forming job-search support groups to provide comfort and encouragement.

Leading a balanced life can help you cope with a stressful job search.

“Keep doing the things that make you happy,” Challenger says.

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