A post by Patra Frame, ClearedJobs.Net HR Specialist.
I was talking with a job seeking friend recently. He was angry and discouraged. “I have applied to a lot of jobs, gone to a lot of job fairs, and no-one responds,” he said. “I’ve got the top clearances in hot demand areas. WTH?”
So I asked a few questions – ones you should ask yourself.
1. How much of your time are you spending talking with and connecting to other people?
Starting with people you know, what help have you sought for your job search? Have you asked for information about your target companies? References to people who work in each target? Ideas about your strengths? Suggestions for places you may not even know exist? References? Help with interview prep?
Have you become active on social media as a way to meet new people? Do you share info and support others via professional groups online or IRL? Are you attending meetings and meeting new people in your field or closely related ones?
Many companies’ first recourse in hiring is employee referrals. Making a connection with someone who works in your target organizations is a great way to learn far more about the place first. And potentially to get a referral to the right hiring manager.
Lots of small and mid-size companies use friends and family referrals to hire, so don’t ignore those sorts of connections when job-seeking. And large companies often use professional and personal referrals when hiring senior people. You should be spending the majority of your job search time making connections.
2. What kind of job fairs are you attending and what do you do at each?
The most productive job fairs are the niche ones – those in your professional arena. These have the employers who are looking for your skills and experience.
The first thing you need to do is to prepare before you go. Check out who will be there and what jobs each has. ClearedJobs.Net always puts this information out in advance. So look at the participant’s websites. Tailor your resume as needed. Be ready to talk to each of your targets with an effective elevator speech.
When you get there, don’t just talk to the employers. Talk with the people around you – learn about their work and interests and see what connections you can make. Yes, they are just as nervous as you are – say hi anyway!
Attend any seminars or use any services that are offered too. You might learn something new or get helpful reminders. And you can talk with the people around you easily then to make more connections.
3. How consistent is your self-presentation?
It is not just your resume and cover letter that a potential employer may see. Does your LinkedIn profile show the same information and, better, even expand it? How about Facebook, Twitter or any other social media you use? If you have an online resume or blog with resume, are they also in line? Are you actively enhancing those connections too?
When you write an email or participate in an online discussion, do you put your best foot forward? Do you use a signature line that helps your search?
No matter what your skills, security clearances, or knowledge, today your job search needs to be full of real connections with real people. Certainly, do plenty of online research first. But then spend only a small amount of time in setting up job agents on the right job boards and looking at target employers’ websites again. But the majority of your time? Start connecting!