Based on my job search experience thus far, these are my most valuable tools:
- Network of contacts
- Online job postings
- Motivational goals
- An organizational system
1. Network of contacts: I’ve gotten a lot of traction so far by contacting people I’ve worked with, friends of friends, friends of people I’ve worked with, and so on. So far these are mostly networking discussions that have often led to other good networking contacts, but I’m hopeful that one will lead to an actual job at some point. It has been less painful than I thought – people really like to help others. Even contacting people that I don’t know has not been that difficult, although this is when a natural introvert like me decides to reorganize the pantry before making the phone call.
2. LinkedIn is an extension of item #1 – a way to research a contact’s background, find people inside an organization to be introduced to (and see how they are connected to me) and so on. LinkedIn has lots of other features, of varying helpfulness, but as a tool to extend my network, it’s invaluable.
3. Job postings: I’ve seen plenty of warnings about wasting too much time reading online job postings, but I don’t agree entirely. With job search agents, it’s easy to get summaries of relevant opportunities sent automatically via email. Even if it’s difficult to get an interview from a job posting, it tells me who is hiring, and gives me a topic to inquire about with an inside contact. If I can track down the hiring manager for the position, I may be able to circumvent the HR black hole.
4. Motivational goals: a wise friend told me to have both short-term and longer-term goals, as well as the obvious goal of finding a job (or clients). For me, a short-term goal is making a quota of networking contacts per week. One of my friend’s longer-term goals was to be booked for a speaking engagement on the West Coast so she could justify visiting friends. One of mine is a vacation to a certain destination towards the end of the year.
5. An organizational system: to keep track of who I’ve talked to, who they recommend I talk to, and reminders on when to follow up. I use JibberJobber, but there are plenty of other ways to do this.
These five job search tools are probably blindingly obvious, but they are what seems to be working for me. I’m sure everyone has their own system that works for them.