When it comes to looking for a new job, most people are reactive—they spot a job posting and apply, hoping they’ll stand out amongst a long list of candidates who also spotted the same posting. But what if you could be proactive in your job search? In other words, what if you could steer your job-search efforts in such a way that you could sit back and let opportunities come to you?
It sounds idealistically impossible. But it’s not.
“Reactively responding to job postings may provide immediate gratification,” says Hannah Morgan, a job search and social media strategist and founder of Career Sherpa. But, “the odds of getting a response are slim and the odds of landing a job are even slimmer.” Plus, by doing all the searching yourself, you’ll miss out. “There are more opportunities than seen posted on job sites,” Morgan says. “Shifting the focus to a proactive job search feels empowering. You’re in control, and creating the potential for opportunities to find you.” Ready to do it? Here’s how.
1. Get your friends involved.
Employee referrals are one of the most powerful tools in your job-hunting arsenal. And who better to toss you a recommendation than the people who know and love you best in the world? So, “send an email letting your friends know you’re looking for a new job,” suggests Heather Huhman, Generation Y career expert and founder of Come Recommended. “Explain to them what you are looking for and include a copy of your resume. If anything opens up at their company, they’ll have you top of mind.”
2. Turn Facebook into a portfolio.
This social media site isn’t just about snooping into your high-school friends’ lives. You can also “use status updates to help your personal network understand your areas of expertise and career focus,” points out Morgan. “Share information related to your career goals, such as trending industry news or updates from companies you are interested in working for.” A long-lost friend might just come to you with a lead.
3. Talk “shop” at social events.
A lot of us like to leave work, well, at work. But Huhman says we shouldn’t be afraid to talk shop when we’re out and about because you never know who’s listening, and what insider information they may know. “Whether you’re attending a dinner party or just sitting next to someone on a plane, discussing with them what you do for a living is a great idea,” she says. Think of it this way: “If the person doesn’t know about an opportunity for you, at least you’ll have grown your professional network.”
4. Show off to your boss—or a future employer.
No one’s talking about brown-nosing. But when your employer asks for volunteers to tackle a presentation, don’t slink down in your seat—raise your hand and knock it out of the park. Taking any opportunity that’s given to you is an easy way to get onto your manager’s radar, says Morgan. Seizing these moments can also get you noticed by people outside of your company, too. Morgan recommends you “look for chances to deliver a presentation, serve as a panelist, or be a guest on a podcast.” You’ll find them “through professional associations, industry conferences or clubs,” she says.
5. Update your LinkedIn profile.
While LinkedIn may not be as fun to use as, say, Instagram, this social site can pay big dividends in a proactive job search—if you make yourself marketable, that is. How do you do that? Huhman recommends uploading your current and best work samples. As she explains, “many employers want examples that show how good you are at your job. By posting past work projects on LinkedIn, anyone who finds your profile can get a more in-depth look at the type of employee you’d be.” Morgan says another smart LinkedIn move is to create a presume—a presentation resume. Then, “share a link as a status update on LinkedIn and other social outlets,” she suggests.
6. Write your way to a new job.
People can forget a face, or even what someone says. But if they spot your name as the author of an awesome newsletter or a shareable post on LinkedIn, you may just get name-recognition—and eventually, a job offer. So, “contribute to newsletters, write a guest post for an industry blog, or publish your own on LinkedIn,” Morgan suggests. “Select a topic you have expertise in, such as a list of top resources or tips to do your job. You could analyze trends related to your work or write a case study.”
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