By Susan P. Joyce
Most of us search for a job by responding to job postings we find that look interesting.
We search jobs at one or a few job boards. We may also scan the classified ads in the local newspapers. We apply for the jobs that look interesting, maybe sign up to get some sent by e-mail, and repeat the process the next day or the next week.
While checking job postings on a big site like Indeed.com or SimpllyHired.com can be excellent research (who's hiring, for what, where??), spending all your job search efforts scanning job postings is not as productive as it feels for these reasons.
Some people would call this a lose/lose situation. Studies have shown that less that half of the average 250 applicants for every job meet the qualifications for those jobs, so by over-applying, we're killing the goose that laid the proverbial golden egg (the job postings).
You lose because you must spend a lot of time finding and combing through job opportunities for the ones that match your qualifications and/or interest you.
Recruiters lose because they must comb through hundreds of resumes to find the truly qualified applicants. And, people who repeatedly apply for jobs without meeting the requirements end up on "black lists" of applicants to ignore permanently because they are too dumb or too clueless to read the job descriptions.
The successful job seekers I've interviewed selected the kind of job they wanted (e.g. bank teller, entry-level professional, senior executive), the industry (e.g. banking, retail, healthcare), and then the local employers that they liked best. Once they determined the target employers, they focused most of their job search efforts on those specific organizations.
What did these successful job seekers do?
These successful job seekers regularly checked the employer's Website for job postings.
For example, one job seeker told me that she knew that her target employer always posted new job openings on Mondays. So, she always visited the company's site before lunch on Monday. She got the job she wanted, for the employer she wanted.
They also spoke with the people in the HR department to initiate (if possible and appropriate) the official job application process.
These job seekers tracked down contacts using LinkedIn and Twitter. They also checked with friends, family, neighbors, former colleagues who worked at one
of the target employers or who knew someone who worked at one of the target employers.
Then, they worked with these people, providing as much support as possible, to identify appropriate job opportunities and get their resume submitted.
Hiring managers don't want to make mistakes -- it's expensive for the employer to recruit an employee and a few "bad hires" can definitely be career-limiting events for the person doing the hiring.
Employers LOVE "employee referrals" -- potential employees referred to the employer by current employees. Most have "employee referral programs" which reward employees who refer someone who is ultimately hired and becomes a successful employee. Studies show that someone who is referred into the company by another employee is usually a successful employee.
[MORE: Shortcut to a New Job: Tap an Insider and How to Connect with Employee Referrals, the Source Employers Prefer.]
Nicely, politely, relentlessly following up...by phone, in person, by e-mail, or even by Twitter. Whatever works best for you and is most effective in reaching a person at the employer's office.
Early in my career, I worked for a senior manager in the Personnel Office of Harvard University, and, many years later (we won't discuss how many), I still remember the ultimately successful applicant for a major construction project management job.
He called every two weeks to see how things were progressing -- always polite, always nice, and always in touch. It worked for him (he got the job) as it has worked for many thousands of job applicants and sales people. I've used it myself, too.
You probably don't want to be doing another job search in a year or two, so use this job search as an opportunity to find a job with an employer who will be around (and keep you around) for a while. The research you've done in selecting your target employers should help you avoid the ones that will disappear or disappoint - although no one has any guarantees in life or work.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.