Finding the perfect job takes time, patience and the right resources. As of May 2021, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that unemployed people are out of work for 19.3 weeks, or about 5 months, according to Indeed.com. The time it takes for you to find a job may vary depending on your industry, location and level of experience. It might seem counterintuitive, but the more experienced you are, the longer it may take you to find a job, because employers may see you as overqualified. But there are some ways you can make the search more constructive.
1. Learn how to network.
One of the most powerful things you can do when searching for jobs is actively network. It can be awkward and, for people who aren’t naturally outgoing, requires a bit of courage, initiative and self-discipline.
- Start with friends and people you know. Get a feel for creating rapport with those you are already comfortable with in order to have some ice-breakers ready to go when you expand beyond your social circles.
- Find people who have similar jobs to the one you are seeking. Let them know you would like to learn more about their jobs and see if they know of any openings in the industry. The more you make connections, the easier it will be to gather intel on what is available.
- Force yourself out of your comfort zone. Start reaching out beyond your immediate circle once you feel like you have a good rhythm. You don’t need to contact 10 people right out of the gate. The first couple of cold calls are always the hardest.
- Know that people genuinely enjoy your interest in them. Don’t feel like you are imposing on people by asking about their jobs. Steve Dalton, author of the “Two Hour Job Search” told us, “It’s an old maxim that ‘interested is interesting.’ They take a reciprocal interest in you because you have good taste in who you listen to speak, and that’s where jobs come from.”
2. Search online job sites.
Looking at online job boards is an efficient way to find opportunities. Most employers use one or more of them to find candidates.
Glassdoor: Glassdoor is known as a resource for researching a potential employer. You will find ratings and reviews of different employers on a range of topics, such as compensation, company culture, how generous benefits are, and what employees think about top executives.
Indeed: Indeed’s main function is as a search engine for jobs. It also happens to be one of the most popular sites for job candidates, which makes it attractive to employers trying to cast a wide net in search of potential candidates. It has other value-add offerings, such as a salary comparison tool, allowing you to look at compensation trends among different industries. It also allows other users to review companies, providing insights into what it might be like to work for or interview at certain companies.
Ladders: The selling point of TheLadders is that it only features vetted jobs with annual compensation of $100,000 or above. It offers a well-curated index of jobs by industry and skill specialism. It also allows you to filter by the highest-paying companies in each industry.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn markets itself as a “professional social network” where, aside from job listings, you can potentially reach decision makers at the companies you wish to apply to. Candidates can get an edge by looking at the profiles and posts of those who they might be interviewing with for insights into their career paths. Since users’ profiles are always available to view and the platform is used for networking, LinkedIn allows potential employers to find you whether or not you are actively seeking a new job. This sets it apart from other job sites.
SimplyHired: This site can flag job openings to you based on your location. It also offers a resume-building tool with a number of templates and formats specific to your career. Employers aren’t charged to post jobs on SimplyHired, so the quality of the jobs may not be quite as high as on other boards.
Upwork: If you are looking for freelance gigs, there are a wealth of job opportunities on Upwork, particularly if you have technical or design skills. The platform is well designed for bidding on jobs and communicating with those commissioning the work.
ZipRecruiter: ZipRecruiter’s key features include an option to message with employers through the site and a one-click application option. The platform will also let you know when employers are looking at your resume.
Key takeaways from job boards
- Different boards have different features, so it makes sense to use more than one to take advantage of the resources they offer.
- Researching a potential employer can help you decide where you want to work.
- You can streamline your search using boards that cater to certain pay levels, or based on employee and interviewee feedback.
As you find and apply for jobs, check that you have everything—from your resume to your online image—in order to land the job you want.
3. Join a professional network.
Professional organizations can be a useful way to network with people in your industry and give you access to jobs that might not be widely found on the job boards we mentioned above. In addition, they can be a resource to learn which skills you should learn and how to do so. JobStars has a list of professional organizations you can use as a starting point for finding one relevant for your search.
4. Get an advocate and work with placement agencies.
Agencies and recruiters can maximize your search potential by actively looking for work for you. Once they have familiarized themselves with your skills and experience, they can be an additional resource pounding the pavement to help you land your dream job.
Keep in mind agencies and recruiters will receive a fee from the employer for placing you, and companies only work with a preferred list of agencies and recruiters. This can work both for and against you, depending on whether the job you are hoping to get is one they have been approved to recruit for.
You can find lists of recruiters and agencies by industry on JobStars. Other websites where you can find recruiters include SearchFirm, Online Recruiters Directory and Recruiterly. For creative jobs, a great place to look is Aquent.
Beyond your search
When your job search takes longer than you expected, it can feel overwhelming. If you are facing setbacks in landing the job you want, it may be time to look beyond your search. Use this guide to help you take a strategic approach in finding your next career opportunity.