One of the hardest things for candidates to do is to stop tweaking their résumé and LinkedIn profile and start proactively exploring career opportunities. It is way too easy to convince yourself that spending months getting your marketing tools “just right” will make all the difference to your ultimate success. Yes, you need a strong résumé and LinkedIn profile but understand that they will never be perfect, or at least not for long. Instead, create tools that are good enough to get you in the game and refine them while you actively seek opportunities.
Once your tool kit is ready, use LinkedIn and other networking sites to kick your search into high gear. Explore job opportunities online as well as through your personal, professional and business grapevine.
Avoid limiting yourself to passively completing online applications in the belief that doing so will actually result in a job. Chances are excellent that it won’t, and you will end up frustrated, demoralized and nowhere closer to your career goals. Networking is still king.
Let’s say that 100 people apply for a job. Ninety-five apply online and five apply online and enlist the help of a current employee or other connection to get in front of the hiring manager. Of those 100 candidates roughly 40 are fully qualified; 37 who applied online and 3 who applied online and were personally endorsed. Who do you think always gets interviewed? The three who are fully qualified and endorsed, of course.
Candidates who are fully qualified and endorsed are 14 times more likely to be hired than any of the other candidate.
So, instead of passively applying online, source those opportunities every way you can then use LinkedIn (and other industry networking sites) to identify key company contacts that may be accessible through your network. Once you’ve identified one or more connections, reach out to them for help. That might include asking for information about the company/position/hiring manager, requesting assistance in getting your résumé on the right person’s desk, or soliciting suggestions about how best to approach the opportunity.
One of my favorite success stories is about a client who initially was resistant to joining LinkedIn and reluctant to connect with former colleagues. Finally, convinced that this just might work, she reached out to a former colleague who connected her to a friend at the target company. The co-worker’s friend gave my client valuable advice on how to get her résumé noticed and later offered ideas that helped her hone her interview presentation and land the job. Networking works. It just isn’t an A to B to C process so get ready to take it where it leads you!
And now, a few suggestions for getting attention from headhunters on LinkedIn. “Follow” or connect with recruiters in your industry and those who recruit for your target companies. Recruiters routinely limit their searches to candidates who are, or appear to be, currently employed. If you want to show up in recruiter searches, do not include “unemployed,” “looking for opportunities,” or similar euphemisms in your headline, About or Experience sections. You may also want to leave your current status unchanged until you land your next position.