It took me an entire year of job searching before I nabbed my ideal role. There was a fair bit of angst, the turning down of some offers, dealing with a lot of rejection and of course, chasing interviews. Prior to this, I had only ever applied for roles through the conventional approach of submitting an application in response to an advertisement. When this approach didn’t yield enough results, I had to branch out and create my own opportunities. Here are some of my learnings.
Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile
A well maintained LinkedIn profile is absolutely critical for a professional and particularly, a job seeker. I continually work to improve the following features in order to optimise my profile:
- A concise yet informative summary which contains key words relevant to my ideal next role;
- Full and relevant work history with an outline of key responsibilities;
- A professional profile picture;
- A relevant and robust network of connections;
- A full list of education/qualifications;
- Relevant skills which have been endorsed by members of my network; and
- No spelling mistakes!
The words you use to describe yourself are so important as these will determine whether your profile comes up when a recruiter performs a search looking for their ideal candidate. I was offered a position through this channel during my job search, however I turned it down as it wasn’t the right role for me at the time.
Set up a LinkedIn jobs notification and follow your dream employers
The LinkedIn Jobs section will bring up postings you may be interested in, based on your profile. I find that not only are the jobs relevant, I will hardly ever see the equivalent advertisement on a job seeking website. Whilst a job seeking website is full of recruitment companies advertising jobs under a cloud of secrecy about who the employer is, in-house recruitment is comfortable advertising out and proud on LinkedIn. I have noticed employers also posting status updates about their latest job listings, so it pays to follow companies you are interested in working for.
Perfect your cold call approach
When you’re responding to a job advertisement, you’re one of many. When you proactively approach an organisation, you’re creating your own platform to stand out.
I needed to find a law firm who would take me on for 3 weeks in order to meet the placement requirement of my practical legal training course. It was not (and still is not) a good time to be a law grad. I have a background in franchising so I researched 10 law firms in Melbourne which had a designated franchising team. I perfected a cold call letter template and wrote directly to the Partners in charge of these franchising teams, bypassing the rigors of their HR departments. I enclosed my CV and where possible, tailored the letter slightly to add a personal touch. I was contacted by 3 of the Partners to discuss a placement opportunity. That’s a 30% success rate for an exercise which took one evening to carry out. I ended up completing my placement at one of these firms and was offered a temp job by another. Had I not been successful with interviewing, I would have simply repeated the exercise with a further 10 law firms.
During my placement, I met a first year lawyer there who had simply turned up at this law firm and asked them for a job. Prior to that, she had applied to graduate programs with no success. Cold calling works because it takes courage, finesse and a proactive attitude. When you successfully cold call, you are offering the employer a solution (you!) to a problem they didn’t even know they had.
Get the word out in your existing network
I can’t help it, I’m an open book and have never been one to play my cards close. My friends. My ex-colleagues. My colleagues. My Manager. They all knew I was looking and therefore, I had my own little informal job search party. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that. Of course, how candid you can truly be depends on your relationship with your Manager and your circumstances. I have been fortunate to have very open and honest relationships with my Managers, past and present.
In a previous post, I wrote that there was a point last year where I was seriously considering resigning from my organisation, so on a whim I approached a colleague after a meeting and sought his advice. He ended up passing my CV on to the General Manager of his area. The GM then invited me to his office under the pretense of a coffee and proceeded to grill me for 2 hours. At the end of that 2 hours, he offered me a job. The job I really wanted. Had I not approached the first colleague on a whim, this opportunity wouldn’t have been available to me.
As an aside, I ended up going through the traditional recruitment process for this job in order to tick all of the boxes, and the reality hit home, how many conventional jobs had I applied for, where the employer already had a candidate in mind?
If you’re currently working, don’t drop the ball
Even if you’re not feeling your current role, there is no excuse to slack off and neglect your duties. First of all, you will most likely need your employer to act as a referee one day. Secondly, you will damage your reputation by letting down your colleagues. Thirdly and most relevantly, if you’re taking on stretch projects and excelling at your role, you may get noticed by potential internal employers. It may initially seem like a lot of work and a burden, but I find that these situations are actually opportunities in disguise. As I began taking on additional projects over and above my role, I was exposed to many other areas in the organisation and eventually offered a position which sounded great. I progressed with this offer however I had to withdraw my application in the end as the role which I described above suited me more. But the fact remains, had I said no to every task that wasn’t my responsibility, I probably wouldn’t have been able to progress any further.
Diversify and Automate Your Job Search
Sign up to receive automated job notifications in every possible field you are interested in. I have about 4 different alerts (legal, compliance, franchising, operations) that are sent to me every morning, and I read them on the train to work each day. It’s much more efficient than scrolling through Facebook (although I do that too) and ensures I’m looking at all available jobs, everyday. Even when I’m not job searching, I like to read through these posts to give me an idea of industry demands and trends. Plus I am a
sticky beak curious person.
Good luck job hunting!
That Career Girl
Your posts always motivate me to be an uber professional working woman (In my head at least :p) I can’t thank you enough 😉
Thank you ladies, you are too kind x
Good advice. Though in a country like India, most of the appointments are done either on campus or through referrals, and automated search results tend to remain unseen. But the linkedin potential employer following seems a great point. Will definitely try, now that I am looking for a new job (yes, yet again). Food for thought – how do you utilize your network when your existing boss is, let’s just say, not in a favor of you leaving.
Keep it on the down low! 🙂 I have been in that situation in a very early role where I did not feel that I could be honest with my employer. Just tell the people that you truly trust so that they can keep a look out for you. It is very tough when your boss doesn’t have the mentality that employees are better employees when they are happy and where they want to be.
I especially liked your advice about looking for another opportunity while employed. I struggle with that myself & it is one of the main reasons I haven’t created a LinkedIn profile.
Would your employer be uncomfortable with you creating a profile? I don’t necessarily think that having a profile is a sign that you are job seeking and I would think you are entitled to create one.
My employers lays off veteran workers on a daily basis. I’m so not taking my chances with them LOL. I’m going to create a profile and put those privacy settings to use.
Got to stop procrastinating and get that LinkdIn profile up to scratch. howecer, I am in the path of changing careers, so maybe cold calling would also work for me. Thanks for the post. Not regretting following your blog.
Thank you, good luck for your career change!
Good advice! LinkedIn is a great tool!