Overview of a Job Search

As you seek employment, let’s consider the five components of a job search. This will make it easier to focus your efforts.

  • Post your resume on Internet job boards and register with those boards to receive notifications when posted jobs match your criteria.
  • Create, update, or improve your LinkedIn Profile. Look at well-written Profiles to appreciate where yours might need additional work. Spend a good amount of time doing this because your Profile is very important to your job search as well as your continued career management. See the LinkedIn Profiles page for additional tips.
  • Talk to people about your career ambitions; network. This can be hard for naturally introverted people, but there are times in life we have to do very uncomfortable things, and once we do them, we typically feel proud of ourselves. Sometimes what helps is to use email and social media to connect with people in writing rather than in person or on the phone. For detailed tips on how to approach others about your career desires, scroll down to the section on networking below.  
  • Send out targeted resumes and cover letters hiring managers to companies or organizations that are of interest to you.
  • Contact recruiters, search firms, or employment agencies (although if you do all of the above, they will most likely find you).

Locating Job Listings

Job listings or job postings on the Internet are extensive. There are hundreds of job boards, some of which list jobs in many categories and some are specialized in only one area. For example, medreps.com exclusively lists jobs for pharmaceutical and medical sales positions, but indeed.com and simplyhired.com list jobs in every occupational category. Both are the most widely used aggregate sites that compile listings from many other job boards, and therefore have extensive listings.

Job Boards

Know that job board sites charge employers to post jobs, and for that reason, along with a company deciding it doesn’t want that much publicity about a job posting, not every company chooses to post to these boards. Instead, they may simply post a job opening on their own corporate website. Therefore, on a regular basis, you should search the corporate sites of organizations that interest you. Linkup.com (different than LinkedIn.com) is a site that scans company websites and compiles their job postings. Like the aggregate job boards, indeed.com and simplyhired.com, this can be a useful, time-saving tool for you.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerhouse tool for the job seeker and there are several ways to engage LinkedIn for job search assistance. First off, you do need a Profile on the site and that Profile needs to be top notch because first impressions are important. If you are writing your own, read articles about how to create a wonderful Profile as it is not simply a cut and paste of your resume. Alternatively, professional resume writers build these Profiles and I routinely do so for my clients.

If your LinkedIn Profile has the right keywords, when you use the “Jobs” tab on LinkedIn, it will automatically show you jobs it thinks you are a match for. It doesn’t end there, however. You can also do a keyword and location search using the search bar. Furthermore, by joining groups you can increase you visibility and find out about job opportunities (I would categorize this as a form of networking). With LinkedIn you can also look up companies, again with the search bar, similarly to the way you look up people. This will take you to a company’s LinkedIn page, which may have a link to job opportunities. Finally, use LinkedIn after you have identified a company and/or a specific job opening that interests you and then search your connections for an “insider” who can serve as a conduit of information and possibly make an introduction for you.

Professional Associations & Organizations

There are also job listings on the websites of professional and trade organizations. So, if you are interested in a job in the insurance industry, for example, look at the website of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (naifa.org).

Craig’s List & Twitter

You can, and should, also look at Craig’s List (craigslist.org) and Twitter. Craig’s list is hit-or-miss. If you check it a few times and don’t see the kind/quality of jobs you are looking for, chances are this will not be a worthwhile site for your job search. Twitter, however, may be more promising. Companies are using Twitter to broadcast job openings. You can also use Twitter to “follow” recruiters, companies, and people in your field. Try search.twitter.com, but you will need to check it every day because content, job related, and otherwise, is not static on Twitter and is quickly lost.

Facebook

Facebook can be another tool, but privacy concerns loom big. If you “like” a company, you may receive some useful company news, even about job openings, but make sure you appreciate who can see your posts or your page. Chances are you would not want a potential employer to view your page or posts, so opening up a Facebook line of communication could be problematic unless you are fastidious in keeping your Facebook page entirely professional. 

Recruiters & Staffing Agencies (Staffing Firms, Employment Agencies)

Success rates for obtaining work through recruiters (staffing agencies, employment agencies) vary tremendously depending on the position and industry you are pursuing. Individuals in fields enjoying high employer demand will have much more success utilizing recruiters than those in occupations where employees are more plentiful. You are also likely to experience greater success with recruiters if you are currently employed and/or at the managerial or executive level. One clear exception to this, however, relates to temporary agencies, which routinely work with junior-level administrative people.

How Recruiters Find Candidates

Recruiters post positions they are trying to fill on job boards and other Internet sites. In that way, they will invite you to send your resume for consideration. They also use the search capabilities of LinkedIn and the job boards to find candidates. You should keep in mind that recruiters are salespeople, not career counselors. They are not interested in helping you find a job in the least. They are interested in you only if you match the qualifications sought by the employer who has agreed to pay them for finding the right employee. Do not expect to hear from them unless you are someone who meets all the requirements of a position they are currently trying to fill.

Recruiters Specialize

Most recruiters specialize by industry or occupation. They have developed relationships with hiring managers or human resource departments in a particular business sector. For example, some are specialists in placing personal assistants, or executive chefs, or Chief Finance Officers. Additionally, there are staffing agencies that have a geographic focus. Since many of my clients live and desire to work on Long Island, I provide the names of two local staffing firms, both in Melville: Access Staffing & Adecco Staffing.  

Network & Make Connections for an Effective Job Search

If your primary job search strategy is seeking out job postings online, know that you’ve got lots of company. Your fellow job seekers are doing the same thing. In addition to lots of competition, there is another reason online job hunting yields disappointing results. It is because many jobs are never advertised. They are snatched up through networking—people making the right connections ahead of everyone else.

How to Begin Your Networking

The premise of networking is that you know someone who knows someone who can introduce you to many of the employers you would like to meet. As such, networking involves telling many people you are in the job market and looking for leads. Begin your networking strategy by writing down the names of all your acquaintances. Include all relatives, friends, neighbors, your hairstylist, people at your gym, professors, physicians, dentists, fellow commuters, and colleagues (only those that you can really 

trust). Make this list as large as possible. Keep it with you for several days so you can write down the names of people as you meet or remember them. We will call these people your primary contacts. After you have created your list, call, visit, or send an electronic communication (email, text, or LinkedIn message) to each of your primary contacts. Tell them about your job search and ask for leads.

Example of what you can say or write to your primary contacts:

“John, I was wondering if you could help me out. I’m looking for a job in corporate training and I’ m targeting companies in the financial services industry. Do you happen to know anyone who does corporate training?…What about anyone who works in the financial services industry?”

As your primary contacts provide names of others, contact these new folks who become additional (secondary) contacts.

At a certain point, you will switch from casually reaching out to sending your cover letter or cover note and resume, which makes it a more formal job inquiry. Imperative to this whole process is keeping good records of who you have contacted and when. Doing so will enable you to evaluate if you are reaching out to enough people (volume is important) as well as tracking your activity for follow-up with employers.

Targeted Job Searching

The approach called targeted job searching, is closely related to networking but gives you the opportunity to contact companies you are interested in working for, even if you can’t identify a single insider. It starts with developing a list of employers to target. You then send your resume and very compelling cover letter directly to them and follow-up with a telephone call, email, or LinkedIn message.

There are several resources you should explore to help you develop your list of potential employers.

Reference librarians can be very helpful in finding employer information. They are most able to assist you if you can be specific about your needs. Do so by saying something like this, “I am looking to develop a list of employers in the advertising industry within the metro New York area.” Reference librarians will direct you to business directories, which are useful for this type of research. Most use the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which assigns a code based on the business’ chief industry. Therefore, all companies within an industry will have the same NAICS code. This makes it easier to cross-reference other directories. Check out:

The Directory of Corporate Affiliations
The American Wholesalers and Distributors Directory
D&B Million Dollar Directory
Ward’s Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies

Other good resources for identifying companies or organizations to target include trade publications specific to your field, and for Long Island job seekers, The Book of Lists plus a few other directory-type publications created by The Long Island Business News (libn.com).  The Book of Lists, which is not actually a book,  is a very extensive listing of companies/organizations on Long Island with names of principals, addresses, size of the business, and other useful facts. It can be purchased directly from The Long Island Business News, but it is pricey. Most local libraries will have a subscription to The Book of Lists so I recommend getting free access through them.

The list of companies/organizations you develop should ideally include the names of the best people to send your resume to within those organizations. It will also be helpful to collect some information about these businesses—information you can use to customize a cover letter or help prepare you for an interview.

The targeted job search strategy has the great benefit of allowing your resume to arrive solo, not in a pile with dozens or hundreds of others, which typically happens in response to a job posting on a job board like Indeed.com. With this method, your resume and cover letter will sometimes arrive when there is no opening, but sometimes there will be one. When that happens, you become the front-runner. Additionally, even if there are no current openings, your quality resume and cover letter will likely be saved for future reference. Admittedly, this can be a lot of work, but this process has you in control of your job search and proactively seeking opportunities.

Background Checks on Job Applicants

The information below is provided as a general overview and could go out of date at any time. If you have concerns about your background relative to an employer inquiry, a consultation with an employment-law attorney is highly recommended.

Employers often conduct background checks, but they do not have an unregulated right to dig into an applicant’s personal information. Inquiries should have relevance to the job applied for. For example, if hiring a security guard who will carry a weapon and be responsible for large amounts of cash, it would be considered reasonable for an employer to check for any criminal convictions.

Employees should ask for consent, in writing, to conduct background checks. This frequently is tucked into an employment application. As such, it becomes the reason why employers want you to fill an application out even if you submitted a resume. This tactic protects employers from claims that they unfairly invaded your privacy.

If an applicant refuses to consent to a reasonable request for information, the employer may legally decide not to hire the worker on that basis. However, employers can get into legal trouble if the request seems inappropriate.

What records are employers looking at when they conduct background checks? It can be any or all of the following: social security number, employment history, credit reports, school records, criminal records, driving records, and military service.

Employment History: Employers routinely like to verify your work history. They will often contact your former employers in an attempt to learn anything they can about you. Know that there is a wide range of what may be revealed in that communication. Many employers, concerned about lawsuits, may share very little and simply confirm your employment dates and job titles. Others may say a lot more. Finding out what might be said about you would be a prudent, proactive measure. You may even have some ability to negotiate with a past employer regarding this employment check.

Credit Reports: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must get an applicant’s written consent before seeking their credit report. As stated earlier, many employers routinely include a request for consent in their employment applications. If an employer decides not to hire or promote someone based on information in the credit report, they are legally obligated to provide a copy of the report and let the applicant know of his or her right to challenge the report.

Bankruptcies: Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy. However, bankruptcies are a public record so it is easy for employers to obtain this information.

School Records: Under federal law and the law of some states, educational records including transcripts and financial information, are confidential. Because of these laws, most schools will not release records without the consent of the student. Some schools will only release records directly to the student.

Criminal Records: The law in New York state is that an employer is allowed to ask about criminal convictions but not arrests. New York state allows employers to consider convictions only if the crimes are relevant to the job. In some states, employers may consider criminal history only for certain positions (nursing, childcare work, private detective work, and other jobs requiring licenses, for example).

Workers’ Compensation Records and Health Information: An employer may consider information contained in the public record from a workers’ compensation appeal in making a job decision only if the applicant’s injury might interfere with his or her ability to perform required duties. As far as other health information is concerned, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, employers may inquire only about an applicant’s ability to perform specific job duties and they may not request an employee’s medical records. An employer may not make a job decision (on hiring or promotion, for example) based on an employee’s disability, as long as the employee can do the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation. Some states, New York is one of them, also have laws protecting the confidentiality of medical records.

Military Service Records: The records may be released only under limited circumstances and consent is generally required.

Driving Records: Records are available from a state’s motor vehicles department. They are not confidential and can be released without consent. An employer is considered to have a right to pursue such records if the job has a driving component.

(The above information is provided as a general overview. If you have significant and specific concerns about your background relative to an employer inquiry, a consultation with an employment-law attorney is highly recommended.)

When a Job Search Takes Too Long

If you are in the middle of an unsuccessful job search, there are many things you can do to improve your employment prospects. First, it is time to evaluate what may be going wrong.

Is Your Resume As Good as it Can Be?

Behind an unsuccessful job search often resides a problematic A job search has many components, all of which need to be done well.resume. Sometimes the issues are very subtle and only a professional will pick them up. Such issues go well beyond formatting and stellar grammar and include a lack of keywords that employers are searching for, a mismatch between your current job title and the title you are applying for, and a generic summary that does not give the reader a clear idea of the job you want. A good-enough document will not be good enough when it has to compete with many others. If you wonder if your resume might be the root cause of your unsuccessful job search, it is time to have a professional to look and maybe hire them to fix it.  Call or review the resume writing page for additional information.  I provide up-front fee quotes.

Is Your Resume Being Seen by the Right People?

In addition to having a great resume, brutally analyze what you are doing with it. Are you sending that resume and cover letter to the right people? Unless you are looking for a job in human resources, bypass HR departments as much as possible because they simply serve as gatekeepers-screening resumes and culling the pile. Research, though time consuming, can yield the names of managers or directors in the department you belong in. Get your resume on that desk.

Is Your LinkedIn Profile Comprehensive and Optimized?  

Employers and recruiters routinely “look up” potential candidates on LinkedIn. Is your Profile just okay or are you proud of how it looks and reads? Is it sparse or is it comprehensive? Does your picture appear business-like in its mood? And do you have the right key words in your heading and summary so that you can be found in a general search for a person in your occupation? If your LinkedIn Profile is not of the caliper I describe, this could very well be the root cause, or a contributing cause, to your job search difficulties. Learn tips for creating a quality LinkedIn profile.

Are You Devoting Enough Time to Your Job Search? 

An unproductive job search may also be the result of a lack of time devoted to it. Job seekers should be putting in 15-20 hours of effort each week. That time should be spent doing research on organizations, perusing job postings, networking, and preparing for interviews.

A Short Pep Talk on Job Search

Know that job searching is inherently frustrating and time consuming and some of what happens, or doesn’t happen, is beyond your power to control (such as competing with another applicant who has a better background for the job in question). However, work hard at what you can impact, such as your overall knowledge and proficiency levels, your proper targeting of employers that may need you, your persistence in following-up, and your interviewing skills. Stay positive and focused and believe in yourself. Press on in the face of turn downs, which are experienced by virtually all job seekers.

If you would like professional help with your job search, feel free to call, 631-673-5432, email, mj@careersbychoice.com or send a message from the contact us page. Providing a copy of your current resume in advance of the conversation is encouraged, but not mandatory.