The following was originally posted on Forbes.com
This is a guest post by Jorg Stegemann, who has been a headhunter for more than 10 years–half that time focusing on Europe. His blog is My Job Thoughts: Career Advice From a Headhunter. His recent articles for FORBES include “Six Signs You May Be In A Dead-End Job.”
Whether you recently lost your job or are ready to jump ship from your current one, the chances of your getting a new position through the want ads is next to nil. The good news is that there are many other avenues to pursue.
Start by updating your resume and your LinkedIn profile. (See “Five Top Resume Turnoffs”). Then come up with a brief pitch, highlighting what makes you special, that you can tailor as you approach potential contacts. Here are the best ways to harness it in your job hunt.
1. Tap your network. Everybody knows somebody. Within your existing network there are probably three jobs that would be appropriate for you, but the people who could help open doors to those jobs just haven’t thought of you. Make a list of everyone you know. Set a goal to touch base with three people you have not talked to for a year or more. Meet one of them for coffee or lunch. Identify the 25 most influential people in your network and brainstorm ways to strengthen your relationships with each.
2. Connect with alumni. We generally like people who have something in common with us; who share the same values or hobbies; or have gone to the same school. Call the alumni in your region, go to meetings and grow your network. Adding three new alumni per week (through alumni directories or LinkedIn) is a solid approach–even better if these are in your industry.
3. Attend events. These include ones hosted by charities and professional organizations. Talk to at least one person at every meeting who you haven’t met yet. If you can get the list of attendees beforehand, identify at least one person who you would like to meet and make arrangements to connect there in person. Without imposing, look for an excuse to follow up—by meeting again, or getting a referral to someone else. (See also, “How To Work A Room Like You Own The Place.”)
4. Use LinkedIn to maximum effect. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to easily connect with the right people. Search your target market based on your industry, qualifications, university and interests, and connect with the people who interest you. For example, if you work in the insurance sector, you could aim to connect with all potential bosses and human resource departments in this industry and in your market. You can even set goals for yourself, such as, “Connect to all general managers and human resource managers in the insurance industry in my city by the end of April.” (See also, “What To Say On LinkedIn When You’ve Been Laid Off.”)
5. Check job boards. Many companies and recruiters use them to find the right candidate. Define the top job boards for your skill set and put your resume there. Choose a catchy, succinct headline that encourages the reader to open the attachment. Many show when your resume was last updated. To avoid getting shifted deeper into the pile of applicants, update it weekly.
6. Contact headhunters. Senior-level professionals are recruited almost exclusively though recommendation or by headhunters. We know about jobs that will never be advertised and we have experience finding openings. If you work with a headhunter, choose carefully. Identify several (but no more than five) whom you trust and be prepared to follow-up. (See “How To Use A Headhunter.”)