Everyday, sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter are flooded with hundreds of applicants pursuing the same job. With such stiff competition, it can be hard to make your resume and credentials stand out from the crowd. While submitting an official application through a job board is a formal requirement for most jobs, relying solely on your online application is not a very effective means of searching for and landing the perfect career opportunity. Making the most of your job search will require you to be more proactive than the average candidate. Here are a few ways to stay ahead of the game (and your career):
- Attend career fairs. Many career fairs are free for attendees, and may be industry-specific. The best thing about attending one of these fairs is that you have the opportunity to actually speak with company representatives and make a lasting impression. When attending a career fair, it is important to do two things: 1) bring at least ten copies of your resume to hand out to companies you are interested in applying to, 2) collect business cards so that you can follow up with the representative you spoke with the next day.
- Join professional networks. Just about every industry has a specialty society or network to engage professionals in the field. Do some research to determine what networks would be most appropriate for you to join. These networks will often have job listings that are exclusive to members, and more importantly, will have events that will give you the opportunity to meet other driven professionals in the field and learn from them.
- Social media. You should use LinkedIn as a tool to stay connected with people in your industry and be up-to-date with current events. This is also a platform for you to share your accomplishments with the people in your network. Another excellent feature of LinkedIn is that it allows you to follow companies that you are interested in, so that you will not only be notified when they have new job listings, but you may also see if anyone in your network works at a company you are thinking of applying to. If so, you may want to reach out to them for an informational interview, and possibly even a referral.
- Continued learning. If you have the time, sign up for courses and other continuous learning experiences. Taking classes will not only boost your skills and resume, but will introduce you to other professionals in your field. This is also a great way to meet other professionals with similar interests. Furthermore, by taking classes, you will often have access to the school’s job board, which often posts very exclusive hiring opportunities.
- Tap into your network. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. Be inquisitive. Ask questions to people within your network about the work they do and take the time to learn about the diversity of opportunities that are out there. However, note that speaking with people in your network is very different than asking them from a job. It is important not to use people, as this is a very quick way to lose a connection.