News and Insights / Career Resources

Going Beyond Traditional Search and Apply When Looking for a New Job

professional woman looking at different paths for job search

With most job postings on LinkedIn receiving well over 100 applicants, finding a new job in today's competitive job market can feel like an uphill battle.

The conventional approach of scouring job boards, sending out tons of applications, and hoping for a response is time-consuming, frustrating, and rarely produces results. So what can you do to help yourself stand out, make connections, and maybe even get employers to approach you?

In this article, we'll explore a few strategies you can implement to break free from the traditional "search and apply" routine. We'll discuss:

Getting Referrals

Receiving a referral is one of the fastest ways to get on a hiring manager's radar. 

Reaching out and asking for a referral can feel difficult, but more often than not, people are more than happy to help a colleague out with a referral. If you find it nerve-racking to ask for a referral, imagine how willing you would be to put in a good word for someone else if the shoe were on the other foot. 

Here's our no-frills guide to getting a referral:

  1. Know what you're asking for: Find an organization you're interested in working for and do some research to identify a role or department that aligns with your goals and skill set. 
  2. Identify Potential Referrers: Look for individuals in your network who are connected to the company or the job role you're interested in. This can include current or former employees, colleagues, or acquaintances. It is 100% alright to reach out to people on LinkedIn. 
  3. Ask for what you want: When reaching out for a referral, tailor your message to each potential referrer. Highlight your interest in the company, the specific job, and your qualifications. Be clear about why you're a strong fit.
  4. Express gratitude: In your request, express gratitude for their time and consideration. After they give you a referral, express your appreciation for their support. Yes, you should send them a thank you note. 
  5. Make it easy to give you a referral: Provide all the necessary information, including your resume, a link to the job posting, and any other relevant details.

Join Groups on LinkedIn

Connections make everything easier. Joining and participating in LinkedIn groups is a wonderful way to meet colleagues you otherwise wouldn't have, learn about job openings, and expand your professional network.

After you join a group, don't just sit idly waiting to reap the benefits. Participate in group discussions, ask for advice, and be proactive in forming meaningful connections. Remember, the more connections you have, the more opportunities you'll have to learn about job openings informally and ask for referrals.

Create Content

Creating and sharing content in your field can help you showcase your expertise, develop your personal brand, and network with industry professionals.

Start a podcast, YouTube channel, blog, or LinkedIn Creator Mode, where you can share insights and provide value to prospective employers and connections. If you're having trouble figuring out where to start, think about questions you would like to see answered or information that has been valuable to you.

To leverage your content in your job hunt, research companies and hiring managers you'd like to work with and share content you've created that you think is relevant. Bonus: points if your content directly references an organization you're interested in. (E.g., Write an article highlighting a strategy or innovation your target organization is responsible for.) 

Be bold and ask employers you are interested in to be a guest on your show or provide a quote for an article you're writing. This can be a great door opener and can lead to job opportunities.

Attend Industry Events

Attending industry events can also be a great way to network and meet potential employers. Research upcoming events in your region and plan on attending a few. Be sure to prepare ahead of time by printing business cards, creating an elevator pitch, dressing appropriately, and researching the companies that will be present. Approach people confidently, show genuine interest, and be open to discussing your career interests and goals. Follow up with anyone you met at the event with a polite thank you email.

Volunteer Your Professional Skills

Volunteering can build more than good karma. It's a great way to develop skills and connections that can advance your career.

Volunteering opportunities go far beyond serving food or cleaning up parks (although those are great options). Corporate volunteering has changed greatly, allowing volunteers more flexibly than ever before. Field, virtual, and skills-based volunteering all benefit nonprofits and their communities.

Services like Catch Fire can help you track down skills-based volunteering opportunities.

Creating a Sample Project

Creating a sample project is a powerful strategy for showcasing your skills to potential employers. It provides a tangible demonstration of your abilities, allowing hiring managers to assess your expertise firsthand. This approach is particularly beneficial if you lack extensive work experience in a specific field or want to pivot into a new role.

A well-executed sample project highlights your technical skills and showcases your problem-solving abilities, creativity, and work ethic. It tells a compelling story about your capabilities, setting you apart from other candidates.

Furthermore, sample projects can serve as conversation starters during interviews, enabling you to discuss your thought process, decision-making, and the challenges you overcame. They provide concrete evidence of your qualifications and can instill confidence in potential employers.

Work With a Recruiter

System One Recruiters streamline the application process, provide you with valuable feedback, and even negotiate salary and benefits on your behalf.

Often, we know about job opportunities before organizations even post them to the public. If we know you'll be a good match, you'll be in the first round of submissions. It's easier to stand out when you're the first in line. We can also work with you to help you find roles in parallel industries that you might not have considered yet. 

Related article: Amp Up Your Job Search with a Recruiter

Final thoughts

Landing a job can be daunting, especially in today's competitive job market. The strategies outlined in this article can help you connect with potential employers and move your resume to the top of a hiring manager's pile.  

Remember to remain positive, persistent, and true to yourself and your career goals. If you need a hand landing your dream role, connect with us. We're happy to help.

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