I was speaking with a recent college graduate a few months back. I asked him how his job search was going and he gave a basic mumbling “okay”, but it was obvious he seemed lost. When I asked bout his method for job hunting, he basically summarized it as firing off resumes on useless sites such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com
So here’s my take on those websites: They are great…..if you want to sell mobile phone plans for Verizon at a mall. I’m serious, those are exactly the types of opportunities you’ll find on those sites.
But if you are looking for a great job, a career-making job, then you just can’t hide behind a computer and submit cold resumes.
Instead, here are 4 things you should be doing now!
1. Get on LinkedIn
It still amazes me that anyone would question the value of LinkedIn. I’ve used it to find quite a few opportunities by reaching out to people both inside and outside of my network. LinkedIn is the best way to explore career opportunities and connect with people who could potentially help you out.
The most important first step is to create a profile for yourself on there. Don’t worry if you are shallow on experience, just get everything down: your previous jobs, your skills and things that differentiate you. Bonus points if you can find a way to add videos or slideshare presentations or anything else to differentiate you from the masses.
Also talk about what opportunities you are looking for. You never know who might see your profile and reach out to you!
You also must have a picture. It doesn’t need to be a professional picture, but just make sure you have something on there that clearly shows your face. And don’t wear a suit. That’s so ’90s.
2. Have a specific goal in mind
Over the years I’ve learned how important it is to set a career goal for oneself. When I don’t know what I want for a job or exactly what I’m looking for, then I just end up floundering. This happened to me in grad school actually. There were so many great opportunities before me that I had trouble focusing and picking just one path. So what happened? I had a few really bad interviews because my lack of focus showed. Thankfully I was able to recognize this and course-correct in time to land a great job, but I will always carry this lesson with me.
I saw this same mistake in the recent college grad I mentioned earlier in this post. He was just firing off resumes into the Monster.com ethers. His only goal was a generic: Find a job. Trust me, this just won’t work. You need to set a goal for yourself, have a target, and drive toward it with utter focus. If you do this, in conjunction with lots of preparation, then you will have success. I promise.
3. Find people that sound interesting
Okay, so you are on LinkedIn and you have a good sense for the type of job you’d be interested in. Now what?
Now it’s time to use LinkedIn as a tool. Start searching through your fellow alumni to see if anyone has the career you’d like to have or works for the company you are targeting.
Once you find a few people you’d be interested in talking to, see if you have any connections in common that can introduce you outside of the LinkedIn network. If not, try to figure out the person’s email addresses through other means (Alumni database or Google or even by guessing their work email).
If you don’t have success that way, then bite the bullet and buy a LinkedIn premium membership. For $60, you can sign up for the Job Seeker Plus plan on LinkedIn which gives you 10 opportunities to directly message people on LinkedIn. This may seem steep, but LinkedIn guarantees a response within 7 days or they’ll credit the message back to you. Also, you can just pay for 1 month, network like crazy, and then cancel the subscription before you get billed again.
I do this all the time and it works! Here’s an example:
The other day I read an interesting article about this woman, Jacqueline Reses, who is basically the person keeping Yahoo relevant thanks to a hard-earned effort to retain Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba, the largest e-Commerce company in the world that had the biggest IPO ever last week.
I thought Jacqueline must have had an interesting career path and she’d be someone I’d like to network with in Silicon Valley. Obviously she’s pretty high-profile. She isn’t unreachable (a la Mark Cuban or Richard Branson), but she’s up there.
So I went to LinkedIn and looked her up.
After studying her profile, I see that she went to the Peddie School for high school, which is a fancy prep school in NJ. This means there is a high likelihood that she is from NJ. I am also from NJ, so perhaps I could do some more searching and come up with a common ground there for reaching out to her.
Additionally, it turns out that we have 1 mutual connection in common. See the screenshot to the left. I could reach out to our mutual connection and give him a really good reason why it’d be mutually beneficial for him to introduce us.
He’ll do it, but only if I can give him a reason that she would value, which in turn would make him look good.
See? Not so scary after all.
4. Send a killer networking email
Once you have a way of getting in touch, craft a REALLY good networking email. Don’t be lame and say “you’re interested in opportunities at XYZ company”. Deliver value first. Don’t ask for anything upfront.
In a future post, I will go into great detail on how to craft a fantastic networking email. I’ll also include real examples of emails I’ve sent in the past that have gotten a 100% response rate.
In the meantime, practice your LinkedIn skills and build a profile/start searching.
Happy LinkedIn Hunting!