Imagine this: You just lost your job, you haven’t been paying attention to any new job opportunities around you, and you have no idea where to look for open opportunities. What do you do? Where do you start?
The real question is: How do you find job leads?
Don’t worry. While there isn’t one perfect place to go to find job leads, there are a variety of avenues for jobseekers to go down that will help with developing a jobs search strategy. If you are looking for job leads I recommend a multi-faceted approach, because as you incorporate more tactics, you learn more and get a much better understanding of where the jobs are, and what opportunities await you. Here are nine different tactics to help you find job leads:
1. Email alerts from a job board
Typically I recommend Indeed.com for general job board purposes, but if you can find local or regional job boards, as well as industry- or profession-specific job boards, sign up on those, too. Input your email address and desired title(s), and then the boards will email you daily with relevant jobs. Now, what you do with those emails is another conversation, but you should be able to get a lot of good information about where opportunities lie, and which companies you might want to focus on.
2. Past networking contacts
You should never, ever have to start with a blank networking list when you begin a job search. You have former classmates, past colleagues, and family members at your fingertips. Even the person with the weakest network will know someone who can connect them with someone else.
Editor’s note: Once you find job leads to pursue, you’re going to need a resume that speaks to the needs and requirements of that job. Build (or re-build) your resume with LiveCareer’s free resume builder.
3. New networking contacts
One of the most important things you should do to find new job leads is expand your professional network. This means making new contacts today, and then working those contacts—query them, converse with them, take them to lunch and pick their brains. Just meeting someone at a networking event is not enough. Develop professional relationships with your new networking contacts, and have the right conversations with them so you can learn about job opportunities at their companies, or companies that they know of that have hiring needs.
4. Social networks
Obviously you can and should use social networks to look for job leads. Let me suggest two tactics. First, be proactive, and message your network and let them know what you are looking for, and what your availability and qualifications are. It’s better to give specific information, like your target companies and industries, or the job titles you are interested in. Don’t be vague and communicate something like this: “Hey, I’m looking for a job. Can anyone help?”
Second, get into research mode, and scan through your networks to try and learn as much as you can about opportunities or news that your contacts might be talking about. I’m not suggesting that they’re posting job openings you need to jump on; rather, they might be sharing industry news or trends that you can then mention in conversations with them. For example, “Hey, I saw you posted about some monumental changes in the journalism industry this year, and how that will affect hiring. Would you be able talk for about 20 or 30 minutes so I can learn more?” That 20- or 30-minute conversation could lead to some great scoop about opportunities and job leads.
If you are looking for job leads I recommend a multi-faceted approach, because as you incorporate more tactics, you learn more and get a much better understanding of where the jobs are, and what opportunities await you.
5. Face-to-face industry events and professional networking events
Please, please, please do what you can to go to face-to-face industry events and professional networking events. I’m talking about monthly happy hours for product managers (if you are a product manager), or monthly/yearly SHRM events (if you are in HR). These events are, quite obviously, full of professionals of who could very well connect you to your next job. Industry and networking events also offer great opportunities for learning about developments in your line of work. To locate industry events and professional networking events near you, do a Google search with the name of your industry or job title, plus the name of the city that’s closest to you.
6. Job search clubs
When I was in my job search I was nervous about going to job clubs, but I became passionate about the value of these clubs for jobseekers. Once I found a few other professionals who were looking in the same field I was looking, I found that they would share leads on companies, contacts, and openings. Networking with other jobseekers who go to these meetings should be towards the top of your list of job search tactics. CareerOneStop also offers a job club directory that is searchable by zip code.
7. LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are networking groups that are based on certain interests. When I do LinkedIn coaching I walk my clients through a Groups strategy, which includes finding LinkedIn Groups that are relevant to their needs. You can scout for ones based on industry, profession, and/or location. LinkedIn Groups provide terrific networking opportunities, and in many cases, job leads too.
8. Your jobseeker newsletter
I am an advocate of having every jobseeker create a job search newsletter to send to their network contacts. In this newsletter, you should let your contacts know what you are looking for, work-wise, and where you are interested in working. You should also mention which companies you are interested in developing contacts with. When your network has a firm idea of what you’re after they’ll be able to better aid you in your job search.
9. Create your own opportunities
I have learned from many career coaches that just because a company doesn’t list a job opening doesn’t mean an opportunity doesn’t exist. If you learn about the needs of a company, and can make the case for an opportunity, and prove that you have the skills to be successful in the opportunity, you just might create something out of nothing.
I’ve been in many strategy meetings where we talk about our evolving needs as a business. Before we even think about posting a formal opening, we identify problems and needs, and start to figure out how to fix the problems and fill the needs. If you are creative enough, you might be the first person to match your skills with a company’s needs, which is much better than competing against hundreds of people who apply online for a job.