by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
When job-seekers search for new jobs, one of the most important elements of a successful search is the development of job leads. How can you find a consistent source for open jobs in your career field? The answer, of course, is that you cannot. There is no one consistent source. There are, however, 10 methods that all job-seekers should consider using in uncovering the largest number of job leads.
While most job-seekers should use as many sources for job leads as possible, this list of sources is organized into a hierarchy of most effective and efficient to least. As time and resources permits, use as many of these sources as possible to generate the largest and highest quality job leads possible.
10 Ways for Job-Seekers to Develop Job Leads
If you don’t already know about the power of networking, you’ll miss out on the vast majority of job leads. More job leads are developed/discovered through networking than any other method. Networking involves using the vast numbers of people that you know — your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, customers, vendors, associates, etc. — as information sources for job leads. The more people in your network, and the more people each person in your network knows, the larger your network and the greater number of job leads. Even if you are not currently searching for a new job, you should be working on growing and strengthening your network. One caveat: good networking takes a lot of time and energy, so be prepared.
Every career field has at least one professional organization. And whether it’s at the annual conference or an on-going process, most trade organizations offer some sort of job posting/resume exchange program. Find the process for getting the latest job postings and respond as soon as you get them.
Of course, professional organizations are also a great place to network.
If you’re not currently a member of any organization, how can you find one for your trade or profession? Go to General Professional Organizations and Associations.
College Career/Alumni Offices
One of the greatest benefits of a college degree — besides the degree itself — is joining an extremely large network of people that share one important element: your college or university. And regardless of the size of your alma mater, chances are pretty good that there are other alumni in your field who would be willing to help you advance your career.
Contact the professionals from your alma mater’s career services and/or alumni office and begin reaping one of the extended rewards of your college education. And if you’re a current student, get over to those offices today and take advantage of all the services they offer!
Cold Contact/Direct Mail
Cold contact has become somewhat of a lost art of job-hunting, but one that can still bring job-seekers great returns on the investment by uncovering the “hidden job market.” This method of developing job leads involves the job-hunter compiling a list of potential employers. This list can come from numerous sources, including business and trade periodicals, company directories, even the phone book. Once you’ve collected the key research on each company (including the all-important name of the hiring manager for the position you are seeking), you mail out (either via postal mail or email) a specifically-tailored cover letter and resume to each employer. Note that you are not doing a “mass mailing,” but a targeted direct-mail campaign; mass mailings don’t work.
Read more about this method in our article, Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting. Read more about the hidden job market in our article, Tapping Into the Hidden Job Market: Uncovering Unpublicized Job Leads.
Numerous types of career and job fairs occur regularly. Companies send employees to these fairs to meet and recruit top prospects. Your goal is to prepare beforehand and identify the key employers in attendance and then develop a strategy for breaking through the clutter of perhaps thousands of other job-seekers. And even if the employer is not in the market for someone with your mix of skills and experience, you can still get your foot in the door through this method.
Learn more in our article, The Ten Keys to Success at Job and Career Fairs.
Online Job Sites/Job Boards
The trend in job-hunting, at least from the job-seeker’s perspective, has been to use the Internet’s many job boards/job sites to search for jobs and post resumes. And while there are hundreds of thousands of jobs listed on the thousands of job sites, and while some job-seekers have indeed received job interviews from these job postings, searching online for jobs should just be one small source of your job leads — not your only source.
Three basic categories of job sites are available to job-seekers. First, there are the big “general” job sites, such as CareerBuilder or Indeed. These sites carry job postings in many different career fields from numerous employers. Second, there are the industry-specific niche job sites, such as WorkinHealthcare.net. These sites carry job postings for jobs within a specific industry. Third, there are geographic-specific job sites, such as TexasJobs.com. These sites carry job openings specific to a certain region of the U.S. or other parts of the world.
One other benefit of these sites is that many also include company profiles and other important information that you can use to gain an understanding of each employer.
Read more about using online job sites, check out our annual report on job-hunting online: Quintessential Careers Reports on the State of Internet Job-Hunting.
Corporate Career Centers
One of the fastest growing sources of job leads has been the development of online corporate career (human resource) centers. Many companies, large and small, including just about all of the Fortune 500 companies, continue to build these corporate career centers — which often include job openings, guidelines for submitting job-search materials, and a wealth of information about the company (such as corporate culture, career paths, benefits, and more).
See The Quintessential Directory of Company Career Centers, where we link to several hundred U.S., Canadian, and global public and private companies.
Another potentially good source for job leads is using the services of recruiters/headhunters. Only use those professionals who are employed by companies to screen and select the most qualified candidates for positions the company has open. Avoid any employment agency where the applicant must pay the fee. Headhunters and recruiters are great sources of job leads as long as job-seekers remember, like real estate agents, that these professionals work for the employer, not for you. And if you don’t have the qualities their clients are looking for, they will not be interested in helping you get a foot in the door.
There are numerous types of headhunters that often specialize by geographic region or by industry/profession. You can find directories of headhunters as well as articles about using headhunters in this section of Quintessential Careers: Recruiter Directories & Associations.
Newspaper classified ads were, at one time, the main source of job leads for job-seekers. However, as more companies now post job openings on their corporate sites and/or with online job sites, the importance of want ads has declined. Still, perusing want ads can be helpful for some types of job-seekers, particularly those seeking entry-level positions. It’s worth noting, though, that career experts have never placed great value on job-seekers replying to want ads because many times these positions have been filled by the time the ads are published.
Still, there is some value of scanning want ads, either in print or online. For a collection of online job ads, go to: Classified Job Listings Sites.
Pounding the Pavement/Hitting the Streets
Perhaps the oldest method of job-hunting and developing job leads, especially for entry-level positions and blue-collar jobs, is concentrating your job-search efforts in a specific geographic area and literally going door-to-door and submitting job applications to employers. This method is especially useful if you are relocating because you can make a trip prior to moving and spend that entire time submitting applications and meeting with prospective employers. Be sure to always dress professionally for those rare occasions where you may get interviewed (even briefly) on the spot.
Final Thoughts on Creating Job Leads
Remember that to be truly successful in your job-search, you not only need to develop as many job leads from as many sources as possible, but you need to follow-up every job lead. Once you submit your cover letter and resume to an employer, be sure to follow-up a short time later to confirm that your material was received, to seek information about the timetable of the search, and, of course, to ask for an interview for the position. It doesn’t make any sense to invest all the time and effort in developing a solid list of job leads if you then let them slip away by not aggressively following-up each lead. Be professional (and not overbearing) in your follow-up, but also be persistent. You may want to consider developing a “follow-up log” to keep track of each job lead and the dates you followed up with each (including the name(s) of the person(s) you spoke with.
Finally, be sure that you have a solid (if not spectacular) and professional job-search package that includes a cover letter (each tailored to the specific job and employer) and a resume (focused sharply on your qualifications and accomplishments). You can get the necessary help and assistance you need in these sections of Quintessential Careers:
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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