How to look for a job efficiently in the internet age?
October 6, 2014 5:19 AM   Subscribe

The last time I went job searching was through answering ads on Monster. Everything was fairly straightforward. I would send my resume, go on an interview, get an offer or not. Now the advice is to network, use LinkedIn, find a recruiter, and figure out how to optimize keywords to defeat bot filtering while registering online. I’ve tried this without any success. Is there a better way to beat the system? Someone break this down for me. What actually works?

This should give you an idea of what I've already attempted.

I don’t know what networking really means anymore. I’ve told everyone I know outside of work that I’m looking for something better. I’ve also attended networking groups but it felt like a waste of time.

I’ve tried recruiters in the past after they contacted me initially. Even though I was diligent about keeping in contact there weren’t any leads from them.

Is there a how to for using LinkedIn effectively? Depending on who I’ve talked to it’s been hit or miss. I have a more diverse network now than when I started. How can I use this to my advantage?

Is there a way to search for or target companies in a certain industry? Maybe that’s a place to start. If there are local companies I’m interested in, how can I go about finding contacts? Is there a Google-fu method for finding the right people and their contact info? Once I find this information what kind of introduction should I be sending?

Is there a way to beat online database filters when sending a resume? I thought I was optimizing keywords but for the number of applications I filled out I've heard nothing back. There has to be a more effective way to do this.
posted by adapt to Work & Money (15 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Can you tell us where in the world you are? That may very well make a difference here. Just the country would help.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:26 AM on October 6, 2014

My partner has been up against this for about a year. Finally got a job requiring 70 minute commute a day. What we figured out about Indeed is a lot of places resume collect for jobs that don't exist. Job now came from ex work bud who told him about it.
posted by BarcelonaRed at 5:32 AM on October 6, 2014

I used LInkedIn and I found it to be excellent.

First of all, get a good headshot of yourself. It shouldn't look like an ID badge, or a Facebook selfie. I actually paid $100 to a professional photographer to do mine.

Secondly on your Profile, list your jobs and a goodly chunk of your resume there. Sort of a mini-resume. A lot of recruiters, corporate and others, do keyword searches. I'm a administrator. I get an email weekly from someone wanting to know if I'm ready to make a change.

Thirdly, focus on very specific skills. Advanced Excel, SAP, Oracle, Bi-Lingual. It's like selling a house. While "cook's kitchen" sounds impressive, the thing that catches people's eyes are Stainless Steel and Granite. So use brand-names and specifics.

Fourthly, list skills and results. A one line description of your job, followed by bullet points of what you accomplished in it:

Manage sales and installation projects for Death Star's largest customers: Signature accounts. Protect over $200M in total account revenue.
• 127% of quota attainment 2008
• 114% of quota attainment 2007
• Consistently exceed quota.
• Revenue analysis and reporting.
• 100 in 10, attained over 100% of annual quota within first 10 months of 2006

Just so you know, while the economy is picking up, it's still hard out there. I put out 100 resumes to get activity going, but it paid off. I found a job within 3 weeks of the start of my search.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:42 AM on October 6, 2014 [16 favorites]

I don't know that your description of "current advice" is necessarily accurate. LinkedIn is definitely one route, but there is value in applying directly through the web as well, using or SimplyHired -- just as BarcelonaRed noted, be aware that not every job listed is a real job, and of course that even if it is today, funding might be pulled tomorrow or management might decide to go in some other direction.

If you can figure out some likely keywords (typically from job ads) that an HR person -- assuming minimal industry knowledge -- or a bot might be searching for, you can put these in a generic skills section under the Summary section in LinkedIn. You can either work them into sentences, or you can literally pipe them together: " | Hubspot | Google Analytics | Lead management | Marketing automation | Underwater basketweaving " etc.

Additional thoughts about LinkedIn:

1) They have a premium product for jobseekers that might be worthwhile.
2) Depending on your industry, it can be a platform for content creation or sharing -- being active will raise your visibility to others on the site (probably including recruiters? especially including recruiters? diabolical but likely from an economic standpoint for LinkedIn.)

This is all going to vary depending on whether you're an entry-level sales analyst or a mid-career computational chemist.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:55 AM on October 6, 2014

Is your LinkedIn all the way filled out, just like a resume would be? As someone else noted above, is your headshot professional-looking? Do you have recommendations from coworkers listed there? Have you listed your specific hard skills on your resume?

What industry are you in? Sometimes there are specific sites for particular jobs or industries. Are you looking at the job listings on LinkedIn? Have you tried googling "job title" "city"?
posted by woodvine at 6:40 AM on October 6, 2014

I've had the best success simply targeting small companies and emailing the CEO directly. I did that with about six companies on President's Day earlier this year. I got back 3 requests for interviews, and had 3 job offers by the end of the week. I use a one paragraph cover email in which I essentially give them my elevator pitch on what I can do for their company, and then a resume focused on achievements per Ruthless Bunny's advice above.
posted by COD at 6:43 AM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

When I was looking for work I used LinkedIn to investigate if I had contacts at companies where an opening was advertised and would submit my resume through them. Sometimes it wasn't a direct connection, I had to contact someone I know who then sent my resume along to their contact.

As for networking, one approach is to have drink or lunch meetings with friends and acquaintances in your industry and ask for advice on who you should talk to, rather than outright ask them for a job. Just putting yourself in front of them, staying on top of what's up, is a way to ensure you'll be the one they remember when the right opportunity arises. Aim to have these meetings at least once a week.

Also, your LinkedIn profile is your resume, make sure it is complete.
posted by Dragonness at 7:02 AM on October 6, 2014

How are your resume and cover letter? You might need a serious re-evaluation.

The esteemed Alison Green of Ask a Manager has said over and over that if you're not getting interviews, it's time to reconsider your application materials. Personally I ended up hiring a resume coach and it was money well spent. He helped me rework my resume so it really showed what I accomplished rather than just what my job duties were. He also helped me rewrite my cover letter so it wasn't just a rehashing of my resume. I have mentioned him several times on AskMe and I don't want to sound like an advertisement, to MeMail me if you want a recommendation.

Also I highly recommend pouring over Ask a Manager's website, she has fabulous advice.
posted by radioamy at 7:06 AM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

This depends heavily on your field. I have had pretty good luck with just sending resumes to Craigslist, which I know is not supposed to be at all successful statistically speaking. But I'm usually looking for positions at very small non-profit or educational companies who are not going to be receiving thousands of applications.
posted by chaiminda at 7:11 AM on October 6, 2014

Tidy up your LinkedIn profile, download all contacts, make a list of the recruiters and do an email blast (remember bcc!) to them with your requirements and CV.

Register for job alerts on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster, JobServe and any others which may be of use for your industry.

If there is the option, upload your CV to those sites too and make it visible to all. Remove and reload your CV every month, it'll cause all the agencies to download it again and you'll get another burst of interest. (Why they didn't map you to a role the first time they got your CV, I'll never know)

Go through the job alerts, find ones you like and call people. Emails will invariably get ignored.

Keep a log of all encounters with an agency regarding a role. You should know when the last time you spoke with them and what happened. If you hear nothing for a week, call them and get an update. If you don't call them, they will forget about you.
posted by mr_silver at 9:46 AM on October 6, 2014

They (LinkedIn) have a premium product for jobseekers that might be worthwhile

Nah. It's not really.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2014

Yeah, LinkedIn Premium is not worth it. You can't even see who's looking at your profile if they've chosen to stay anonymous.

I'm of the camp that your LinkedIn profile should be a *superset* of your resume. Load it up with more verbiage and stuff than you would normally fit on your standard 1-page sheet. If someone is browsing your profile they should be able to get a great idea of what you've worked on right away. I tend to pull back on resume text just so I can expand on things in-person when I'm at the interview.

Having all that extra text in LinkedIn also helps the recruiters scrape for what they're looking for.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:57 AM on October 6, 2014

Recruiters search Linkedin by keyword. So make sure that your profile (which as someone said above, should be your whole resume) includes the keywords that they need to see -- look for these in the "preferred qualifications" section of job postings that seem like the best match for you. Basic qualifications are only for you to make sure you're not applying to something you're not a match for at all.

Make sure they are in context - like, for instance, maybe you're an analyst; don't just put "SQL" in a general skills summary; instead have a bullet point in your most recent position (and in every one where you used it) that says what you did with SQL, and -what it achieved-.

If you are in a role where there is even a chance that a recruiter may not understand what the point of the work was, or what the company did -- put it on there! Make it easy for them to understand what it was you were responsible for and what you achieved. Don't assume they know what Implementation Engineer III does or what The Fresh Company is or whatever.

Resume needs to have your achievements and responsibilities listed in each job, going back ten years. Were they all the same responsibilities? That's bad - that tells me you had no trajectory and that you haven't been growing. Think about it again and try to convey how your achievements have grown and increased over time and in each new role.

Consider starting your resume from scratch rather than updating an old version. Look around on Linkedin at people who have the jobs you want and see how they've described their prior responsibilities to jump start your brainstorming.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2014

Response by poster: I'm located in the US.

My resume before my current position was in another industry that I'd like to return to. But I've had more years of history at this place. I'm using keywords leaning toward the industry I'd like to be in.

LinkedIn is set up ok considering I've had recruiters message me. I'll post a link to an article now and then. I need to figure out how to contact strangers with tact. I'll usually ask about a current event or project they are involved in and my interest in the company. They might add me if I'm lucky. A similar method hasn't worked at all for contacting local companies through contact information on their website. Is there a script that's more effective or do I need to take a different approach?

For the number of applications I've been filling out I assumed there was something up with job sites like Indeed. At least I know not all of the listings are valid openings. Is there a way to figure this out before wasting my time?

This is great advice so far. I am going start by rewriting my resume and use it to overhaul my LinkedIn profile.
posted by adapt at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2014

Internet networking is great, but at least in my field (academia in a tech-heavy subject, no less) nothing really beat face to face meetings. I busted my butt improving my resume, cover letters, etc, applying for jobs I found online, and while that was a worthwhile experience and definitely helped get me my current job, the most valuable thing I did was email my previous supervisors. I told them what I was looking for and asked them to forward on any job opportunities they heard of, but more importantly also asked for introductions to people they thought might know of something.

Every time I asked someone about a potential opportunity (and most of these were cold emails with no indication they were looking) I also asked them if they had any additional advice on where to look or who to contact and if they would keep me in mind if they heard of anything. This request goes over better if you were introduced by someone they respect.

If time permits, do some volunteer work in a related area. You gain more experience and show you're continuing to grow personally and professionally.

I don't mean to downplay my own strengths here, but there was a great deal of serendipity involved in my recently landing a job. I credit a good deal to my former supervisors connections and recommendations, and some to my flexibility. (I was not flexible on location, so I had to be flexible on job type.) No one I know with my background has been able to absolutely plan their career trajectory. This might not be the exact job I was looking for, but it fits me as well or better than what I'd planned for myself.

Hang in there. Job hunting can be very stressful, so be kind to yourself in the process.
posted by estelahe at 11:50 AM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

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