Even as jobs become harder to find, too many job-seekers rely on a tunnel-vision strategy that makes use of only one or two job-search methods. That strategy may eventually land you a job, but it’s likely you’ll spend more time being frustrated than interviewed.
So should you rely on job fairs, Internet job boards or social media for employment leads? The answer for most successful job-seekers is all of the above and then some.
A multipronged approach makes the best use of your time and energy. Check out these eight ways that people search for jobs.
- Internet job boards
- Career consultants
- Recruiters, private agencies
- Job fairs
- School career placement
- Government services
1. Internet job boards
Mainstream Internet job boards such as Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com were once the go-to resource for job-seekers.
Although these job boards have been around for about 15 years, they are quickly running out of steam, in part because there are fewer jobs to post and overwhelmed employers often take jobs offline after receiving thousands of resumes in a single day.
Monster.com advertises on its Web site that it has over 70 million personalized accounts. So if you’re not first in line once a company posts a job, it’s likely that your resume may turn into digital vapor, says Todd Bermont, author of “10 Insider Secrets to a Winning Job Search.”
“Maybe 5 (percent) to 10 percent of all people get jobs through a job board,” he says. “It’s not to say it’s a waste of time, but you don’t want that to be your sole job-seeking activity of the day.”
Bermont, whose job-hunting courses have been featured at the University of Chicago’s Graham School and at Loyola University, says employers often look at the first 100 or so resumes while the rest fall by the wayside.
Job-seekers may be more productive using industry-specific job boards. Job-hunt.org is a good resource for finding these Web sites.
2. Networking through personal contacts
Personal contacts are the most effective way to job search. More than 80 percent of jobs get filled via referral, says J.T. O’Donnell, a career strategist and consultant based in North Hampton, N.H.
Networking means more than name dropping. “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” she says.
Whether you’re using social networking Web sites like LinkedIn or Twitter or personal referrals, it’s important that people know your strengths, skills and the value you bring to a company before they refer you, says O’Donnell.
Be specific about the kind of companies you want to work for and why you’re interested in them. It will help your personal contacts have a clearer sense of who you are and make it easier for them to refer you to the right person.
3. Career consultants
Career consultants may not get you a job per se, but they can be effective in helping job-seekers brand themselves, a trend that is becoming more important in an economic climate where competition for jobs is intense.
Career branding is a way to market yourself much like companies market their products.
You are selling yourself as a valuable commodity to employers.
Embarking on a job search without a sense of your personal brand is akin to going on a road trip with no destination in mind, O’Donnell says.
Career consultants can be effective when job-seekers are looking for higher paying jobs. Fees can range from $99 for basic resume services to $2,000 for extensive coaching, says O’Donnell.
4. Recruiters, private employment agencies
Recruiters, sometimes known as headhunters, are hired by companies and organizations to fill open positions. Many times they are hired to fill executive positions, and they are always paid by their clients, not the job-seeker.
Executive headhunters can be effective because the incentive to get a person placed is high. Fees typically represent a percentage of the job-seeker’s salary.
Private agencies such as Manpower, Kelly and Olsten provide another avenue toward employment. Also funded by employers, they generally supply temporary workers to employers for prescribed periods of time. The temporary agency gets paid an hourly fee, which is usually much higher than the pay temp workers get from the agency.
They are worth checking out, especially those that specialize in your field of interest. The arrangement gives both employer and employee a chance to get acquainted before any commitments are made. Oftentimes temporary workers will be offered permanent employment.
Internships can be great ways for students to gain real world experience in their area of study.
Some interns are paid a salary and the internships often lead to full-time employment upon graduation.
In 2008, almost 70 percent of college interns received employment offers from their internship hosts, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
“I’ve seen strong results with internships,” says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, a certified master resume writer and a career consultant who heads Career Trend in Kansas City, Mo.
“I value them highly because they give you great experience and opportunity, so interns should do their best to be a resource for the company.”
The downside? Many internships are unpaid, which can be a financial burden to students who rely on summer work to make ends meet.
Students contemplating an internship should not be afraid to ask specific questions about work schedules, duties, pay and performance reviews, much like any job-seeker would do.
6. Job fairs
Job fairs have gained a lot of visibility lately.
In healthier economies, they typically attract hundreds of job-seekers but lately the numbers have escalated to thousands.
Still, job fairs should be part of a multipronged approach to meet employers in person and possibly find jobs. However, they may not be as effective if you are looking for something other than entry-level work.
“I think for face time it rates highly, but do a little research before you go to a job fair,” Barrett-Poindexter says. “Sometimes they’re industry specific while some are broader than that.”
Author Bermont says job-seekers may be able to get more traction by joining industry-specific associations and network that way.
He says the broader job fairs can be costly to attend in larger cities and it’s hard to get noticed by a company because thousands of people attend them.
“It’s not focused toward any one industry and it’s an expense,” he says.
“If you’re going to a job fair in a city like Chicago, you’re going to pay $15 to $20 to park and you have absolutely no idea if there’s going to be a single job that you’re looking for.”
7. School career placement offices
Most colleges and universities have career placement offices. The problem is many students either don’t know they exist or don’t effectively utilize them until they are ready to graduate.
Career placement offices help students with resume writing, interview coaching, job postings and other services, but not all are known to be a good resource for job-seekers.
“Although it’s something that you pay for as part of your tuition, there’s not a lot of accountability within the colleges for the career center to make sure that every student understands that they are there and knows how to leverage all their resources,” O’Donnell says.
Nevertheless, some career placement offices have excellent reputations.
Career placement offices at Northeastern University, Claremont McKenna College, Wabash College and the University of Texas at Austin ranked the highest in the 2009 edition of the Princeton Review’s Annual College Rankings.
Take advantage of your school career placement office by using it as soon as you arrive on campus, not at the end of your senior year. Better yet, make it a point to stop by the career office to see what services they offer before committing to a college or university.
And long after you graduate, you may still avail yourself of your alma mater’s services. Many larger universities offer career placement services to alumni, too.
8. Government employment services
States provide employment services in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.
They help job-seekers with career counseling and occupational testing services and will often help match you with available job openings at no cost.
Local offices can be found on the Internet or in a telephone book under “job services” or by looking for your state’s department of labor and workforce development.
Hiring by the federal government more than doubled from 1.5 percent to 3.2 percent between February 2008 and January 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, government jobs can be very difficult to nail down. Application guidelines are rigid, competition is fierce and some jobs require the applicant to obtain security clearance.