The art of searching for a job has evolved over the years. You don’t need twenty five years’ experience in the employment and staffing industry to figure that out. Gone are the days when you grab a cup of coffee, open the morning newspaper, turn to the help wanted section and find a position that is a perfect match for your background.

Here are the top five methods used to look for a job. Keep in mind; I didn’t say they were the most effective, just the most popular.

5. Classified ads:

Ouch! It is still a popular method, but hardly yields the most results. In fact, it is my belief that this is one of the very worst ways to search for a job. There are numerous reasons for this. Since print advertising is so expensive, it is usually the last place a company turns to post job openings. They’ll typically try anything before picking up the phone to call the classified section of the local newspaper. Once an employer is desperate enough to run the ad in the paper, they have to brace themselves for the onslaught of applicants. Remember, I said it was popular, but not necessarily effective. Who is going to sift through all those responses? Besides, by the time the ad goes to press, it is likely that other candidates are already under consideration for the position, it just hasn’t been filled yet. That means the competition is fierce by this point. That doesn’t make for your best odds of being selected.

4. Internet Job Search:

Now this is an interesting animal. It is very similar to the old fashioned help wanted ads in the classifieds. The employer will get TONS of responses. They frequently use ATS (applicant tracking software) that spots the keywords on your resume. If they don’t match the buzzwords for the open position, you receive an automatic rejection – with or without a letter. If your resume has the right keywords in it, you become one of the MANY candidates in competition for the position. While past studies have indicated that searching for a job online increased the length of unemployment, a recent paper by UC Santa Barbara’s Peter Kuhn and UC Denver’s Hani Mansour, it seems that looking for jobs online now reduces a person’s length of unemployment by 25 percent. Of course, the online resources used are varied and not limited to the big job boards. Part of this benefit may be due to the fact that unemployed workers searching for a job online increased from 24 to 74% since 2004 according to a Washington Post Wonkblog posting by Brad Plumer.


3. Employment services:

Now I’m a bit partial here. Having been in the industry for so long, recruiters are great! However, using one is no magic bullet. It must be understood that recruiters are not in the business of finding jobs for people, they find people for jobs. Even though you should be listed with a minimum of three recruiters throughout your entire career, you should not expect them to find you a job by pulling one out of the desk drawer like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Recruiters should be an integral part of your life-long career advancement strategy.  They will call when you least expect it.


2. Networking:

You have heard the old saying that it isn’t what you know; it’s who you know that counts. That’s half right. Of course, being knowledgeable in a particular field is very important, too. But you can never underestimate you network. You don’t have one? Rubbish! You would have to live under a rock to not have a network. What about your family, friends, co-workers, and people you go to church with or people who attend PTA with you? What about your neighbors, or the people you run into at the grocery or hardware store. This doesn’t even take into consideration that you should begin establishing a professional network through transition groups that meet in your area or on LinkedIn.

Drum roll please…

1. Contacting employers directly:

You mean pick up the phone and knock on doors? YES! Where this method may be a quite challenging for larger companies due to all the gate keepers in place, they also get the most attention from job seekers because they are well known. This means your competition is greater. For this strategy, identify small to medium sized companies that would use your skill sets. They are far more receptive to having a conversation with you. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration , small firms are responsible for 64 percent of new jobs over the past 15 years.


Thanks to a 2009 article by Bottom Line Secrets , here’s a quick list of ways to find work along with the odds of getting a job using them from Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute .

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There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the methods listed above. Visit Bottom Line Secrets  for the details. I encourage you to use as many methods in this list as possible, but allocate more time to the ones that produce the best results.

So, take inventory of your skills, target small to medium size companies, hire a professional to rewrite your resume, clean up your online profile, put your networking shoes on and get out your door knocker.


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