Job Search


Job Search Methods


There are many ways to find a job. Here are the ten most common ways, in no particular order:

  1. Apply on web job boards, e.g. Monster, Career Builder, Indeed, etc.
  2. Apply on the website of hiring companies.
  3. Ask your friends or business contacts if they know of any openings.
  4. Attend job fairs.
  5. Cold call or email companies that you are interested in.
  6. Do temp work or an internship.
  7. Go through a recruiter or executive search firm.
  8. Respond to job opening listed in trade magazines, newspapers, journals or other media.
  9. Use creative or outlandish tactics.
  10. Utilize networking and contacts.

I recommend you use a combination of approaches, but focus your time on three or four of the most effective methods. According to Richard Bolles, studies have shown that out of every 100 job-hunters who use only one method of job-search, 51 of them abandon their search by the second month. On the other hand, out of every 100 job-hunters who use several job-search methods, only 31 abandon their search by the second month. Bolles explains that you shouldn’t use too many methods, as it is dilutive and recommends using no more than four of these.

If you are using only one search method, and it doesn’t succeed quickly, you tend to give up hope. But if you use multiple methods, your hope tends to stay alive and you persist and find a job.

So what is the best method among the ten? According to career consulting professionals and survey data, “networking” is the most effective method. However, this term means different things to different people, including professional career consultants. More on that later. I have heard some experts say that networking has an 80%+ success rate, meaning 80% of those who utilize it find a job that way. This article indicates that of all job-hunters, networking was the source of a new job for 41% of job-hunters, greater than any other method.

Studies show that the least effective methods are applying on job boards, responding to ads, cold calling/emailing and going to private employment agencies or search firms. Doing temp work or internships, or if you are higher level, doing consulting work, can be effective methods also. Many executives are hired via executive recruiters. Getting your resume to recruiters who place people from your field is an effective tactic.

Because networking is the most effective and the most difficult for the average job seeker, I spend more air time on it here. I am not going to spend time on the other nine methods above, but here are a few good places to learn more:

Know Exactly What You Want Before You Search

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the right preliminary steps. In What Color is Your Parachute, Richard Bolles describes his recommended approach as follows:

  1. “Do thorough homework and inventory, upon yourself. Know your favorite skills, in their order of priority. Know in what kinds of fields you want to use those skills. Talk to people in those kind of jobs. Find out if they like their job and how they found their job.
  2. Then choose organizations where you want to work, rather than just those known to have vacancies. Do the research on the organizations, thoroughly, before approaching them. Seek out the person who actually has the power to hire you for the job you want; use your personal contacts and friends to get in to see him or her.
  3. Show them how you can help them with their problems.”

Notice the prep work in step 1 and the active method utilized in step 2. This is opposed to passive methods where you respond to known job openings listed in various places. According to Bolles, this method has the highest success rate among all search methods, with 86% of those following it landing a job. That compares to only about 2% who got their job by responding to an advertisement. He doesn’t call this method “networking,” but his emphasis on using contacts to get in to employers is what many would call networking. More on this later.

Step 1 is about doing the necessary Career Assessment and Planning work. Step 2 is about targeting potential employers. Step 3 is interviewing. Many people skip steps 1 and 2, which usually leads to a longer job search. They write a resume before thinking carefully about their brand, what they have to offer, and their ideal position and company. A resume is a sales document designed for specific companies and positions. How can you sell yourself without knowing exactly what you have to offer and what you want? So before you start networking and using your contacts, do your homework!

Go to Next Article: Networking and Contacts