There is more than one trail to the summit of a mountain. The same is true for job hunting. There are many strategies, many channels that you can use to find your ideal role, but like the trails to the top of a mountain, there are only a few consistent ways that result in success every time. For lawyers, accountants, and consultants looking for a new role, this article shows you how to job search effectively. In part 1, we covered two key lessons: always have a plan and get over rejections quickly. In part 2, we show you how to leverage your social network and the importance of understanding recruitment agencies.
How to job search effectively: steps three and four
Step 3: Leverage your social network
You wouldn’t set out on a hike without researching what would be the best or most direct route to take. Most likely, you’d find out what this is based on people’s reviews and recommendations. The hiking ‘experts’ if you will. We do this all the time in our every day lives, we ask for and value actual recommendations from people so why should it be any different when it comes to job hunting? Long story short, it shouldn’t. If you want to know how to job search effectively, then you need to start expanding your social network and seeking their assistance. Here is how you can do that:
1. Know what you’re looking for
As we mentioned in part 1 of this article, the first step in planning how to job search effectively is to be clear about what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what role you’re hunting for, then it will inevitably go to someone else, someone who is more deliberate and purposeful in their approach. With defined career goals, you can focus your job search and direct your energies into the right activities that will result in you achieving those goals.
2. Review your current online reputation (and update it)
Are your social profiles up-to-date? Are they relevant to the job role you are looking for and geared towards the employers/recruiters who are responsible for hiring? Would potential employers get a positive impression from your profiles? Do they stand out? It’s really important to review your existing online reputation before expanding your network and starting conversations, so make sure to remove any inappropriate pictures or statuses and update your skills and interests to those that are relevant to the new role that you want.
3. Exploit the power of LinkedIn
A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second and current membership levels are at 690+ million in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. When 61 million of these are senior-level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions, you can plainly see why you need to be on LinkedIn. If you want to know how to job search effectively, you need to be on LinkedIn, building a professional online brand and making connections to get your name in front of these professionals. Think of it as your online CV. Optimise your profile for the role that you want by using your summary box as your elevator pitch; use the specialities field to list your technical expertise, pepper keywords throughout your profile, and get recommendations from your contact list. If you pair this with writing or sharing quality content and taking part in interesting discussions throughout the platform, there’s arguably no better way to make yourself stand out to potential recruiters and employers.
4. Work your way through your contacts
Every one of your contacts could know someone who knows someone who can help you, so utilise this. Write a list of everyone you know, personally and professionally, and divide them into 3 categories:
- Likely to help
- Not sure if they can help
- Unlikely to help
Once you’ve done this, regularly work your way through your contacts starting with those most likely to help. If you get out there and start having conversations (and of course, recording details in an Excel spreadsheet), you’ll soon see that you’ll have made some valuable connections. Just remember to maintain more frequent contact with the people who are most likely to help and ask who they can recommend that you talk to. People need to be reminded that you’re there and what you’re looking for because sometimes, finding your next role is all about being in the right place at the right time. To help work your way through your contacts click to download your FREE networking plan (email required) taken from the bestselling and award-winning book “The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking“.
5. Build relationships with key players
“It’s who you know, not what you know” so you need to start building relationships with key players to make your CV stand out. By key players, I’m talking about recruitment consultants and those decision-making people who are responsible for choosing you to hire over somebody else. So how do you do this? To make yourself stand out offline, if you see a role advertised that you want, you can try phoning the agent directly and talking them through your personal elevator pitch before sending over your CV. This pretty much guarantees that you get onto their books and you can check in every fortnight or so to maintain contact. Standing out online takes a lot more effort, but again, it’s worth it. Establish contact with the people you want to build a relationship with and start a dialogue about your job search, your skills, and your industry of choice. Ask for their advice. Just remember to follow this up with likes, comments, and shares on their activity and posts so you’re giving something to them as well. If you build a relationship with these key players, even if they don’t have a vacancy that would suit you straight away, you’re ensuring that you will be front of mind when something relevant does come up further down the line.
6. Be open and willing to learn
Don’t be blinded by the only route you see to the summit, be open-minded, engage in conversations, and be willing to learn along the way. You never know where or what or WHO every conversation may lead to. Although it’s important to show that you have the knowledge and skills that your potential employer is looking for, an eagerness to learn is just as attractive. Don’t be afraid to ask industry players for advice, use group discussions to clarify points you’re uncertain of, and ask about volunteering or work experience opportunities too. Read more about How to utilise your social network to find your next job (5 things every job seeker needs to know!)
Step 4: Understand recruitment agencies
The last step for how to job search effectively is understanding agencies. Why is this essential? Because it is, in fact, true that a large proportion of jobs never get on the open market. According to a recent study published by LinkedIn, 80% of all vacant job roles are found and filled through networking before they’re even published! So if organisations explore internal sources first before even placing the jobs with agencies, why is it essential to understand them? Using a recruitment consultant to fill a job is an expensive strategy for any hiring operation. However, the recruitment industry operates on a hugely diversified scale and the range of services on offer to employers means that it is quicker and easier to get a vacancy filled rather than doing it internally.
Many large corporate employers, who have high staff numbers and many vacancies, have in some cases outsourced ALL their recruitment process to external agencies. Long story short, recruitment agencies are still used, they are a substantial and robust contributor to the UK economy, and every job seeker is likely to engage with a recruitment consultant during a job search. Knowing how to deal with them, and what to expect from them, is crucial to reduce frustration and increase the likelihood of finding that desired job offer. Here are a few things that you need to know about recruitment agencies:
1. The employer pays the fee
In the UK, it is illegal to charge job seekers for finding jobs. Recruitment agencies, like all businesses, are commercial enterprises and require turnover to be continually successful. With this in mind, it is worth knowing that the fee for this service is paid by the recruiting employer. This means that the agency must always have the best interest of the client in mind because that is where the transactional value is. The candidate’s best interest is represented by the fact that ultimately, there is a job for everyone and the agency, through their relationship with the fee-paying employer, is a catalyst to achieving this objective.
2. The employer is paying for the recruitment service
Selling people is tantamount to slavery. The agency does not own the skills and experience of the candidate, and for this reason, has no business offering it for sale. This is why the Gangmasters Act was brought to life in 2004, to protect workers from abusive agency practises. During the recruitment process, the recruiting employer pays for a service that provides them with a candidate pool. Sometimes, the candidate pool is provided by only one agency, but more commonly the service is divided between several agencies and the fee is only paid when a successful introduction is made and the introducing agency walks away with the spoils.
3. Recruiting is a highly competitive business environment
It’s no surprise really that the open agency market is highly competitive because they work on a “no solution, no fee” basis. This makes winning crucial. When it comes to winning, it makes sense that the more activity that is put out, the higher the likelihood of achieving a win, so that’s why recruitment agencies are so focused on volume. In fact, most agencies consultants are targeted on a daily basis to deliver KPI’s related to volume.
As the current recruitment market is driven mostly by volume, this means that for candidates, regardless of the seniority of the position, their CV often becomes a means to an end. For one lucky candidate, the end will work out to their interest when they get the job, but for the rest, it’s worth bearing in mind that an agency won’t work solely on your behalf.
4. It’s not always all about numbers
Moving on from the doom and gloom portion, the good news is that not all recruiter/employer relationships are based on volumes and competition. The industry has evolved to a point where recruiting employers have a wide range of choice and like everything in business, people buy from people. Many employers will have their preferred agency or consultant as they have established a relationship with them and this long-standing relationship means that the recruiter will have a deep and detailed knowledge of the employer’s business and what they are looking for.
Sometimes, for difficult to fill or senior roles, employers will retain the services of a recruitment specialist by paying a proportion of the fee upfront. In this case, there is no competition from external sources, and the agency will actively search the market to find the most appropriate skills for the client.
5. Understanding recruitment agencies is advantageous to the job applicant
Finding a new job is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Regard agencies as the magnets that would attract the needle. After all, this is what potential employers do when the engage agencies. The more magnets you have working on your behalf, the more needles you will find. Of course, not every job you are offered will be appropriate and you should be entirely in control of the process.
Remember, you own your skills, experience and personal information. You should never be placed under any obligation, asked to pay a fee for job seeking services in the UK, or have your details sent anywhere without your express permission. Without candidates, recruitment agencies can not exist. Without agencies, it will take a lot longer to find a job. It is in a candidate’s interest to develop good relationships with recruitment agencies but is equally important to understand what to expect.
Ask the agency how competitive a particular process is: If you know how many other agencies are involved, you know what to expect. If it is a widely assigned role, the likelihood of success decreases. If it is a retained or exclusive arrangement, then you know you will have better communication and a more controlled process. Use this understanding to your advantage, and you will have a far more positive job seeking experience. Expecting anything different will leave you feeling frustrated.
Never, never, never give up
“Never, never, never give up” was one of Winston Churchill’s famous quotes and it sums up job hunting quite aptly. As we mentioned previously, there are many routes that you can take to find the job role that you want never mind be accepted for it, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed and defeated during the process. If you want to know how to job search effectively, you have to make a plan, you need to get over rejections quickly, you ought to leverage your social network, and you must understand recruitment agencies. If you do all 4 of these steps and never, never, never give up, you can be sure that you’re taking one of the most direct routes to the summit.
We have a great course in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner called How to put together a development plan to achieve your career goals. The course gives you the structure, clarity, and guidance to gain the skills, knowledge, mindset, and experience to take your career to the next stage or level – whatever you want that to be.