Laid off? Here are tips for landing a new job now
If you're among the tens of thousands of workers in tech and other fields whose jobs have been cut recently, don't fret. The job market is robust and companies are hiring. However, you'll have to stand out from your job-seeking peers, which these days requires more than simply polishing your resume and sharpening your LinkedIn profile.
While maintaining a fine-tuned resume and an updated professional presence online is a necessity for job seekers, that alone won't guarantee you'll land a new position. After all, many openings are filled before job listings are even posted.
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"A lot of times a company already has a person in mind before it's public information, or there's a lot of weight on the scales for a particular person. A lot of hiring, whether we like it or not, is done this way," career coach Cynthia Pong told CBS MoneyWatch.
This makes professional networking even more crucial.
When applying for a job can be as easy as clicking a button, recruiters find themselves inundated with digital applications they have to weed through, according to Pong. She said a personal recommendation can be tremendously helpful in getting a hiring manager's attention.
"If we're smart about leveraging our network, it goes a long way in cutting through the noise that is the pile of digital or paper resumes on [the] other person's side," she said.
How do you network?
Pong says she often works with job seekers who don't trust that the people they know can be helpful in their job searches.
"A lot of people say they have no network, their community doesn't know anyone. I am used to hearing that preliminary objection. I press people and say, you do know people, and those people also know people — and that's a network," she said.
She encourages job seekers to spend 70% to 80% of their time networking, versus blasting out resumes and cold applying to posted openings.
Start by making a list of people you know in broad categories, such as through family, high school, college and graduate school, and from past jobs and internships. One way to identify contacts from your past is to go through your own resume or LinkedIn profile.
"You may think they don't know folks in the area you want to be in, but you might be surprised," Pong said.
Next, organize your contacts into a list or spreadsheet and set performance goals for yourself.
"Each week say, 'I'm going to reach out to x number of people on this list. In a couple weeks, you'll have made progress," Pong said.
Once you connect, end every conversation by asking your contact who else they recommend you reach out to in order to grow your network.
When you apply to a job at the recommendation of a contact, it boosts your chances of getting noticed and also eases hiring managers' workloads.
"You're doing them a favor by becoming visible to them and differentiating yourself from everybody else in this day and age of easy-apply, one-click applications," Pong said.
Optimize your online presence
It's easy for recruiters to search for a candidate online and access reams of personal and professional information about them.
This is why one's online presence is increasingly important.
"Think about what someone who Googles your name sees," Pong said. "Do they even see me if I have a common name? If they do see me, is something coming up that is not just my LinkedIn profile? What's better is if it's that plus other things that demonstrate in the first couple of hits what you stand for, what your value add is and what are you passionate about."
That can be achieved by building a personal website highlighting past work, for example.
Indeed, recruiters comb platforms like LinkedIn for candidates whose experience and professional goals align with their own staffing needs.
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Tech startup founder Bretton Auerbach recently hired two employees by sifting through LinkedIn profiles using keywords that matched the type of candidate he was searching for.
He used job description, geography and education filters to identify suitable prospects for various positions.
He entered terms including "chief of staff," "sales development representative" and "associate product manager" into LinkedIn's advanced search function and ultimately made two hires who met the company's criteria.
"I made a mass list of people whose profiles matched the keywords I was looking for and messaged all of them. I set up interviews with the ones who got back to me," Auerbach said. For every 100 messages he sent, he identified about one good candidate. "Which is ironic, given how many people are getting fired right now," he added.
While the world is increasingly digital, there's still an important place for face-to-face interactions, especially when it comes to making a good impression on someone.
Seek out industry affinity group meetups and set up coffee chats, or consider volunteering in an unpaid capacity.
"Meeting people in real life is huge, because there really is no substitute for the face-to-face connection," Pong said.
It's also a way to gain an edge over other jobseekers.
"People tend to like and remember people who seem to care about the things the other person cares about," she said.
And while it may sound obvious and trite, when you do land an interview, be yourself.
"Don't have zero filters like you're hanging out with your friends, but be yourself because that's going to make you stand out from everybody else," she said. "If you pretend to be the person you think they want to hire, you'll be setting yourself up for a bad fit later on."
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