By Kristen Fischer
Media Bistro —
Use these strategies to get a head start on other job seekers
You know the drill: A job posts on the Internet; you respond and keep your fingers crossed for an interview. Whether you are looking for a permanent or temporary gig, is there any other way to find out about choice positions before the masses do? Yes, in fact.
Mediabistro’s Revolving Door newsletter is a good way to stay on top of the industry, and job boards like ours are always brimming with opportunities. Following companies and individuals who hire on Twitter and LinkedIn is a good start, too.
We asked creative professionals and career counselors for other strategies to find out about jobs and projects before they are announced.
In trying some of these techniques, you’ll stretch your networking muscles and get a jump on that prized position.
Contact companies directly
Amy Phillip, an executive career coach based in Brooklyn who runs Career Certain, recommends connecting directly with the person that hires. “Find that person on LinkedIn and send an introduction,” she says.
She advises job hunters to create a list of companies that you want to work for, and then use social media or other research methods to find out names and contact information of the individuals you want to target.
“I oftentimes think three points of entry into an organization is the best way to approach it,” she explains. That can entail going through the managing editor, a colleague in the design department and a human resources person.
She notes that you may not want to reach out to the HR director, as he or she is probably very busy. Instead, connect with a junior HR assistant who has less on his plate and is directly responsible for scouting talent instead of leading the company’s human resources strategy.
Human resources departments also have people in charge of recruitment and talent acquisition that you can approach—those are the ones that you should be hitting up, Phillip says.
“That’s what they do for a living; that’s their job. The chance of them responding is far greater than anyone else,” Phillip adds.
Lyuba Ellingson, managing director and co-founder of Red Elixir Business Solutions LLC, recommends using the advanced Twitter search tool.
She says to enter keywords such as “hiring” within a specified number of miles from your current location, and to experiment with various keywords related to your desired position. You can also save the search for later, she adds.
Pop into a chat
Social media is definitely a useful research tool, but did you know you could use it to do more than find contact information?
Ellingson says Twitter chats are a great resource for real-time information. The chats occur with back-and-forth tweets that contain a common hashtag during a specific time. Some chats to check out include #linkedInChat, #careerchat, #HFchat and #jobhuntchat.
Before participating, make sure your own social media profiles are in tip-top shape, though.
“Once you start communicating with these people, they will look you up. If you don’t look excellent and present your personal brand in a quality manner, you are wasting your time,” she says, adding that recruiters will look for your written communication skills, culture fit, personal brand inconsistencies and yes, even incriminating photos.
“If a job seeker is going to put themselves out there, they need to show the very best,” she says.
See who is viewing your profile
This tip applies specifically to LinkedIn. (And, if you haven’t visited the site lately or updated your profile, you should.)
“One of the most effective things I do on LinkedIn is reaching out to people who have viewed my profile,” Ellingson notes. She sends a note to the viewer to acknowledge the visit and see if the person needs additional information.
The follow-up enables you to make contact with someone who is already potentially interested, so you’re not reaching out to a stranger. If you contact the visitor soon after they saw your profile, the person will probably recall your name more quickly, too.
“The responses to this have been mind blowing,” she says, adding that she has secured jobs this way.
Target your approach
Thursday Bram, a content consultant based in Maryland, says she tries to network with people who hire for the different services she provides, like blogging.
To find leads, she pinpoints companies that design blogs, because their customers most likely will need content for them. “I can make the connection with them, and they then recommend me to their clients,” she explains.
When she was looking to target the real estate industry, for example, she teamed up with a web designer who had clients in that field, and they produced white papers on how real estate pros could better market themselves.
Then, when people searched for real estate marketing help online and came across those papers, they turned to Bram for other projects.
Carol Tice, a freelance writer and writing business mentor based in the Seattle area, says finding gigs isn’t about job hunting as much as it is marketing yourself and your brand. “You have to start marketing your business proactively,” she says.
Tice recommends going beyond just applying for positions and instead thinking about the people who need your services, just as Bram suggests. Once you target them, ask about possible positions or projects.
Tice says freelancers do well with this approach, because some companies have extra tasks to hand off but cannot hire a full-timer. Most of the time, she adds, they are too busy to go find that person.
“That’s why you have to send those letters of introduction and send those queries and present yourself as a solution to their problem,” she adds.
Ask for referrals
Tice says it is imperative to realize that not all jobs will magically appear on the Internet. “In fact, the vast, vast majority of good-paying jobs will never be advertised,” she says. “Stop waiting to spot them in ads.”
Instead, she advises joining networks and stay up to date on competitors in their geographical area. “We do all tend to refer each other,” she says of her fellow acquaintances.
Tice, who mentors other professionals, says she finds that many of them do not ask others if they know someone interested in what they do.
“That is the easiest marketing you’ll ever do,” urges Tice. “And it’s the most effective.”