What to Do When Your “Usual” Job Search Methods Aren’t Working Anymore

If there’s ever been a time during which you’ve GOT to figure out more strategic, networking-based (and arguably crafty) ways to snag the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, it’s now.  

It’s not that NO ONE is hiring right now but you’d better believe that you’ve got some competition. if you need or want a new job right now, what are you going to do? Lament the numbers? Give up? No, and no. OK, maybe you lament the numbers, but my word, don’t even think about caving right now.  


  1. Make a List of Companies You’re VERY Interested In.  
    Instead of spending 100% of your time scouring job boards and trying to make yourself “fit” into jobs or organizations that may or may not interest you, consider crafting your short list of companies that you’re really interested in.. Sleuth around for lesser known (but maybe equally or even more awesome) firms that may have great need, but fewer applicants. Try Googling things like, “Fastest growing businesses in _____________,” or “Small companies in __________.” 
  1. Figure Out Who You Might Know at Each Company. 
    Once you’ve completed #1, head over to LinkedIn and see if you have any first- or second-degree connections working at these organizations. If you have a first-degree connection, that one’s easy. You’re going to reach out. (Stay tuned for #3 for some tips on how to reach out.) If you don’t have a first-degree connection, you may very well have a second-degree connection. This is someone that one of your first-degree connections knows. In this case, try reaching out to that person you know and say, “Hi. I noticed you’re connected to ______________. How well do you know her, and might you be willing to introduce me?”  
    Lacking a first- or second-degree connection, consider seeing if anyone you went to college with works at that company. Alumni tend to take very good care of one another.  
  1. Reach Out, Strategically. 
    Now, here is where a lot of people tank, and then start feeling like this networking nonsense doesn’t work. It does work, but you need to be strategic. When you reach out — especially if it’s to someone you don’t know well or don’t know at all — keep this sentence top-of-mind: “How would I want a stranger to approach me?” I’m guessing your answer isn’t something like, “Hard-charge at me waving resume in hand,” or “Send a 40-sentence email that will take me forever to read,” or “Ask me to put in a good word for them, even when I don’t know them.” 
    Can you imagine walking into a bar, finding a stranger, and asking them to marry you? Well, the equivalent version of this happens all of the time with job search networking. You don’t want to be this person. Instead, approach in a way that’s super mindful of the other person’s time, show’s genuine interest and curiosity, and maybe helps you gather a bit more information about the company, the role or the hiring manager. Yes, if you build some rapport and hit it off with that person, you may have an opportunity to ask for a larger favor, like an introduction, but on first approach, consider just reaching out with something like, “Hi there. I noticed that you work at __________. I’m getting ready to apply for a role there. May I ask you just a couple of very quick questions about your experience so far at ________?” 

Make it easy for that person to say yes, and by all means, offer to return the kindness at a future date. 

  1. Revisit Past Employers.  
    Sometimes, you leave an employer for a very good reason (and never look back). But, often, you enjoyed that job and company and only left because another opportunity came along, or you took a maternity leave, or a sabbatical, or moved. It astonishes me how few people consider reaching back out to former employers to explore potential opportunities,  you’re already a known talent. This, in theory, could put you ahead of the pack of unknown candidates who are coming in through the blind mailbox. 
  1. Don’t Rule Out Temp Agencies

When you hear the term “temp agency,” you might assume that this type of firm only places labor workers or clerical employees into short-term roles. Not so at all anymore, especially during this wave of time in which plenty of companies have hiring freezes going on (yet, can work around that rule by bringing in temp employees). In most reasonably sized markets, you’ll find contract-based staffing agencies that specialize in everything from copywriters to software engineers to Salesforce administrators to project managers to claims adjusters to … you get the point. And, sometimes, these jobs turn into direct-hire jobs.  
Take a spin on Google to see what agencies are in your market. (Try things like, “Best recruiting agencies for graphic designers Mississauga” or “IT temp agencies Brampton.”) And then, call them directly.  

Take command. Try new strategies. Put yourself out there. Show yourself, exactly what you’re made of. 

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