6 Changes You Should Make to Your Job Search

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By Hannah Morgan

It's harder than ever to land a good job. So if you're unemployed and searching for one, you're probably frustrated. While employers cite many reasons why finding the right talent is nearly impossible, you can only control what you are doing (and not doing) to get on an their radar.

Here are a few things you should do differently to get more interviews.1. Cut the time you spend on job boards. If you're like most job seekers, you rely heavily on job boards and LinkedIn job postings as your primary sources to uncover job opportunities. This reactive approach is unlikely to result in an interview, because most employers rely on referrals to fill jobs with external candidates. And in reality, the majority of jobs are filled with internal candidates, and even if these positions were advertised, you wouldn't stand a chance.

Job postings are great for mining information on the specific skills required for jobs. Postings can also help you identify potential employers (and competitors) who are known to hire for the types of jobs you are interested in. Once you've identified these companies, you can begin to find people you know or should know who work inside the company. This is how referrals happen.

2. Understand how recruiters work. The best strategy for uncovering job opportunities is to diversify how you search for jobs. Use recruiters, either working inside a company's human resources department or a third party that's contracted to source talent. Both work for the company, which means they are not going to work on your behalf. When recruiters are interested in you, it may be due to the fact you have a specific skill set and/or significant experience they are looking for.

The best way to use recruiters is to be very clear about the roles you want. It is up to you to notify recruiters if you see a job you are interested in, and you must take the reins to follow up and stay in touch with them. Remember: There is one recruiter for hundreds of job seekers.

You shouldn't pay a fee nor lose part of your salary to recruiters. Employers with job openings pay recruiters. If you should encounter someone asking for money to place you, beware. Ask for a guarantee, and ask to speak with past clients.

3. Network the right way. Time after time, job seekers express disappointment after attempts to network. Most, if not all, give up and resort back to searching posted jobs. Networking is not a one-and-done transaction. It's up to you to build meaningful relationships with new contacts in your desired field, and that takes time. But how?

Networking is not broadcasting impersonal pleas for help to everyone you know. Networking is about learning about industry trends, new up and coming technology and hot skills in demand. Networking is reconnecting with past colleagues to learn what they are doing now. Networking is about sharing what you've learned and offering help. Networking is about giving and not expecting anything in return. Most eager job seekers don't have the patience for this, but it works. It just takes time.

4. Don't ignore social media. Depending on your generation, you may either be underutilizing social networks or oversharing on them. If you haven't reached out to your friends on Facebook, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. More people use Facebook (67 percent) to search for a job than LinkedIn (40 percent), according to Jobvite's 2015 Job Seeker Nation study. Another way to take advantage of Facebook is by "liking" company career pages or groups and participating in discussions.

Twitter is also a lesser-used platform for job seekers, which is unfortunate, because it is so much easier to interact with people you aren't connected to. Search Twitter accounts for companies you are interested in working for. Also search for and follow people who work in those companies. Keep an eye out for Twitter chats and online events hosted by employers.

Before you become active on any social network, familiarize yourself with the privacy settings to make sure you know which updates you share with the public. And while you're at it, evaluate all your past updates and photos to confirm they are positive and clean.

Don't forget: The purpose of these social networks is to be social. Lurking won't get you noticed; you have to participate by sharing and commenting.

5. Learn about and join online talent communities. In case you haven't seen or heard about talent communities, these are interactive, two-way streams of communication between employers and people interested in working for those companies. Talent communities exist on employer career pages, LinkedIn groups, Twitter and Facebook, and they help answer questions and provide more insight on a company.

For the employer, these communities become a goldmine of potential talent to reach out to when a new opportunity opens. Rather than posting the job, recruiters can search their community discussions to find candidates.

6. Learn from others. You don't have to go through this alone. There are online networking groups for job seekers, and some host regularly scheduled in-person meetings. These groups offer the opportunity to learn from other job seekers' mishaps, fill the void of information on what to expect and serve as relationship-building resources. Groups also offer mental support and encouragement.

Learn by reading advice from a variety of career experts to get alternative perspectives on how to handle situations and navigate your job search. There is no shortage of help for your job search, as long as you are seeking knowledge. And don't forget: A good attitude helps, too.

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She is the author of "The Infographic Résumé" and co-author of "Social Networking for Business Success."
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