Why You Need To Take Your Job Search Offline
By Emily Driscoll
For recent and soon-to-be college grads who are frustrated with their lack of response from sending out countless emails with resume and cover letter attachments, it's time for them to step out from behind the computer. A new study by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com recently reported that all generations are spending almost their entire time job searching online instead of offline, spending between five and 20 hours per week searching online and using job boards as their top resource.
The study shows that 92 percent of Generation Y hunt for jobs only online, which means that they are not using all the tools and resources available to aid their search.
"To find a job in today's economy requires the effective use of both online and offline strategies," says Bob Prosen, executive hiring expert and creator of the Career Accelerator Program. "Relying solely on online methods significantly reduces your chances of getting hired."
Hiding Behind the Computer
Hopping online to hunt for jobs is convenient for job seekers, whether they are unemployed and searching from home or are employed and want to change jobs but don't have time during working hours to contact and meet potential employers.
"It's a lot easier, and much less effective, to scour the job boards and send out electronic resumes most of which never receive a reply," Prosen says.
He also points out that many may find it daunting to approach people directly with the confidence required to have a meaningful conversation or set up a meeting, so they hide online.
Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding and author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, explains that removing the personal aspect of the job hunt can work against candidates.
"They just see the internet as a path to a job, but what's forgotten is that the person hiring you is a real person, not a machine," he says. "That human element is still there and that's why people should still network offline."
To be more successful in landing a job, here's how job seekers can improve their prospects by taking their search offline.
1. Use the internet as a tool to accelerate offline success.
Schawbel recommends using the internet as a filter to find the right people at a company to reach out to and meet offline.
"You analyze their backgrounds and make connections with them online," he says. "If they live in your area or you're going to be in their area, meet for a coffee or something like that."
Using LinkedIn, Hoovers and other online tools can help uncover openings, research companies, and find out more about hiring managers, Prosen says.
Creating professional blogs or websites to promote skills is also a great way to meet contacts online and ease into a more personal relationship, says Leonora Valvo, founder and CEO at etouches, which produces event-services software.
"Rather than expecting a direct return on time investment, we should think of it as a way to hone social skills, meet interesting people, and learn from others."
2. Get face time.
Arrange informal meetings with people in a desired field who can talk about trends in the industry, potential areas of job growth and necessary skills.
"Speaking with professionals in your industry of interest will help you learn how to 'talk the talk,' which will help you showcase your knowledge in an interview situation," says Kimberly Baker, career services manager at Bryant & Stratton College Online.
Whether they join industry associations or attend networking events, Schawbel recommends that job seekers genuinely reach out to others about their search efforts and talk about their investment in that particular field.
"People start to know what you're looking for and then when the opportunity comes up, they'll think of you," he says. "There might not be a career opportunity immediately, but if you put it in their mind, then they'll remember you."
3. Attend informational interviews.
For recent grads or those unsure of the career path, informational interviews are a great way to get better acquainted with the industry -- but Schawbel says it's important to thoroughly research the company beforehand.
"There's more of an expectation to do your homework before you go in -- on the company, on the industry, on people who are going to be speaking with you," he says. "Just like a company is trying to match you up with the right position to see if there's a fit for you, you have to see if it's a fit for you as well."
Although these interviews allow job seekers to make personal connections, learn more about the industry and highlight their skills, don't approach these meetings expecting a job offer, warns Baker.
"Personal meetings like this allow job hunters to get underneath what they're seeing in job posts online and decipher some of the nuanced language," she says.
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