Looking for work can be an anxiety-producing process, so perhaps it’s understandable that many people broadcast their job search to everyone they know, click the “open to work” button on LinkedIn and by doing so announce their plans and their jobless status on social media.
3 Job Search Strategies Instead of “Open to Work”
- Make networking a constant thing, even if you are happy in your current job.
- Use SEO to optimize your professional social media profile.
- Follow and authentically engage with companies you’d like to work for.
The logic goes like this: The more people who know I need a job, the faster someone will connect me with one. From my perspective as a recruiter, however, this is a mistake. Here’s why and here’s what job seekers should do instead.
The Problem With Publicizing Your Job Search
Advertising that you’re open to work and actively looking for a job turns off many hiring managers and can make the job candidate seem desperate. Job searching is difficult, and the process naturally takes a toll on most people’s self-confidence. Yet it’s important not to appear anxious or grasping, no matter how great your credentials might be. If you exude this attitude, hiring committees simply won’t hire you.
By airing your job search in public, you’re basically saying, “Hey, by the way, I’m not just into you — I’m into everybody.”
Hiring managers also fear that active candidates just want a job — any job — and are talking to a thousand different companies. If offered a position, how invested would they actually be in it? This makes active candidates look like a waste of time.
Think about it like dating. By airing your job search in public, you’re basically saying, “Hey, by the way, I’m not just into you — I’m into everybody.”
What Do Companies Want?
Conversely, companies want what they can’t have. They’re attracted to passive candidates, people who don’t need a job and have the luxury of being choosy. If the person is happily employed, hiring managers are like, “Oh, great. Let me lure you away.” They’re also attracted to people other organizations want.
Again, it’s like dating. You probably get hit on more when you’re wearing a wedding ring than when you aren’t. When hiring managers can interest a passive candidate in their position, they tend to feel excited and perceive that candidate as more invested in the open role.
That’s why, instead of broadcasting your status as “open to work,” it’s much more effective to select the non-public option that tells recruiters you’re open to work. Then start networking.
The Right Way to Network
As most job hunters know, the most effective way to get a job is through someone you know. Indeed, a recent LinkedIn survey found that 85 percent of new jobs are acquired through networking.
Even if your position feels safe and you’re happy, invest time in networking. It shouldn’t have an on/off switch. By meeting people to gather information and connect with others, you put feelers out. This communicates the subtler message that you might be interested in something, should a role open up.
Hiring managers need you more than you need them. Look like you’re not available and get your confidence up.
I use the metaphor of going out to a bar with a single friend when you have a significant other yourself. You’re there as your friend’s wingman, so if someone attractive shows up at the bar, you won’t have any problem going up to them and striking up a conversation. That’s because you aren’t looking for yourself.
That’s why it’s a good idea to start networking before you need a job. Doing so enables you to approach hiring managers more easily. When the stakes are low and you enjoy a position of strength, you can project the confidence and insouciance that hiring managers want.
But there’s a big psychological difference between networking because you want to and networking to find a job. We’ve all seen a lot of layoffs happen recently, which can be unnerving, and it’s natural for emotions to run high when your own position has been eliminated.
Yet it’s important to treat networking the same in both cases. If you’ve been laid off, then breathe, journal and visualize getting a better job on your own terms.
Cultivate Strategic Visibility
Another important job-search technique is to make yourself visible strategically. The first way to gain strategic visibility is to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Want your profile to rise to the top? Search engine optimization (SEO) tactics can help. Ask yourself what terms the hiring manager for your desired roles is likely to use for their Boolean search criteria. If you were the person doing the hiring, what would you put in? Then make sure your profile includes those terms at least three times. That way, when someone searches for those keywords, you’ll have a better chance of appearing.
If there’s a company you’re interested in, identify the hiring managers and other relevant team members.
Another way to gain strategic visibility is to cultivate connections. If there’s a company you’re interested in, identify the hiring managers and other relevant team members. Go where they are, check out what they’re doing, and start engaging with them. Don’t just like their posts, because LinkedIn doesn’t weigh that heavily. Comment on the posts with context and authenticity or repost them. When doing this, focus on what you can do for them rather than what they can do for you.
If you do this for a while, the people at that company will start to get used to seeing your name. That way, when you try to network with them or apply for a position, they will remember who you are. They will think to themselves, “Wait a minute — this person is actually super passionate about what we do because I think they liked some posts” or “Hey, I think this person joined one of our webinars.”
It’s also important to be able to explain why you’re interested in a particular organization. Do your research, looking at their website to find common interests. Make sure your messages align with their mission and values. In general, an upbeat and positive tone will serve you best.
LinkedIn also provides a number of other tools that can help job seekers distinguish themselves. For instance, the box for your name can actually take up to 300 characters. This enables you to add a description that focuses on what you want to accomplish. You can even include a 30-second video on the mobile app. This is an awesome way to set yourself apart and show what makes you unique.
Candidates’ psychological attitudes can make the difference between a job offer and a rejection. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for a job before you have to.
If you’re already job hunting, adopt the following mindset: hiring managers need you more than you need them. Look like you’re not available, and get your confidence up.
In other words, put that ring on at the bar.