Searching for a job can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re short on time and energy. In today’s competitive market, though, you won’t get far if you focus all your energy on crafting perfect cover letters and responding to online listings, experts say.
To increase your odds of getting an interview, job-search strategists recommend you network aggressively, thoroughly research your target companies, and think creatively about how to land on a recruiter’s radar.
“This is one of the few things in life you can’t take a shortcut on,” says job-search strategist Sarah Johnston.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours perfectly executing every task on your to-do list. Instead, you can leverage technology to shave down the amount of time you have to spend on your search while still getting results.
To make your job search more efficient, consider these six tips:
1. Generate Leads Through Automated Email Alerts
If your method of searching involves visiting multiple job boards and manually sifting through the listings, you’re wasting precious time. Instead, set up email alerts and let the listings come to you.
Google for Jobs, for instance, aggregates listings from multiple job boards and allows you to set up email alerts for specific job titles. However, executive resume writer Donna Svei advises you still keep an eye on Indeed. It’s one of the largest job boards in the world, and its listings don’t show up on Google.
2. Use Alerts to Find Networking Opportunities
You can also set up alerts for events in your area through platforms like Meetup so you don’t miss any networking opportunities. You can also set up Google Alerts for trade groups and business associations in your region.
While “many career professionals will recommend that you focus on networking, a lot of people are still reluctant to do that,” says career coach Phyllis Mufson.
Many job seekers find it embarrassing or intimidating to reach out to their contacts and ask for help. You may also feel daunted by the prospect of meeting new people, especially if you’re shy or unsure how to network.
However, it’s important to understand networking isn’t just about asking other people for help — it’s about making worthwhile connections.
Rather than simply asking people for assistance, career consultant Maggie Mistal suggests offering them your services. Ask the people in your network if there is anything you can do to help them, and try sending them leads or other useful bits of information as well.
To help save time and keep track of contacts Mufson recommends using an organizational tool like JibberJobber to store notes about your contacts in one place.
3. Leverage LinkedIn to Get on Hiring Managers’ Radars
One of the quickest ways to let companies know you’re on the market is to set your LinkedIn profile so that it shows you’re open to opportunities. You can also optimize your profile using keywords and customized content so recruiters are more likely to find it when they search for people like you.
LinkedIn also offers a number of additional tools that can help you catch the attention of hiring authorities without spending all day scouting profiles. For example, Svei recommends signing up for LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, which lets you follow key decision-makers and get alerts when they’re active on LinkedIn. That way, you’ll know to like or thoughtfully comment on one of their posts. It’s a smart way to get noticed, according to Svei: “People who are posting on LinkedIn are also looking to see who’s engaging with their posts.”
Similarly, Mistal recommends joining relevant LinkedIn groups and networking with their members by posting on those pages.
4. Upload Your Portfolio or Resume to a Site Recruiters Visit
You can increase the probability a recruiter will see you by uploading your resume to career websites like Recruiter.com. If you create content or build custom tools, consider posting your work to a third-party website such as Contently or GitHub.
5. Set Your Social Media on Autopilot
Establishing your professional brand by building a public presence is a smart way to attract potential employers. However, doing so can require a lot of work. Consider using social media tools like HootSuite, which allows you to schedule posts in advance so you don’t have to log in and share updates manually every time you have something to say.
6. Use Technology Prep for Interviews
Whether you’re just meeting someone for coffee or prepping for an official interview, you’ll want to research your contact beforehand. However, you don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of time on Google to do this.
Svei recommends using Google Chrome extension Emma to streamline your research instead. This tool can analyze a person’s LinkedIn profile and offer informed predictions about their work preferences and habits. Then, you can use this information to craft the right approach. For example, Emma might guess a person you’re meeting with is highly detail-oriented or cares a lot about customer service. That gives you a clue about what parts of your background to stress when you’re selling your value to the company.
Since Emma’s insights are based solely on public information, they may not be fully accurate. However, the tool can at least give you what Svei calls “a quick read” on someone before you meet them in person.
A job search can be time-consuming, but there are simple tools you can use to streamline the process as much as possible. The less time you spend on simple tasks that you can outsource to a computer, the more time you’ll have to focus on what you really want from your career.
Kelly Dilworth is a freelance writer and reporter specializing in the intersection between money and life. She can be found on Twitter: @kellydilworth.