Without the right tools, planning, and resources, a job search can quickly become a time-consuming and frustrating experience. Making one mistake — such as using the internet as your main medium for job hunting — can lead to countless hours of wasted time. Similarly, solely depending on your recruiter contacts for available opportunities can add months and months of wait time to your C-level job search. Here are five simple steps to save yourself time, frustration, and wasted energy:
1. Create Your System
Map out your job search goals and your strategy for reaching them. Yes, you should actually write this out so that it is physically on paper. Include your thoughts on where you are going, what is motivating you, how you are going to get there, and what your ultimate goal is. Mapping out your strategy will keep you on track and focused, thus saving you wasted time and energy. You may want to start by defining your financial targets, preferred location, company size, industry, and preferable titles.
2. Use a Job Aggregator
Most high-level positions will not be posted on job boards — but some will. Using an aggregator like Indeed or LinkedIn will surface more advertised positions than relying on individual job boards.
You can use these aggregators to set up email alerts for certain relevant keywords. That way, when new jobs are posted, you will be notified. The best part is, you can set it and forget! Check your alerts a few minutes each day or every week. Don’t spend too much time on them, as the response rates to applicants from job boards tend to be very low. Take this particular job search strategy in stride — it’s not the likeliest method for landing a job, but it does return results sometimes.
You can also use these email alerts to get a bird’s-eye view of company movement and general economic indicators in a particular geographic area or industry.
3. Tap Into the Hidden Job Market
The “hidden job market” refers to the estimated 80 percent of jobs that are never publicly advertised. To find these roles, you have to get creative.
You can use Google Maps to find companies in a particular area that may be hiring. This can be a good form of quick, effective market research that you can use to set up highly focused direct-mail campaigns. Similarly, Google Alerts can help you keep an eye on companies, growing industries, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate moves that may signal employment opportunities.
4. Use Your Time Wisely
Identify the top three ways through which you are most likely to penetrate your market and locate the job you’ve been looking for. It could be by focusing on companies in a technology business park that are similar to your current employer, networking with a trade association, using social networking sites, or even leveraging a list of the top executive recruiting firms. Once you have identified where to invest your time for the biggest payoff, you can minimize the time you spend on other job search activities while maximizing your time spent on key channels and methods.
5. Create a Schedule
Create a modest job-search schedule for yourself — specifically, block out the days and times each week that you will devote to your career moves. Why a “modest” schedule? Because you want a schedule you can actually keep, and the sense of achievement you feel each time you reach your weekly goals will be a valuable motivator. Plus, you can always increase your commitment later if you feel it necessary.
You don’t need to manage a 30-hours-a-week job search. Rather, by doing one or two things consistently, you will be amazed how much interest you can generate.
Setting up a system to manage your job search is a wise and prudent move that will generate results and prevent your job search from taking over your entire life.
Mary Elizabeth Bradford founded and operates the No. 1 online executive resume writing service for VP to CXO executives worldwide (maryelizabethbradford.com).