Whenever I talk to job seekers who have been unsuccessfully searching for work for a long time, I often hear a common theme. These candidates have spent almost 100% of their job search time sitting behind a computer searching through online job ads. This is simply not the most effective use of your time out of the workforce.
Here are some tips for balancing your activity during your job search:
1. Make A Point To Network Every Single Week
The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," really is true. In most cases, a friend or colleague won't be able to get you a job for which you're not qualified, but they may be able to get you an interview when your resume would otherwise have been overlooked. Anything you do that involves talking to other people about your job search counts as networking, whether it's lunch with a former co-worker, coffee with a recruiter, or a formal networking event in your area.
2. Schedule Time For Follow-Ups
Whether you're inquiring about a submitted job application or following up with a colleague you met while networking, these intimidating tasks often get pushed to the back burner as you prioritize your time. Scheduling them into your weekly agenda ensures that you will set aside adequate time to close the circle with various activities that you've started.
3. Update Your Social Networking Profiles
If you've taken the time to develop your LinkedIn profile, you should be logging in at least once a week, and preferably more often. The various groups on LinkedIn offer a never-ending conversation on topics from looking for a job to news relevant to your field. Following companies allows you to discern trends related to their hiring seasons. A fully developed profile also allows recruiters and hiring managers to search for you, so keep your information as current as possible.
4. Build Your Professional Brand
The candidate who walks into a job fair or interview knowing who they are and what they can provide has a remarkable edge over a candidate who's still figuring these things out. Spend some time developing a branding statement, printing business cards for yourself, and engaging in activities that support your brand—whether that means volunteering, blogging or tweeting about your field, or consulting. When you walk into a room and say, "Hi, this is who I am and this is what I do", it makes a powerful statement.
Having a polished resume is critical to your job search. However, sending that resume off to online postings is not how you should spend 100% of your job searching time. Make sure you're interacting with other people both in person and online to maximize your chances of standing out from the crowd.