You’re fired up and excited, ready to find your next opportunity! You worked with a resume writer and updated your LinkedIn. You’ve applied to a few positions but haven’t heard back. Now, you’re starting to wonder if you’re doing this right.
Sound familiar? If so, you can rest easy knowing you aren’t alone. The ways we look for, find, and, eventually, secure professional appointments (aka – jobs) have changed quite a bit in the last few years – and it keeps changing. So what do you do?
Well, as REO Speedwagon advised, you can, “Roll with the Changes.”
Fortunately, the LINC method makes rolling with those changes much simpler than it might seem initially.
LINC stands for LinkedIn, INternet Applications, and Connections. In addition to LINC, I also like to call this my three-pronged attack to finding the job you want fast. If you want to find the right opportunity for you, you need to be dividing your job search or networking time among each of these.
Here’s how you do that.
A solid LinkedIn strategy starts with an updated profile. I recommend that you update your profile when you update your resume because the two items should be strategic – complementing each other rather than serving as mirror images of one another. If you’ve already updated your profile, you’re one step ahead. (If you would like to talk to me about updating, you can always schedule a free call.)
Once your profile is updated, the next step is to start making connections. While I think it’s a good idea to send connection requests to people you know in many ways, it is important to think strategically about who you follow. When you follow a person, company, organization, etc., their content will show up in your feed, making it easier for you to interact, so you want to see individuals and entities that are most likely to present you with the most opportunities.
Next, you want to engage. I’m a big fan of using LinkedIn to do informational interviews. What’s an informational interview? It’s a low-stakes connection with someone in a company, role, or industry that interests you. How do you conduct one? Find someone who interests you for professional reasons, reach out, and say something along the lines of, “Hi, I see that you work at X. I’m thinking about applying to X. I like their Y and Z. Would you mind telling me a little bit about your experience working at X and how you feel your work there has most contributed to your professional growth?” You’ll be surprised at how many people get back to you and are more than willing to chat about their roles. (And if they’re not so hot on having a conversation, move on. It’s all good. You’ll find someone who will be interested in networking.)
Other ways of engaging include commenting on posts, connecting with recruiters, interacting with company news, and many, many, many more. (No, I’m not getting paid by the word. In fact, I’m not getting paid to write this at all. I just want to emphasize that LinkedIn is one of the most interesting rabbit holes you’ll find for professionals, and I’d be happy to chat about how you can customize its awesomeness for your needs.)
This is the part you’re probably most familiar with – finding online opportunities and submitting applications via various online job boards, such as Indeed, Zip Recruiter, Glassdoor, Simply Hired, Monster (yes, they’re still around), and LinkedIn. There’s an art and a science to finding online job opportunities and submitting applications. First, know that it’s a numbers game, so expect quite a few rejections. Many jobs that are posted online get 200+ applications within hours. Some are posted publicly but the firm is also conducting an internal search. I’ve even seen individuals apply for positions only to have the company decide it is no longer hiring.
I say these things to explain why relying on online job boards and applications alone isn’t a good idea. I don’t say this to discourage you. I am absolutely a proponent of applying to jobs online and “applying blind” (aka – without having a contact on the inside or without a recruiter prompt). But, I suggest you do it the smart way to prevent burnout. What’s the smart way? It starts with submitting a lot of applications. I recommend that you tier them.
- Top tier positions are those that interest you the most, middle tier interest you a lot, and bottom tier – you could take or leave those. I suggest customizing your resume and perhaps writing a cover letter for top-tier positions. Then, apply both on the job board and on the company website if the position is listed in both places. Finally, reach out to a recruiter, HR professional, or relevant manager via email or LinkedIn with a follow-up as soon as you apply.
- For middle-tier jobs, spend 10-20 minutes customizing your resume with improved keywords to ensure the resume will make it through ATS, and fire it off. No post-application work is needed.
- And for bottom-tier jobs? Just fire off your standard resume or use LinkedIn Easy Apply.
I also recommend you make a spreadsheet to track your applications. Doing this can help you identify patterns that will inform your job search. (If you need to know more about how to track, schedule an appointment, and I’ll walk you through it.)
While the number of job boards and growing LinkedIn presence might make you think that all jobs are found online, the truth is that many people still get work through personal referrals. Word-of-mouth lets people get to the top of the application pile, so spend time networking. I suggest you dedicate about an hour to listing all the connections you think might be able to help you in this endeavor. Go through your LinkedIn connections, Facebook Friends, phone contact list, and old employee directories. Think about previous professors, folks you know from the gym or your community activities, and people you met at online or in-person networking events.
Then, put all those folks on a spreadsheet and start reaching out. It’s important you do this with some tact and professionalism, of course. No, “Hey, Uncle Bob, I need you to get me a job.” Instead, start by asking them about their current professional activities, and then bring up that you reached out because you are looking and wondering if they have any leads. Most people are happy to help someone get a new job that they love, so they’ll be excited that you thought to ask!
Now you know what LINC stands for and how to use it to find a better job, but you might be thinking that using LINC sure sounds like a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be. How much LINC-ing you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depends on how hard you are looking, but I do recommend that even passive applicants spend at least some of their time putting LINC into practice. If nothing else, it can help you maintain good connections and an awareness of your industry.