To stand out from the crowd, conduct your job search like a marketing campaign. The traditional picture of job-seeking is that you look for open positions posted somewhere and follow a formal application procedure to be considered for them. But with thousands of job-seekers applying for only those positions that are advertised, the competition can be overwhelming.
The only way to beat the odds and the competition is to actively market yourself and locate positions before they are advertised. Marketing yourself as a job-seeker means locating the people who can offer or lead you to opportunities and telling them what you are capable of, over and over. You do have to seek them out-you can't wait for them to find you. There are many ways of telling them what you can do -- in person, in writing, by phone -- but you must tell them. And you have to tell them over and over. No one will remember you if they hear from you only once.
Just as any company selling a product or service works from a strategic marketing plan with proper tactics to put the plan into action, so should you. In this case, you are the product. Finding job opportunities takes a disciplined approach using strategies that are proven to work.
There are six different approaches to conducting your job search like a marketing campaign. Here they are, listed in order of effectiveness:
Networking and referral-building
Contacting potential employers directly
Employing recruiters and agencies
Searching specialized job listings
Using help-wanted ads
Networking and referral-building will provide you with the maximum number of contacts, referrals, and leads, so this approach is almost always the most effective. Contacting prospective employers and informational interviewing are about equal in terms of their potential payoff, but contacting employers is more likely to lead directly to a job. Employing recruiters and agencies will give you more contacts looking out for you and more leads to pursue, but they are unlikely to refer you to others. Using job listings and want ads can provide you with leads, but no new contacts or referrals, so these approaches are much less effective.