If you’re unemployed and trying to change that, you may agree that searching for a job can be a lot more work than having one. But the right job for you is out there somewhere, and with an energetic and broad-based job search strategy, you can find it.
You may be old enough to remember when people trying to find a job would buy a newspaper, scour the help wanted ads in the Classified section and circle the ones that looked interesting. Then they would go to their typewriter, write a cover letter, pull out one of their pre-printed resumes, put them in an envelope with a stamp and drop them in a mailbox.
But times, obviously, have changed. Job listings in print publications have not completely disappeared, and in fact can still sometimes be useful, especially in trade journals that publish job openings in specialized fields. But it would be a rarity to land a job like this today, as the vast majority of businesses find employees online.
This guide will explore some winning digital job search methods that both broaden and focus the tactics most job seekers use today:
- Searching on job boards
- Searching for jobs on Google
- Using LinkedIn as a job search tool
- Searching for remote jobs
- Applying for and finding unlisted jobs
- Searching for a job with no experience.
Searching on job boards and jobsites
For most job seekers, job searching on one of the major online job sites should lead to the types of jobs they’re looking for. Take some time to read Resume.io’s article on “The best jobsites and job boards 2022 - US and worldwide,” and you’ll find close to 60 job hunting websites listed for different specializations and regions.
But the “kings of the mountain,” in the U.S. and globally, should cover most people’s needs. These include Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, Craigslist, SimplyHired, Job.com and Robert Half. If the job you’re looking for isn’t listed at one of these, it may not exist.
Most of these sites are aggregators that “hoover” job listings from all over. All job hunting websites have different ways of breaking down their listings, and you may have to play with them a bit to learn how their job search engines work.
If you’re seeking a more traditional job where you’ll have to show up at a workplace (as opposed to remote work), you may need to narrow your search by city, state and country. Or it might be a good idea to use a specialized job board that focuses solely on your profession, of which the article mentioned above lists many.
There are many ways to make the most of a job board:
- Sign up for job alerts in related and functions - do not delay with your applications.
- Make the most of Boolean search strings - use OR, AND and NOT commands to good effect.
- Ensure that your resume contains all of the keywords that employers will be looking for.
- Find niche job boards that are specific to your industry - spread the net widely.
- Post a digital resume on each job board that you can then customize for each role.
Searching for jobs on Google
Don’t overlook the reach of Google, the 800-pound gorilla of the job search world. Just go to the search site and try entering your profession followed by the word “jobs” (like “art director jobs”), and perhaps your location too (“art director jobs Seattle”).
Google will usually route you to one of the job portals mentioned above, but it may also send you to sites you wouldn’t have thought of searching. Google has the world’s most sophisticated search algorithms, and it can serve as “one-stop shopping” for all your job search needs.
If you’re an advanced web user (or simply are friendly with technology), you can go a step further and use advanced Google search tools. There are a bunch of guides for this, mostly for marketing specialists, but some of them (like this one) are easy enough to understand if you’re tech savvy.
An easy example is to use the site: search operator to find if a company’s website has vacancies and use quotation marks around your key search terms to make sure you get the exact results you need. Such a Google job search query would look something like this: site:Ikea.com “job” “administration”. Currently, the 4th result for this job search term returns an administration manager opening, but you can experiment and find more.
What happens when you put your name and job title into Google? It is a fact of job search life that your future employer will Google you. If you work in any kind of role that requires an online presence, what a future boss finds here could make or break your application. Your online brand has to be congruent with your career goals. You don't have to be overly active - a complete LinkedIn profile, the odd supportive industry post and a Facebook profile that is free of controversy will be fine.
Using LinkedIn as a job search tool
LinkedIn is the world’s go-to social media site for professional networking. With 740 million members from 150 countries, it offers unparalleled connections to people offering jobs, seeking jobs or writing about career-related topics.
LinkedIn allows job seekers to post their resumes and employers to post their jobs. Like all social media sites, it allows members to post just about anything they want, although unlike Facebook, this is not the place to post a picture of your delicious lunch.
You can, however, post information, insight or questions about career-related issues, and many people use it to establish their credibility or expertise in their field, even if they’re not currently looking for work.
If you don’t know anyone on LinkedIn, that would be extremely unusual. If you’ve been in the workforce awhile, you may know hundreds of people there. The key is to establish “connections” with them by sending a simple request, similar to “friending” on Facebook. Considering all the people your connections are connected to, this can potentially put you in touch with thousands of valuable contacts.
Your networking skills can easily make the difference between success and failure in your job search. When looking for a job, it’s a huge advantage to have contacts in your field who can vouch for your skills, recommend you to employers, or even hire you themselves.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, create one for free, it’s one of the premium job search methods (including a “passive job search” due to recruiters looking for YOU and not the other way around). If you already have a profile, give it some love by updating and strengthening it, uploading your CV and reaching out to people you know seeking connections. For useful tips, study Resume.io’s How to build a great LinkedIn profile blog, it could be instrumental in your job search.
Resist the "easy wins" on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is always changing its home feed algorithm to favor various types of content. There are then lots of people who jump on the latest craze in search of "engagement." Garnering lots of likes, shares and comments might give your fragile job search confidence a boost, but it will do next to nothing for your job chances. There may be a possibility that an employer will notice your viral post, but if the post has absolutely nothing to do with your job search then you may be doing more harm than good. You do not want to come across as someone who spends their time posting viral rubbish on socials for a quick dopamine fix.
Searching for remote jobs
If you’re looking for a remote job that you can do from home, there are more of those now than ever before, as a quick job search will show you. Finding a remote job has never been easier than in 2023, considering the impact of COVID and the general reformatting of businesses to remote job roles.
You can find a job that allows you to work remotely simply by doing a global job search at any major jobs portal. Or you can go to a job board that focuses on remote work, like Flex Jobs, Upwork or We Work Remotely.
Writers, editors, artists, translators, transcriptionists, data entry workers, teachers, customer service reps, salespeople and even executive assistants are increasingly finding that they can do their jobs remotely. Read more at our articles on “ Top 10 remote jobs that let you work from home” and “ The Remote Job Guide: Job Search & Productivity working from home.”
Can you ask an employer to change the specification of the role? At the moment of application, a role might be designated as an "office only" position, but if you feel that you are able to carry out the duties with a blend of office and home working, you can always mention this to them. The time to mention this is after you have passed the first interview stage. They will have a view on your suitability and you will not be stringing them along for too long. These conversations are happening ever more frequently. Back yourself and build that dream career.
Applying and searching for unlisted jobs
You might be surprised how many jobs are out there that aren’t advertised anywhere. This is where applying for unlisted jobs comes in, as an alternative to a traditional job search.
The employer may be seeking to hire from within, it may have a preferred pool of candidates, or it may just not have gotten around to posting the job yet.
It’s also possible that a company doesn’t necessarily “need” someone in your field, but that you are such an exceptional candidate that you’re worth hiring anyway. A newspaper in San Francisco may think it has an adequate photo staff, but if you’re a Pulitzer Prize-winning ace photographer who’s moving to the Bay Area, how could it ignore you if you express an interest in working there? The paper may see an unanticipated opportunity — or it may simply want to hire you before a competing newspaper does.
You can check out Fast Company’s research on “cold-emailing” for unlisted jobs, which includes interview advice from Resume.io experts. Our full guide on effective emails for unlisted jobs fits this purpose as well (there are job search hints there, as well as detailed step-by-step instructions on how to job search for unlisted jobs, how to build an email that attracts recruiters and more!).
The "hidden job market" is not only for speculative applications. Many roles are not advertised as there is a preferred internal candidate, but if your online profile is in front of the right hiring manager at the right time, they may well get in touch. Networking and building a solid online reputation is key to being considered in such circumstances. Potential employers will get in touch directly, cutting out recruiters entirely.
Searching for a job with no experience
Because employers value experience so highly, it can be a daunting chore to job search with no experience in your chosen field. You may feel you’re facing the Catch-22 that you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.
But remember that every employed person in the world once had no experience. Everyone has to start somewhere and a job search is your first step.
In some cases, the key is to emphasize the education and special training that has prepared you for a job — and in fact, the reason you have no experience may be because you’ve been in school educating yourself at how to excel in this field.
In some cases, you may need to emphasize volunteer work, internships or other unpaid experience that has prepared you for this career. You may need a portfolio that showcases your excellence in some field where you haven’t necessarily held paying jobs.
And in some cases, you simply need to downplay the employment history section of your resume and play up the summary/profile/ personal statement section to emphasize your passion and preparation over your actual experience.
Cold call for jobs with no experience. When you do not have experience, sometimes you just need to get lucky. At lower levels there is a higher likelihood that a role may be created for you, so having the courage to cold call (and cold message) may well open doors. Prepare for speculative conversations by looking at the activity of each employer and working out where your skills fit in. Steel yourself for countless rejections, but if you don't ask you don't get.
How to find good jobs (judging job listing quality)
An important part of any job search is finding good jobs that actually lead to a promising career or at least a secure position that you will benefit from. There’s nothing worse than a job search that settles on the first option you see without comparing your opportunities in favor of the best openings.
But finding a good job and sorting it from bad listings with hidden pitfalls can be tricky. So, here are some things to consider when looking for a high-quality job in your job search:
- Consider the salary and compare it to the market average in your country (a Google search such as “average pay for office manager” can help; sites like Glassdoors also list average salaries for various roles)
- Check if the company offers any benefits or perks (but be careful not to be tricked by those, they are sometimes offered to compensate for hidden flaws)
- See if the schedule fits your needs/circumstances (some companies offer flexible hours)
- Check the company’s employee reviews and reputation (Glassdoor, Indeed, Vault.com, CareerBliss and JobAdvisor are good sites for this, but there are many more)
- Read the job description carefully and judge how realistic the demands and responsibilities are.
Finding good jobs is difficult but staying vigilant and comparing opportunities is the #1 rule to follow in your job search.
Have a great resume and cover letter ready
If and when your job search turns up a promising lead, and you decide that you should apply for the job, you need to be ready to submit an excellent job application. That means having a great resume and cover letter that’s ready to tune up and send.
Resume.io offers exhaustive advice on how to write a resume and how to write a cover letter. We offer writing guides for almost any industry you can imagine, and a wide range of pre-designed templates to get you started.
We also consistently advise job seekers that every resume and cover letter should be customized for each job search. That means it’s OK to have “boilerplate” documents ready to draw from, but the final documents should be tailored to each prospective employer and job opening.
You need to customize them for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that filter resumes according to whether they contain the keywords listed in each job description. It’s also strongly advisable to mention an employer’s company in a cover letter and explain why you want to work there specifically.
But once your job search has identified the ideal target employer, you want to be ready to strike while the iron is hot. So take full advantage of Resume.io’s toolbox to make sure that when your search turns up the perfect job, you’re ready to apply.
Best of luck in your job search!
Input = output. If you take the time to apply in a thoughtful manner to a large amount of roles, opportunities will come your way. Do not take rejections personally, seek feedback where possible, and amend your approach as appropriate. A difficult job search can be one of the most demoralising tasks in your life, but you have to keep believing that the right job for you is just around the corner. Keep on keeping on.
- Use a range of methods to find a new job, including LinkedIn, job boards and Google.
- Consider the elements you are looking for in a good job before you apply for anything. There is no point in applying for jobs with no prospects.
- Make sure you have a resume ready before you start your job search. There is no point in applying for jobs without a CV, you won't get very far!