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Planning the Job Hunt

Finding a good job is usually a "numbers game" - the more effort you put into it and the more people you contact, the more good quality opportunities you will uncover. The more opportunities you uncover, the more you have the power to choose the best of them.

Like any major effort, planning is essential for a good job hunt. If you are organised and use your time efficiently, then you will contact more people and find more opportunities.

Plan the time you need to find a job into your schedule and set yourself targets. Treat finding a good new job as a job or project in its own right, putting as much effort into it as you would expect to put into your job.

Think about it this way - a job in your chosen sector might take you, for example, 50 applications to find. If you make 5 applications a month, it will take you 10 months to find a
good job. If you make 20 applications a week, it will take less than a month. Hard work pays
off quickly.

Job Hunting - From the recruiter's perspective

If you think that the best way for you to find a job is to post resumes on the Internet, use job sites or browse advertisements in publications, then think again - these are among the last methods that recruiters use.

How Recruiters Search for Staff

When employers recognise the need for a new employee, the first thing they do is look around internally or look at people they already know outside the company. By filling a role with someone they already know, they get someone whose performance and reputation is established. They can be confident that that person will succeed in the role. They can also avoid advertising costs or agency/recruiter fees, which can cost an employer something like
20 - 30% of the employee's first year salary.

Many of the best positions are filled before they are ever advertised externally.

Next, recruiters will look at people who have sent their resumes directly to the organisation - these people have shown an interest in the company and cost nothing to recruit.

Only when this approach fails do recruiters advertise positions or put requirements out to agencies. If the role is good, they will expect many applications for it - competition can
therefore be intense.

Recruiters will often only search resume sites if they are starting to get desperate.

To get the best jobs, your goal should therefore be to make contact as early as possible, ideally before the role is advertised or put out to agencies. This is why the strategies of networking and targeting are so important.

Job Hunting Strategies

In tailoring your job search strategy to fit the way recruiters look for staff, there are a number of major approaches that you can use:

  • Networking: Networking is one the main ways that you can uncover jobs that have not yet been advertised - up to a third of jobs are found this way.
  • Targeting Organisations: Targeting involves researching companies in particular industries and applying for jobs directly, either applying for jobs advertised on the company's web site or applying speculatively for jobs that may not yet be advertised.
  • Using Agencies/Search firms: Many jobs with the best firms will never reach agencies and will never be advertised - they will already have been filled by candidates who have targeted the organisations or who have networked their way in. Agencies, however, have established their own networks within industries - this makes them useful for you and for recruiters.
  • Using the Internet: Using the Internet is the most beguiling of job search strategies - it promises to help you to find a wide range of jobs with minimal effort. Bear in mind, however, that the best jobs may never be advertised on the Internet and that dream jobs are as easy for other people to apply for as they are for you. Even then, there are many excellent resources available on the Internet.
  • Responding to job ads: A job published in a job advertisement is effectively put out to competitive tender. If you apply for it, you will be competing with many others who want the job. Job ads are useful as a way of showing which industries are doing well and in giving an idea of the overall jobs market. Also, who knows - you may be lucky and find a good job through them!

The job market (like the market for homes) is a very fragmented, imperfect market. Job openings may be advertised in a vast range of different ways. Many jobs will be filled before you find out about them. Others will be advertised using only one channel. Some will be so widely advertised that they attract thousands of applicants.

Your best approach will be to use some or all of the different job hunting strategies together. This gives you a reasonable coverage of channels for your time. Whatever you do, though, don't worry about covering the whole job market - there are so many people, agencies, web sites and job boards out there that it would be impossible to speak to, visit or look at them all. Just do as much good quality job hunting as you can fit into the time available.

Job Hunting Tips:

  • Be professional in the way you manage your job hunt - recruiters will be watching your approach and judging your professionalism as they deal with you.
  • Keep a good track of the people and companies you talk to. It can be hugely embarrassing to forget that you have already spoken to someone!
  • If you make commitments to people, make sure you deliver on them. When you talk to people, send them a letter of thanks - this will help to fix you in their minds as someone they want to help, and will keep your name in front of them that little bit longer...