Going on the hunt for a new job can be both exciting and frustrating, and more of the latter if you don't have a solid plan. You might get to the point where you've sent out hundreds of resumes, attended dozens virtual job fairs, and hit "Instant Apply" on LinkedIn more times than you can count, yet still no offers. You also might be growing tired of the rejection emails, the multiple interview rounds that lead nowhere, or the low-quality correspondences about jobs that are way below your experience and pay grade. Figuring out how to find your next gig can be more than draining.
If any of this sounds familiar to you or you feel seen, we've got you covered with a better way to attack your job search and come out the victor:
Elevate your online presence.
More than 50 percent of recruiters are using social media to find job candidates, according to recent research, so it's time you up the ante on the web. You'll need to get creative, and there are so many cool and free ways to do this. You can set up a free Wix or Weebly website or a simple About.me page with your photo and resume presented in a way that is both visually pleasing, informative, and engaging. Keep it simple but allow it to reflect your personality and who you are outside of what you do. (And, unless you're in a creative industry, don't go too crazy with colors, fonts, and other elements that might be distracting. Keep it clean and let the storytelling about who you are and what you offer shine).
You can also spruce up your Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter pages by getting some professional headshots done and updating a bit more often with posts that include insights on solving a problem or highlights on your niche knowledge, experiences, and expertise.
If you're into shooting videos, start a YouTube channel discussing issues you're passionate about (job- or industry-related, of course) and again, keep it simple (unless you're a whiz at video production and editing).
So you've only been relying on email or private messages? Sis, you might have to actually visit a few offices in person (if safe and possible). Call and inquire about a recent job post, and ask about additional information so that you can strategize a better way to approach applying. Connect with an executive assistant, receptionist, or maybe even someone who might become your future coworker—in person.
Attend in-person fairs instead of virtual ones. While you might not want to shove a resume in someone's face at a conference or panel, a brief face-to-face encounter is a good icebreaker for when you do follow up with an email about a recent job opening.
(And take your resume anyway. You never know if your perfect moment to shoot your shot might come up. Be sure to read the room. This is where good social skills and strategic initiative come in.) If unsure, just get their contact information to cultivate a relationship and work your way toward that perfect moment to pitch yourself in the future.
Get a coach or connect with a head hunter.
Sometimes it's best to get some help from a professional who can be your sounding board for your frustrations, assist you in creating a better strategy, and connect you with legitimate job leads. This is especially important when you have more than 10 years of experience in the industry because, at that point, you'd be looking for opportunities that reflect your growth, career fulfillment needs, and salary requirements.
The best place to start is LinkedIn because you want to be sure you're getting a person who's about results and has credibility.
Many career coaches and headhunters detail their experience, background, methods, and success stories on LinkedIn, and finding one can lead you to others who might be a good fit.
Also, try contacting your former college's career center or alumni office to get information on people who provide coaching or headhunting services. Check out resources like the National Career Development Organization (NCDO) or the Professional Organization of Resume Writers and Career Coaches to find reputable professionals. (And here's a good time-saving trick: Do a bit of digging into their social pages. Oftentimes you'll find professionals you can reach out to among their follower lists.)
Consider civic, internship, fellowship, or volunteer work.
Don't roll your eyes just yet. When you're unemployed or are changing careers, ain't nobody got time to give away their time for free or for lower pay than expected. But hear us out, sis. If you've already been hitting job search walls for a while, it won't hurt to offer a few hours a week toward volunteering for an organization, entrepreneur, or company initiative in order to spark relationships, showcase your abilities and build trust in your potential to become a paid employee. (And even if it doesn't lead to a job at that company or brand, it's an experience that you can market for another opportunity.)
It could be a breast cancer advocacy walk where you know certain sponsors and their key executives will be involved. It could be a church event, local school program, a blood drive—even a political or advocacy march or demonstration. Position yourself to not only do good but to be in the presence of others who might have job leads.
Internships and fellowships (even if you're past your college days) are also great for getting your foot in the door and gaining experience.
Post-grad internships provide opportunities for professionals who have already earned degrees but do not fit the requirements of traditional internships. Most fellowships provide some sort of stipend, grand, or modest salary and might even include benefits, relocation funds, and health insurance.
Another option is military enlistment or applying for the Peace Corps (which is an independent non-military entity). The age limit for some military branches goes up to 35, and both paths provide a great way to not only expand your horizons (both mentally and physically) but to cultivate and apply your skills to a multitude of industries and roles while serving.
Broaden your standards and think outside the box.
Don't limit yourself by the degree you earned or the industry you've always worked in. True, some jobs require certain certifications and specialized education, but many jobs rely on transferable skills. For example, you could have a bachelor's degree in marketing but your skills might be ideal for a sports organization, news outlet, or nonprofit, not just for a marketing agency or advertising firm. Or let's say you've been an educator in a traditional school system for five years. Well, that same leadership, class management, and lesson plan composition skills could be used for corporate training, research, or standardized test development.
Love fashion but you're a tech geek? Get your foot in the door via IT or graphic design, and then work your way into a different department. If you've always worked in the for-profit sector, why not explore nonprofits and use your talents there? Only looking at the big Fortune 100 companies? Why not get your feet wet first at a startup or mid-sized brand?
You have to think about the long game in order to win in sustainable career advancement, so sometimes taking the alternative or nontraditional route to gaining employment is a better idea in the long run.
For more job search tips, career advice, and profiles, check out the xoNecole Workin Girl section here.
Featured image via Getty Images