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Job-hunting: a contact sport

Updated on June 16, 2012

So you need a job....

You need a job.

You and about every third person on the block, right? So how do you stand out from the crowd?

With hundreds or thousands of applications for every position, we know that nobody is reading resumes. Or if they do read them it is after they have been winnowed by R2D2 or CP3O. Most resumes are “read” by a computer. If your resume doesn’t contain the key words in the position description, forget the human factor, your resume is going directly into the recycle bin.

As in the old days, interpersonal networking leads to jobs more often than answering any ad. There is more than a little truth to “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Of course, what you know is important, but it doesn’t come into play if you never get to the interview or your resume never appears before human eyes.

Connecting the Dots

Go to a networking site such as LinkedIn and click on the latest job posting you see. I just did that and the first job that I clicked on showed that 129 people had already clicked on “Apply.”

So how do you rise above all that?

Make them come to you.

The best ways to network is face to face, the second best is to continue to allow your contacts to work for you, even if it is through the Internet. Two of the best ways to do that are through Google and LinkedIn.

Now, if you want to be the first name that pops up when someone is searching for a “manager” “public relations” job, you will have to do some serious prep work, linking to the same key words in your profile, resume, website, or whatever. You need something like 75-80 links to get you on the first page, and if you haven’t already started that bus rolling, you might want to go a more natural route through a website such as LinkedIn, which is designed solely for developing professional connections.

It is nice—sometimes an ego boost—to have hundreds of contacts; look at Facebook.

LinkedIn can be simply Facebook with more professional “friends,” or it can be a tool to find the connections who are hiring.

There are two prongs to finding a job through LinkedIn. One is putting yourself out there, as the saying goes, by including all the key words that get you noticed. That would mean researching the terms typically used in position descriptions for the job you want and extracting those that appear most commonly for use as key words in your own profile.

The other way is to search for who is hiring and try to make connections, either through adding enough connections of your own to develop a huge network or by joining groups and organizations to which your targeted employers belong.

Also, take advantage of the advanced search option on the top right of the page to find who in your network (to the third level) might be in the position of hiring. First-level connections are your own contacts; second level comprises their contacts and third level is for contacts of your contacts’ contacts. So, if you have 100 contacts, each of whom has 100 contacts you have 10,100. Then add their 100 assumed contacts and you suddenly are reaching an incredibly rich network of people with reasonably similar interests. Grow your network to 300-400 or more and you have serious numbers of contacts through the third degree. Use the city in which you seek to work and a job title, whether VP marketing, for example, or director of communications, HR manager, etc. to see who turns up.

Obviously, connections are critical and you would do well to expand your network as much as possible, especially by adding connections with 500 or more contacts. These third degree contacts are multipliers that add depth to your contact pool.

Remember that you have a lifetime quota of 3,000 LinkedIn invitations, though, so be judicious in making invitations, especially if you can casually talk people into inviting you.

Wait for the Signal provides an easy view of status updates for connections who indicate that they are hiring, giving an advance edge over those who are waiting for the positions to appear on a job board. The filters on the left of the page allow you to define what information you will have gleaned from the deluge of information flowing through LinkedIn. They allow you to search by location, industry, company, etc. Add “hiring” or "human resources/HR" in the search filter at the top and voila! You have completed a narrowed search of your contacts. And remember, you are not searching all jobs in the area or all LinkedIn contacts, only your own, but following these few simple steps can give you the edge to be at the head of line instead of racing along behind, winded and panting to catch up.

Keywords can also help you to track contacts by name or topics, or follow and easy-to-read stream of updates in real time. Or you can follow trends, hot links or who’s following them.

These are powerful tools that should accelerate your job search. I’d love to hear from you about your success.


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    • Clive Donegal profile image

      Clive Donegal 5 years ago from En Route

      Thank you!

    • traslochimilano profile image

      traslochimilano 5 years ago from USA

      Great Work

    • Clive Donegal profile image

      Clive Donegal 6 years ago from En Route

      You don't necessarily have to have more than 500 contacts, but it makes sense to garner as many contacts who have 500 or more of their own to expand your network dramatically.

    • Marble Sweets profile image

      Marble Sweets 6 years ago

      I once tuned in to a webinar that said if you really want to show up first on LinkedIn Signal you have to have over 500 contacts and the best way is to connect with "super-users". I haven't really tried it because it fairly irritates me that I have to practically know SEO to get the friggin' JOB.