According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and a recent survey by Employ, the dynamic between employers and candidates is starting to balance itself back out. That means it’s less of a candidate-driven market, but all the cards aren’t in the employer’s hands. How do we know this?
SHRM shared in a recent article, “The way that change manifests is in the longer time it takes for candidates to hear back from recruiters, the more time spent not knowing where they are in the process, getting ghosted by employers more often, and the decline of job postings.”
Is it taking longer to hear from recruiters or interviewers? Do you see fewer openings? If so, there is no need to worry about how this will affect your search. Here are five ways to keep your job search progressing.
Adopt A Proactive Job Search Strategy
Too many job seekers are passive in their search. You can’t employ a wait-and-see method. If you want to make progress, you’ll need to take action.
Utilize a target list
First, if you haven’t already created a target employer list, now is the time. Include at least 10 – 20 companies, but even better if you include 30 – 40; this gives you more flexibility in your search.
Next, make contact with every target company from your list. Follow them on LinkedIn, see what connections you have in common, and work to connect with at least 3 – 5 employees of each organization. Five employees at 30 companies mean 150 new relationships to build on LinkedIn. Now, you have a lot of possibilities. Odds are you’re connected with employees at some of your target organizations.
After making a new connection, you must consistently engage with your contacts. By engaging with them, I mean supporting their posts on LinkedIn by commenting on them and adding your thoughts, advice, opinions, and perspective. Engaging gets your name in front of them and helps position you as a subject matter expert; you take the first step by supporting them and their work.
This support-first strategy is more effective than asking for a job referral at the start of your new connection, which is awkward — and no one enjoys making a new relationship uncomfortable. Support and engage before making any asks for help.
Engage with companies
Most job seekers aren’t aware that you get spotlighted as a candidate when you engage with the company’s LinkedIn page. When you engage with a company’s LinkedIn page, posts, or ads and you apply to a job they’ve posted on LinkedIn, LinkedIn will spotlight you in the recruiter dashboard. This spotlight lets the recruiter know you’re a supporter who engages with their company and that you’re more likely to respond if they reach out to you about an open position.
Engagement is considered a like, share, or comment on a company’s post, content, or ad they place on LinkedIn.
You’ll also find a section on most LinkedIn company pages called Life. I encourage you to skim this section and look for a trending employee content subsection. Here, you’ll see recent posts from employees of the company that you can interact and engage with — making your research and engagement efforts easier. You can even locate active LinkedIn users who are also employees at your target company — double win!
Focus On Securing Referrals
Referrals are still your best option for getting interviews. There’s no way around it. Companies prefer to hire someone that a current employee has referred.
While I don’t advise directly asking someone to refer you to a job — especially if that someone is a new connection or someone you’ve never worked with professionally — it is OK to ask a close friend or contact who knows you and your work to act as a referral.
We want to move towards being able to ask for a referral from our new connections, like those employees of the target companies you’ve been engaging with on LinkedIn (wink, wink). To progress in that direction, I encourage you to start by asking for advice, information, or guidance — not for a job.
To do this simply and effectively, use a similar message as below:
I’ve enjoyed the content you’ve been sharing on LinkedIn the past few weeks, and if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate your feedback/advice/guidance if you have a minute. I’m new to (industry), and I’d like to proactively take steps in my career to work for (target company) one day. I see that you’ve had a successful career as a (position title) in (industry). Is there any advice you would be willing to share that might help me chart a similar path?
Of course, you can adapt or change this language to fit your unique career situation, but you want to keep it short, respect their time, and make sure you’re asking for advice or information.
Make Asking for Feedback A Habit
One of the changes we’re seeing as the market balances itself out is that it’s taking longer for job seekers to get through the hiring process. This lengthy process doesn’t mean you’re at the mercy of the hiring manager’s timeline. You can ask for feedback and information throughout the hiring process — from the first phone screen to the last interview and offer.
At the end of the initial recruiter screening, ask this question recommended by HBR, “Based on our conversation, how do you think my experience matches the needs of the job?”
If the recruiter plans to submit you to the next round, ask, “Is there anything specific I should highlight in upcoming interviews based on the job description or the intangibles not listed?”
If the recruiter seems aloof, ghosts you, or doesn’t want to provide any additional information, you can assume that you’re not a top candidate for the role. Here, you can choose to move on to other, more exciting positions, or if you’re interested in the company/role, HBR encourages asking the recruiter this question: “What additional information can I tell you to feel comfortable championing my candidacy for this role?” I like this question; it’s direct, assertive, and tells you precisely what is most important in the role.
During your interview, ask the company how they see your skills bringing value to the team. This question will let you know if there’s something unclear about the value you offer and your skills/experiences. If so, you have time before the interview is over to clarify and show examples of how you add value.
Before the interview ends, ask a question about culture fit.
“Do you think I would be a culture fit for future opportunities? I wouldn’t want to waste my time or yours if it’s not a match.”
Continue Your Search No Matter What
Don’t stop your job search if you get an interview for your dream role. And hear me on this — don’t stop your job search even if you get an offer. It sounds crazy, I know. But right now, with the market trying to balance itself out, we’re seeing an increased number of rescinded offers before candidates start and an increased number of workers losing roles two weeks into starting. While this most likely won’t happen to you, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The worst feeling in the world is putting your job search on pause because you got an interview with a great company and spent weeks going through the interview process, only to find out in the end that you didn’t get the offer and now have to restart your job search. It’s very defeating. A job search is stressful enough; don’t put yourself in a more difficult situation.
Keep your efforts going until you have started your new role. Keep taking interviews through your first two weeks on the job. Even then, don’t burn bridges or ghost employers. You never know when an offer may get rescinded or a layoff may happen. It’s better to respond professionally and promptly to each interview request.
Practice Consistent Engagement
I saved the best tip for last. It’s my favorite. It’s the one you have the most control over and produces the most significant results. The small, consistent efforts you make daily will add up to substantial progress in your job search.
I know this strategy works; I teach it to the students in my LinkedIn Unlocked course who put it to work every single day. The students who put the effort in to be consistent on LinkedIn were the ones who received messages from recruiters, interviews within days, and offers within two weeks.
First, ensure that your LinkedIn profile is complete, well-written, and optimized for the hard skills relevant to the role you’re targeting. That way, you’re always ready, and your profile continues to attract interest throughout your job search and career. If you need help with the basics and a keyword hack to increase your profile views, check out my free 5-day mini-course, where I will walk you through all the changes I made to my husband’s LinkedIn profile when he launched his job search this past March. The changes increased his profile views by 8500% and quadrupled his connections.
Next, start posting updates on LinkedIn. Write about what you know. Write about news in your industry. Share tips or advice that addresses a common problem in your line of work.
Don’t just scroll through your feed; start engaging. Take 10 – 15 minutes daily to comment on five posts from your connections. When you comment, ensure you’re adding value by offering your opinion, expertise, advice, or helpful tip. You’re helping to bring more visibility to that connection’s post, continuing the conversation, supporting the poster, and increasing your visibility on the platform — not to mention positioning yourself as an expert and building your brand.
Several of my students have received interviews because a recruiter saw a comment they wrote on a connection’s post. This strategy works if you do it consistently. It doesn’t take hours: just 10 – 15 minutes a day.
The five strategies I’ve shared above are the foundation of a proactive job search. Every job seeker needs to use a proactive strategy — but even more so in a market that’s a bit shaky and uncertain.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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