Module 03: Job Search

3.2 Job Search Strategies

Before starting your job search, it’s essential to know which positions you plan on targeting. That way, when you encounter a job posting, you’ll be better positioned to determine whether it fits with your target roles. For example, do the main duties/responsibilities of the role appeal to you? What qualifications are required for the position? Identifying which sectors you plan on targeting can also be helpful to your search.  If there are a variety of potential sectors, which ones appeal to you most? Do you already have target companies you’ve identified as ideal employers for a target position?

Making use of a variety of job search approaches and staying active and engaged will only lead to more employment opportunities. Take the time to come up with a job search action plan that will allow you to leverage your existing network, make industry-related contacts, and expand on your employment opportunities.

Did you know that up to 80% of available jobs can only be found in the hidden job market?

The hidden job market is a term used to refer to employment opportunities that are not publicly advertised or posted. These positions are typically filled either by internal candidates within the company or via network referrals, recruiters or friends.

Whereas you can access the visible job market with your resumé, cover letter and through an interview, accessing the invisible or hidden job market requires networking which may involve activities such as using social media, informational interviews and attending professional events.

The percentage of jobs that are hidden depends on the industry and the level or type of the job you are applying to. For example, in some IT companies, entry-level positions are posted online, whereas more senior or more specialized positions tend to be more “hidden”.

Accessing the hidden job market requires perseverance and creativity. However, job seekers who use strategies to access it face less competition. Take a look at the diagram below. The triangle on the left shows how most job seekers look for jobs and the triangle on the right shows how most employers prefer to hire. It’s clear that job seekers using conventional methods are not investing their time as wisely as they could be.

In Figure 3.1 are two triangles with one triangle inverted. Each triangle is divided into 5 components labelled as Resume, Job Advertisement, Employment Agency, Referral and Hiring from Within. The two triangles illustrate that employers place greater emphasis on areas that are minimized by job seekers when hiring for positions. Example: Employers place the greatest emphasis on hiring from within while job seekers place their greatest emphasis on the resume. Employers place the least emphasis on the resume.
Figure 3.1 How most job seekers look for jobs and how most employers prefer to hire.

Adapted from What Colour is Your Parachute?
Bolles, R. N. (2009). What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Toronto: Ten Speed Press: p. 9

Diversify your Job Search Strategies

Employers are hiring from multiple channels to source qualified candidates, and job seekers should do the same. Try to think outside of the box to network and tap into hidden job markets by diversifying your job search activities.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What job search strategies have I been using in the past? How effective were they?
  2. What are some new strategies that I could use to be more successful in my job search?

Making use of a variety of job search approaches will yield greater results. Possible strategies include:

  • Social media
  • Employment centres /staffing agencies
  • Recruiters
  • Networking
  • Job search sites
  • Company websites
  • Professional associations
  • Email campaign
  • Job fairs

Online Job Search Sites

The process of looking for a job today is vastly different than it was even 10 years ago. Today’s job seeker needs to be able to effectively navigate a multitude of online job sites. Even though many positions are filled through networking, online job postings remain a popular job search strategy.

There are various types of online job search sites:

Job search engines: These are platforms that pull jobs from various employer websites or job boards. Examples: Indeed, Simply Hired, Government of Canada Job Bank.

Job boards: The company that owns the job board sources and posts jobs and employers may have to pay a fee to post a position. Examples: Magnet, Monster, Talent Egg and Workopolis.

Company websites: Employers often post opportunities within the company on their website in an Employment or Careers section.

Social media sites: Social media websites may post job postings through an embedded job section (e.g. LinkedIn) or via posts. (e.g. Twitter).

Some of these sites are easy to navigate and some are less so. While each of these sites is a little different, here are some basic guidelines that will help you use them more effectively:

  • Find a reputable website with postings that are relevant to your job target(s)
  • Keep your profile up-to-date
  • Customize your resume and cover letter for each position
  • Sign up for job alerts- many sites will allow you to save one or more job search parameters and sign-up for email notification when posted jobs match your search
  • Follow recruiters, organizations as well as employees that interest you to find out about job openings via social media

Here’s a list of general job sites that may be of interest:

Track your Job Search

A job search is a part-time job in itself! It can be helpful to set some structure for yourself by setting short and long-term goals. For example, you may determine that finding a summer “survival job” is your short-term goal while your mid-term goal may be to volunteer and network in your chosen field.

Just as you would in a paid job, it may be helpful to set up a weekly schedule or routine to provide structure for your job search. Completing tasks on a daily to-do list can create a sense of satisfaction and progress. Setting weekly benchmarks for submitting a certain number of job applications or connecting with a certain number of LinkedIn contacts may also be motivating.

Supporting your mental health especially during a vulnerable period is important. Promoting self-care can take many forms -it’s personal to the individual- whether it’s reaching out to friends or getting lost in a book or video game, meditation or taking a long bubble bath. This may be something you’ll want to log as well to signal that, it too, is an important component in the job search.

To stay organized in your job search, you may wish to keep track of the applications that you have submitted. A Job Search Log whether online or paper allows you to record the application date, posting, organization name and any contact people or notes associated with the application. Should you receive a request for a job interview or want to check in about the status of your application, you’ll have the details at your fingertips for reference.

Table 3.2 Job Search Log

Job Search Log
Company/Organization Contact Email/Phone Position Title Date Applied/Connected Follow-up
City of Toronto Indira Patel Practical Nurse Feb 10, 2021

Download a copy of the Job Search Log.

Job Search Log   PDF image  .docx


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