Most–and Least–Effective Methods of Job Hunting


This is a guest post by Holly Miller on Job Hunting. You can check out the guidelines for guest posting on our “guest posting guidelines” page.

Finding a job during solid economic times can seem frustrating. Finding a job during a recession can be exponentially more so. Depending on your expertise, education and experience, months can pass before you might get contacted for an interview. You submit hundreds of applications and send hundreds of resumes, but you still wait and wait and wait. Before you give up entirely, ask yourself not if you can increase your efforts but if you are focusing them in the right venues in the right proportions.

There are five main methods for job hunting. Each has its benefits, but not all are of equal ROI or, return on investment—your time, your effort and sometimes your expense. Below are those five methods in order of the least to most effective ROI.

Method 5: Job Fairs.

Job fairs are better job search tools in healthy economic times than in recessions. The representatives manning the employer booths are not decision-makers; they are there to take applications and answer general questions. Conduct yourself professionally at all times if you attend a job fair, but there are so many extraneous applications taken during recession job fairs that most applications and resumes are barely perused by anyone at the employer. Only the applicant whose qualifications jump off the page and dance in the air is considered more closely.

Method 4: Internet Searches

Yes, this is next-to-last. Whether in good times or bad, at most, only about 4 percent of all jobs posted on Internet job listing sites, et al, are ever filled via electronic submissions. It’s a valid way to search for a job, but don’t put a lot of effort into it with direct application. Instead, consider it a “standards review” used to determine those qualifications and qualities that employers in your industry need or want at this time.

Too many people believe that if an employer places an ad on a job listings site that the employer prefers this submission method. Some might, but don’t count on getting much of a response: There are more grossly unqualified applications submitted through these electronic means than received through the mail. The more chaff to sift through, the more easily the qualified applicant will get overlooked.

Method 3: Blanket Submissions

Barely above the ROI of Internet searches, sending resumes and applications to everyone in the phone book may hook an interview fish just by lucky cast, but don’t count on those odds very often. Instead, keep your efforts focused: Know the industry, the size and focus of the employer, the position responsibilities and the location that interest you most.

Don’t approach a job search with the attitude that you’ll accept any job you are offered. That attitude is sensed, and it doesn’t create a confident, knowledgeable and reliable impression for a prospective employer.

Method 2: Newspaper Ads

This tried-and-true job search method has long held positive results, perhaps more so since Internet submissions: Fewer people answer print ads because of the time, effort and expense required. Many people read a print ad then search for the position on the Internet. If found, they send the electronic submission instead of the hard copy.

Method 1: Networking

This method is a perennial front-runner. Networking in a job search doesn’t mean hounding your friends, family or neighbors for a job day after day, but asking for advice on submissions, search parameters, techniques improvement and even interview rehearsals.

True, occasionally someone you know might have direct knowledge of an open position for which you might qualify, but he will rarely refer you right away. If he does, ask if you can use his name as the referral source. It might be just enough to get you an interview. You’d be on your own from that point, but if you hadn’t approached that person and created not the desperate, “Please hire me. I really need a job—any job—any job at all” impression but the calm, professional, considered impression you did, you probably wouldn’t be submitting the resume.