I’m sure you have heard people talking all the time about how they found an amazing new job through a connection or referral. They didn’t even have to touch an online application. These are the lucky people, right? How do they do it? Are they just naturally lucky or well-connected? How can I get those results?

Online applications are by far the most common job search method. Unfortunately, they are the least effective. Why? Because 80% of all job openings are filled before they ever reach the general public! You probably figured that out after you’ve been searching and applying with no luck for months or longer. First, we need to expose the truth about job boards and what you really should be using them for. Then we’ll go in-depth and explore three strategies for uncovering job opportunities without ever applying online!

Job boards are good for three things…

  • Research: Job boards help you to see what’s generally out there and who is hiring. If you are changing career paths, it is especially good to use them as a guide for branding yourself towards the new career.
  • Skill gaps: Study job descriptions that you find online to determine gaps in your qualifications and what you need to emphasize on your resume before you apply.
  • Salary research: When you want to know if you are being paid fairly, you would want to look at comparable jobs on the market to help you determine if you are paid fairly. Job boards can help with this.

What they are NOT good for is serving as your sole strategy for uncovering job opportunities.

Never have only one strategy for anything in life and that includes looking for your dream job. It’s important to look for open jobs outside of job boards. And jobs in the hidden job market do exist in abundance, so it’s not a waste of time to pursue companies or contacts that don’t appear to have an opening for you right away. If you're willing to do the work to find these openings, here is what you will need to do.

Here are three things you can do right now to start uncovering new opportunities:

  1. Reconnect with your former co-workers. Stay engaged with the people you know and like the best and have a genuine long-term friendship with them. Expand your circle of people that you are connected to both personally and professionally. It will enrich your life in so many ways even beyond the job search.

  1. Research industry conferences and conventions. Conferences and conventions are an amazing opportunity to learn new insights about your industry and make new connections. They are relevant connections because they are in your industry. Get familiar with the major events in your industry and do your due diligence to go and make connections that you will follow up on.

  1. Tap into professional associations. I’m a fan of joining professional associations. They may have job openings that are not posted in other places or have people and resources to connect you to those jobs. Members often take care of each other because the association is there to support you in your career. Join these groups but do more than just join them; be active! It’s a great way to get noticed and build solid connections.

If you do one of these three things, it’s a great start. If you do two of them, then you are a cut above the rest. And if you do all three of them, you are unstoppable!
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