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The majority of clients I speak to as a recruiter and interview coach use online job boards as their primary source of finding opportunities.

However, according to many sources, less than 20-30% of hires come from job boards.

Applying to hundreds of jobs online isn’t the best option to get hired – so why do we spend so much time doing that?

Of course, applying for jobs online is less scary than networking. But to beat the odds when you’re job searching, you shouldn’t spend more than 20%-30% of your time responding to job postings. You should also make sure your resume is strong and that your LinkedIn profile is engaging and easy to find.

You need to spend the remaining time building a robust network that can help you find a job which might not be advertised on any job board.

Here are my top tips on how to beat the odds when you’re job searching:

Create a List of Target Companies

It’s easier to get hired when you know which companies are hiring, so find out where your potential employers are by reading job boards as well as industry news, business journals and company websites.

Once you’ve created a list of targeted companies where you want to work, check their job sites weekly. Also talk to your network and search LinkedIn to find people who are currently working, or worked in the past, at each of your targeted companies.

Connect With Decision-Makers and Recruiters

Let’s assume you’ve found the ideal job on a job board. You might be tempted to apply immediately, but before you do that, go to the company’s career site and check the job out. Can you find out who the hiring manager is?

If so, try to connect with them on LinkedIn. If you don’t have any mutual connections, you can always join one of the groups the hiring manager belongs to. Joining a group will allow you to engage in a conversation with anyone belonging to the group. You can also Google the name and reach out to them on Twitter, Google+ or their blog.

Your short invitation to connect should evoke their interest. One of the ways you can do it is to reference a shared interest or comment on something in their profile or status update. You want to come across as interesting and likable – not a desperate job seeker.

Ask for Information – Not a Job

I’d strongly advise that you don’t just jump to asking for their help in getting the job. Before a stranger is willing to help you, they have to know you and trust you.

A genuine compliment on something they’ve done professionally might go a long way, and asking for advice on the industry or a company should also be well received.

Don’t try to be clever by sending your resume to a “name” if that name doesn’t know you. If you want to get hired, first get referred by someone the manager trusts. You can also find people who know the manager. Talk to them first. Help them vet you, so they’ll want to refer you to their friend the manager. Ask everyone you know if they know a person at the company you have targeted. If they don’t, ask them if they know someone who might.

Increase Your Chances By 40% – Get Referred

As the New York Times reported:

Even getting in the door for an interview is becoming more difficult for those without connections. Referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview as other applicants, according to a new study of one large company by three economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For those who make it to the interview stage, the referred candidates had a 40 percent better chance of being hired than other applicants.

Let your contacts within your target companies know what jobs you are interested in and keep your fingers crossed that your contact is willing to be a referral. You want to make them feel like they helped you, so don’t forget to send them a thank you note and keep them in the loop about your candidacy.

Keep Improving Your Skills

Depending on the type of a job you’re looking for or if you’re looking to change industries, you need to make sure your skills and qualifications are up to scratch. At Yieldify, learning is one of our core values, so  during the interview process, we always ask candidates what they’ve learnt recently or how they’ve improved their skills.

Learning new skills doesn’t have to be hard. There are many evening courses and schools and universities offering online or distance learning, e.g.  Wilhelm Büchner University which is designed for working professionals.

In Summary

Don’t rely on job boards, keep improving your skills, talk to as many people as possible; and give your contacts some credible reasons to see you as an insider, which will improve your odds of having someone pay attention to your application.

If you need some help with getting more interviews or/and improving your interview technique, check out my interview coaching services or my Career Acceleration Plan.

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