4 Methods of Job Searching

Job searching is a competitive event and in today’s market that competition is fierce. To borrow a theme from a recent reality show you will need to be able to outwit the competitors’ approach, outplay others in details, and outlast your competition with perseverance. Those job seekers who learn how the game of finding a job is played and prepare themselves well are the ones who will win.

An effective job search campaign relies on the implementation of four methods of searching which can be classified as either passive approaches or active approaches. What sets these two apart is the amount of focused meaningful person-to-person contact you have.

An effective job search campaign relies on the implementation of four methods of searching. They include:

  1. Networking – Locating a “bridge” into a target company – an active approach
  2. Responding to published openings—on the Web and in classifieds – a passive approach
  3. Working with recruiters – a passive approach
  4. Contacting companies directly – can be a passive or active approach
  • Method #1: Networking

    Most jobs are found by the active approach of networking: gathering information that results in job leads by talking to friends, relatives, former employers, colleagues, former professors, association members, just about everyone you know.

    Networking allows you to broaden your exposure by gathering information.

    The single most effective method of obtaining a new position is through networking. 75-80% of all jobs are obtained through this method. Networking is the ongoing process of obtaining, from personal contacts, information leading to job openings.

    Networking does not involve asking anyone for a job!

    As the term indicates, your goal is to continually build an ever-widening network that ultimately reaches within your industry specific business environment until you unearth employer needs and positions.

    Pools of unadvertised jobs are referred to as the “hidden job market” and are filled by people who know and inform other people, in other words, by those involved in the networking process.

    It is sometimes said the best jobs don’t make it to the “open market”; they are filled by word of mouth quickly or exclusively. Networking is your vehicle directly into the hidden market.

    The Hidden Job Market is vast, as it contains:

    1. Positions that soon will result from impending reorganizations
    2. Planned openings as a result of new and unannounced corporate plans
    3. Anticipated openings from emerging organizational or procedural problems
    4. Jobs due open from impending retirements, resignations or from staff expansions
    5. Jobs that will be advertised next week
    6. Last month’s jobs that weren’t filled
    7. Jobs released to only one placement agency

    You may be surprised to experience that the most far-fetched tips and your most unexpectedly helpful contacts turn out to become your best leads. Don’t censor or second guess any job leads; follow up on them all. There’s no way to predict which leads will prove most valuable and whose information will bring you face to face with the decision maker who hires you.

    1. Create your contact list
    2. Create your list of target (ideal) employers for contacts to view
    3. Set up the networking meeting by telephone or letter
    4. Prepare for the networking meeting
    5. Conduct the networking meeting
    6. Follow up the networking meeting

    A list of preferred employers is a great aid to your networking contacts who may assist you in reaching “insiders” within those companies.

    After you have completed the preliminaries, it’s time to set up the networking meetings. Use these resources to help you with telephone calls and letters/emails.

    Prepare for your networking meetings by deciding on objectives in advance. By doing so, you will maximize your time with each contact. Use the links below to prepare for your networking meeting.

    Begin to ask questions you prepared in advance and create a dialogue. Show your list of targeted companies. Be sure not to end without asking for several names of others who would be willing to network with you.

    The networking referrals you are seeking will fall into three categories:

    1. Names of personal contacts
    2. Names of professionals at any level within your preferred organizations and industries
    3. Decision-makers within your preferred organizations and industries, as well as in specific companies and departments

    Follow up each networking meeting by mailing or e-mailing a thank you letter within one week of the meeting. If you have good penmanship, you may want to hand write your note on high grade paper or business stationery to personalize it.

  • Method #2: Respond to Published Openings

    5-15% of all jobs are obtained through advertisements

    Search consistently for openings – on the Web and in the classifieds.

    The key to landing a position using this strategy is to write an ad response cover letter that stands out from other job seekers.

    Do this by taking time to match your skills and experience to the requirements listed in the ad. Address every point mentioned to show you ideally match the company’s needs.

    Personalize your follow up phone calls (3-5 days after responding to ads) by being friendly and enthusiastic. The more you can “connect” with the person doing the hiring, the better your chances are of getting an interview. Employers hire people they come to know and like.

  • Method #3: Work with Recruiters

    10-20% of all jobs are found through recruiters. There are two categories:

    Retained– Retained recruiters are hired by companies to recruit senior level executives with salaries close to $100k and above. Identify firms that specialize in your field, then mail your resume to as many of them as possible. It is not necessary to follow up with retained firms; if they determine your background fits a specific set of criteria, they will contact you.

    Contingency– Contingency recruiters seek a broader range of recruits from lower mid level through and including senior level professionals. Call several firms that specialize in your field, mail your resume to them, and follow up weekly to inquire about available opportunities.

    • Recruiters are in the business of providing a service to client companies; companies with a specific need for (usually narrowly defined) skills will hire a recruiter, either retained or contingency, to find an individual to fill those needs.
    • You will be of interest to a recruiter if and only if, you meet the rather precise needs he or she has been hired to fill.
    • Do not give any contingency firm an exclusive “right” to work on your behalf.
    • There is no correct number of agencies with which you ought to work; the quality of the relationship you have with your recruiters should guide you in selecting the number you work with.
    • Select the firms you will work with carefully-research directories and networking contacts are considered excellent sources of recruiter information.
    • The initial contact with a recruiting firm ought to begin with a telephone call. Obtain a contact name, determine type of firm; and determine whether there are any immediate assignments that pertain to your background.
    • Always include a cover letter when forwarding your resume to a recruiting firm.

  • Method #4: Contact Companies Directly

    5-15% of all jobs are obtained contacting companies directly

    For return on effort, approaching companies is less effective than networking in tapping into the hidden job market. But doing so can help you penetrate organizations where referrals have been unable to. By contacting hiring managers directly, you are also working toward building relationships with individuals who may be helpful to you in the future.

    Your goal in approaching companies is not an immediate job interview, but a foot in the door. You can pique interest by writing and sending a compelling marketing letter, then following up and requesting a meeting.

    When contacting companies directly, you may uncover two types of openings:

    1. a current opening which is vacant and needs to be filled
    2. a created opening, established when a company recognizes how you can make a meaningful contribution

    Combine the four basic plays – People find jobs using each of the four methods of searching so don’t overlook any viable activity. Schedule your time according to the effectiveness of each method, investing the majority of time in networking activities.

    Personalize your contacting – Employers hire people, not resumes or letters. Look for opportunities to meet face to face with hiring managers.

    Keep playing until you win – Finding a job is a numbers game; the more people you contact, the sooner you will find a new position. Regardless of the ups and downs, keep going, with a positive attitude, until you have an offer.

    Set goals and work full time – Work at your campaign with the same discipline you would work in any position. Keep regular hours and develop ways to measure what you do.


    Finding a new position is a full time job. Plan to work at it with the same discipline you would work in any position. Keep regular hours and develop ways to measure what you do.

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