Experienced professionals, millennials, and recent college graduates have all heard or read career advice that begins with the word "networking." Networking is not an invention of the digital age. This isn't an admonishment of social media, but rather advice to incorporate classic methods of relationship building into a job search. Savvy job seekers meet potential colleagues and employers in real life.
Market yourself. Due to the convenience of digital networking, job seekers often neglect proven strategies for networking. Joining professional associations, attending industry conferences, and enrolling in continuing education courses will introduce a job seeker to the influencers in the industry. A warm smile, great eye contact, and a firm handshake could determine if a company calls you in for an interview. Meeting, building, and maintaining a professional relationship with contacts within your industry will payoff in your job search.
Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly tells Forbes, "Get connected... forums and best of all in person. This way you'll understand how the ecosystem works and where to find the most promising points of entry."
A US News report listed the worst career moves a job seeker can make in 2015. Can you guess what is the first thing on the list? An unfocused job search. Dan Schawbel, career expert and author of "Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success," warns that haphazardly applying for jobs out of desperation will only waste time and induce stress. He tells US News, "Don't submit job applications and résumés for postings for which you're not qualified."
Do not live by the motto, "slinging mud against a wall to see what sticks." Approach your job search using the same methods your high school guidance counselor used during your college search. The Princeton Review, the test prep company, details the differences between reach, target, and safety schools. Based on your experience, credentials, and salary history, create your own guidelines for reach, target, and safety positions.
Instead of applying to every advertisement, invest more time in creating a strong resume, cover letter, and portfolio that paints an accurate picture of your assets. Focus your job search on positions that are a realistic match for you. Live by the motto, "quality trumps quantity."
Reaching out with a letter that compliments the organization is a natural segue into expressing your interest in the company's future. Make it professional, but let your personality shine. Be memorable by investing in quality stationary. If you really want to stand out, address it to the person in the organization who would be your boss's boss.
If you see an advertisement online, you don't have to choose between an online application and traditional mail. Choose both. Complete the digital application and send a hard copy. Skip human resources, address the cover letter to your prospective manager emphasizing your interest. Going the extra mile can get you invited in for an interview.
Regardless of the industry or department you work in, if you are unemployed, changing careers, new or returning to the workforce, you must become are a self-employed salesman. Your experience and education is the product you are selling. Reading Zig Ziglar's sales tome, Secrets of Closing the Sale, will improve your ability to sell yourself. When a recruiter reviews your resume, will she see interwoven features and benefits? Highlight how your hobbies positively impact your productivity. Close the sale on paper so that the interview becomes a formality. Standing out from the crowd lets opportunity find you.