Jordan Carroll (aka The Remote Job Coach) has been remote for 7+ years, living in 15 countries on 5 continents. He helps high performers find and land legitimate remote jobs to gain more freedom and flexibility in their lives. By creating content, courses, and coaching programs, his methodologies have been used successfully by thousands of remote job seekers searching for their dream roles at remote-first companies. This article was originally published on theremotejobcoach.com.
The majority of job seekers I talk to are spending numerous hours a week scanning through endless job boards and submitting resumes.
The LinkedIn easy apply button to them is like a shiny toy to a kid. They can’t help but push it over and over again, sometimes 100s of times per week.
And while it may seem counterintuitive, the amount of time and effort spent applying should be a very small percentage of the time allocated during a strategic and targeted job search.
This is why I’m advocating for you to stop applying to so many jobs — because you’re probably doing it too much.
In this article, I’ll tell you the best way to spend your time in a job search. Hint: It’s not applying for more jobs.
Do Online Job Applications Work?
I want to clarify, applying to jobs should be part of a mix of activities in your job search strategy.
In no way am I saying you shouldn’t apply at all.
But I am saying you should use your time on the activities that give you the highest chance of success. The more time you spend submitting applications, the less you’re able to focus on creating unique and customized applications.
Lead Your Job Search with Networking
The statistics overwhelmingly show networking is the most effective way to land interviews and ultimately get hired.
Multiple studies estimate that 70-85 percent of positions are placed through referrals.
So if you looked at a pie chart of the way you should spend your time during a job search, the majority of that pie would be focusing on the right relationships.
But a lot of people skip this part.
They find listings on job boards, submit their resume, and sit back and wait for someone to call.
If that’s you, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
I recently read an article by Jeff Li, a data scientist who received seven job offers during the worst job market in US history.
He tracked the time he spent applying for jobs directly online, time spent tracking down a hiring managers’ contact information for cold calling and direct e-mails, and time involved in getting a direct referral from someone in his network.
Here’s what Jeff had to say about his experience: “Figuring out how to spend your time is an optimization problem. You want to minimize the amount of time you spend to maximize your ROI (offers). We all know that getting referrals is the best strategy.”
He estimates it takes less than five minutes to write an e-mail requesting a referral for a job, and there’s greater than a 43 percent chance of landing an interview. The potential outcomes for direct applications and cold-calling are far more time-consuming and considerably less effective.
While Jeff’s data has plenty of variables, we can learn from him.
How Do I Network for a Job?
Even though networking is the key tool to any job search, many people wonder, how do I network?
I want to clear up the fact that networking is simply the interactions you have with other people--both online and in person.
To network effectively simply means to build relationships strategically — which starts with value.
The best time to build your network, and cultivate authentic relationships is when you don’t need anything.
That’s why you should constantly be planting the seeds of your network, watering them with value, and then you’ll have a better ability to harvest later.
By waiting until you need help finding a job to start networking, you’ll always reek of desperation. Plus, you won’t have enough time to build strong connections with people who could help you.
Keep this in mind, because if you haven’t been building relationships as a regular part of your life before this, you may find this process more difficult, but it doesn’t mean you can’t commit to it now.
Reach Out To Your Current Connections In Your Network Individually
Make a list of influential people in your network: former colleagues, friends, acquaintances, those that own businesses, the ones doing the job you want to do, or working at the company where you want to work.
Come up with a way to reach out to each person in a way that may be valuable for them. Remember, value is subjective, especially if you haven’t spoken to someone in many years. It can be awkward getting an acquaintance on your side in a job search with a random message. Try to make the connection worth their time.
Reach out in a customized way to each individual. Yes, this will take more time to do, but when you personalize outreach you have a much higher chance of response and dialogue.
Connect With Those Who Can Potentially Be Sponsors Or Stakeholders In You Getting A Job
Identify the 2nd and 3rd connections working at the company you want to work at, doing the job you want to do, or can provide perspective to your career transition. You also want to identify other stakeholders such as recruiters and hiring managers at your target companies.
Find relatable ways you can reach out to these people. Many job seekers go straight to the hiring managers, but, personally, I recommend starting out with the people who are at your peer level.
Lean into the commonality you share and try to land an informational interview by providing value. If you can, leverage those relationships to get referred.
The Hidden Job Market: Getting a Job Without Applying
Building relationships through networking gives you access to the hidden job market.
When jobs aren’t posted online, there’s much less competition, and it makes it possible to get a job without applying.
My client Kelly tapped into the hidden job market. She found a job listed that was a great fit for her at a high-growth tech company.
The problem? She came from a very different background with no tech experience.
We embarked on an effective gameplan to help her get a foot in the door. Kelly set up two informational interviews with peers who worked at the company.
She then created a personalized video and emailed it directly to the hiring manager.
She had a unique follow-up sequence ready in case the video didn’t get a response.
After a full week of completing the materials, when Kelly went online to submit her application, the job posting was gone.
She was devastated.
She put in so much work and research.
"What now?" she said.
"Send it," I said.
I encouraged her to connect with the hiring manager regardless. She created a new video about who she was, whom she knew, and why she was a great fit.
The hiring manager was impressed.
So much so, Kelly received an interview request within 24 hours and an offer in four weeks...for a job that was no longer listed.
Don’t give up when a job posting is taken down.
Don’t wait for a job to be listed to make a move.
It’s 100 percent possible to get a job without applying.
Take an honest look at your job search strategy. If you’re simply blasting out your resume to opportunities without leveraging relationships, you’re not optimizing the way you’re spending your time.
And regardless if you’re trying to find a new job right now, building your network matters. Those connections will follow you wherever you go in life and create opportunities in the future you can’t even imagine.