Your Job Search: How Long Ya Wanna Make It?

You've sent out the resumes, signed up for monster.com, and have been diligently crafting cover letters for months, with little to show for it and no job prospects in sight. The simple reason for all your bad luck? You can't use 20th century job hunting techniques in the down and dirty 21st century job market.

So you’re in the market for a new job, are you? Perhaps it’s a voluntary search. You’ve decided that you’re cut out for so much more than your current 9-to-5, and it’s more than time to do something about it. Or maybe you’ve been ousted from something you loved suddenly, and now find yourself in a full-on panic over how the hell you’re going to make rent next month.

Either way, one big question most certainly comes to mind:

WHAT NOW?

Well, that depends on your answers to a few questions:

  1. For how long do you want this search to drag along?
  2. For how long CAN you let this search drag along?
  3. Can you screw your head on and focus? and
  4. Can you treat this thing with the diligence and seriousness that this deserves?

Assuming

  1. Not long
  2. Not long at all
  3. Yes, and
  4. Of Course…?

Then your WHAT NOW? should be: Create and execute a job search game plan that will actually work.

And the key to this? The game plan cannot be centered on those outdated, overly optimistic, passive, time-wasting methods that your competitors are using in their efforts to land the same job(s) you want. Used alone, they just don’t work anymore.  Not quickly, anyways. And when you use the old standby search methods?  You end up in this giant clump of people all falling over themselves competing for a relative few positions.

Consider this:

The typical job seeker launches a job search by sidling up to Monster.com, CareerBuilder and, probably, a handful of company websites. He fills out a bunch of generic applications, attaches a generic resume and a “To Whom it May Concern” type of cover letter (don’t get me started on how lazy you look when you don’t at least ATTEMPT to find the appropriate contact’s actual name) and sends it all off into an Internet black hole of HR people and recruiters.

He dials up a couple of recruiters to “get on the case,” as if they’re some sort of talent agents just WAITING for the chance to represent. On command.

He “gets on” Linkedin — not really understanding what it means for one to be “on” Linkedin, but assuming that, by slapping up a profile, the odds of landing a cool new job immediately go up exponentially.

Then he waits for results. Calls. Responses.

And waits. And waits.

And then starts getting nervous. Just before he starts really freaking out, he hurriedly repeats the entire sequence again.  And again.

The problem with this approach is that, today? Almost no one lands a job quickly using the “tried and true” passive methods alone anymore. And the exercise of trying can deflate even the most motivated of job seekers.

Seriously, don't waste your valuable time testing my theory. Be proactive instead.

A well-planned, strategic job search that incorporates active, creative networking and research-based search methods will likely land you a sweet new gig way, way faster than a search built solely around overused, passive methods likes those mentioned above.

Active search techniques are absolutely paramount if you want to score something great – in a lot less time – in today’s job market.

And by “active search methods?” I mean, in large part:

“Search methods that take full advantage of the enormous power of social media.”

Leverage the heck out of social media, people. You’ve got to. Why?

  1. Because through social media, you can develop and convey – to a huge audience – your personal brand. And this, friend, is key to landing your dream job.
  2. Because social media can instantly connect you to a massive audience of people doing similar things, in similar industries, for the very companies for whom you wish to work.
  3. Because social media allows you to engage in conversations with people across every business level – people who may be way too scared to approach at a networking event or professional conference. People who can help you land (or flat out GIVE YOU) a really sweet job. The Internet, folks, levels the playing field. For the first time in our lives, we all have direct access to heavy-hitting business decision makers, and a means to easily fire up conversation with them. Thank you, Al Gore, you Internet inventor, you.

Just Google the term “social media job search success” or something of the likes. You’ll find dozens of examples of people who have harnessed the power of Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and personal websites to catapult them right through all of the Joe Schmoe competitors and into a dream job.

I promise you. This can be you.

So go forth. And before you even begin spinning your job search wheels… make a strategic search plan. And then start executing on it.

Tweak your game plan along the way, as you see what’s working well and what’s not.

Hold yourself accountable. Take good care of yourself. Be creative.

Commit to yourself that you won’t spend more than 20% of your search time using those crusty, passive search methods. And if you do? I’m willing to bet you cut at least six weeks out of your job search timeline.

Jenny Foss operates a nationally recognized recruiting firm (www.ladderrecruiting.com) and is creator of JobJenny.com. Your job search BFF and tough love expert on finding career passion, Jenny recently launched a Ridiculously Awesome Resume Service (http://www.jobjenny.com/resume-service/) and offers customized wisdom through her consulting service (http://www.jobjenny.com/consulting-service/ ) . You may also find Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny.