Job Search

Are you sick and tired of your draggy job search process?

You did everything you read online. The right resume format, the right pitch, and even the right template to put in your cover letter. But all you get are crickets.

All you want is a job to get back into action. Is that too much to ask?

Nothing you tried seems to work. It is just so frustrating!

The Conventional Job Search Approach

We were told of a linear path to find a job. You browse through the classifieds or job boards, identify the jobs you want and send your resume in together with your cover letter.

For some of you, you might go the extra mile and customize your resume and cover letter. You might have even have your resume analyzed to make sure the right keywords are present. But still, nobody is giving you a phone call. And there is nothing coming into your inbox either.

Life is getting greyer by the minute.

Unconventional Job Search Hacks

The conventional approach is going the way of the fax machine (anyone still remembers that?)

To gain an edge over the rest of your competition in the job market, you need a different strategy. One that puts you in the lead at every opportunity, even before they get advertised to the public.

I put together a list of 5 job search hacks which would give you some ideas on where to start.

1. Monitor Movements

Employment opportunities could come about when there are vacancies. And there are ways you could track vacancies way before it becomes job advertisements. For instance, you could monitor websites that keep track of new appointments and departures.

The people who are appointed into these new roles surely have to vacate their current or previous one to make it happen.

You could track down who these companies are and reach out to them to put in your candidature even if it isn’t apparent on their career page.

2. Make Friends With the Receptionist

In my previous business running a recruitment agency, our best allies within our clients and target companies are the receptionist. They are the eyes and ears of every organization because they are at the forefront of all such actions. Because of that, they tend to catch wind of many things before they go public.

It could be seeing a sudden wave of meetings by senior management (an indication of something major going to happen), or constant discreet out-of-office movements by certain individuals (they could be going to interview someone or they are going to be interviewed)

Regardless, the intel they share will be useful in how and when you approach your target employers with your pitch.

3. Attend Trade Fairs

I always tell my clients that trade fairs are better than career fairs.

You have almost the entire industry congregating together in a single premise. That’s unlike a typical career fair, where you have every industry under the sun. And most participants at trade fairs would probably be in roles senior enough to carry out hiring manager duties back in office. So you can go straight to the source instead of getting your resumes buried under a heap with the rest.

To find out when they are happening, you could check out the events schedule with convention and exhibition centers.

4. Buy Coffee

Another trick I highly recommend, especially for job seekers who are unsure of their direction, is to speak with people who are currently in your target role.

So if you would like to get into Cyber Security, you should speak with as many Cyber Security Specialists as possible. They would be able to share with you the scope in its entirety, warts and all. So you won’t be looking at it through a rose tinted lens and make a decision based upon the bright and colorful brochure.

It isn’t hard to reach out to them, even if they are complete strangers.

The approach I would suggest is to use an ego bait. What that means is to let them know how to impressed you are with their current credentials as a cyber security specialist.

Next I recommend you follow up by letting them know you wish to get into this field and see them as a role model based on their career trajectory. Lastly, you can offer to buy them a coffee so you could get some advice from them on how best you could proceed from where you are.

A typical template would go something like this:

Hi Peter

I was doing research over Cyber Security on LinkedIn and I stumbled across your profile. I am amazed by your career trajectory and how you’ve managed to achieve so much over your career!

I am currently working as a Network Engineer and I am looking to better equip myself with the skill-set required to prepare myself to move into Cyber Security functions.

I hope I could learn from you a tip or two. Coffee’s on me. 🙂

5. Offer Free Help

Getting a paid gig (read: job) would be tough if you do not have the prior experience required for it.

Companies would be hesitant to spend a few months of salaries on a gamble. But all this could be overcome if you display passion and genuine interest in your target employer.

For example, let’s say you are into marketing and your target is a training school. Schools thrive on enrollments and it would help you to make a huge impression if you are able to pass warm leads to them pro bono. If you could keep this over a short consistent basis, I’m sure you stand a huge chance if you were to ask for a permanent role doing the same thing.

This was the same strategy the Ryan Graves (he is Uber employee number 1) used when he wanted to work for Foursquare, but they weren’t keen in him.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

About Adrian Tan

Adrian Tan is CEO of The Resource Group, a boutique HR Consultancy that focuses on helping SMEs. Before this, he was the MD of RecruitPlus which he co-founded in 2004 and led to two HR Vendor of the Year award. He was named the HR Entrepreneur of the Year by SHRI in 2013. He blogs regularly on #Entrepreneurship and #HRTech on

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