6 innovative ways to conduct a job search that will get you ahead of the pack

WOCinTech, Flickr

There’s nothing more stressful, nerve-wracking, and time-consuming than looking for a new job.

It can take months and even years of daily work to find a situation that is stable while offering the career path that you desire. But the way we conduct job searches is changing. We are no longer confined to mailing paper resumes and “dropping in” to see if there is an HR person or executive willing to hear your pitch. In a highly competitive work environment, those strategies are a thing of the past.

But how are modern job seekers supposed to compete with individuals who understand the market, have more experience, better connections, and deeper pockets?

I’ll tell you.

Here are six innovative ways for you to conduct a job search that will get you ahead of the pack.

  • Take a company-first approach

A lot of college graduates are conditioned to look for specific roles that will set them up for fruitful careers. For example, if you have a marketing degree you would be inclined to research entry-level marketing coordinator, associate, and specialist positions. The company doesn’t matter as much because you are just trying to get a foot in the door.

While this approach works for some people when they’re first starting their careers, individuals that are tired of job-hopping should consider conducting a company-first job search.

Decide what interests you most about your “dream company”. A few important things you should think about are company size, location, benefits, and longevity (startup environment vs industry leader).

Obviously, modern job seekers are also invested in company culture, so consider the values that are most important to you and how you work best. Some people prefer large group settings while others like to slip their headphones on and zone in for hours at a time, undisturbed.

Then make a list of companies that fit what you want and keep an eye out for job openings. If nothing in your field is available, don’t be afraid to send in a detailed cover letter and resume explaining why you’re a great fit!

  • Create a newsletter to promote your portfolio and skills

Everyone does the same thing over and over and over again.

They create a resume based off a template, write a “custom” cover letter by changing around a few sentences from their original one, and then send a laundry list of applications through LinkedIn Easy Apply.

If this isn’t working for you, maybe it’s time to try something a little different.

Companies want to know that you are an innovator- that you can solve their problems by being intelligent and intuitive. Find a challenge that individuals in your desired industry have identified and build a list of people from your network.

Then build a newsletter with content centered around specific solutions to their problem. This might include your own blog posts, relevant infographics, social media activity, and a few quotes. The key is to position yourself as a thought leader. Make a real effort to learn about their struggles prove how far you’re willing to go to learn about what they do, and more importantly, what they could be doing better.

You can then bring this into an interview and say, “Look, here’s how passionate I am about these subjects and here’s what I am doing that can help your business.”

  • Remember that social media matters- use it to your advantage

When we think of “job search” and “social media”, the obvious choice is LinkedIn.

You know, the platform that was built for employees to network and find new companies.

But we often forget that a lot of people are also on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you want to get a unique jump on your competition, make it known on more personal platforms that you are currently on the hunt for a new opportunity. Share things you find professionally relevant to your job, find the latest job openings by searching on various social platforms, link to your portfolio, and develop high-level relevant content that companies may be interested in.

If your social media pages are full of memes or anything that an HR person may find offensive, it’s probably best to cleanse your pages. Social media should work for you not against you.

  • Distribute a free booklet of information

Write a booklet or brochure full of relevant information and inspiring content that is related to the company you are trying to work for. Then simply give the booklet away for free to anyone of relevance, advertise it on social media, and leave an area with your professional contact information.

This will essentially act as an unofficial resume, while also proving that you are knowledgeable and invested in their industry.

It might be beneficial to offer one to an employee in the department you are interested in a light pitch on why they might find it useful. You don’t want to come across as “salesy” but you do want to prove that you would be a great addition to the team.

One of the most common challenges people face when conducting a job search is a lackluster portfolio. It can be difficult to break into well-known companies without substantial professional evidence supporting your claim for a role. If you feel like your professional portfolio is missing some key pieces, start creating content outside of your career.

The best decision I ever made was to write in my free-time and post in public places. Not only have I generated extra income, but I now own a diverse portfolio of work that can be used when searching for a job in the future.

When I was interviewing for new positions awhile back, the first thing most companies asked me about was my writing portfolio, not my job experience. They were far more interested in how I generated 200,000 views on a single story from scratch than the internship I held for two months after college.

If you don’t have enough experience for the role you want, stop sitting around waiting for time to pass.

Make the experience yourself.   

  • Find a way to bypass HR

Don’t get me wrong- you’ll have to go through HR eventually.

But you can’t always rely on HR to get you an interview. Sometimes they are shuffling through thousands of applicants for a single position and it’s very possible that yours will get lost in the noise.

Sometimes you need to go the extra mile and contact leadership directly.

The best way to do this is to write a targeted letter to one person in the company- preferably the head of your department. Explain what you believe their business is all about, the challenges they may be facing, and how you are the perfect person to solve those challenges. Attach your resume to the letter and include a nice handwritten note at the bottom.

You might find this time consuming, but how many hours have you wasted sifting through internet ads and job boards?

This route is personal, unique, and will at the very least allow someone to get eyes on your resume instead of immediately throwing it away.