While you may not be in control of a tough job market, you are in control of how you search for your jobs. Make sure you’ve mastered these basic job search skills.

In today’s highly competitive job market, learning how to search for a job can be a job in and of itself. At this stage in your career, you’ve likely been through the process at least once or twice both as a job candidate and as a hiring manager. The job search techniques you used to land your current job or even find your latest hire, however, may no longer be an effective approach for finding your next position.

As a corporate recruiter, I’ve worked with my fair share of highly qualified candidates who had already spent considerable energy trying to land a job to no avail. While you may not be in control of a tough job market, you are in control of how you search for your jobs. Whether you’re just getting started with your search or feeling stuck, it’s worth taking a few minutes to refresh the basics.

#1: Look in the right places.

Understanding how to search for jobs is a strategic skill that needs to be refined over time. The right technique depends on the industry. While some industries may frequently post openings on job boards, other industries tend to rely on word of mouth to fill executive positions. This is especially true in fields like Oil & Gas. Consequently, spending an hour each day browsing job boards may be an ineffective use of your time; you’d be better off grabbing coffee with industry colleagues and bolstering your networking game.

 #2: Make technology work for you.

Every industry has its own industry-specific job search sites. Not sure which sites are most popular for your industry? A quick search on LinkedIn can reveal a number of industry-specific groups and job boards. Identify five top targets and focus your energy here. Reduce the time spent searching each career board by signing up for daily digest emails that are customized to your job search parameters.

 #3: Get the word out.

Sure, changing your LinkedIn profile headline to read “Ready to Be Hired” is not a great idea, but that doesn’t mean you should keep quiet about your search, either. First, decide how much you want to involve your current company. Depending on your circumstances (e.g., a pending relocation due to a spouse’s new job), your company may be able to actively support the search process. Even if you don’t want your colleagues to know you’re looking for a new job, it’s still worth letting industry contacts know that you’re actively interested in “new professional challenges.”

 #4: Master your elevator pitch.

I recently worked with a COO who was looking for a new professional challenge. The Oil & Gas industry has faced some tough economic times as of late due in part to falling oil prices, and switching jobs now can be a challenge. In order to help her land her next position, we needed to frame her expertise around how she could make a difference for her future employer given the current economic challenges. There are hundreds of COOs out there; I helped her stand out by crafting an elevator pitch that focused on her decade of experience streamlining supply chain management costs. Ask yourself: what do I have a proven track record achieving that will benefit my future employer?

 Are you currently searching for a new job or considering making a career change this year? What basic job search skills have you mastered?

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