If you are not on LinkedIn yet, then wake up, grab a coffee, and get a profile set up immediately. This is by far the number-one networking site in the world and should be the first place to begin your search. Get connected with everyone you know, especially those in your own industry, as this will produce a very large network of people to contact in a short amount of time. Think viral marketing on an industrial scale in order for you to locate a new career opportunity. You will also get employers sending you mails via LinkedIn, too, seeing if you are interested in work. It's a win-win situation.
Now that you are all networked up, let's go look for that new job. In the top navigation bar there is a search box on the far right. Ensure that this is set to "people" and then click the advanced option. This will give you a multitude of options to find contacts to approach. For those in the know, boolean search is not great on LinkedIn, so keep it simple. In this example, let's pick SEO as an industry and presume that's the type of job you are looking for.
In the keywords section on the top left, type "SEO." If you are not looking to relocate, then in the location section set this to whatever amount of distance you are prepared to travel and enter a Zip or postal code. Now go to the "Title" section on the right. We can make this specific or keep it generic; it is really up to you. If you know the precise job titles, then enter one such as "SEO manager" or "SEO director." Ensure you put the title in "speech marks" so LinkedIn knows to look for that specific title. On the drop-down menu below, select "current." Hit the search button and see the results.
This list should be quite targeted, but if you want to expand it, drop "SEO" from keywords and see what results come back. By playing around with the titles and keywords, you can produce a list of people to contact regarding work opportunities.
If you have a free account, you will need to look up the firms that these people work for and call them up. Either ask for the person and speak directly to him or her. If you do not feel confident doing this, ask for his or her email address and explain you wish to send your CV to them and apply for work. Most firms will happily give this information to you. Now either email or post your CV via snail mail to that person.
If you have a paid account, you can directly send them a message via LinkedIn using inmail. Remember, you can upgrade to a paid account just while looking for work and then cancel it after. On the basic accounts, you do not get many inmails, but this is easy to get around; see what groups the contacts are members of and join them too. You should now be able to send a mail for free via their system. Either way, it is quite simple to find the contact details and make the direct approach. Whether you use LinkedIn or another social network, the same system applies and all you need to do is be proactive and contact the line managers or directors in order to look for work.
Next, let's look at how to make yourself stand out a little bit from other job hunters. This is really just some basic etiquette regarding CV production and layout and could probably take up a whole other column completely.
Firstly and extremely importantly, do not use a strange font that is barely readable. You may think it looks cool and quirky, but trust me, most human resources or hiring managers may just get frustrated and not bother reading any further. Avoid adding background colors and stick to plain white with black text. Choose a font like Arial as it's easily read on a computer screen.
Secondly, if you are going via recruiters, remember: they remove your personal contact details before sending on the CV. This is normally done via their databases and if you have a CV in PDF format, 99 percent of the time the layout gets totally messed up, so send it over in Word format for easy editing.
Now for the meat of the CV. Start with your name and personal details at the top. If you must, you can add "curriculum vitae," but it's really not necessary and I'd advise to remove that.
Next, write a short paragraph as a profile about yourself. Briefly outline your career history and make a point to speak about achievements you have accomplished at work. Not things like "great coffee maker," but rather areas such as saving companies or making them large amounts of money. If we keep with SEO as an example, identify search results in competitive markets. Let's not go with ranking for your company name, but rather things like achieving rank one for "car insurance" and talking about the traffic and conversion increases. I'm sure there are many things you could discuss here that a potential employer would be interested in. Firms are here to make money, so remember that. They want to hear about things that you can do to increase their profits. In the words of Michael Corleone, "It's not personal, it's business."
Keep the rest of the CV as precise as possible and only go into more details about your current role or those covering the past three to four years. It's a rarity for companies to be interested in what you were doing 10 years back. They say keep a CV to two pages, but I think it's acceptable to go to about four and maybe a fifth. Any longer than this and you do honestly run the risk of a hiring manager just not being bothered to read it all. That's just the world we live in.
I hope you have found this interesting and remember, get out there and actively look for people to approach for work rather than just applying to existing advertisements. It really will pay off for you. Good luck.
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Jake Langwith is managing director and founder at International Head Hunters Stone Carter where he specializes within SEO, web analytics, and social media. With over 17 years experience across the U.K., Europe, and Asia Pacific markets he has established a strong global reputation and works in close partnership with some of the world's leading digital agencies and brands.
Jake is actively involved in the digital marketing community. He's also an avid blogger and a speaker at SEO-related industry events such as the SES conference series. He takes a keen interest in his market sector and outside of recruitment runs several websites where he puts into practice SEO and marketing strategies. Jake is particularly interested in SEO and conversion strategy within e-commerce.
A self-confessed search and tech geek, Jake is married with two children and lives in London where he was born and bred.
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