If you are like most of us, your first thought when looking for a new job is to hit the job boards, am I right?

And, if you’ve done that, then surely you have also discovered that just clicking apply doesn’t get you interviews.

So, what does?

What you need to do instead is create a personalized job board, along with internal connections, at specific target companies you’re focused on. The most current research shows that 90% of successful job hunters are using some version of this approach. This is the strategy that’s working for my clients right now, and here’s what it looks like…

But, before you get started, you’ll need to let go of the instant gratification that comes with scanning job boards, clicking “apply,” and sending off your resume. Yes, it feels like you’re taking action! And it’s also true that you’re setting yourself up to wait for an answer that may never come.

What you need to do instead is focus on action that gets results. Your first step is to build a list of companies/organizations that may be a good fit for you. Your list should include employers that meet your needs – needs like location, culture, management style, values, compensation, and other things that are important to you. Start with 20 to 30 companies. You’ll add companies to the list and eliminate companies to the list as you move forward.

Next, you’re going to start researching these organizations. Look at their website. Check out their careers page. Make note of the job titles that are aligned with what you want to do and the keywords and responsibilities that are associated with those roles. Don’t worry if you don’t see an immediate job opening. This is research and it’s critical to your success.

Finally, go to LinkedIn and identify people who work in roles that interest you within these organizations. If they are fellow alumni from your alma mater, great. If they are doing something you’d like to do, or they work in a recruiting function, even better. Then email them at work (there are plenty of free email predictors out there), with the subject line “Fellow College/Uni alum with a question about Company.” In the email, give them a very brief intro to you, tell them you’d love to know how they like working for company X, and ask if they’d be willing to have a brief chat.

Ideally, you’ll reach out to three to five people at each organization you’ve targeted. Your conversations will confirm your interest or eliminate the organization. And, in the process you will build connections with folks who will keep you posted on opportunities and think of you when they have openings before those roles ever hit a paid job board. Now you have inside connections when you go to make applications, which is the single most effective way right now to get an interview.

Is this more work than just clicking apply? Yes, it is. Does it work much more effectively? Yes, it does. It makes all the difference.

Cheers to your career!


Ever wonder how to land the job of your dreams? Find out how with 10 Habits of Successful Job Candidates!