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Proactive Job Search Strategies - How To Get Noticed & Land Faster


March 1st, 2018

- Updated on

September 20, 2018 - 10:47am

The Best Online Resources for Job Seekers Series - Part Two

In this second of a six-part series on The Best Online Resources for Job Seekers, we recommend two proactive job search strategies to help job seekers identify more opportunities, get in front of hiring managers, and get hired faster.
In The Best Online Resources For Finding & Applying for Jobs - Part One, we broke down the best sources of online job listings, and reasons why filling out applications is a reactive and less effective search activity. While it is a well-established fact that this mode of job search doesn’t work anymore, where does that leave you? 
There are two important alternative strategies to filling out applications:
  1. Networking – leveraging relationships with your closest contacts 
  2. Creating an Effective Online Presence – using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to increase your ranking in web search results 

Proactive Search Strategies

These alternative approaches to job seeking require a shift in focus. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, focusing on job postings and openings represents a narrow focus that doesn’t work. In a more proactive approach to finding work, the following are some concepts that can help job seekers find more opportunities:
  • Focus on Relationships – Your managers, colleagues, mentors, trusted advisors, neighbors, friends and family members are your most important asset.
  • Focus on Referrals and Introductions – It’s all about who your people know, and who they’re willing to introduce you to.
  • Target Employers – Look at the job search as a campaign to find good employers and identify ways to help them be successful.
  • Consider Temping and Contracting – The gig economy is alive and well, and can give you a foot in the door with your target employers. 


It’s no accident that this section is mostly on LinkedIn. It makes sense that a discussion about the confluence of networking and online presence would focus on this ubiquitous online resource.
Unsplash image of two people shaking hands - networking
People You Already Know Versus Strangers
We've noticed a lot of discussions lately on the effectiveness (or lack) of connecting with strangers on LinkedIn. Attending meet-ups (E.g. Meetup.com), public events and trade shows are excellent ways to expand your personal network with people who share your interests, in much the same way as connecting with strangers on LinkedIn. 
Clearly, there are many forms of networking, and all can be effective, but there is no doubt in my mind that people you know personally are the most likely (and most motivated) to assist you. When it comes to networking, there is no substitute for familiarity, history, or shared experience. I don’t say that to dissuade people from meeting new people. I’m only pointing out that personal contacts are the best place to start.

Online Presence & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Every job seeker should understand how SEO works. Employers are out there searching for you right now, and the principles of SEO determine whether they find you or someone else. Most importantly, you might show up on their list – but where? Are you on page 1 or page 100 of their search results? If it’s page 100, they are very unlikely to find you. 


It is impossible to overstate the level to which LinkedIn is synonymous with networking. Talk to one hundred career coaches, and the one thing they will all agree on is the requirement for job seekers to have a LinkedIn presence. It can be truly said that if you are not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist to recruiters and hiring managers. With over half a billion members (550 million at last reporting), LinkedIn is the perfect platform for finding talent – and promoting your brand to prospective employers.
Part of the genius of LinkedIn is the way it’s designed according to a few basic concepts of networking, including:
  1. Network with people you know.
  2. Expand your network by connecting to people with whom you share interests, employers, and schools.
  3. Networking is all about mutual benefit (“How can we help each other?”)
  4. Saying positive things about others is a crucial networking skill.
  5. Leveraging your network is all about introductions, referrals, and conversations (“Who do you know that I can talk to?”)

The Profile

It used to be that you could attach your resume to your LinkedIn profile, but what’s the point? The LinkedIn profile is, in fact, an online version of your resume, with a whole lot of value added. First, there’s the Headline and Summary:
LinkedIn Profile Screenshot showing headline and summary
Then comes the Experience section (followed by Education, etc., etc.)…
LinkedIn Profile screenshot - experience and education

Endorsements & Recommendations

Your LinkedIn profile adds value to your resume in two basic ways: third-party validation through Endorsements and Recommendations. Endorsements have a direct impact on your SEO. The more endorsements you receive, then the higher your ranking is for that search term. Recommendations allow viewers to view comments by other people in their own words.
LinkedIn Profile Screenshot - Skills & endoresements
LinkedIn Profile Screenshot - Recommendations


It’s all about visibility! LinkedIn groups represent an opportunity to become visible to thousands of your peers in common industries, trade associations and among subject matter experts. You can join up to 100 groups as part of your LinkedIn (free) subscription:
  1. Look at profiles, and you can see what groups your connections belong to.
  2. Use the Search box to find groups.
  3. Click Work > Groups > Discover and LinkedIn will suggest groups to join based on your profile.

Views - Water Your Garden

Unsplash photo of watering can

The name of the game is profile views, and there are lots of ways to increase the number of views to your profile. But you can’t be passive. LinkedIn (or any social media platform) is all about activity. 
These are the activity options on LinkedIn that help increase your visibility:
  1. Add new connections
  2. View profiles
  3. Endorse skills
  4. Write recommendations
  5. Join groups
  6. Click ‘Like’ on posts or comments
  7. Post comments on posts or comments
  8. Share existing content (including in groups)
  9. Write original content and post it (including in groups)
And yes, you will find job postings on LinkedIn. In a future post, we’ll discuss additional LinkedIn resources that you may find useful.

Niche Sites

While you can post your resume on job aggregators like Indeed or Simplyhired, or boards like Monster, CareerBuilder or ZipRecruiter, we normally don’t recommend it. The big, well-known sites tend to be magnets for spam and offers for jobs to sell insurance commission-only for example, so we recommend ‘niche’ sites to clients that cater to their particular expertise or industry.
Examples of career niche sites include:
Don't see your niche site? Search CareerOneStop's Professional Association Finder. Also, keep in mind that aggregator sites like Indeed can be a great place to identify niche career sites by studying the sources of job listings you find there.  
By the way, most employers have career sites where you can post your resume, which in turn gets added to their Applicant Tracking Systems/Resume Databases. It's the first place they search when sourcing their open positions, as well as to get an idea of who has expressed an interest in their organizations. 
Note: SEO counts on these niche sites, although most of them don’t have the more sophisticated SEO mechanisms that LinkedIn does. So it’s important to optimize your resume for keywords before creating online profiles. 

Final Thoughts 

Between the first and second installments, you should have a better handle on how to fill your pipeline and find more opportunities in ways that are proactive. In Part 3 - Why & How to Leverage Recruiters in Your Job Search, we’ll cover external recruiters and the role they can play, as well as how to find and connect with them. 

AJO Career Coach - Mike BallardMike Ballard is an AJO Career Coach & Trainer with 10 years experience providing career transition consulting services to 1,900+ professionals in transition, including C-Level executives, program and project managers, sales managers & account reps, IT, software developers, technicians, engineers, insurance & administrators. Mike specializes in helping job seekers understand hiring technologies and developing effective career marketing strategies to find the right job and employer.

Blog posts photos by rawpixel.com on Unsplash