Found yourself out of work? Or worried about your job security? Or perhaps you’ve been working in Hong Kong for a while and want to try your hand at something new? Whatever your starting point, here’s a five-step strategy to supercharge your job search and leapfrog your competition – straight from a former headhunter’s playbook!
STEP 1: Research
Put on your detective hat, you’re going on a research mission! All good job searches start with a solid research phase. The following approach will give you clarity on possible career paths and companies you haven’t heard about. You can then create a “target” list. The idea is to try and network to find non-advertised jobs. This method is an old-hat headhunter staple!
Be proactive on LinkedIn
Often our skills can be transferred to another industry we may not have considered, so use LinkedIn to create a target list of companies and industries. You can use the search and the filter functions to go through all available industries from A-Z.
I recommend targeting two industries to begin with. Next, look at companies within them that excite you. Place the leads into Excel so you can keep track of who you are approaching. You should end up with a list of companies you may never have heard of.
Another great research trick is to search for contacts at a particular company who are positioned at a more senior level than your target job. Then, go through that person’s employment history to see where they worked before, and what career path they took. You’ll end up with powerful market intel. And your creative juices may start flowing when you see possible career paths and companies you hadn’t considered before.
STEP 2: LinkedIn profile and CV fixes
Of course, your LinkedIn profile is a key tool during your job search. But did you know it could be more important than your actual resume?
Did you also know that your LinkedIn profile is really a marketing advertisement for you? And marketing ads need to ooze appeal. So, upload that professional image and don’t forget to use the banner space to upload an image or quote that adds to your personal branding. Spend some time working on your profile description, loading it with keywords (so your profile can get past those pesky algorithm bots). You can show your sparkly personality in your profile description too. Don’t be shy, be memorable!
Fill in your work history and skills. No skipping this, please! A complete profile is best – if you leave out information, your profile will easily be missed by recruiters or hiring managers screening you.
The big tip is to carefully consider the keywords that HR or recruiters may use when searching for candidates in your space. Use these keywords within your text, so the search algorithms capture your profile within their search results.
Your CV is a marketing document, and a marketing document has to spotlight your best features. So, remember to keep your CV simple, without fancy typography – ideally two to three pages, with short paragraphs and succinct bullet points.
Again, scatter keywords in the text particularly at the top near the beginning of your resume, to make it algorithm-friendly. The bots love keywords, so feed it to them to increase your chances of being shortlisted.
STEP 3: Finding job opportunities
This headhunter tip has you doing regular job-sweeps across job boards, company websites and LinkedIn. Set up job alerts so you don’t miss fresh opportunities when they’re uploaded.
Did you know many headhunters and employment agencies access jobs that are never advertised? Their trick is to network their way into a company to pick up leads. Scary? Possibly, but this is the key game-changing tactic that recruiters use every single day. If you can’t beat them, join them.
Different types of job searches
Broadly speaking, you can use the reactive job-search method, the proactive job-search method or a hybrid of both. Each has its own pros and cons. However, a proactive method is more likely to land you a role that is aligned to what you want, while a hybrid method may jump you a few rungs above the shortlist.
The reactive method tends to be crowded with job seekers.
Reactive job searching
Reactive job searching is the most common way that job seekers go about searching for a job. You search for online or print adverts, and then email your CV across. Then you wait till you get a response. Then you rinse, repeat, and rinse, repeat until you hopefully land a job. If you want to lose the competition (or leapfrog them), supercharge your reactive job search efforts with a proactive push.
Proactive job searching
A proactive job search involves you directly targeting key decision-makers and hiring managers on LinkedIn or email. This is called the networking approach. If it works for headhunters, it will work for you.
A networking approach is the best way to become “acquainted” with someone. Start by using your personal and online network, to get an introduction into your target company/contact.
Make LinkedIn and Excel (to track your leads and conversations) your new BFFs. Find companies you want to work with, locate the key decision-makers at those companies, and start to connect and engage them into a conversation.
STEP 4: Making contact
The key here is to make connections with the right people, ideally with decision-makers. A word of caution: you shouldn’t message a stranger asking them for a job outright. That’s a no-no.
Start by introducing yourself and cite a shared interest, skill, shared group, PR, or other genuine reason for reaching out to them.
Once they’ve replied and the conversation is warmish, you can ask them for help in directing your enquiry or CV to the right person. Voilà! – you’ve now used the networking approach to be able to name drop when you reach out to the right contact.
Headhunters often use LinkedIn to get the name of a contact, and then proceed to make a phone call to that person; or they will send a warm-up message on LinkedIn, and then quickly follow it up with a phone call. It’s worth following this approach if you want to grow your network and access jobs faster.
Tip: Don’t be shy about phoning a decision maker or hiring manager. Have your reason for calling and your CV in front of you. Speak with confidence and state that you’re interested in exploring openings at their company. Then ask for advice on how to progress your application.
STEP 5: Organising yourself
If the above steps are done correctly and you are constantly networking online and offline, you should find your diary filling up with scheduled phone calls, coffee meetings, interviews, Zoom chats and follow-ups.
Stay organised, and follow up your actions with a phone call, thank-you email, or physical card depending on how much time a contact has given you.
This conveyor belt of repetitive actions involving research, mapping contacts, networking, sending messages and following up will result in leads, contacts and job opportunities.
Good luck with your job search!
This article first appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.