Ask anyone who’s recently searched for a new job and he or she will tell you that it was a time-consuming endeavor. Scouring the internet for relevant postings, searching for hiring managers to connect with, and filling out lengthy applications can sometimes feel like a full-time job. But what if there was a way to bypass all of those headaches? What if your dream opportunity could just fall right into your lap (or pop up in your inbox)? Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to skip that first step.
While recruiters have great tools (like job boards and employee referral programs) at their disposal, they also spend hours searching for passive candidates to fill their open opportunities. Think about it this way: If you were in the market for a new car, and you were specifically looking for a 2016 model with less than 10,000 miles, an automatic transmission, leather upholstery, a built-in GPS, and heated seats, would you just sit back and wait for a car that meets all of these requirements to show up in your driveway?
Of course not—you’d be actively calling dealerships, searching the internet, and going on test drives. Well, the same idea applies to recruiting. Sure, it’s possible that the perfect candidate will apply, but a good recruiter doesn’t rely on postings alone to find the right person—she goes out looking.
Here’s how to ensure you’ll be found when that happens:
1. Create a Killer LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has a search tool designed specifically to help recruiters find candidates. They can search for everything from industry and experience level to location and job titles. They can also search for super-specific skills like SQL or UX design. If you don’t have a profile with relevant keywords, an up-to-date work history, and a compelling summary, you probably won’t show up in the search results.
Luckily, this is an easy fix. You’ll want to start by making a list of keywords and phrases that are relevant or commonly used in your industry. For example, if you’re in sales, you’d probably want to use keywords like business development, prospecting, negotiation, and account management throughout your profile. If you’re having a tough time figuring out which ones will attract people, try browsing a few job postings to get an idea of which phrases and terms are most commonly used. (There are also tons of free word counting tools that will generate a list of the most frequently used words in a job description.)
Next, you’ll need to get your work history updated. Similar to a resume, your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to share your proudest accomplishments and successes—in a less formal and more conversational way. Instead of simply copying and pasting the content of your resume, try summarizing what you did in each of your jobs (past and present) in a couple of sentences and backing these descriptions up with two or three tangible accomplishments.
For example, if you were an executive assistant for a large company, you might say something like:
As an executive assistant for ABC Company, the second largest e-commerce organization in the world, I owned all administrative support functions for the COO and operations team. This included calendaring, meeting coordination, travel arrangements, and records management.
Some of my most notable accomplishments included:
- Implementing a new, more efficient calendaring system, resulting in a 20% decrease in double-booked meetings
- Seamlessly coordinating last minute international travel arrangements for five executives with less than four hours’ notice
- Spearheading the transition from traditional paper files to a paperless filing system, ultimately saving the organization more than $15K annually on storage and filing supply expenses.”
The key here is to provide a clear and concise snapshot of your experience while simultaneously finding ways to incorporate relevant keywords and highlight your meaningful, tangible achievements.
A standout summary is the final crucial element. While trying to capture the essence of your amazingness in a few short sentences may sound daunting, it’s actually pretty simple. A compelling one typically consists of three key elements: a bold, straightforward, or attention-grabbing opening line, a brief, impactful summary of what you’re great at, and a sneak peek into what makes you unique.
I specialize in the warm fuzzies. As a customer success manager with more than five years of experience in the account management space, I know a thing or two about making customers happy. Currently, I’m the customer success manager for ABC Company, where I own a robust portfolio of more than 40 client accounts.
This role requires a dazzling array of skills, but my specialties include customer retention, client relations, and issue resolution. Since joining the team, my exceptional listening skills and solutions-focused approach have enabled me to increase client retention by almost 75% in less than a year.
When I’m not catching up with a client or resolving a customer complaint, you can probably find me hiking Mount Kilimanjaro or watching Netflix with my cat. Regardless of what I’m doing when you reach out, I’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours or less. You can get in touch with me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
2. Optimize Your Online Presence
When you search for your name online, what comes up? Is it an embarrassing photo from college, a link to your LinkedIn profile, or nothing at all? Don’t panic if you aren’t thrilled with the results—optimizing your online presence is easier than you’d think.
To start, consider whether or not you should update your social media account settings. If you don’t want your future boss to be able to read through every status update you’ve posted since 2007, you may want to make your accounts private. If you’re concerned about false or damaging information that a simple change in settings can’t fix, it may be worth reaching out to a service like Reputation Defender.
Next, you want to start populating the internet with positive, searchable content. Your LinkedIn profile’s a great start, as is Twitter (if you use it for professional tweets and posts), Medium, and Squarespace. Creating professional profiles and populating them with relevant, career-focused content will help you to grow your presence quickly and efficiently. The more your name is out there, the easier you are to find.
3. Get Active, Stay Active
Establishing an active online presence will not only make you more searchable, but it will also make you more credible. After completing step two, you’ll want to stay active by liking or sharing relevant posts that pop up in your LinkedIn or Twitter feeds. Simply commenting on or retweeting an industry specific article will draw more attention to your profile and make you easier to find. Do your best to like, comment, or share at least one post a day.
Better yet, subscribe to relevant news sources and share the articles that pique your interest with an insightful introductory line like, “Compelling read about the future of social media marketing. I found #3 to be particularly relevant” or “Having trouble getting into a productive morning routine? Check out this post about maximizing your daily schedule.” Yes, it’s that easy.
While a majority of poaching activity occurs online, establishing a name for yourself in the real world has some serious perks, too. You never know who you’ll meet at that networking happy hour or industry meet-up. Ask to attend a seminar, volunteer to work the booth at an upcoming tradeshow, or offer to speak at a conference. Increasing your visibility and expanding your network by carving out time to attend relevant events could really pay off. I can recall multiple occasions when a CEO asked me to track down a person that she saw speak at a conference or met a tradeshow so that we could poach him or her.
Expanding your social network never hurts either. Set aside some time to browse the “people you may know” section and be sure to make an effort to connect with the interesting people you meet at networking events.
Becoming an irresistibly poachable candidate does, admittedly, require some work. But that’s nothing compared to the hours you’d spend reading through job postings and filling out online applications, and you can take your time with it. If you’re willing to put in the effort, your hard work might be handsomely rewarded with a fantastic new opportunity served up on a silver platter—no job boards or ATS required.