Are you currently looking for work or thinking about changing roles? Follow this expert advice from Justin Babet, Founder and CEO of JobAdvisor, to help you increase your chances of landing your dream gig.
I get asked for advice all the time on how to get a job. One of the first things I tell people is to understand and play the numbers game. The fact is, if the only thing you’re doing is applying to job ads, then you’re not playing the odds well.
Let's take a look at how those numbers actually stack up, plus get my top tips on how to make them work for you.
1. What are the top sources of jobs?
The best way to figure out which are the most effective channels to find a job is to look at things the same way employers do, which is, ”Where do new hires come from?”
Depending on which report you read (i.e. who has produced the report) you’ll usually see something like this:
- Referrals ~30%
- Careers sites ~25%
- Job boards ~25%
- Recruitment agencies ~8%
- Direct approach ~5%
- Social media ~4%
- Other ~3%
Some people will argue with the stats but the exact numbers aren’t important. We’re trying to figure out how to play the odds so we’re looking for a broad trend.
2. What do the numbers tell us?
Well, obviously it’s best to get referred in! It makes sense when you realise that people love to cut corners. What’s the quickest way to cut corners when hiring? Hire a person that someone else says is good. It’s exactly the same principle why you're more likely to apply for a job with a company that has good reviews on JobAdvisor.
So, before you apply for a job, look for a way to get referred in. Your chances of getting hired go up at least 40% if you do (some say your chances go up 300%).
Remember, you don’t even need to know the person who refers you in very well (or in some cases, at all). Based purely on the fact that someone has referred you, you’ll get special treatment because the company (generally) won’t want to embarrass the person who referred you by ignoring you.
The best thing about getting referred in? This is how you get access to jobs before they’re even advertised, which means you may have no competition at all.
3. What about job boards and careers sites?
It’s hard to ignore job boards and jobs on careers sites. It’s pretty quick and easy to fire off an application for every job advert that looks remotely relevant which means you can play the numbers through sheer volume. But herein also lies the problem – there’s just so much competition.
That’s not always the case, if you’re in a niche area and have a strong CV then you probably don’t need to go much further than a job board because you’re probably competing with a handful of other applicants. But if your skillset is more commonplace, then standing out from the crowd can be extraordinarily difficult because you’re probably competing with at least a hundred other applications.
So, definitely apply for jobs through job boards and careers sites, but if you want to play the numbers game, don’t rely on them.
In my experience, it’s much more effective to simply focus on finding companies you genuinely want to work for, and approaching them directly (whether they’re hiring or not) to let them know you’d love to work for them and why. That’s why I started JobAdvisor really.
4. What about the rest?
So the rest includes, amongst other things, recruiters and LinkedIn. The fact is, if you want to get found by recruiters (both agency and internal recruiters) you need to be visible. At minimum (for white collar jobs at least) that means having a decent, optimised LinkedIn profile. By ‘optimised’ I mean containing the right kind of job titles and key words that recruiters and hiring managers are likely to use to search for to find you. There’s always more ways you can be visible, but that’s a whole new topic.
Also keep in mind that a lot, if not most, of the job adverts you apply to will be with recruiters, so recruiters are a good channel for you to use to find a job. Just like with employers though, it’s better to be referred into or have a relationship with a recruiter, than to apply for their jobs ads.
6. In summary - My Top Tips
Here’s how to prioritise your job search:
- Make it easy for people to find you online – do this first because it’s not something you need to spend a lot of time on ongoing and it supports everything else
- Find ways to get referred in to companies you want to work for – JobAdvisor company profiles have LinkedIn integration which shows you who you already know
- Approach companies you want to work for directly – use JobAdvisor to find who looks like a good fit then either call them or send them an email through their JobAdvisor profile, or find out who to talk to by checking out the company website and/or using LinkedIn. Always try to find the most senior person you can, this approach will always work better the more senior you go. Chances are the first person you talk to will refer you onto someone else and boom, you’ve got your referral.
- See if you can find a good recruiter or two who will help get you in front of good opportunities – ask around to find the good ones
- Apply for jobs on job boards and careers sites – make sure you take the time to customise your response for every job ad (e.g. customise your cover letter). There’s nothing worse than a brief note just saying “please consider me for your role”, it’s just plain lazy. Think about what they’re asking for and point out, as briefly as possible, why you think you’ll be a good fit. Also talk about why the company is interesting for you.
- If you do all that, you’re playing the numbers game well and your chances of success will increase ten-fold.
7. Final thought
Getting rejected time and time again is really tough to deal with, so resilience and persistence are super important.
I find it useful to think of it like this - It might take 99 “No’s” to get 1 “Yes", so each time you get a ‘No’, celebrate the fact you’re one step closer to your ‘Yes’. Treat it like a game, a numbers game, and try not to take it personally because it’s not personal. If someone says no to your CV that reflects on their needs, perceptions, preconceived notions and perhaps your CV/cover letter - not you.