Finding the perfect job isn’t just about applying for every position that suits your criteria. Often, you’ll find that the job isn’t all it promised to be once you have it. This is where doing your research during the job search process comes in.
There are several ways to use search engines and social networks to help you find the best job for your talents; all you need to do is start searching. Here’s what you should be looking for:
- Search for job listings.
Chances are, you’re already doing this to some extent. If not, you should be. Don’t get stuck looking at just the large job boards. Check out the niche job sites in your industry. Hoojobs, for example, has agency and in-house listings throughout the United States for public relations, communications, and social media professionals (disclosure: I’m a co-founder of the site). Search hashtags in Twitter. Some of the popular ones include #happo (Help a PR Pro Out) or #prjobs. You can also search Google using phrases such as “wanted” and “seeking” along with the position you are interested in. This will turn up help wanted listings that you might not otherwise see because they are on sites you wouldn’t think to check.
- Find companies and make cold calls.
We tend to shy away from cold calling because it has a higher chance of rejection, but if you want to uncover the hidden job opportunities, you really have to leave your comfort zone. If you are focusing your search for PR agencies in San Francisco and you’re not sure where to start, use Google Maps to quickly list agencies in your area. A simple search for “public relations” will yield pages of results and points on the map, complete with address, phone number, and website. Once you have your short list, contact them to see if they have any positions open.
- Find out who to contact.
Once you know which companies you are interested in, take the time to look for the correct person to contact about a job. Your chances of success will go up considerably if you contact the right person, as opposed to simply sending an application out into the ether. Start with a LinkedIn search for all the people within that company. If you are applying for a PR Manager role, write down all the names of the people who it could report to and contact the person who is most likely to be the hiring manager. You might also find this information in the “About Us” or “Contact Us.” Some companies offer a list of key staff members and may even include contact information such as a phone number and email address for each.
- Research the company.
It’s not uncommon to get the job you wanted only to discover that it isn’t as pleasant as you had imagined. The boss may be more difficult than anticipated, or the company may have policies that you can’t stand. The best way to avoid this is through research ahead of time.Before you apply for any job, be sure to look online for any comments about the company. Previous or current employees may have written about their experiences and this can give you a good idea as to whether or not you want to work there. Glassdoor is a site that allows employees to write honest reviews about their company and is a good starting point. Of course, keep in mind that a few negative comments shouldn’t deter you completely from pursuing an opportunity. The information shared could be outdated and the company’s policies have changed. It’s also important to remember what doesn’t work for one person might be perfectly fine by another.
- Research the staff.
Some people aren’t shy about sharing their opinion for someone online, and this can work to your advantage. Check out the more important staff members by Googling their names and see what comes up. Use http://blogsearch.google.com/ to check for blog posts, too. You can take it step further and search a site like SocialMention to check other social media sites or Backtype to set up and view alerts in blog comments. A little bit of cyberstalking could quickly uncover information you wished you had known before making a decision to work for the company – and don’t think for a second they aren’t doing the same for your name.
Job hunting is a challenge, but with the power of the Internet, we have more options than our parents did. These tools allow extensive research on a job and the key members of any company long before you submit your application.
Photo credit: Bart van de Biezen
Date: June 30th, 2011 / Author: Lindsay
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