Is "new job" on your holiday wish list? You're not alone. Despite the hustle and bustle of this season, workers who are looking for a change of scenery are writing résumés, applying to jobs and going on interviews in the hopes of landing a gig in the new year.
If you want to find a job in today's fast-paced, tech-driven world, you may think technology holds the key to landing interviews and getting hired. But although online job search sites, social media and mobile application processes are great ways to find opportunities, the real secret to securing a job lies in a technique that career experts have been advocating for the past century: networking.
"The way that people have found the most and the best jobs for the past 100 years has been through networking," said Scott Uhrig, founder of Career Artisan. "People erroneously believe the best way [to find a job] is an online job site. They invest a lot of time and effort, and it usually leads to frustration. Wind back the clock 10 or 15 years, before online job search — people relied more on networking."
That's not to say that technology doesn't provide modern job seekers with a huge advantage. Uhrig, whose company offers a series of programs designed to help professionals with their job searches, career transitions and skill development, noted that LinkedIn and other connection and networking tools can go a long way to help you find the right contact to get you in the door. He shared a few simple steps to help you kick-start your job search for 2015. [Best Job Search Apps]
Know what you want. It's tempting to make yourself look like a "generalist" — the jack of all trades who's reasonably good at most or all of the skills a job calls for. But today's hiring managers don't want generalists; they want specialists who are experts in the job's key duties. Uhrig advised figuring out what you want to do based on the skill set you have and establishing yourself as a specialist in that area.
"Get clear on what you're looking for," Uhrig said. "Figure out what you want to do, and put a stake on it."
Create a list of companies and contacts. Once you've determined what kind of job you want, make a list of companies in your industry that you want to work for. Uhrig said to prioritize the companies with open positions, but even if they don't have any jobs listed, you can still add those companies to your list. From there, search for the appropriate contact for hiring or human resources.
Network your way toward those hiring managers. Even if you're looking at a larger company, you may not be as far from the hiring managers as you think you are. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to identify common connections and people who can introduce you, Uhrig said.
Be proactive and reach out. Finally, make an effort to get in touch with the hiring managers to express your interest. While you don't want to seem too aggressive or demanding, reaching out directly in a respectful way can show a company that you truly want to serve as an asset to the organization.
"Pick up the phone; call and introduce yourself," Uhrig said. "It works if you invest the time and effort to do it."