Job search is changing all the time and there are some things that job seekers were told they had to do that are already out of date. The job search advice I gave even five years ago is different. Here are four things modern job seekers don’t need to do anymore.

#1. You don’t need to attend networking events

I know, I know. Notice I didn’t say to stop networking.

Not all networking events are created equal. I was attending a local event for a few months before I realized it was not a great use of my energy or time. Most of the events were full of people who were also told they needed to go to networking events. Most were in a career transition — trying to figure out their next move and not natural networkers. If I were in a job search, these events would be a great practice ground for my networking skills, but they wouldn’t get me closer to reaching my career goals.

If you attend events and notice that you’re the most experienced and well-connected person, you need to find better events to attend.

What to do instead:

  1. Be selective about the events you attend. If the events give you less than two weeks’ notice and are free, it may not help your search. Think about what types of people you want to meet and where they hang out. Often registering (or volunteering) at an industry conference or event is a better use of your time.
  2. If you’re networking to build your skills, consider joining a class or group for that purpose. You’ll make closer connections with people, develop skills, and have a support system for more than one evening.

#2. You don’t need to job search like it’s your full-time job

I think hearing that “looking for a job is a full-time job” prevents people from making a change in their lives. Most people don’t have 40 hours a week to land something new. You need to put time into your job search, but not 8 hours a day for 5 days a week. It’s about working smarter. A lot of people land awesome new jobs without even giving up their current job. How do you do this?

Schedule it:

The most important search activities are networking, following-up, editing or creating marketing materials (LinkedIn, resume, portfolio), practicing interview answers, researching organizations, and self-reflection.

Every week determine what the three most important activities are and schedule them. These are always changing. Research is important in the first few weeks, but that can change. Your activities should change too.

#3. You don’t need to be on LinkedIn if no one from your industry is there

LinkedIn is notoriously known for the place to land a job. But, it doesn’t work if the people in your sector don’t hang out and/or recruit there.

I saw this gorgeous thread on Twitter where someone announced that several PMs, engineers, and designers experienced job loss at WeWork.  Over 100 people replied stating that they were hiring and they mentioned who applicants should reach out to. The post got hundreds of retweets.

On LinkedIn, the same post got 11 comments.

Job seekers — make sure that you know where the hiring people & decision-makers for your ideal work hang out. More of my clients get hired through Twitter strategy than LinkedIn for creative and unconventional roles. If I was a designer looking for a job, I’d be following that thread and DMing on Twitter. And, hopefully, I’d have an interesting Twitter feed that showed my skill and network.

What to do instead:

I love LinkedIn and it absolutely changed my career for the better. But I also sell job search coaching — it is where my people hang out. Instead of blindly creating a LinkedIn profile and content strategy, make sure people in your industry hang out there.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to LinkedIn and search for the companies you want to work at and common industry hashtags.
  2. If you find someone, look at their profile.
  3. Click “See All Activity”

 

4. This will let you know if they are active. If they haven’t liked anything, posted or commented on anything, you’ll want to see if they hang out somewhere else. Some recruiters are in stealth mode, they are just there to hunt, but if you’re using social media to network and connect with people, you need to be in the same place as them.

If you find out that people in your industry are there, well, don’t drop it. Up your LinkedIn game.

 

4. You don’t need a reference letter

It used to be considered an asset to have a letter from the employer that said you were great. This letter has less clout now, especially if it is a few years old. Often hiring people will want to talk to a few people about your work experience and a letter is not good enough.

What to have instead:

If you can, get your former employer to write a recommendation on LinkedIn, or better yet, get them to introduce you to someone outside your network. If you’re not using LinkedIn (see above) then ask them to tweet or create a post that talks about a specific thing you helped out with. You can use this as part of your job search strategy. Social proof is big, just not in a letter anymore.

It’s not all bad advice.

There is still classic job-search advice that works like having a target, knowing your skills, connecting with new people, practicing interview answers, and telling stories. Whatever job search advice you take, take a moment to ask, “will this work for me and the industry I’m in?” before investing too much energy into it.

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