Whether you are a freelancer looking for some full- or par-time salaried work, or a salaried employee looking for some side work, there are a number of tools that should be in your toolbox aside from the typical resume/ C.V. and one cover letter per job.
Leveraging Technology in Your Work Search
Here are a some technologies and techniques to employ in your job search.
Social Media and Networks
Regardless of age, many job seekers are recognizing the immense value of online networks. In fact, it seems to be a necessity for many types of work, especially since there’s a global recession at the moment. Jobless rates are rising all over the world, and connecting online makes it easier to broaden the scope of your search. (Even when there’s no recession, job change is a fact of life.) One good professional networking site is LinkedIn, though people have reportedly found work via Twitter and even Facebook. Consider reading Chris Brogan’s free ebook on using the social web to find work.
(The irony is that even though LinkedIn had its own recent layoffs and management changes, its market is growing rapidly because of the recession – at the rate of about a million new people every two weeks.)
Leverage the connections in your social networks. Do ask both real-life and online friends about opportunities. Just be considerate of their viewpoint in the job referral process. Just because someone says “no” does not mean they have anything against you. Move on and ask someone else.
A SWOT analysis is a tool often used for businesses and business plans. It can also be used to analyze your career planning and job search. (SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.)
If you do visually creative work (graphic + web design, photography, video), an online portfolio is a must. If you write, publish samples of your writing – if this does not violate client agreements. If necessary, publish similar text. If you code, maybe you can have a running demo of some of your work.
Whatever type of work you do, make an attempt to demonstrate it – and thus your skills – online. At the least, publish your resume/ C.V. online, on a site associated with your name/ brand (as well as on jobseeker sites). If you can, show your client/ employer list.
Maintain a Website or Blog
If you don’t have content suitable to a portfolio, considering keeping a blog with content relevant to the work that you do. Publish articles, reviews, lists, interviews, diagrams, images, podcasts, screencasts and any other suitable content. This demonstrates your communication skills – a requirement that’s must for most types of career jobs, and implicit for freelance/ contract work.
Make sure that your contact info or contact form is easy to find, and that you check your email application’s spam folder – just in case.
One tip: blogging will only take up a lot of time if you let it. Try to achieve flow in your writing.
Use Job Boards
While newspapers might be fine for finding local work, some jobs in many larger cities are only listed online – either on company web sites or on job boards. Of course, it’s far easier to search a job board for work than to search an unending number of company websites. You have your choice of well over a 100 job sites to pick from.
Make sure to utilize as many of the advanced features of a job site as possible. Most let you post a profile, one or more resumes, one or more cover letters, and sometimes a list of skills and the length of time you have used each skill.
Depending on what you are looking for, you’ll either want to search freelance job lists, freelance bidding sites, or salaried job boards. Each requires a different approach.
Consider supplementing your income with freelancing – or at least to tide you over until you find the job you’re looking for.
If you’re consider changing careers, have a plan for the change. Consider whether you’ll need any retraining, as well the tools you’ll need for your career search.
Web Agents + RSS Radars
Of course, job seeking can turn into a full-time job. If you have other obligations and need to limit the amout of time you’re spending looking for work, leverage technology even further.
- Web feeds. Most job sites offer RSS feeds for new job listings that you can subscribe to from a feed reader such as Google Reader. If your feed reader is sophisticated enough you can filter incoming feed items for just the ones you want, by specifying keywords, job titles, locations and more.
- RSS Radars. If your feed reader is not sophisticated, or you want to do some complex filtering of job listings, you need an RSS Radar. Radars filter one or more web feeds as per custom filter rules that you can define. The resulting filtered information is then delivered to you either via email or a feed reader, depending on the tools you’re using.
- Yahoo Pipes. One of the most powerful tools for building RSS Radars is Yahoo Pipes. Pipes has a visual, plug and play interface, so no real programming is required. Once you’ve built a Radar, you can subscribe to its web feed through an RSS reader. Tubetorial has a couple of screencasts on creating RSS Radars with Yahoo Pipes.
- Maps. If you want to get really sophisticated with Yahoo Pipes, you can utilize the output feature to Yahoo Maps. Use some of the more advanced Pipes filtering (i.e., location filters) to produce a map pinpointing the location of jobs from your RSS Radars. (The example image above shows the output of a Pipe-based Radar searching for New York City apartments.)
While there are things to do when you get laid off, what you should not do is wait until you lose your job to start building your network or creating your resume. Do these things while you are employed. And if you do get laid off or are otherwise looking for a new job, update your resume immediately.