When I was a kid in South Carolina, we were legally allowed to work as early as 14. I was chomping at the bit to get a job, mostly because I could get a workers permit and drive earlier than all of my friends, but I was very focused on getting hired. The problem was, I was lazy. That is - until my dad realized how lazy I was being. He then educated me on my attitude and that I should treat getting a job like it is my job and that I shouldn't have leisure hours if I don't have work hours. Can't argue with that logic. 

I say that to point this out - finding a job can be a lot less stressful than applying to advertisements and hoping for the best. If a job-searcher takes a more active approach, they can guarantee a higher level of success and have much more control over their future. It's overused, but my strategy stems from "it's not what you know, it's who you know." I suggest putting a huge focus on networking. 

1) Create your job profile

I like to think about a job profile as location, industry, function & scope. If I sell insulation across the southeast from Greenville, SC - then I would likely be looking for a job within sales in the southeast (preferably Greenville) in the building materials industry. At this point you start making your company target list. A good number is around 20 with your top 5 segmented out. 

2) Sweep through applications

Go on to the popular websites such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster & ZipRecruiter and apply to all of the applicable positions according to your job profile. Do not limit your companies, however. That list is to be used later. When you're applying for jobs, you're best off spending maybe 4-8 hours applying for all of the jobs you possibly can. Afterwards, forget you even applied. Focus on phone conversations, if they call you, the relationship can be on your radar, otherwise its not worth the brain strain. Apply liberally, this can also be used as a networking tool. If something seems a bit too high, apply anyway. Applying above your pay grade is obviously much more productive than applying below it. 

3) Connect with applicable recruiters

Connect yourself with recruiters that apply to your job profile as far as location, industry & function go. For example, a company/recruiter that works exclusively in your city/metro/target area. If you're in IT, you're probably going to work best with an IT firm like MDI Group. If you're in building materials, sales or manufacturing operations, you'll do great with Legacy (shameless plug, I know!)

4) Network your niche like a recruiter

At this point you've clearly stated exactly what you're looking for, you've got your eye on the prize. Now its time to get out and spread the story. Don't wait for new jobs to get posted, don't rely on the recruiters to find you a job, it's time for you to really get to work. Here you should be chatting and getting introduced to anyone and everyone that falls within your niche, more specifically your top 20/5 list! Stay focused and continue to build out your network within your target job. 

Taking an active approach and tracking relationships will help you greatly in finding a job. Treat it like a sales job. You're selling yourself! Build your network, gain trust and offer solutions. Remember, there's a job opening because there's something that needs to be addressed, sell the solution. As much as you're going to be concerned with what the company is going to do for you, you need to have a clear idea of the value behind what you're able to do for the company. This will make you much more confident and clear-minded during interviews. Follow these steps and you'll have your next job in no time!

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