This is the twenty-fifth in a series of blogs supporting the College to Career Calendar available for downloading at Today’s blog discusses how to focus your job search.

Most job seekers spend the majority of their time responding to postings on job boards like,,, and just to name a few. If everyone else is doing it, shouldn’t you?

  • Let’s start by looking at some facts and numbers:
    It is estimated that about 10% of job seekers get jobs through job boards.
  • It is hard to “stand out” as a top candidate when a company receives 10,000 applications in a 24 hour period and your resume is reviewed by a computer program.
  • The majority of job listings on job boards are for positions in large companies either because there is a fee to post the job OR the job board is programmed to search for the job posting of large organizations who post job openings on their website.
  • Less than 12% of the US workforce works for a company with more than 20 employees. In other words, it is unlikely that job openings in 88% of the companies in the US will appear on a job board.

Does that mean you do not follow up leads posted on job boards? No, it means you only spend 10% of your time applying to jobs posted on job boards.
So what do you do the other 90% of the time? In an earlier blog, I talked about developing a list of 40 target companies. Spending 90% of your time working this list (which may include some of those companies posting on job boards). Your goal is to learn about a job opening before it is posted, contact the hiring manager, send your resumes, call to set up and interview, and have a job offer before anyone else knows about the job.
How do you find out about job opportunities before they are posted? Networking. Use all your social media tools to identify people working for your target company, connect with your college alumni association, ask friends if they know anyone working at one of your target companies, and set up informational interviews.
Use all your social media tools to identify people working for your target company.
As a soon-to-be or new graduate looking for your first job you are in great position to use social media; you don’t have to worry about a current employer learning you are planning to leave your job. Develop a message something like this:
“Facebook (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) Friends,
Want to know what you can give me for graduation? Some help finding a job. Do you know anyone who works at (list top companies you are interested in)?”

Connect with your college alumni association.
It is a good time to consider joining your alumni association. Alumni associations work hard to promote their college/university and the success of their members. Contact your campus alumni association, share with your contact your career goals and desire to meet with people working in any of your target companies.

Ask friends if they or their parents know anyone working at one of your target companies.
Yes, your friends probably say your social media post, but a personal face –to-face request is sometimes more productive. If your friend saw your social media post but did not have an immediate response chances are he/she won’t focus on trying to find a contact and then searching back through the feed to post an answer. Having a mini-brainstorming session could be more productive. And don’t forget to ask about contacts your friend’s parents may have.

Set up informational interviews with companies on your target list.
This step may require the most courage but it is often the most rewarding, in terms of securing a job. It is great if one of your networking contacts provides you with an introduction but you can also set these up yourself by calling the company, introducing yourself, and asking if you would meet with someone in your field of study to learn more about the company.

  • If an employer can fill a position before they have to advertise, screen candidates, and manage the increased workload created by a vacant position they save time, money, and stress.
  • Many employers give bonuses to employees who recommend a candidate that is hired.
  • College alumni want to help graduates from their alma mater succeed and alumni association staff knows the strength of the organization depends upon the financial/professional success of their members.
  • And friends like to help friends; isn’t that what friendship is all about.

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