How to Find Jobs: Search Strategies Most Candidates Overlook

A person runs up a bar chart to a target

Most job seekers begin their jobs search online. They check out postings from jobs search sites and sign up to have new alerts sent directly to them. Many also are leveraging social media by creating a profile on LinkedIn and following their target employers on Twitter, Facebook and other channels.

And there's nothing wrong with this approach. Job seekers should use the Internet when looking for their next position, because the vast majority of public openings are posted online. However, many job seekers stop right there — and, as a result, often have nothing to show for it. Don't let that happen to you.

Instead, try these strategies that most job seekers overlook:

Contact a former employer

If you've ruled out the prospect of ever returning to a former employer, you might want to reconsider. Sure, it may be that the issues you had with a certain company were so great you'd rather forget your time there completely. But if you left on good terms, it could be worth reconnecting with your old boss.

Many companies welcome back so-called boomerang employees with open arms. After all, these individuals are proven performers who are already familiar with the work environment and may even have relationships still in place. Training costs are lower, and it's likely a former employee can hit the ground running more quickly than someone from the outside.

And don't forget the benefits to you. For one thing, you know what you're getting into. For another, you might just be able to avoid a long frustrating jobs search.

You don't need to approach your old company with your tail between your legs. But you do need to be ready to explain why you'd be interested in returning and allay the firm's concerns that you might jump ship again.

Meet new people

"It's who you know." Everyone has heard that saying before, and it's true, at least when it comes to the jobs search. Grow your network by attending meetings, forums and seminars for those in your industry. But don't limit yourself to professional gatherings only. Many job seekers forget that social gatherings like the neighborhood block party or a holiday get-together with friends are also valid venues for building professional connections.

Always be ready with your elevator pitch so you can quickly explain the type of position you're looking for and what you can offer a potential employer. After meeting someone new, follow up with an email or with a request to connect via LinkedIn to remain top of mind.

Reach out to fellow alumni

Alumni from the same college or university often feel a bond with fellow alumni. Why shouldn't they? No matter when they graduated — whether it was five years, 10 years or 20 years apart — they probably have experiences in common. This is especially true of alumni of the same field of study. At the very least, they sat in the same classrooms, learned from some of the same professors or walked the same paths across campus.

Your jobs search may be the perfect time to mine your alumni network. Most colleges and universities have an alumni directory, categorized by professional field, geographic location or other criteria, to make reaching out even easier. Also keep in mind that many alumni gather online through LinkedIn and other forums. Search for a group of your former classmates and start reaching out.

Contact a staffing firm

Even if you're looking for a full-time job, don't rule out contacting a staffing firm about temporary employment opportunities while you're on the jobs search. Short-term assignments can help keep your skills sharp and put some money in your pocket.

Temporary work also can serve as a bridge to full-time employment, especially if you work with a staffing agency that specializes in your field. The best ones have staffing managers with backgrounds in the industries they serve. They use their experience to personalize your jobs search, finding good matches between you and client companies.

So if you're hunting for a new job, by all means look online. But don't make the mistake of leaving it at that. By pursuing a few simple jobs search strategies that most candidates overlook, you could shorten the time it takes you to find the right opportunity.