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Where do job leads come from?

image That’s what most job seekers want to know!

“What is the most likely source for finding the right job?” …and “Where should I focus my time?”

Questions that make sense to ask… however, are very difficult to answer! MANY times, the best job leads come from the most unlikely sources! The best job lead may come out of the blue!

Over the last four years, I’ve helped lead a job networking group and teach an 8-week class on job transition skills. For the past 23 years, I’ve also been a recruiter who talks to people looking for new jobs every day. I’ve spoken to thousands of people in a job search. Yet I’m always amazed at the stories of how people have found their jobs. I regularly hear people tell me something like:

I’ve been searching online postings and going to networking groups for months, but ended up finding the right job through…”

…a referral from an 85 year old woman at my church one Sunday morning.

…the stay-at-home mom next door that knew someone.

…an old co-worker I hadn’t talked to in 15 years but ran into at the supermarket.

…a previous boss that called me out of the blue.

…a recruiter that found my information on LinkedIn.

…a company I blindly called into, not knowing if they had an open position or not.

…a conversation I had with someone I met at a coffee shop.

…an email I got back from someone I had sent a monthly update to about my job search.

…an introduction I sent someone based on an article I read about their company.

…a referral of a referral of a referral!

…and on, and on, and on


There is no single best source of leads. The obvious ones (job boards, online and newspaper ads), are generally the least fruitful because nearly every other job seeker out there is checking out and pursuing those same ones.

The reality and the challenge for the job seeker, is that you need to consistently pursue dozens of avenues, all the time!

Don’t neglect any contact, lead, or idea you hear of. Use your time wisely, however, the best opportunity often comes from the least likely sources. Often the name you’re given that sounds like a dead-end lead (the 85 year old grandmother), may be the one that has the best contact, specific job lead, or idea for you.

Will that always be the case? Of course not! However, don’t miss out on an opportunity by not chasing down every lead and contact you hear of. That means putting in enough time each day and managing your time effectively is key to being able to make each of those connections.

If your days are primarily characterized by searching and responding to ads online, you are spending most of your time on the same resources as the vast majority of other job seekers out there. To effectively find and connect to someone that is not getting overwhelmed by candidates, you must go where others don’t. Make personal connections to people whether they have a job opening or not. Getting to opportunities before anything is posted is critical in beating the crowds.

Don’t neglect the obvious avenues. You still need to check and follow up on job postings. You still need to attend networking groups. You still need to search out contacts through LinkedIn and connect to potential hiring managers and recruiters. However, don’t dismiss the stay-at-home mom next door when she says… “You ought to talk to my cousin Frank who works at XYZ Company. He’s not in your field, but his company seems to be doing well!” You have no idea… cousin Frank may know of a particular job, have a better networking contact for you, or know of resources that may be worthwhile for you.

Effective networking is building relationships, one at a time, building a chain of referrals from one person, to the next, to the next, and to the next until you end up talking to the one that has the right lead for you!

Does pursuing all contacts and leads make your job harder than just searching for jobs online? Absolutely! Is it likely to help you find a job faster? YES!

You never know where your best job leads will come from. Check everything out and you may be surprised!


Anonymous said...

Good advice Harry. Evidence? One of my people is off to final interviews tomorrow for a dream job he sourced thru a former colleague.

Karen F. said...

These days you really cannot afford to turn away leads. Every bit of these leads count if you are a serious job seeker. Some smart searching and a great resume and cover letter are sure to land you a good job all the time, every time.

So even if you are not sure, listen to your grandmother. :)

Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google)

Job Search Engine Leads said...

I agree with going out and hitting the streets to meet people and get leads thru social contact and following up with them and friends and people they know also who may have leads on jobs.

Phyllis Mufson said...

Hi Harry - I always enjoy your articles.

One of my clients wanted to break into writing soap operas - talk about a competitive field.

How did she get her lead? Her mother was chatting about her daughter (as mother's do) to the woman on the next treadmill at the gym - and the woman's daughter was a soap opera star.

Debra Feldman, the JobWhiz said...

Always right on the money Harry. One aspect of leads generation that is equally important to networking is being able to succinctly present your interests and qualifications so that a contact clearly understands your career objective and is able to remember and pass along your request to their connections. So, on top of connecting with those who may be able to make an introduction and help you cultivate job leads, candidates must be able and prepared to describe their value proposition simply enough for contacts to understand how they can help and be able to describe the candidate's potential benefits to the next person in the networking chaine.

Jean Radeztsky said...

Thanks Harry - In addition to my Career Transition Coachsulting, I also I teach Career Development at the Art Institutes Intl'l in Minneapolis. Something I always tell my clients/students is to "think out loud" (as long as there is someone with you) because you never know who is listening.

I too have had clients who have found meaningful connections in the oddest places

Keep the networking going - thanks for the post.

Jean Radeztsky
Avail Coaching and Consulting, LLC

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