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By Aileen Hunter


HR job hunting techniques for 2014.


Remember when job hunting meant reading the classifieds section of the newspaper or going to the job centre to look at postings on the board?

You printed your resume on “good paper” and either mailed it in or dropped it off at the employer’s office. Today, things seem easier because you can search for jobs online and apply with a click of a button. Why, then, are you having such a tough time landing an interview?


You work through endless job websites, apply diligently online and then never hear back. You’ve ventured onto LinkedIn but don’t see what all of the fuss is about, given that your only real connection is your cousin Doug in Winnipeg. You find yourself wishing for the return of the good old days…

There are successful strategies for job-hunting in 2014; it requires taking a look at some new and renewed approaches to help professionals find their next HR role and end the search doldrums.

It is critical to have a complete and up-to-date profile. It should show the same information as your resume: career objective, work experience, education and professional qualifications. Upload a good quality photo; the profiles without photos stand out by appearing unfinished.

“Photos of you in recreational gear, at a bar or riding a motorcycle are not appropriate. This is not Facebook. Your photo should appear as if you are at work or ready for a job interview,” said Michael Berman, CHRP, who provides HR consulting services to clients in the Toronto area, with a focus on small business, digital media and HR data analytics. “Remember that this will be the first image of you that a recruiter will see.”

Next, begin building your network. Scroll through the “People You May Know” list and click “Connect” on the people you know and would like to add to your network. This list of suggestions will change each time you load the page as your network expands.

“I review the suggestion list once a week to find more connections. Each time I meet a new business contact in person, I make a connection in LinkedIn as a follow-up,” said Berman, who has over 1,000 connections. “I’ve also actively searched for and added former colleagues, schoolmates and personal contacts to build my network. What I avoid doing is sending random invitations to people I’ve never met. This isn’t about adding strangers to your network, but about building a legitimate group of contacts.”

In all spheres of your job hunt, whether online or in-person at networking events and volunteer assignments, it takes hard effort and patience to produce the coveted first interview.


Why go to all of the effort building a network? It’s to get the most out of LinkedIn for your job hunt. When you find a job poster, either on LinkedIn or another site, you can use your LinkedIn connections for networking. LinkedIn will tell you “How You’re Connected” to people who work for various companies that you seek out; if you don’t have a direct connection to that person, one of your own connections might. The larger you grow your network, the more chances there are that you will have a mutual contact.

Ask your mutual contact to make an introduction to your target contact. Knowing someone on the inside can help get your resume to the best person, increasing your chances of a first round interview. This approach is also useful when targeting organizations for hidden opportunities.

Yes, the real world still matters. Networking events or groups could be large events with national organizations or they could be informal meetings with independent groups that have a focused geography or modality. Some groups may attach a small fee to participate and others are free.

“Don’t go with a less is more approach. Research all of the groups in your area and try to go to at least one event for each. You may find that one group produces better connections for what you are looking for than another,” said Berman.

Bring personal business cards. Handing out a card at events, especially if you are not currently working, signals that you are a professional and ready to work. Work your way around the room instead of staying with the same person for an hour. Give your best impression in the first 30 seconds, raising exposure and creating intrigue for a follow-up conversation.

Volunteerism is a job hunt technique. The volunteer organization benefits from your services and you get valuable experience for your resume. If you are someone who has been out of the workforce for a while, is looking to make a change or is new to the profession, volunteering is a great way to gain current, relevant experience.
“If you are already involved with an organization that you are passionate about – whether it is a charity, recreational league, social club or networking group – offer to join their organizational committee or provide HR/administrative support. It’s a great way to formalize your involvement and support the organization,” said Berman.

Treat the volunteer role as a job and exceed expectations. In addition to experience for your resume, you’ll also secure references from the committee chair/group leader. But be clear: a volunteer role where you are cuddling kittens will not do much to demonstrate your professional capabilities. Organizing a conference for a networking group – including arranging speakers, booking rooms and managing event communications – will demonstrate relevant skills to a potential employer.


Finding the right volunteer opportunity will be a lot like your job hunt. Large, well-known charities have a lot of applicants, so they can be selective. Focusing on smaller/local organizations or ones that you are already involved with will increase your odds of being accepted as a volunteer.

Patience pays off
In all spheres of your job hunt, whether online or in-person at networking events and volunteer assignments, it takes hard effort and patience to produce the coveted first interview.

“I’d say that it normally takes a job hunter four to eight connection attempts on an organization before finding that person who is really in a position to help,” said Berman. “But when that connection is made, those individuals are typically successful in getting hired by the company.”

Online job boards may have replaced the classified ads in newspapers, but the fundamentals remain unchanged. The best way to secure a first interview is by meeting the people who are in a position to recommend or hire you. Getting savvy with LinkedIn and pragmatic about networking and volunteer opportunities will move you from endless dead-end job applications and into the interview chair.


Quick Tips


• Spend as much time building your LinkedIn profile as you did preparing your resume
• Don’t underestimate the power of a great profile photo
• Build your network. Past coworkers, fellow PTA members, etc. Connect!
• Research your target companies, identify your networking opportunities and use the power of LinkedIn to secure introductions with company insiders, paving the way for a first interview

• Identify your local networking groups and events. Try to attend at least one event per organizer.
• Bring your own business cards to hand out
• Work your way around the room
• Offer your services to local charitable, social or networking groups
• Focus on work that will highlight your HR, organizational or leadership skills
• Ask the committee chair or group leader to be a reference once you’ve delivered results

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