The business of finding a job has actually become big business. If you’re in the middle of a job search, you’ve probably noticed that there are all sorts of things that you can pay for that will, supposedly, enhance your search and lead you to more interviews. If you’re currently employed looking for a new role, maybe paying extra for some help is reasonable to you. However, if you’re already unemployed, the last thing you want to do is shell out more cash for a service that may or may not work.
I have no evidence to say that these services won’t work, but I think that sometimes people forget there are all kinds of free, underutilized resources out there that can do a lot of that similar legwork for you. After all, a job search is never as simple as finding a listing online, submitting your resume, and getting called for an interview. At least, I’ve never heard of that working myself!
Here are some places to start:
- Your college or graduate school career center. Most universities now have robust career services departments that are free and available to you whether you are a current student or alum. They generally offer full-service career counseling—that means, resume/cover letter reviews, mock interviews, and career path and networking advice. They’re sometimes aligned with the business school as well, which can be a powerful networking tool, as many professors are often former employees of big companies in your area.
- Social networks are powerful, and not just for sharing your latest Instagram photos. LinkedIn is one great example. If you don’t have a profile, build one, and find your contacts. I love how you can easily see what companies people work for here. Also, if you search their job listings, it will show you if anyone you are “linked” to works for that company. Having someone on the inside to refer you can make or break whether or not you get your foot in the door. Another benefit of these networks is that when your profile is out there, recruiters can find you!
- Networking events. You can find these through local community organizations, clubs, or, again, your alma mater. A lot of people fear events like these because they basically entail introducing yourself to people you don’t know and schmoozing with them. However, in situations like these I always remind myself of a quote I once read from Bill Cosby (!): “Decide that you want it more than you fear it.” How badly do you want a new job? Do you want it more than you fear interacting with strangers and possibly facing rejection?
The point is, there’s a lot more you can do than just blindly applying online, and none of it has to cost a thing. Sure, you can pay $50 to have some random person review and revise your resume, or you can get out there, meet people, talk to experts, and not spend a dime!