Where are the jobs? You may be surprised to learn that job opportunities are likely closer than you think. Consider these avenues when you begin your job search.
First, start with people you know. Let your network know you are interested in finding new job opportunities. This network should include family, friends, fellow church members, former classmates, etc. Additionally, if you feel comfortable, your current and previous work colleagues can be a huge advantage to your search.
Second, become involved in professional associations. This will not only demonstrate your interest and commitment to an industry, but often members in professional associations are the first to be in the know about new openings in their industry.
But simply being a member is not enough; you must be active and take advantage of the valuable networking opportunities professional associations provide.
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"Professional development associations and certifications are another way for candidates to show that they are committed to their career and furthering their knowledge within their areas of expertise," says Jennifer Hauber, director of human resources at Papa John's International.
"Associations can also provide opportunities to build networks and community relationships which as a company is something that we also foster within our team members," says Hauber.
In recent years, one of the most popular channels for finding job opportunities is via job search websites. Often when seeking out new job opportunities, the bulk of job seekers' time is spent online searching job boards. Try search engines such as Indeed.com or Simplyhired.com, which are free for employers to post. Also try searching niche job board websites such as Idealist.org for nonprofit opportunities or Dice.com for careers related to technology.
If you attended a college or university, as an alumnus you likely have access to their online job board and you may be eligible to attend job fairs hosted by the institution. Contact your alumni association to inquire. For example, if you attended the University of Kentucky, you may access the student/alumni job board, Wildcat Careerlink, free of charge.
Caroline Francis, career counselor with UK Alumni Career Services, points out that UK graduates are eligible to use the Wildcat Careerlink database found on the Career Center's website at www.uky.edu/careercenter. "Employers are encouraged to use this resource to post job announcements, as well as the official University of Kentucky LinkedIn group," says Francis.
Additionally, check your local news outlets or simply conduct a web search to learn of upcoming job fairs in your community which may be sponsored by community and government entities.
A relatively unexplored channel for finding job opportunities — which is often surprising to job seekers — is free community-based programs. One such local program is Job Club, a partnership between the Fayette County Cooperative Extension Service, the UK Alumni Association and UK Human Resources Staff Career Development. Job Club provides opportunities for community members to learn about various career-related topics and to network among attendees. This group is free, open to the public and meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Fayette County Cooperative Extension.
Another channel to explore is social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and especially LinkedIn, which have become increasingly popular for employers to post job opportunities. When using social media for your job search, take time to update your profiles accordingly and be cognizant of your privacy settings.
In the Gatton College of Business & Economics, Sarah Madison, manager of employer relations, works directly with companies hiring business talent.
"Employers tell us that while traditional job boards within the organization's own website and sites like Indeed and Career Builder are still used, additional postings on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are also being utilized," says Madison. "The savvy candidate should be checking all these resources and make sure the content they are putting out is professional and appropriate."
Finally, Headhunters and third-party recruiting agencies such as Kelley Services serve as a bridge between companies seeking workforce solutions and candidates with specific skill sets.
Eric Everett, engineering resources business development representative at Kelly Services, says that "although we post openings on most of the Internet job boards such as Career builder or Indeed, if you see an interesting opening, it's always better to stop into the office and introduce yourself. Once someone takes a personal interest in you, they will do whatever they can to open doors for you. ... Nothing beats a face-to-face relationship."
Just remember: When beginning your job search, a little planning and research of these channels will go a long way toward finding and exploring potential job opportunities out there.