8 Job-Hunting Tools That Are More Important Than LinkedIn

by Julie Rains on 25 February 2014 1 comment

Sure, LinkedIn is a great place to expand your professional network, get noticed, and look for career opportunities. But it's not the only resource for those who are actively looking for a job. Here are eight other tools you should be using in your job search. (See also: LinkedIn Changes Every Job Hunter Should Make)

1. Branding and Digital Dirt Burial Tools

Create a polished online presence to promote yourself and, at the same time, bury digital dirt that may be preventing you from getting hired.

Start by doing a search on yourself to see what potential employers may view. Use various search engines such as Google and Bing, and be sure to sign out of your account (or use Google's incognito feature), so that results are not customized to your preferences.

Use online tools designed to monitor or control the quality of information presented. For example, Trackur allows you to view online conversations about your brand, alerts set up through Google's " Me on the Web" can help you stay informed about your online persona (get there from Data Tools through your Google account), and BrandYourself provides tools to let you indicate whether a search result is relevant. Look for free services that are reputable; be aware that some firms charge high fees and use unscrupulous "black hat" SEO tactics that could damage your reputation. (See also: Your Web Presence May Be More Important Than Your Credit Rating)

Or, do it yourself:

  • Use your own blog and social media sites to showcase your expertise and discuss industry news.
     
  • Link your accounts to indicate proper relationships (for example, link your blog to your Google+ account or link to your personal website from Twitter).
     
  • Add professional images to your profiles, replacing fun-but-frivolous photos.
     
  • Remove posts where you ranted about a now-meaningless encounter.
     
  • Update privacy settings on sites where you share personal information.

For sites that you do not control, contact webmasters directly to ask for removal of unfavorable content.

2. Company Review Websites

Websites that provide an insider's view of a potential employer are invaluable to job hunters. Glassdoor and Career Bliss, for example, allow current and past employees to share their thoughts on a company and its workplace practices.

Information may include steps in the candidate review, evaluation, and selection process. By using these sites, you can better prepare yourself for interviews, follow-up activities, and salary negotiations. (See also: Awesome Websites to Help You Get a Job)

Gain insights into corporate culture and values. For example, you may learn that a certain organization offers a high level of job security and outstanding benefits but few opportunities for career advancement. Depending on your goals, you may choose to pursue a position with this employer or cross it off your target company list.

3. Interview Preparation Tools

Being able to sell yourself and your value to a potential employer is essential to landing a job and getting a great offer. Use interview preparation tools to prepare yourself to articulate qualifications, engage hiring managers and potential colleagues, and convey unique strengths in face-to-face and phone interviews. (See also: How to Make a Good Impression at an Interview)

There are many resources to prepare you for interviews. Offline, visit your college career services offices or hire a coach to train you on interviewing techniques and get you ready to answer traditional and curveball questions. Online, check out providers such as Big Interview and Phone Interview Pro.

4. Success Stories

Compelling success stories can attract potential employers plus reveal how you think and act in difficult situations. They can be included in your resume and elaborated on during interviews.

According to the Harvard Business Review, you should use the STAR (Situation-Task-Achievement-Results) technique to frame your successes. Discuss the circumstances of a workplace situation, explain the tasks or steps you took to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity, explain why your actions were beneficial, and share the results.

For example, an accomplishment such as "increased sales by 30%" sounds impressive but has little context for a skeptical hiring manager. A more convincing story is one in which you explain that you accepted a challenging assignment to a dormant sales territory, introduced yourself to former customers, overcame objections stemming from lack of previous contact, won trust through hands-on problem solving, and grew sales during an economic slowdown.

5. Online Job-Posting Aggregators

Online aggregators of job postings, such as Indeed and Simply Hired, streamline and simplify your job search. Not only can you peruse positions advertised on major job boards, you can find opportunities from the careers sections of your target companies.

Use these resources to note hiring trends and to identify and apply for openings.

6. Target Company List

A target company list enables you to focus your job search. A more focused effort is generally more effective.

Based on your list, strategically cultivate your network, gather insights from informational interviews, craft your resume to meet requirements, and develop compelling stories to illustrate how your professional capabilities and style meshes with your desired employer's needs.

Develop and refine your target companies using lists such as Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, local business directories, and industry associations. You can also use results from general Google searches with parameters that include your target industry, job title or profession, and location.

7. Email and Phone

Email and phone services are essential to carefully spreading the word that you are in the job market, and they help you when being considered for opportunities. (See also: Crucial Job Searching Steps Most People Skip)

Give friends and close professional colleagues a brief overview of your professional credentials and current goals. When you begin targeting a certain company or interview for a job, communicate directly with those who can advise on the best way to approach a hiring manager or target employer. Express appreciation for assistance and provide periodic updates on your progress; when your name stays in front of people, they will be more likely to remember you when openings that match your qualifications become available.

Throughout your job hunt, tap the basic but essential tools of email and phone to manage communications with hiring decision makers and human resource professionals.

8. Tracking Systems

A tracking system can help you keep up with potential employer interactions. Because there is often a significant time lapse between applying for a position and getting called for an interview, using a system to access relevant information quickly can make you appear organized and polished.

For example, a tracking system can allow you to easily find the customized resume you uploaded to your targeted employer's website. Then you can refresh your memory on selling points from that version and bring a copy with you to the interview. Plus, you can recall the names, titles, and addresses of those on a panel interview and know where to send thank-you notes.

Career-services professional Jason Alba has created an online tool to track all aspects of a job search. JibberJobber Career Management 2.0 is a free resource (with premium features) that allows you to build lists of professional and personal contacts, store resumes and other job search documents, maintain records of expenses, and more.

If you'd rather create your own system, consider making electronic files or paper folders to store all pertinent documents for a target company along with interview notes.

What job-hunting tools have you used? Have they been more important than LinkedIn to your job-search success?

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Thanks for including Trackur in your great list of resources!