12 Tips for Generating Strong Job Leads

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: May 22, 2013

Whether you are unemployed or simply looking to make a move, in a world where jobs are more competitive than ever, finding a job is a full-time job.

You can up the odds of landing a good gig by creating an organized, systematic plan to generate job leads. This article explores 12 active ways to ensure the leads keep rolling in.

1. Use your network

Only about 25 to 30 percent of jobs are advertised in the newspaper. The rest are "hidden." The best way to access these hidden jobs is through friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and contacts in your industry.

Identify and reach out in an organized manner to people who can help you, and let them know what kind of work you're looking for. If they can't help you, they probably know of someone who can.

2. Make it personal

Remember the days when you sent out a pile of generic cover letters and resumes, then waited for the phone to ring? Gone.

Replace this passive activity with a more action-oriented effort to establish relationships. Make sure every contact you make, whether it is by snail mail or email, references something you've learned about the contact or organization, and reveals something memorable about you.

3. Try the foot-in-the-door approach

Instead of asking for a meeting to discuss potential jobs (it's too easy to say "no" if there aren't any), try asking for a meeting for advice or information. Approached this way, most people are happy to help.

This approach gets your foot in the door, regardless of whether there is a job currently available. The person you meet with will remember you in the future if a suitable job opens up, may know of a person or organization that needs someone just like you, or may even be impressed enough to create a position for you!

4. Make cold contact

Make a list of potential employers, research each one carefully, then send each one a custom-tailored, personalized cover letter and resume describing what you can do for them.

You could possibly connect with a job that hasn't been advertised yet, or remind a company that they need help in a specific area.

5. Build your own website

Highlight your education, accomplishments, skills, and knowledge. Most important, make sure your website is properly optimized.

Quite often, employment agencies and human resources departments will do keyword searches in an attempt to find ideal candidates for certain jobs.


6. Join professional and trade organizations in your area

Many of these organizations hold regular meetings, seminars, and conferences. Joining these organizations will give you credibility, will increase your education and knowledge, and will allow you to rub elbows with some of your industry’s movers and shakers. It will also get you in front of the people and companies you want to work for.

Being active in professional and trade organizations is one of the best ways to get a good job quickly.

7. Contact your college career/alumni office

One of the most overlooked benefits of your college degree is the large network of people you acquire upon graduating.

Contact your alma mater's career department to find out what kind of services they offer. Chances are they can put you in touch with fellow graduates in your line of work who would be more than happy to lend a helping hand.

8. Attend job fairs

Search local publications for job fairs happening in your area. The key to generating leads at job fairs is to know who is attending ahead of time, and to develop a planned approach for visiting these potential employers.

Even if you are a high-level employee and the job fair is focusing on low-level employees, attending so that you can meet specific hiring managers is a good way to find out if there's a good fit now, or to ensure you're remembered if there's a good fit in the future.


9. Use online jobs sites and boards

Many job seekers neglect this route, thinking they will get lost among the throngs of other job seekers. While job boards shouldn't be your only way of generating leads, used correctly they can yield results.

Using the right keywords and truly understanding the finer points of how to use these sites can help you stand out in a crowd. Online job sites and boards are also a great resource for company information, which can help you custom tailor your outreach.

10. Align yourself with recruiters and headhunters

Find out who specializes in your industry or area, send them your information, and arrange a meeting. Headhunters and recruiters have tons of contacts, and it's in their best interest to find these contacts the best possible employees.

If there's not currently a potential match, be sure to keep in touch frequently. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

11. Stay linked in

Ask new contacts to join your LinkedIn network, or other online business-related networks you belong to. This will keep them abreast of what you're up to, and will keep your name fresh in their minds when that perfect position becomes available!

Joining groups in LinkedIn is also a terrific way to meet people who are in your industry.

12. Follow up each lead

Finding a job is more difficult than ever these days, but the formula for successful lead creation remains the same. In addition to making as many contacts as possible, through as many avenues as possible, it's important to follow up on every single lead.

Even if there's not a current match, following up will allow you to cultivate the relationships that may lead to future employment.

Persistence pays

You'll up the odds of finding your dream job if you generate as many good leads as possible. Follow the 12 tips in this article, leave no avenue unexplored, and be persistent.

It may take a little longer these days, but eventually, with the right strategy, your hard work will yield the results you're looking for.