Active Job Search

There are many online strategies you can use to improve your chances of finding a job. Some of these strategies happen before you apply, like adding proof of performance and relevant keywords to your resume. Once you start looking, knowing how to use job boards and social media platforms can help you find open positions. Researching the employer or company can give you a step up in your application and interview.

In this section: Proof of Performance, Keyword Optimization, Job Boards, and Researching Employers.

Proof of Performance

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The typical resume is only one or two pages, which doesn’t leave a lot of room to demonstrate your skills and abilities. One way to make yourself stand out as a job seeker is to use your online presence to demonstrate ‘proof of performance,’ or to share more details and examples to back up, or ‘prove,’ what you’ve said on your resume. It’s a way to show off your best work.  ‘Proof of performance’ is also sometimes called a ‘career performance portfolio.’ Many people will exaggerate or lie on their resumes, so being able to back up your resume with examples will make you stand out to potential employers.

For example, if you want to highlight your writing skills, you could have links to articles or blog posts you’ve written for the school newspaper. Or, if you were a knitter, you could share photos of your creations on Instagram.

Proof of performance can be shared on your personal website or blog, or on your social media platforms. Here are some examples of things you could share as proof of performance:

Proof of Skills

  • Writing samples, like articles, blog posts, letters to the editor, copies of outstanding school papers
  • Photographs of things you have created, or, if you’re a photographer, photographs you’ve taken
  • Graphic design examples, like posters or newsletters you’ve created
  • YouTube videos that show you speaking in public, or demonstrating a specific task.
  • Certificates or professional licenses

Proof of Employment

  • Job or role descriptions of past jobs
  • Samples of your work, which will depend on what the work was—could be writing, photos, or videos.

Proof of Community Service or Community Engagement

  • Photos of you volunteering at a local event
  • Links or photographs of your name appearing on an event’s website or in a brochure as a volunteer or a staff person
  • Certificates or thank-you notes for your help with an event

Note: As with anything you share online, make sure that anything you share as proof of performance online doesn’t give away any of your personal information, like your phone number, email address, mailing address, or Social Security number. Make sure you’re not sharing anything that someone could use to steal your identity or to harass you.

Keyword Optimization

Keywords are the terms or words that you type into a search engine in order to look up information. For example, if you were searching for recipe ideas you might search “chicken pot pie recipe,” or for cat videos, “funny cat video.” The reason all of the results on the search page show up is because those websites and articles contain keywords related to what you searched.

You can use keywords to help with your job search by adding them to your resume, website, or social media profiles. Some job recruiters use an applicant tracking system or an automated computer system that helps them sort through the thousands of applications on the internet to find potential job applicants. These tracking systems will search for keywords or phrases related to the job posting.

Even if a potential employer isn’t using an applicant tracking system, using keywords in your resume and online profiles can still be a good strategy. Recruiters or employers may be quickly scanning through many applications and resumes, so if yours contains relevant keywords it will stand out.

Some strategies for getting started with keyword optimization for job search:

  • To help figure out what keywords to use, take a look at how people in your industry or who have the jobs that you want describe their jobs. Which of those words match with your skills? Use those words in your resume, cover letter, and social media bios.
  • Look at the job description. Use words and phrases from the job description or job application to tailor your resume for that job.
  • Be specific about the industry and job-related skills you have. Job recruiters will search with specific terms, not general ones.

Don’t overuse keywords or use ones that don’t match your skills. The applicant tracking system software is skilled enough to know if a keyword fits the section where you have it on your resume—so don’t just Google a list of keywords and copy and paste them into your resume. Make sure they’re relevant, and accurately describe the skills you have. Misrepresenting yourself on your job application won’t make you look good to job recruiters.

For more information about keywords, check out these articles:

Job Boards

Today, it is easier than ever to search for jobs on the internet. If you type ‘job openings,’ ‘employment,’ or ‘jobs near me’ into a search engine, you’ll most likely find links to online job boards and job search engines. If you know a company you’d like to work for, you can also search company websites for job postings. You could even create a Google Alert so you are notified when a job is posted.

Online Job Boards are websites where employers and companies will post a job listing. Many times, you will have to create an account in order to view listings, upload your resume directly to the site, and sign up for email notifications about new job postings. Generally it is free to create an account, but there are job coaching services you can pay for, like help revising your resume.

Job search engines are websites that gather job listings from many different places on the internet, such as online job boards and company websites. These sites will usually have many more jobs on them, since they include postings from many different sites. However, if a job is posted on more than one job board, this means it could show up multiple times on a job search engine, so make sure you’re keeping good track of the jobs you apply for so you don’t accidentally apply more than once. Postings may also be expired or out of date, so be sure to read the descriptions carefully.

You can use both online job boards and job search engines to search for jobs based on location, field, and skill.

Networking and job boards

Job boards are a great way to find available jobs, but are most effective when used with networking.  If you know someone who works for the company you would like to work for, ask them about their job and tell them you are thinking about applying for a job there. If you don’t personally know an employee, search your LinkedIn connections to see if one of your connections works at the company or can introduce you to someone who does.

There are a lot of job boards out there. Here are links and information about a few of them:

  • The Top 100 Job Boards for Fast Hiring lists top job boards for different fields, including healthcare, IT and tech, internships, and for women. The list is meant for employers, but it’s a good place to start looking.
  • This Reviews.com article, The Best Job Sites, tested 57 different job search websites and narrowed it down to the top 6, based on criteria including easy-to-use interfaces, high-quality listings, and relevant search results.

There are also several job boards for people with disabilities:

  • RespectAbility’s Job Seekers with Disabilities webpage includes links to job search websites & job training resources, internships/fellowships for college students/graduates with disabilities, programs for students and youth with disabilities, federal disability employment resources, state level employment resources, employment resources for veterans, public service/government jobs information, and more.
  • jobs.recruitdisability.org lets you search job postings by keywords and phrases, location, and career field.
  • Disability Job Exchange lets you upload a resume, browse job descriptions, and search for jobs by state as well as other criteria.
  • Not only does AbilityLinks share job postings, but they also have virtual job fairs, webinars, and have an online library for members with disability and employment resources and tools.
  • ABILITY Jobs lets you post a resume and search jobs for free, and you remain anonymous until you allow the employer to contact you. They claim to be the largest job site for people with disabilities.

Researching Employers

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After you find a job you’d like to apply for, take time to learn about the employer and company culture. Understanding the company makes it easier for you to shape your application, resume, cover letter, and online presence to stand out.

Employer research on social media

You can learn about employers by visiting their social media accounts, reading the company’s websites and searching for relevant news articles. You can also learn a lot about a company’s culture by reading the tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts of their employees. This article has some strategies on how to use Instagram to learn about a company: How Instagram Can Get You Ahead of the Competition to Land the Job. You can use similar strategies on other social media sites.

LinkedIn has over 150,000 company pages that provide information about operations, employees, locations, and available jobs. Using this information, you can learn about companies and see how you are connected to company insiders.

Employer research before an interview

If you get an interview, employer research is even more important. Knowing about a company’s overall mission, new growth areas, and community service initiatives shows the hiring managers that you are interested in and have a good understanding of the company.

Knowing this information can also help you prepare for some of the interview questions, like how your skills and passions fit with the company, where you see yourself professionally in five years, or why you were attracted to the position in the first place.

Getting started with employer research

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started with employer research to learn about company culture and about overall employment opportunities at the company.

Learn about the company:

  • What is the company’s mission statement or core values?
  • What are the company goals?
  • What products or services does the company provide?
  • Who are the primary customers?
  • What do people say about the company? (search customer reviews as well as news articles)
  • What makes the company unique in comparison to competitors?
  • Where is this company located?
  • Why does this company appeal to you?

Learn about employment opportunities:

  • What positions are available in your preferred location?
  • What education or background is required for each position?
  • What skills are required for each position?
  • What is the process of applying for these positions?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?

Once you have done some research, think about how you can use the information to tailor your resume, cover letter, and online proof of performance to make yourself really stand out. Take note of keywords and phrases on the company’s website, and use those in relevant places on your resume, cover letter, and online accounts. In your cover letter, include why the company appeals to you, and tweak your personal statements and online posts to highlight how your values align with the values of the company. All of these things will help show job recruiters that you are genuinely interested in the job position and the company.

Ready to get started? This video shows you how to use Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in a job search:


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