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How to Find a Job: 5 Unique Approaches

Ditch traditional job applications and learn how to proactively land opportunities through networking and assertive communication.
How to Find a Job: 5 Unique Approaches

Let’s face it, the old-school method of sending resumes into the void and hoping for a miracle callback is outdated. The job market is full of cutthroat competition, soulless application processes, and too many companies that make Scrooge look generous.

That’s why you need to flip the switch and change your strategy for job searching.

Instead of being a passive participant who waits for employers to get back to them, how about contacting companies directly, and relying on your network to find a perfect job?

In this article, we’ll transform you from a job-seeking spectator into a proactive powerhouse.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Change your approach to job search and become a proactive candidate
  • Build, nurture, and leverage your network to open doors you didn’t even know existed.
  • Use social media for job opportunities
  • Reach out directly to relevant people from your desired companies
  • Explore alternative ways of job searching, like freelancing, engaging with startups, and using forums and communities
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Rethink Standard Job Search Approaches

Here’s how a regular candidate goes about their job search: they visit job boards, send their resumes, and wait to be invited to an interview. All the power is in the interviewer’s hands, and candidates don’t participate in the process proactively.

Applying this way means you only have a 2% chance of landing a job. Plus, 75% of other applicants will apply the same way, so you have a lot of competitors to beat.

Disadvantages of this “traditional” approach:

  • High competition
  • Low response rates and long communication cycles
  • Impersonal communication
  • No feedback

This is not to say that you should never try a traditional approach to the job search.

If you need a job badly, of course you’ll apply everywhere you can. It might also be the only way if this is your first job or internship.

Truth is, some candidates do get the job that way, it just takes longer and might be more difficult.

If you wish to go the standard route, our guides will help:

Pro tip from Pam, chief career coach:

If you decide to take a traditional approach, don’t “spray and pray”. This simply means don’t apply to every job posting you see without targeting or customizing your resume and cover letter. This is exhausting and way less effective than a targeted approach.

Apply only for companies that you think are a great fit for you, and customize your resume to best reflect the skills and experience they want.

And for this, don’t rely too much on AI. It’s fine to use it to get started, but you have to personalize both your resume and cover letter. Otherwise, you’ll sound super generic and risk sending a cover letter that’s identical to dozens of others in the hiring manager’s inbox.

A few more tips on how to stand out when applying:

And here’s a LinkedIn post on this topic with a variety of expert contributions.

Finally, we’d recommend a more proactive approach to job search that focuses on networking and direct engagement with interviewers. These are more fruitful methods that will make you stand out.

Here’s how to use them.

Leverage Your Network

“It’s not what you know but who you know”.

Take me as an example, I’ve had 3 jobs in my career so far. I used a traditional applying method only for the first one. The other two I got because people I previously worked with recommended me — and I’m eternally grateful for that. And you can probably do the same.

You need to create and maintain a strong professional network in your field of interest.

It’ll help you:

  • Get access to insider information like industry events and company culture
  • Get referrals and recommendations for various jobs (a lot of jobs are not publicly advertised!)
  • Land informational interviews to help you grow in your career

It’s nice to know that only 7% of candidates come from referrals. Meaning, it’s easier to stand out if you ask someone from your network to refer you – and your chances of getting a job will skyrocket, as referrals make up for 40% to 60% of hires.

A hard pill to swallow: Depending on the industry, capable people with a proven track record don’t have to apply for jobs. This is especially true for tech and marketing roles. They will be hunted by recruiters or recommended by their network. Applying is reserved for beginners, those without a network, and average workers who haven’t found ways to flaunt their achievements and prove their skills.

You want to be in the first group. And you’re about to learn how.

Mapping your network

All the people from your educational and professional history can be a part of your network. This means your peers, professors, teaching assistants, coworkers, managers, and acquaintances from an industry event or a seminar.

Now, if you worked part-time as a bartender and have a lot of connections in that space, but you’re now in tech Sales — those connections will not be of much use.

Decide what direction you want to take and map out your network accordingly.

Always be on the lookout for new people to connect with. This can be done by adding people on LinkedIn, attending business events, participating in conferences and seminars, joining professional groups and associations, volunteering, or applying for internships.

Engaging your network

You don’t have to constantly engage with everyone from your network. Having a handful of people you’re regularly in contact with and trying to be somewhere in the background for others should be enough.

The best tool for engaging with your network is LinkedIn. But you can do this on any social media platform, forums, or even through email.

There’s not a single right way to engage with your network, but the point remains the same: be there for them, give them value, and don’t (necessarily) expect anything in return.

People remember when you help them, and they’d be more than happy to do the same for you when the opportunity presents itself.

Expanding your network

The possibilities are endless here as you’ll generally come into contact with many people in your everyday life.

Here are some great places to find people to add to your network:

  • Attending professional events, conferences, webinars, and seminars
  • Joining relevant groups and associations
  • Conducting informational interviews
  • Actively participating in industry discussions (online or offline)
  • Even job interviews (aim to establish a nice relationship with the interviewers even if you don’t get the job and nurture those connections)

Look at your connections like it’s a big tree with branches that keep expanding. You never know where each might take you, so take good care of them.

Use Professional Social Media Platforms

LinkedIn will always be great for finding jobs and nurturing networks. But depending on your role, seniority, and the industry you’re in, you can use additional channels like Twitter, Github, Behance, and others.

Even discussions on forums like Reddit and Quora might lead to nice opportunities.

Because it’s the largest and most useful professional social media platform, we’ll focus on LinkedIn and how to use it.

Optimize your profile

Make sure your profile is optimized, correctly filled in, and up-to-date.

  • Have a professional headshot and cover image
  • Customize your URL (use your name and avoid /user5641687/)
  • Use a relevant headline (your position, what you’re passionate about, what you do)
  • Write an informative “About me” section (don’t use the AI generator; add some personality)
  • Correctly fill in the Work experience and Education sections
  • Add relevant skills
  • Get recommendations and endorsements; they will prove you’re a trusted professional
  • Distribute relevant keywords (usually your job title or the industry you work in) strategically across your profile so that people can find you

Learn how to edit your profile URL here:

Bottom line: Optimizing your profile like this will show people that there’s a real, diligent, responsible, and trustworthy person behind the account.

Active engagement

The main principle of engagement with your network that we mentioned a few chapters above applies here too.

For example:

  • If they share an interesting thought or an article ➡️ you can leave a comment with your thoughts on the topic.
  • If they’re looking for a job ➡️ you can comment on their post for greater visibility; recommend them to someone you know is looking for employees; write them a recommendation; or endorse their skills on LinkedIn.
  • If you recently spoke about a certain topic ➡️ you can shoot them a message and share a new, interesting article about it.
  • If you know they’re interested in something ➡️ you can inform them about a new webinar on the topic and ask if they want to attend.

You get the drill.

Pro tip: Avoid overbearing them with your presence for some time, and then getting tired and disappearing. The key is to be consistently (but quietly) present in the background of people’s professional lives and give value.

Direct outreach

Let’s say you’re interested in working at a certain company. Regardless of whether or not they have a job ad posted, you can reach out to someone from the team to get more info and establish yourself as a proactive, resourceful candidate.

This is called direct outreach.

To find relevant people, just visit the company’s LinkedIn page and check out the Employees section. If the company doesn’t have a lot of employees, it should be fairly easy to identify key people.

If it’s a huge company, you can use filters. Add the company name and relevant positions in the relevant fields and set further filters to match your desires.

Or, you can ask someone from your network to refer you, if possible.

If there’s no job ad open, carefully choose who to connect with. For huge corporations, it will rarely make sense to shoot for a CEO. But the Head of People, a recruiter, or someone from the team you’re eyeing (either a manager or a regular employee) might be a good idea.

If there is an open position you applied for, and you want to send a message to increase your chances, find out who the recruiter is that’s in charge of the vacancy and connect with them. If that’s not possible, shoot for a hiring manager or the head of HR.

For template messages you could send, read on. And here’s a quick tip:

Don’t Be Afraid of Cold Messaging

Cold messaging is a proactive, direct way of communication that will get you noticed and raise your chances of landing a job. And job seekers generally don’t bother to do it. So, it’s your time to shine!

You can send a cold message on any platform you want, but people usually use emails and LinkedIn private messages.

Cold message — no open position

If there’s no open position and you just want to add someone to your network, along with the connection request, shoot them a personalized message. Make sure to add a specific detail that showcases you did your research and are in the loop with this person’s posts or recent initiatives.

Template message:

Hello [Name],

I saw your recent post on [topic] and decided to reach out. [Personal sentence tied to the topic]. I’m a [position] focused on [subject matter] and I’m impressed by what [their company] is doing. I’d love to connect!


[Your name]

Cold message — asking for a position

The truth is, a lot of positions aren’t advertised nowadays. But if you have a dream company you’d love to work for, instead of waiting for a job ad, get in touch and express your interest in working with them.

Make sure that your message is personalized, that you concisely describe your skills, and showcase how you can contribute.


Hi [Recruiter’s Name],

After going through [Company’s pain point or opportunity for improvement], I noticed the space for [improvement]. I have different ideas to address this and I’d love to discuss them with you or your team

I’m [Your Name], [your title, industry, and years of experience.]

I’m impressed by [mention a specific detail about the company] so I wanted to quickly introduce myself.

I’d love to know what it would take to be considered for a [role you’re interested in]? I have a lot of ideas on how to contribute to your success.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!


[Your name]

Cold message — after applying

If there’s an open position you’re applying for, then adding this person on LinkedIn and shooting them a message might increase your visibility and chances of landing an interview. The principle is the same — send a personalized message, but this time make sure to mention something about your skills that would make you stand out from the competition.

Pro tip: If you can find a pain point you’d be able to solve, mention it.

For example, if you’re applying for a Content Manager or a Social Media Manager position, you could mention their rich Blog page, but lack of social media posts on the same topics. Follow with a few suggestions for repurposing content and reviving their social channels, and say you’d be happy to discuss it further.


Hi [Recruiter’s Name],

I recently applied for the [Job position] at [Company Name] and wanted to get in touch and quickly introduce myself. I’m [Your Name], and I’m impressed by [mention a specific detail about the company].

After going through [Company’s pain point or opportunity for improvement], I noticed the space for [improvement]. I’ve outlined some ideas to address this and I’d love to further discuss them with you.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!


[Your name]

Following up and staying in touch

Obviously, you need to follow up with the people you contacted.

If you get a response to your first message, just go with the flow, and you’ll likely get invited to an interview where you can discuss the relevant details.

If they don’t reply, you can send a follow-up email.

  • Send it within a week of your initial message or application.
  • Keep it concise, no more than 2–3 paragraphs.
  • Offer value, whether it’s additional information about your qualifications, a relevant article or resource, or an update on your professional achievements.
  • Express your interest in the company and reinforce why you’re a good fit.
  • Politely ask about the status of your application. If you didn’t apply but just sent a networking message, say you’re there for any additional information or questions they might need.
  • Sign the email off politely.

Pro tip from Pam, chief career coach: Don’t follow up over the phone.

This isn’t super common anymore, but I recommend against calling to follow up unless they called you before or you’re specifically asked to do so. It’s more likely to annoy them than to make you stand out, especially in the early phases of the process.

Use Alternative Job Search Strategies

Keep your eyes peeled for smaller players!

Stay in the loop with startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as they often don’t advertise jobs and have a lot of flexibility when it comes to open roles.

Alternatively, you can try freelancing, as temporary positions might evolve into permanent roles.

Engaging with startups and SMBs

As mentioned, startups and SMBs often don’t advertise vacancies openly but rely on word-of-mouth and are always on the lookout for high-quality experts they can add to their team.

My friend landed a job in a foreign country, without an open role, just because she was engaging with startups and showcasing her skills publicly. One company saw her potential and literally created a role that fit her skill set. She’s been with them for 3 years now.

To do this, you can:

  • Become a member of local communities.
  • Frequent conferences and job fairs.
  • Use platforms like AngelList and Otta which are specifically designed for job-seekers interested in startups and tech companies. On these platforms, you can check out company profiles, job listings, and networking opportunities.

Whatever you decide to do, the key is to keep an open mind, meet as many people as you can, and know how to present yourself in professional surroundings (our guides on elevator pitches and selling yourself might help with that). You got this!

Contract and freelance to FTE

Make use of platforms offering a variety of freelance jobs, like:

These will help you find freelance work in a variety of industries and skill areas. Make sure you’re pursuing projects that are aligned with your expertise and interests, because they will help you further build your skill set.

If you want to turn a freelance job into a full-time job, take it seriously. Treat your temporary position as a long-term role, demonstrate your skills and work ethic, and go above and beyond expectations. Be friendly and form bonds with coworkers and supervisors. Seek feedback and use it to improve, and once you’ve established your reputation, reach out to your supervisor or HR and express your enthusiasm for the company and potential full-time employment.

If you’re lucky, you won’t even have to make the first move. If you contribute to the company and are a good person to work with, they might reach out first and offer options for long-term collaboration and full-time employment.

Industry forums and communities

Here’s a list of relevant forums and communities for common industries you might find useful:

  1. Sales:
  2. Customer Service:
  3. Marketing:
  4. HR:
  5. Tech:
  6. Education:
  7. Finance:
  8. Retail:
  9. Media:
  10. Ecommerce:
Pro tip: Make sure to check for local communities in your area, too. Additionally, you can ask someone from your network to share your resume on communities, with a few words about your expertise. Bri, our Director of Marketing, landed one of her marketing gigs that way a few years ago when the market was extremely competitive!

Volunteering and internships

You can try volunteering and getting internships. They’re valuable for gaining hands-on experience and skills, especially in creative industries and non-profit sectors. If you’re committed and hard-working, they can lead to full-time, paid positions within an organization. So do your best — but even if it doesn’t happen, don’t worry. The skills you can gain here will help you in all future roles.

Stay Organized and Maintain Resilience

Set realistic goals.

It’s not possible to land an interview or an offer with each company you apply for.

Acknowledge and celebrate each small win, even if it’s just fixing your resume and submitting an application, landing an interview, performing well in an interview, or receiving positive feedback.

To stay organized, you can create a simple spreadsheet to track details like company name, position you applied for, interview date, interview notes, and outcomes. Writing down notes from each interview will help you see where you stand and improve. You can also schedule reminders for upcoming interviews or follow-up emails.

These things won’t take up much of your time, and having everything documented in one place will help you keep track of different processes and make notes for improvement.

Finding a New Job: Popular Opinion vs. Expert Advice

Let’s see what people on popular forums have to say on this delicate topic and how they approach the challenges of finding a new job.

20190229 and RasaWhite say:

Subscribe directly to the companies you want to work at. Make a list of companies you want to work for, regardless of whether they currently have an appropriate job opening for you. Consult your network to see if you know anyone who works there, or who might know someone who works there. Conduct informational interviews with these people. Bookmark the company website career pages and subscribe to updates, if available. Apply directly to hiring managers instead of through the ATS. It’s a lot more legwork than hitting the Apply button on a job listing, but it gives you more control over the process. 

Career expert comments:

A solid piece of advice — you’re taking proactive steps to land a job in your dream company, and people working there will appreciate your dedication and determination. I love the tip about informational interviews and I fully agree with it. Just make sure not to go into an informational interview with the expectation of getting a job, as they’re not a backdoor to the company. Instead, do your best to organize and prepare for that interview properly, obtain as much information as possible, and showcase your achievements and experiences. And if you leave a good impression, you might get a call from them in the future.

There are also some, understandably, frustrated voices out there.

JovialPanic 389 and Chaomayhem say:

Most posts I find on Indeed and LinkedIn that I apply to end up being scams. Idk where else to look but it’s taking a toll that I’m wasting so much time applying to scams because they have a legit job posting, use legit company and employee names, until I get a stupid survey or other type of scam email from them from some wacked ass domain. So frustrating.
The internet honestly ruined the job market. Sure, it’s easier to find job opportunities. But that’s precisely the issue. I’d rather have to travel to the nearby city and apply to 20 places where I’m competing with maybe 30 other people than apply to well over 800 places that each get a few hundred people applying to them within a day.

Career expert comments:

Exactly! When you passively apply for jobs through job boards, you’re just a tiny speck in the universe of other applicants. Plus, some jobs might indeed be scams. And this is why we wholeheartedly recommend the alternative job search approaches we outlined in this article. Yes, it takes more work to connect with people. You’ll need to get out of your comfort zone. You have to put yourself out there and you’ll often feel vulnerable. But that’s where growth happens. Average candidates get average jobs at average companies. If you want something better for yourself, you’ll need to do better.

Summary of the Main Points

  • Traditional ways of job searching are slow and often ineffective. They also make it difficult for candidates to stand out.
  • To take control of the process, you need to reshape your views on the whole job search.
  • The best way to find a job is by being proactive through networking, cold emailing, engaging with startups and small-to-medium businesses, industry events, communities, and volunteering and internships.
  • To get noticed more easily, learn how to showcase your worth, have a smooth elevator pitch, and find ways to contribute to potential companies.
  • In the meantime, don’t forget to stay positive and organized by keeping track of your desired companies and roles, and writing down notes from each interview.


Need a hand? There’s 2 ways we can help you:

  1. Learn how to turn more job interviews into job offers here. (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).
  2. Practice interviews, get feedback, and land more offers with Interview Simulator.


How to look for a better job when I’m currently employed?

This is the most advantageous situation because you have the space to try out different approaches and negotiate better opportunities. The best way to look for a job when you already have one is to focus on your network, become an active member of a professional community (online or offline), and participate in professional events. These are opportunities for you to share your knowledge, prove how much you’re worth, and meet new people who might open up new possibilities to you. And even if you’re not actively looking for a job, this approach (being an active member in your community) will get you “passive offers” — that is, you won’t apply, but recruiters will approach you.

I’m out of work and need money now. Will accepting a temporary job in retail or hospitality hurt my chances of getting back to my original career?

It won’t necessarily hurt your chances of returning to your career. Sustaining yourself financially is important and accepting a job in one of those industries that tend to always have open roles will provide you with a safety net. After a while, when things start looking up, you can return to your desired field. And that time in retail or hospitality will not be wasted, because you’ll have learned many useful transferable skills like customer service, communication, and problem-solving. It will also help you meet people who could potentially help you in the long run.

How to find a new job after you’ve been fired?

First off, do some self-reflection and be honest with yourself. Understand what led to your termination and take responsibility — it will help you learn from your mistakes and move forward. Then tailor your resume to accurately showcase your skills and experiences. Use LinkedIn and relevant communities for networking. You can try out tips from this guide about how to find a job, but you should also try “traditional” ways through job boards. Use your time between jobs to strengthen your skills: take a relevant course, get a certification, or volunteer in your field to gain some practical experience and get things moving. Stay positive.

I hate my current job. Is it a bad idea to quit without having received another offer?

There’s no universal answer to this and it will depend on 1) how you would feel without a job 2) your financial situation. If you’re the type of person who appreciates the safety of having a job, or if you don’t have much in your savings account, then quitting without a backup offer is not a good idea. On the other hand, if you’re an adventurous type with lots of connections and financial stability, you probably could afford a few months without a job. Plus, it might be beneficial for your mental well-being and productivity to take some time off work, especially if you worked at a job you hate. Personally, I have never quit without having another job lined up. But I know a lot of people who did, and they ended up just fine. Before you make a decision, carefully consider your options and different scenarios.

I regret quitting my old job. What can I do to get back to my previous employer?

It can be a delicate process and it largely depends on your previous employer. Some of them will burn their bridges after you quit, but some might be open to getting you back. Before you reach out to them, take some time to think about why you left your previous job. Are those reasons still valid and will they affect the way you work in the future? If you think you can make it work, then contact your former manager or someone from HR to express your interest. If you gained new skills or experiences in the meantime, find a way to highlight them and prove how you could contribute to the company. If there were any issues or concerns that led to you quitting the first time, address them. Be flexible and open to discussing new challenges to your role. The key is to approach this situation with honesty and professionalism.

Maja Stojanovic
A writer specialized in interview preparation and resume building. Spent 5+ years tirelessly seeking a meaningful, rewarding job. Which is exactly what I’ll help you find.
Edited By:
Briana Dilworth
Briana Dilworth
Fact Checked By:
Michael Tomaszewski
Michael Tomaszewski
Industry Expert Contributions:

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