10 Ways to Find a Job (without using a Job Board)

Here at Mac’s List, we’re extremely proud of our job board, our community of readers, and the employers who post meaningful opportunities on the site. We work hard to make the list a value-added resource for job seekers.

But the truth is this: online job boards–including our own–are just one small part of the job search puzzle.

If you want to speed up your job search and find the most rewarding jobs, you’ve got to do more than search online job postings.

There are upwards of 40,000 niche online job boards in the United States. (You could spend days, even weeks, searching through the listings.) And yet, only about 20 percent of all job openings ever get advertised on any job site. Instead, a vast majority of the best work opportunities are promoted through word-of-mouth, among professional networks, and by recruiters.

To maximize your chances of finding work, your search strategy needs to focus on where the most jobs are. Where are you spending your time?

Mac Prichard calls this the “80/20 Rule.” You should only spend 20 percent of your time looking through online job boards; the remaining 80 percent should be spent pursuing other job search tactics.

Here are 10 ways to find and land the jobs that you’ll never find on an online job board.

1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile

Imagine there was a billboard where you could advertise your skills and experience in front of thousands of potential employers. That’d be pretty awesome, right?

Well, you have just that kind of opportunity with LinkedIn–the professional networking platform that connects you with 430 million people and organizations from around the world.

LinkedIn is the go-to resource for employers and recruiters looking for new talent. According to a 2016 survey of over 1,600 recruiters, 87 percent said they use LinkedIn find the right candidate.

Smart job hunters use the platform to tell a compelling professional story, document accomplishments, and show what they can do for others. A great LinkedIn profile helps you get noticed by potential employers–even if you’re not actively looking for work.

2. Leverage other social media tools

LinkedIn isn’t the only platform recruiters use to find new employees. Talent acquisition representatives are increasingly turning to Facebook, X, YouTube (and even SnapChat) to find and vet quality candidates.

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With this in mind, it’s important that you brand yourself as a skilled professional across the most popular social media platforms.

X (formerly Twitter) is a particularly powerful tool for connecting with job opportunities, recruiters, and key influencers in your field. Follow and interact with companies and individuals who interest you–this can be the first step in a deeper professional relationship.

You can also use X’s advanced search features and targeted hashtags to find local employers looking for new talent.

3. Showcase your expertise with an online portfolio

What are you really good at? What is your greatest skill? What problems can you solve for prospective employers?

You undoubtedly have a unique skill that can help an organization thrive. Are you promoting your abilities online?

One of the best ways to get employers’ attention is to promote yourself as the solution they are looking for. Build an online portfolio of past projects, blog posts, tweets, and other proof that document that you understand the dynamics in your chosen field. Show how you’ve solved specific challenges with other employers.

Position yourself as an expert and employers will come to you to solve their own problems.

4. Talk to your personal network

When it comes to looking for a job, many people avoid leveraging the best resource at their disposal: their personal network. Whether out of embarrassment, stubbornness, or ignorance, job seekers rarely turn to their friends, family, and close acquaintances for help.

In truth, these are your most enthusiastic supporters and the people most likely to help you!

Be open about your employment situation and let your personal network know that you are looking for work. Be clear about what you’re looking for and ask for help. You’ll be amazed at the leads that you find.

Think about it… do you know what all of your extended family and friends do for a living? Do you know who they know? It’s possible any one of them could have just the inside connection you’re looking for.

5. Plug into your alumni network

Here’s another resource that many job seekers don’t take advantage of: their alumni connections.

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Alumni networks are powerful resources for job-hunting and career advancement. This isn’t just an idle opinion; empirical data shows that professionals with a shared alma mater are consistently more likely to support one another.

Get involved in alumni groups, either through in-person events or on LinkedIn. Strategically reach out to alums currently working in your professional field of interest. You’ll be amazed by the opportunities you find here.

When was the last time you looked through your university’s alumni database? If it has been more than a year, you’re wasting a huge asset!

6. Mix it up at networking events

You should always make the most of the relationships you already have, but it’s also important to get out there and make new connections.

The more people you know, the greater your chances of learning about unpublished job opportunities. The better your relationships with these people, the more likely you are to have an inside advantage to landing those jobs.

The best way to grow your network is by attending networking events. At the right event, you can meet a dozen or more great contacts within your field. These are the folks who can open doors for you!

I know, working a room is tough, especially if you’re an introvert. But networking a room is a learned skill and the more you practice it, the easier it gets.

7. Conduct informational interviews

The single best thing you can do for your job search is to conduct informational interviews–20-30 minute meetings with professionals in your field, hiring managers, and industry insiders. There is simply no better way to get connected into the hidden job market in your town.

Informational interviews are not about asking for a job; they are about introducing yourself to leaders in your desired profession, building your network, and exploring ways that your skills lineup with local employers’ needs. But trust me… when done correctly, informational interviews can open up doors to meaningful work.

8. Volunteer… strategically

Volunteering can be a great way to beef up your resume and learn a new skill. It is also a fantastic strategy for getting your foot in the door and proving yourself in a new industry or city.

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Let’s be clear… You shouldn’t volunteer with an organization thinking it will lead to a job offer. While some organizations do hire volunteers, it doesn’t happen often. You’re probably not going to move straight from a volunteer gig straight into a full-time paid job.

But volunteering does position you as a known and trusted professional with a whole new set of people.  And there’s no better way to showcase your value as a worker.

Just remember to be strategic in how you volunteer. If you’re doing it as part of a job search strategy, make sure your volunteer experience exposes you to professionals in your desired field and/or allows you to exercise your professional abilities.

9. Find a mentor

Let’s be honest… every job search has its share of frustrations, setbacks, and dead-ends. It can be hard to maintain perspective and keep searching.

Sometimes we all need a push to get us back on track. Or to help us see opportunities that may be staring us in the face. A good mentor can do this for you.

A mentor can provide creative solutions for your job search, as well as support, professional contacts, and accountability. (Indeed one of a job seeker’s biggest challenges is acting on the things they already know they have to do.  A mentor can make sure you’re meeting your goals.)

You don’t need to have a relationship with the Dalai Lama, Tony Robbins, or Yoda to benefit from a mentor. There are probably many people within your existing network that you could help you as a mentor. The key is to know your strengths and weaknesses and to find someone who can compliment your needs.

10. Work with a recruiter

Recruiters often have inside access to highly coveted jobs–including many positions that are never listed publicly. They are also gatekeepers for some of the most desirable employers, who outsource much of their recruitment to outside firms.

Working with a recruiter can plug you into the work opportunities you’re looking for. Just know that it isn’t a guaranteed solution for your job search. You need to be clear about how recruiters work and know how to make the most of your relationship.