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Searching for a job is stressful and time consuming. If you don’t have a plan, your search may take even longer. Follow these guidelines when securing your next position.

Network

Before applying for a job, find out the names of the hiring manager and other employees in the organization and contact them. If you’re unable to reach these workers directly, ask mutual members of your network to introduce you. When you get in touch with the person by phone, let them know you’re excited about the opportunity and mention ways you can contribute to their company.

After you finish, connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn. According to a Jobvite study titled Recruiter Nation Survey 2015, 87 percent of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting. Therefore, by sending the manager a brief message stating you’ve applied for the job and pointing out two of your greatest qualifications, you set yourself apart from other candidates and increase your chances of securing an interview.

Become a Referral

When you’re referred to a company by an employee, your chances of getting an interview increase dramatically. According to a survey by talent acquisition solutions provider iCIMS, employee referrals typically get hired 66 percent of the time. In addition, the Recruiter Nation Survey 2015 found that 92 percent of companies use social networks for recruiting. Therefore, it’s important you connect online with company employees so they know which role you’re interested in and can refer you.

Be aware that the higher up the employee is in the organization, the stronger your chances of being hired. The iCIMS survey found that 91 percent of candidates referred by an employee at the director level or higher and 53 percent of referrals from an entry-level employee were hired within the organization. Therefore, it’s important you reach out to the highest-level employee in your network and ask them to refer you.

Stay Proactive

By staying proactive in your job search, you stand out from the other applicants and are more likely to be called in for an interview. Customize your cover letter for each job application, conclude by stating you’ll follow up in a few days to discuss setting up an interview, and ensure you follow through. If the ad says not to call, send a brief email stating you’re making sure your resume was received and pointing out how your background makes you an excellent match for the position. If you receive no response after several weeks, call or email to ask whether there’s a timeline for interviews.

Remember to always be polite and respectful. Also, keep a written record of each position you applied for, a copy of the ad, file name of the cover letter and resume you sent, dates of contact, names of hiring managers, and notes on what you discussed during your conversations. You’ll remain organized and be able to reference information before contacting each company.

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