Finding Your Dream Needle in the Career Haystack

We’ve all experienced the frustration of needing something desperately and being unable to find it. Somewhere in our homes or workplaces, one tiny item is hidden among thousands of irrelevant ones, just enough out of view to elude us for what seems like an eternity.

haystackIt’s bad enough when it’s your car keys. But what if it’s your dream job? Logging on with a massive career search site will provide you with results by the hundreds–and you can spend hours sorting through them only to be met with the disappointment of one or two suitable positions–on the other end of the country. A stricter set of search criteria gets you no results at all. You’re quickly realizing that the specialized science and medical jobs you’re seeking are not easy to find in the nebulous world of mega-sites.

Your potential bosses already know that. When it comes to the workforce, employers won’t cast their listings in with the thousands of entry-level offerings that suit almost any recent graduate looking for work. That means you have to work the system from your side in the same way that they work it from their side.

As you can see, this new paradigm affects both sides of the equation–employers and employees–and all industries, ranging from temp listings for general retail positions to workforce solutions for science industry specializations.

So, if you’re ready to delve into the brave new job market, follow these basic tips for finding specialized work:

Find Specialized Sites

It just makes sense. Employers working within a narrow spectrum of skill sets, experience, and educational backgrounds will gravitate toward sites that tightly meet those strict requirements. They’ll receive more applications that are relevant to the job and get far fewer extraneous responses. If you’ve ever worked in hiring yourself, you know how frustrating it is to get overrun with applications from the utterly unqualified, so sites like these are where job providers go when they want a very specific applicant.

Visit Career Fairs

And while we’re talking about where they go, a variety of career fairs host employers who feel it’s worth their while to go out and solicit applicants face-to-face. The very fact that they are seeking that opportunity proves how far we are from entry-level in this conversation, and it gives you an amazing chance to go straight to the top of the firm with your resume and your elevator speech in an unstructured, casual environment. During those chats with representatives, you can find out more about the work each organization offers, learn their locations, and get a feel for what kind of people work there.

Network, Network, Network

That carries right into the next point. Whether it’s in person or via social networks, making connections is critical to accessing the best job openings for you. But keep in mind that the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” isn’t quite accurate anymore; instead, it IS what you know, but it’s also who knows that you know it. Your experience, education, and skills mean nothing until someone in a position to help you is aware that you have them. You know the phrase, ‘If a tree crashes in a forest but there’s no one there to hear it…?’ That applies to job applicants too!

Networking is how this happens, because you aren’t just passively waiting for the dream job to pop up. Instead, you are positioning yourself in the minds of decision makers as a person who possesses certain skill, and you’ll cross their mind when the position develops. In a way, you are applying for the job before it even opens, or maybe even before it exists.


Author Rachel is a freelance writer and young professional who most enjoys writing about business best practices.