Whether you’re just beginning the process of chasing down a new gig or you feel like you’ve been on the hunt forever, searching for a job can feel defeating. Even when you know you’re an amazing candidate with the perfect experience to land a great job, the right fit at the right time can be hard to come by. If you’re ready to take your job search to the next level — and take unnecessary stress out of the equation — here are six ideas to get the process moving.

A woman uses a laptop at home

1. Leverage your LinkedIn profile. While it may seem like just another social media site to waste time on, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for making connections with potential employers. Many companies post jobs on LinkedIn (you can use the search function to look for jobs that interest you) and so obviously seek out candidates there too. Of course, leveraging LinkedIn means keeping your profile and job experience up to date. But it also means staying engaged in the community, increasing your visibility and appeal to companies and recruiters. To maximize your LinkedIn experience — and make yourself more visible — Business Insiderrecommends engaging in conversations. Whether you comment on someone’s post, join a discussion about an article, or reach out to a friend-of-a-friend to make a connection at a company you’d love to work for, the social aspect of LinkedIn can be a game changer.

2. Be strategic on social media. Along similar lines, if you’re in a creative industry, remember that a social media profile can function like a mini-portfolio or resume, introducing you and your skills to a big audience. Whether you’re a photographer looking for clients or a writer who wants to get your name out there, social media sites like Instagram or Twitter are a great way to gain visibility and make connections that could benefit your career. On the flip side, it’s also important to keep in mind that potential employers may search for your profile during the interview process — so try to keep things professional and think about setting at least some parts of some profiles to private.

3. Connect with a recruiter. If your LinkedIn profile is current and appealing, you can count on hearing from recruiters. And that’s a good thing: Because their whole goal is to act as an intermediary between companies and candidates, recruiters are often able to tell you about jobs that don’t get posted online. And since they’re motivated to place candidates (it’s how they get paid!), a recruiter can get your resume to the top of the pile and advocate for you throughout the process. Oftentimes, recruiters reach out to potential candidates based on their LinkedIn profiles, but you can also search for recruiters in your area to set up an introductory interview that will screen you for positions you might be interested in.

4. Create a freelance-to-hire opportunity. If you aren’t able to immediately snag a full-time gig with the organization you’re interested in, consider freelancing for them in the meantime. If you have a skill that would lend itself to contract work — like graphic design, writing or editing, or consulting — send along your resume and portfolio and let them know you’re available. If you need a place to start, you can also look for freelance gigs on a site like Upwork. Freelancing not only puts a little money in your pocket but also builds professional rapport and shows what you’re capable of. Should a full-time position come up, many companies would much rather hire someone whose work they’re already familiar with (and vice versa).

5. Schedule an informational interview. It may be old-fashioned, but if there’s an employer you have your eye on, why not reach out and schedule a meeting to share your interest and learn more about what they do? Consider an informational interview a “pre-interview,” or an opportunity to learn more about the organization’s culture and what it looks for in employees. Even if they aren’t hiring right now, establishing a relationship and showing that you’re interested in contributing to their mission could get you ahead should an opening come up in the future. Reaching out also shows you’re an ambitious and responsible — always-appealing “soft skills.”

6. Set up email alerts. There’s only so much time you can spend searching for jobs online. And even if you do give up a good portion of the day to your job search, you may not catch a job you want when it’s first posted. To stay in the loop on openings as they arise, sign up for email updates, and you’ll be alerted anytime a job you might be interested in is posted. Many sites, including Indeed and LinkedIn, allow you to customize your email alerts based on location, industry, job title, and even salary.

What job-search hack has helped move your career forward? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)