Tag Archives: Networking

The most important trait for a successful job search

And 6 reasons why it’s the most important.

I recently received an email from a former job seeker who said she landed a job after three years. I’ve also heard from other job seekers who landed jobs after more than a year after beginning their search. What was the secret to their success? In one word, persistence.

Biking

One definition of persistence is a, “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” A simple definition would be, “not giving up.”

What we know about the job search is that there are new obstacles that make it difficult. I say this based on my experience in the job search when certain requirements were not expected of job seekers.

Having witnessed many job seekers struggle with their job search, I can say the job search is harder now than when I was unemployed. Here are six reasons why:

1. The applicant tracking system (ATS) is more prevalent. One source says 127 people apply for entry-level positions and 89 apply for professional level positions. What this means is employers would have to read many résumés without the aid of an ATS. Instead, they rely on a “robot” that reads resumes and chooses the ones that are, theoretically, the best ones.

The ATS relieves employers from reading more than 75% of résumés for a position. That’s the good news. The bad news is that job candidates must write keyword-rich résumés that get them past the ATS. And many qualified job seekers are unaware of this requirement.

Writing tailored résumés for each job requires persistence. It’s easy to put together a generic résumé and send it to every position for which you apply. To modify your Summary, or re-write it entirely, and prioritize relevant accomplishments is entirely different. Only by doing this will you get past the ATS.

Read 10 tips for writing a professional resume.

2. Employers rely heavily on social media. Two years after I had to look for work LinkedIn came on the scene, and a year later Facebook arrived. I didn’t have to contend with either. LinkedIn, originally developed for business but largely used by job seekers for their search, takes diligence, knowledge of the platform, and realizing its significance.

Jobvite.com recently revealed that 87 percent of hiring authorities use LinkedIn to cull talent, so it makes common sense to be on LinkedIn. Job seekers are using LI to find people at companies they’re targeting, networking with people who might provide opportunities, and using the Jobs feature. To be effective, job seekers must use LinkedIn daily. This takes persistence.

Read If you join LinkedIn be prepared to work hard.

Although not used as much as LinkedIn, Facebook has a job-search purpose. Recruiters are on Facebook, and they’re reaching out to job seekers. Jobvite.com also revealed that more job seekers are using Facebook (67 percent) in their search than they’re using LinkedIn.

A serious consideration is keeping your Facebook account professional, because hiring authorities are looking on Facebook to see if you’re behaving. I was asked by one of my managers to look at job candidates on Facebook. One particular candidate didn’t come across as a girl scout. Enough said.

3. Employers are pickier. The average time to find employment is approximately 26 weeks, based on a position paying $60,000. In addition, many employers have extended the number of interviews from two to four, or even five. And given that they’re busy, the time between interviews can be as long as two weeks.

Why are employers pickier than they were when I was looking for work? The simple answer is to reduce mistakes. Besides getting egg on their face, hiring the wrong person can be extremely expensive. (A Forbes.com article states a “bad” hire can cost more than 30 percent of a person’s first year salary.)

You must be persistent when the job search is taking so long. Don’t give up on employers who are taking their time. Understand that they want to avoid mistakes. Stay in contact with your recruiters to see how the process is going (believe me, they’re just as anxious).

Read 7 thoughts on the mind of a recruiter.

4. Ageism is a reality. Unfortunately, employers discriminate against age. I tell my workshop attendees that a few employers, not all, will practice ageism. Nonetheless, it’s wrong and can’t be defeated easily.

Older workers must be especially persistent and think about ways to get to the interview, one of which is writing résumés that don’t reveal their age. Then during the interview sell themselves as a benefit to the employer, not a disadvantage.

Smart employers will see that older workers want to work as much, or more, than people younger than them. Employers will realize that older workers are more mature and dependable, have extensive job experience, as well as life experience.

Your job is to dispell the stereotypes that exist for older workers, such as they expect too much money, are not as quick to learn, are set in their ways, will be sick more often, and will leave sooner than younger workers. These are all untrue.

Read 5 strength of the older worker.

5. Networking is necessarily more than ever. Regardless of age, networking will be the key to your success. The old saying, “It’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you”; is truer than ever.

One of my favorite job seekers wrote to me about another job seeker’s Happy Landing. She wrote: “[Landing her job] was completely through networking; she has not even met her hiring manager yet. One person’s word and recommendation was enough!

Of course networking involves more than relying on your reputation to land a job. You need to be more persistent than I was during my unemployment. To say networking is the name of the game is an understatement.

It’s believed that your chances of landing a job are 60%-80% by employing networking. Of course other methods of job seeking must be used to supplement your networking. And networking doesn’t have to be confined to networking events; you must persistently network on a daily basis, throughout the community.

Read 5 steps to uncovering career opportunities.

6. Don’t forget to following up. Perhaps the biggest failure in the job search is not following up with potential valuable contacts. I hear it all the time; someone meets a potential contact at a networking event, or in the community, and doesn’t follow-up; thereby loosing out on a huge opportunity.

You must be persistent in following up. I say to my workshop attendees, “Why put all the hard work you do while networking, submitting your written communications, and networking by not following up?” It doesn’t make sense.

Remember that your job isn’t done after the first or even second contact. It’s done when you get a yes. Yes, the person you met at a networking event will meet you for coffee. Yes, after coffee they will agree to deliver your résumé to the hiring manager. Yes, it leads to an interview. And yes, you’ve been accepted for the position after five interviews.

If this isn’t persistence, what is?


The saying that anything worth having takes hard work is about being persistent. It’s about not giving up. It’s about getting to yes. I can think of other words which begin with “P” that are important to the job search, but persistence always comes to mind.

7 job-search sins and what to do about them

job-search-sins

During one of my morning walks, I listened to a great podcast from NPR about the 7 deadly sins, and like many times when I hear a story, read an article, or see an event; I think about the job search. There are actions, or lack of, that can affect your job search in negative ways. I wouldn’t call them deadly, but they are sins to avoid in the job search.

Apathy

This is the first sin of the job search. Too often job seekers tell me they are just starting their job search after exhausting their six-month severance. At this point they’re living off their unemployment insurance and have a gap on their résumé that puts them in the long-term unemployed, or LTU, category.

Instead. Studies show that people who are out of work longer than six months have a much harder time landing a job than those out of work for three months or less. For various reasons, employers are reluctant to hire people out of work this long. Don’t wait until your severance has run out; begin your job search as soon as possible.

Pride

Ironically, this is one of the seven deadly sins. By this I mean job seekers who have been out of work for many months and still haven’t told their friends, neighbors, relatives, former employers, etc., that they are in transitions. It’s pride that’s hindering their job search because people, who could possibly help, are unaware of their situation.

Instead. I understand you may be embarrassed or shameful because you’re unemployed (been there). But most intelligent people know that the economy is still volatile and that layoffs, terminations, and voluntary separations, are a fact of the employment landscape. Give your potential networkers an opportunity to help you.

Selfishness

It is a sin to expect help from others but be unwilling or oblivious to helping others. In fact, helping others first should be your mindset, as help will be returned to you. Maybe not from the person whom you helped, but from someone else. Pay It Forward is the mantra.

Instead. Kevin Willett, a local business connector in my area, makes it a point of helping people and organizations without expecting something in return. Upon my requests he’s been a guest speaker at our career center more than anyone else. Because of his desire to help as many people as possible, he receives help in various forms from local businesses and individuals.

Stubbornness

This sin is particularly evident in job seekers who are given advice on their résumés, LinkedIn profiles, networking, interview techniques, and other job-search strategies. Whether feel they’ve done as much work on their documents they’re willing to, or they don’t respect the opinions of others; they lose out on valuable advice.

Instead. Listen to what others suggest.  I’m thinking of a woman who asked me to critique her LinkedIn profile. As I was addressing her small number of connections, she adamantly argued that in her industry (education) people don’t connect with other industries. She also disputed my recommendations for her Summary. As our hour critique came to an end, I got the feeling she hadn’t heard a word I said. Don’t be like this woman.

Indifference

This sin is characterized as staying within your comfort zone. What do I mean by this? When attending an organized networking event, you stand alone and make no effort to talk with unfamiliar people. You expect people to come to you. You think an opportunity will eventually come to you, and it may; but not as quickly as if you make the effort.

Instead. Here’s the secret to going beyond your comfort zone. Act natural and make others feel comfortable. Set the tone for a natural conversation. Don’t feel that the conversation must be about obtaining leads or giving leads. Show interest in others’ personal lives, or talk about current events, your favorite movies, etc.

Humility

To brag is sinful, to not promote yourself is also sinful. In my business—career advising—I encourage the appropriate amount of self-promotion. Someone who is too humble or degrade themselves is perhaps worse than bragging. It implies to employers a lack of confidence which results in a poor performance during an interview and, inevitably, no job offer.

Instead. Many times I’ll sit with our career center customers to talk about their accomplishments. Without failure they tell me they have no accomplishments. But when I ask probing questions, the accomplishments come pouring out. They don’t like to brag, they tell me. I don’t want them to brag, but I also don’t like them not taking credit for the great work they do.

Ingratitude

This sin is unforgivable. People who take from others without expressing their gratitude have used their Receive Help card for the last time. Have you helped someone get a job and not received even a verbal thanks for your efforts? Doesn’t feel good, does it?

Instead. On the other hand, when I helped someone land a job, I was reward with a simple thanks. Some years after he landed his job. I went to his house to collect some mulch we agreed to buy together. After loading up my wheelbarrow, I knocked on his door and asked him what I owed him. He gave me a big bear hug and, in tears, said, “Bob, you don’t owe me a thing. You helped me get a job.” That’s all the thanks I needed.

Read about my favorite thanks from a job seeker.


Although the sins I’ve described are not deadly (Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth), they are detrimental to your job search. Don’t commit the following sins. Act immediately upon losing your job. Let go of your pride. Don’t be selfish. Listen to others. Leave your comfort zone. Promote yourself. And, finally, be grateful.

Photo: Flickr, Khürt Williams

 

8 reasons why LinkedIn probably isn’t for you

For a long time I’ve considered it my mission to recruit people to join LinkedIn, like a college recruiter goes after blue chip basketball players. But after having a discussion a few days ago with someone in my workshop, it finally dawned on me that my persuasive style of exciting people to join LinkedIn might be too strong for some people.

Curious

After the workshop, where I spoke about LinkedIn like it’s the solution to finding a job, a very nice woman approached me and said she just wasn’t ready. She cited many reasons for this, including not understanding a word I said (not my fault, she said), not sure if she can master the mechanics of LinkedIn, being more of an oral communicator, etc.

As she spoke, nearly in tears, I remembered some of the statements I made, “To increase your chances of getting a job, you must be on LinkedIn.

Oh my gosh, I thought, as this woman was pouring out her soul to me, I created despair in this poor woman. It occurred to me that a few people like her are not ready to be on LinkedIn, never will be. Because I am active—to a fault—on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean everyone must be active or even a member.

I can’t tell people they must be on LinkedIn. In fact, in a moment of honesty, I have told my customers in other workshops that, “LinkedIn isn’t for everyone. If you’re not ready for LinkedIn, you will only be frustrated.” Perhaps I need to lay off the hard sell, because LinkedIn isn’t for everyone for the following reasons:

You’re afraid of being on the Internet

End the discussion right here. If you’re afraid of being on the Internet, concerned your personal identity will be violated, your financial information will be at risk; there’s no convincing you that you’re safe on LinkedIn. No one is completely safe.

As long as I’ve been on LinkedIn, I’ve known of one breach. It was minor, required me to change my password. LinkedIn even suggests you provide your telephone number for added security. Still, if you’re afraid of being on the Internet. This is a moot point.

You want to socialize with friends

Guess what I’m going to say. That’s right, take your socializing to Facebook. Earlier I said I had no time for Facebook and no interest. Well recently I joined Facebook, and I love it. Facebook is where I can post photos of a snowstorm in April. Proudly post photos of my family and bobbleheads.

Bobbleheads2

LinkedIn is no place for politics, religion, or women clad in bikinis. There have been many shared updates that were inappropriate for LinkedIn, and they continue to come. If you feel the need to post garbage like this, open Facebook or Twitter accounts.

You’re  satisfied with a poor profile

The one and done attitude just ain’t gonna cut it. It’s not enough to simply copy and paste your résumé to your profile and leave it at that. People who are content doing this will hurt themselves not only by displaying a poor profile that fails to brand them, but also reducing the number of keywords necessary to be found.

Your LinkedIn profile is a networking document; it is proactive. Your résumé is a document you send in response to an job posting. Your résumé is reactive.

You don’t want to connect with others

This is a show stopper. If you’re unwilling to connect with people you don’t know on LinkedIn, this is akin to going to a networking event and not speaking to a single soul. “Oh, but I connect to the people I know, like my former supervisor.

That’s a pretty limited list of connections. Very carefully chose quality connections. If you’re not embracing meeting and learning about new people on LinkedIn, you are wasting your time  For a better understanding of who you should connect with, read my article.

You’re not willing to put in the time

My advice to LinkedIn members is that they have to dedicate at least four days (4) a week to LinkedIn; and spend half an hour a day posting updates, commenting on updates, and, if willing, write LinkedIn long posts.

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Ideally one will spend an average of once a day a week. If you’re not willing to put in the time, your excellent profile and healthy number of connections will all be for naught. Many of my workshop attendees balk at this, but I tell them this is the time to who your grit.

You don’t understand its purpose

For those of you who are thinking, Bob, aren’t you being a little judgmental? Aren’t you being a little harsh? I don’t think I am. Too many people have opened accounts many years ago, simply to have never visited them until they need it…when they’re unemployed.

LinkedIn is a networking application for when you’re employed and unemployed. In other words, it was developed to help businesses create partnerships, developed soft leads, reach a broader channel. These are the people who are using it correctly.

Job seekers who use it only when they need a job are missing the boat. Their opportunity to network is when they’re networking. It’s a full-time endeavor until you retire, or until something better comes along. What more can be said.

You’re not embracing change

LinkedIn is going through constant change. It’s akin to keeping up with the plot of Game of Thrones. With the new user interface (UI), people are at their wits end understanding the new look and finding features which were once easily found.

If you take the time to play with LinkedIn’s UI, you’ll find it’s not too difficult to understand. LI’s goal was to streamline the platform, make it lighter and quicker to use. Yes, it as done away with features that were once on the basic plan. Yes, we now have to pay for advance search and tagging and unlimited searches, but so be it.

You must also download the LinkedIn phone app to better understand it. This will help you to better understand the new UI; as they are almost identical. Embrace change, people.

One more

Another reason I hear from people who resist LinkedIn is their lack of desire to be an exhibitionist. While I find this a bit silly, I also wonder if by exposing my thoughts and feelings, I’m a bit of an exhibitionist.

Perhaps the word, “exhibitionist” is a strong word, but I sometimes wonder why I spend so much time on LinkedIn. Why do I share updates so often? Why do I distribute my and others’ posts? Why do I read posts to gather information. Shall we call it networking?

Photo: Flickr, Murel Merivee

Photo: Flickr, Brenda Valmont

5 ways a successful job search counts on how you treat people

I tell my daughter, who is often late for appointments, that life is about minutes. The first time I told her this was when she missed a train into Boston by a few minutes. Not just when catching a train, I went on to explain; but when you have an appointment of any kind.

SONY DSC

The message I delivered to my daughter particularly applies to the job search. Here are five notable examples of how a successful job search counts on how you treat people :

1. Be punctual. When I think about the conversation with my daughter about how minutes matter in life, I think that not only is it important to be punctual when you need to make a train. Punctuality is also important when you’ve made arrangements to meet fellow networkers or potential decision makers.

Especially when you’re scheduled for an interview that will determine whether you get the job or not. Or if you’re meeting someone at a coffee shop for a networking meeting. You don’t want to keep people waiting.

2. First impressions count. You might be rolling your eyes at this well-known fact, but I’m talking about internalizing and embracing this. Yes, you can practice how to shake hands, maintain eye contact, dress for the occasion; but this is something you must do every day.

Think beyond the interview if you want to conduct a successful job search. Your first impressions must be outstanding during networking events, while you’re connecting in your community, even at family gatherings.  If practicing your first impressions is what you have to do, then practice them every day.

3. The way you communicate matters in all forms. Of course your written and verbal communications—which includes your resume, networking, and the interview—are important. But communicating effectively also includes listening and not over-talking.

Over-talking you wonder. Is it even a word? Treating someone with respect means allowing them to do some of the talking, at least. I’ve been to too many networking events where someone feels the need to dominate the conversation. Telling me what they do doesn’t require them to talk without coming up for air.

4. Think of others in your network. One of my favorite posts I wrote is 5 ways to give when you’re networking for a job. This isn’t one of my favorite posts because it garnered many views; it’s a favorite because it talks about the importance of giving back in the job search.

True networkers don’t think only of themselves; they think of others as well. Treat others well by reciprocating when someone does a favor for you. But you don’t need to wait for someone to help you first. Turn the table by doing something helpful to other job seekers. Offer advice on their resume or LinkedIn profile or provide a lead, of offer great advice.

5. Meet your stakeholder’s expectations. This raises the question, who are your stakeholders? The most obvious one is a potential employer. Meet their expectations by networking yourself into becoming a referral. Submit a resume that speaks to the their needs and backs up your claims with accomplishment statements. Go to the interview prepared by having done your research.

Other stakeholders include your network. Related to the previous way to treat others well in your job search, consider ways to reach out to various stakeholders like the community in which you live. For example, when you have time, shovel your neighbors driveway, or help them move furniture. Help them help you by giving them a clear understanding of what you do and what your goals are.

Consider volunteering at a nonprofit that can use your talent. One example would be developing a website for your son’s preschool.Take over the bookkeeping for a start-up. Offering your marketing assistance to a restaurant that is suffering.


The success of your job search will depend on how you treat other people, whether they’re other job seekers; your neighbors; and, of course, potential employers. It comes down to more than just being punctual, you must heed your first impressions, communicate properly, treat your network well, and satisfy your stakeholders. When all of this comes into place, your chances of landing a job will be greater.

3 places where introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

 

lake

Last year my family celebrated our daughter’s graduation from high school with a small celebration. We were near a lake and the temperature was in the 90’s. Many of our friends were there with their kids, who immediately took to the water.

It was the perfect setting. I enjoyed conversing with our friends, as we talked about kids and past events; and I was particularly animated as I talked.

Then it hit me like a title wave. I needed time to get away and recharge my batteries. Did I care if company would miss me? Not really.

As an introvert, group events can take a toll on me. I enjoy the company of others, but my energy level for talking with them is not as enduring as it is for extraverts.

Extraverts have that energy that drives them through a party; it charges their batteries. They derive mental stimulation by talking and being listened to.

I don’t’ envy them, though. The time alone to watch the kids swimming in the lake or even sitting in silence next to another introvert is as rewarding as it is for extraverts to talk to others at length. It’s a time to reflect.

Small gathering is the first place that comes to mind where introverts need to get away. The following two are:

Networking events. As an introvert, you may find yourself enjoying a conversation with a few people, but suddenly it occurs to you that where you’d rather be is in a quiet place, such as outside getting some fresh air.

What’s likely to happen is another introvert joining you, perhaps by mistake or because she saw you escaping to your place of reflection.

This is fine, because it’s you and she making small talk, such as, “Had to get away from the crowd.” I know what you mean, she tells you. And so you’ve established a bond.

Like the time I stole away from our guest at my party, you’ve had the opportunity to recharge your batteries so you can return to the larger group, which is now in the “needs and leads” portion of the event.

One of my LinkedIn connections told me this type of break is what she needs returning to a business event and possibly an extended after hours. Sure, it may be time for some to retire to the hotel room, but she understands the value of personal networking and pushes herself to keep going.

reflect

Work. Some introverts enjoy the opportunity to take a lunch-time walk, while their colleagues, most likely extraverts, are gathered in the staff room engaged in a boisterous conversation.

Walking alone or with a walking mate is a great way to recharge your batteries. I personally prefer listening to music or talk radio, as it allows me to walk at my rapid speed and lose myself in thoughts of the day.

If your fortunate to have an office or cubicle away from the fray, your getaway is convenient and doesn’t require leaving the office.

This type of situation is ideal after a day full of meetings, not only to recharge your battery but also to respond to any e-mails following the meetings.

Introverts are more productive when they have solitude and moments to reflect and write, something they prefer over meetings and brainstorming sessions. They derive their creativity from being alone or working with one other person.

Watch this TED talk by Susan Cain who explains how introverts are most creative.


Whether you’re at a family gathering, a networking event, or at work, getting away is important for maintaining a strong energy level. Introverts are capable of interaction for extended periods of time, but we’re more comfortable if we take time to get away.

Don’t deny yourself this opportunity and don’t feel as if you’re being antisocial. You’ll be happier and more productive if you tend to your preferred way to energize yourself.

Photo: Flickr, Dave McGlinchey

Photo: Flickr, Kirsty Harrison

10 symptoms of unemployment, and why you should greet the unemployed with care

unemployed man

A very talented man in pursuit of a job wrote to me that he’s been discouraged—almost amazed—by the insensitivity some people have displayed when talking to him. They begin the conversation by asking him if he’s still looking for work.

“I believe most people mean well,” he writes, “However, I have recently been approached by friends and former associates who open with, ‘Still out of work?’ Not even a fake pleasantry like, ‘How are you?’ I try to rebuff their affront somewhat jokingly; yet, am depleting my repertoire of comebacks.”

His words, not mine.

As gainfully employed people we must consider how such a thoughtless question impacts the jobseeker. Question like, “Are you still out of work?” or, “Have you found a job, yet?” will only offend the unemployed, despite your good intentions. Why is approaching a jobseeker with caution important, and what should you say?

Possible symptoms

  1. His self-esteem has taken a huge hit. He feels shame and embarrassment, even though the condition of his lay-off was not his fault. Nonetheless, he is reluctant to talk about his unemployment with most people.
  2. He is worried about finances. His daughter is slated to have braces installed in the next month, or he is falling behind on the bills. There might be decisions to make as to which expenses are priorities.
  3. He is constantly playing back in his mind the reasons why he lost his job—poor performance, personality differences with his boss, salary too high. There is doubt and insecurity. Is he ready to take on another job?
  4. He is wondering if his recruiter is going to call back with some news; it’s already been three days. He feels he nailed the interviews. What’s taking so long? He constantly checks his phone.
  5. There hasn’t been an interview in the last 30 days, despite his networking efforts and the many online applications he has sent out. So he wonders if there is any hope left in finding a job.
  6. Relations with his wife have been strained due to his dour mood and constant snapping at the kids. Unemployment can test even the best of marriages. The possibility of marriage counseling is great.
  7. He feels depressed and doesn’t want to be reminded of the reason for his depression. Many things can spark off feelings of despondency; something as simple as being out of the environment he’s been in for the past 20 years.
  8. He is experiencing physical problems which he can’t explain, such as headaches, stomach and chest pains, shooting pain across his back; most likely due to stress.
  9. He avoids people, preferring to be alone. Taking the kids to playgroup is torture and he doesn’t associate with the mostly women at the group. He is alienating himself from family and friends.
  10. If he hasn’t look for work for many years, the job search is alien to him. He may be paralyzed by the process of finding a job in a competitive labor market. (Read this post on how the job search has changed for older workers.)

How to approach someone who is unemployed

Opening questions or statements should be as temperate as possible. Start with a simple, “Hi” and sense if the jobseeker wants to engage in conversation. Don’t take it personally if he doesn’t respond to your greeting with enthusiasm. Lead with some close-ended questions or neutral comments to gauge his willingness to converse.

I asked my customer how one should talk to someone out of work. He suggests handling a scenario the following way:

Imagine you see your neighbor, Mike, in the grocery store. Instead of ducking into the next aisle, you do the right thing and acknowledge and greet him. You notice that he’s comparing prices of cereal. “Boy, the prices have shot through the roof,” you joke.

“I’ll say.” He seems contemplative.

“I’m a Frosted Mini-Wheats fan, but my kids like Cinnamon Toasted Crunch.  How are you?”

“Could be better.” He’s definitely referring to his unemployment.

“I think it will get better, Mike….Soon. You’re a talented trainer….” Notice you use present tense.

In this example you do a good job of starting a dialog. You open the dialog with a light comment about cereal prices. You simply ask how he is doing, and he, not you, chooses to allude to his unemployment. As well, you give him a boost of confidence by telling him he’s talented at what he does.

But you’d like to help him at the moment. If you can’t, simply tell him that you’ll keep your ear to the pavement for any possibilities. However, if something comes to mind, mention it. “Mike, I don’t know if you’ve contacted Jason Martin at Jarvis Corporation, but they’re looking for a safety coordinator. They might be looking for a trainer. In any case, there’s movement at the company.”

Don’t be reluctant to shake Mike’s hand. Most people appreciate a kind gesture, the warmth of a human touch. Hold on to his hand a bit longer than you normally would; this demonstrates your concern for Mike and speaks louder than words. Your eyes can also do the talking for you. They can say, “I’m concerned, buddy, and rooting for you. This is what people who are unemployed need; a cheerleader, not insensitive questions about their unemployment.

Photo: Flickr, Robert Montgomery

6 job-search methods to use to stay sane

insanity

I think Albert Einstein said it best:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Yet, as career advisors, we see this practice all the time. And usually it’s the people who are struggling to land their next job that are doing exactly this. They tell me they’ve been using Indeed.com and sometimes Monster.com or LinkedIn…exclusively.

Have you been networking? I ask them. No, that doesn’t work for me, they say. And so they continue using the job boards to distribute their resume, and they wait. Weeks pass and when I see them next, I ask how their search is going. Not so good they tell me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that my clients abandon the job boards. Plenty of people land interviews and eventually a position. It just takes them longer. What I am suggesting is that my clients use other means of looking for work.

Use Different Methods to Look for Work 

But before we go further with my suggestions for looking for work, you must know what you want to do, as well as where you’d like to work. I find this to be a challenge for some job seekers, who give me a blank stare when I ask them these questions.

Most know what they want to do but aren’t quite sure where they’d like to work. They don’t have a target company list of even 15 companies, let alone 10. Without this list, networking will be extremely difficult, as you won’t know exactly who to approach.

1. Networking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Spreading the word in your community and asking your friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. to keep their ears open is a start.

Attend networking groups a couple of times a week. Search on Meetup.com to see if there are smaller events might be more to your liking, particularly if you’re more introverted and prefer the intimacy smaller groups provide.

Supplement your in-person networking with LinkedIn. Make initial contact online and then follow up with a phone call. Ask to meet your LinkedIn connections for coffee, or talking on the phone and Skype-ing may be the way your connections want to go.

2. Reach out to recruiters or staffing agencies. Recruiters have a pipeline of their own of employers that are looking to fill positions. They may work directly with employers or assist internal recruiters at large corporations.

Their job is to present the best candidates to extremely busy hiring managers. They are loyal to said hiring managers because the employer pays their salaries. Make no mistake; recruiters work for the employers, not you.

Therefore, it’s important that your marketing campaign is strong. Your resume and LinkedIn profile must be powerful. As well, you must sell yourself in phone interviews conducted by recruiters. If you can impress the recruiters, you’re one step closer to the face-to-face interview.

3. Leverage your alumni association. Your college, and perhaps your high school, has a vast network of alumni who are more than willing to help you. Why? Because you share something very important in common; you went to the same school.

In addition to a vast network, there are a number of services your alumni association offers: networking events, career advice, mentoring opportunities, informational meetings, and possibly job fairs.

Not all college alumni associations offer these services, but for those that do you should take advantage of as many of them as possible.

4. Knock on companies’ doors, if possible. Some of my clients who are in the trades benefit more from simply going to work-sites and talking with foremen to see if they need any help. Resumes are rarely needed, but confidence matters a great deal.

This doesn’t mean others can’t “knock on companies’ doors.” What I mean by this is sending an introduction of yourself to the companies for which you’d like to work. (Remember that company list?) These are called networking emails and can be very useful in asking for informational meetings.

Some believe these can be more valuable than cover letters, and I’m inclined to agree. This is a great step for those who like to write, as opposed to speaking on the phone. In other words, introverts. The goal is to penetrate the Hidden Job Market.

5. Volunteer in your area of expertise. Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use.

Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending all your time sitting at home behind your computer. There’s something about getting out of the house and getting into a routine that’s very cathartic. It gives you a sense of achievement.

Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones. For example, you’re a web developer that needs more experience in PHP language. So you volunteer to develop a non-profit’s website. This is also great fodder for your resume.

6. Applying online. With all the negative talk about job boards, there has to be something said about doing it effectively. One way to do it wrong is to simply leave your resume on Monster, Dice, Simply Hired, etc., and wait for the calls to come rolling in.

Similarly, to apply for advertised positions on the company’s website—which is purported to produce better results—will not be enough. The fact is that the majority of job seekers are applying online for the 30% of jobs out there; so there’s a lot of competition.

Now, to do it correctly requires 1) a resume that is optimized for the advertised positions, 2) applying for positions you’re qualified for, and 3) following up on the jobs for which you applied.

There are some barriers, though. For instance, you would have to tailor each resume to the particular jobs. And often you cannot reach the decision maker at the companies. This said, people have told me they’ve landed interviews by applying online.


To use only one method of looking for work would not be productive. If, for instance, you were to network alone—which garners a 70% success rate by some people’s measures—it would not be as successful as if you were to combine that with using job boards and contacting recruiters.

And if networking is not your forte, you may find the going slow. So use the methods of looking for work that you feel are most productive. Just don’t limit it to one method, particularly applying online.

Photo: Flickr, marccm