Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Five Ways to Find a Job

This is a handout I developed for my clients. You are free to republish it, provided you give a credit line: "Courtesy of Resume Writers' Digest."

There are five basic ways for people to find a job. These are: newspapers, the Internet, recruiters/employment services, networking and what I call “direct contact.”

Here’s a review of each:

Most people look for their next job in the newspaper and, while it’s true that some people do find their dream job listed in the Employment Classifieds, the reality is that only about 20 percent of job seekers are successful using this method.

The newspaper can be a useful tool, however, in identifying job “leads” — companies that hire people to do the kinds of jobs you want. In addition to looking for companies that are in “growth mode” in the classifieds, job seekers should also read the Business section, where promotions and new company announcements are listed.

In addition, business journals can be a great way to find less well-known companies.

The Internet
In addition to a geographic-specific web sites (for a particular city or state, for example), job seekers should also consider the “Big Boards” as well as niche sites.

The so-called “Big Boards” — career web sites like Monster and Hot Jobs aren’t as effective as they used to be.

If you identify an opportunity on a big board, go directly to the employer’s web site and see if the position is listed there as well. By applying through the company’s web site, you’ll not only get a chance to research the company, you might be able to identify a decision maker directly and avoid the 1-2 week delay that Internet applications seem to have built in.

Posting your resume on career web sites usually triggers employment-related spam (get-rich-quick or multi-level marketing offers), so I no longer recommend my clients do this — or, if they do, I have them set up a free e-mail address (through Yahoo or Hotmail) so that they can at least contain the flood of spam and distribution offers.

There are also niche sites, which can help job seekers find more targeted opportunities. In each industry, there are two kinds of web sites that offer employment opportunities. One is sites that are specifically designed to match up employers and employees in an industry. For example, does this for the information technology field.

The other kind is trade association or industry newspaper/magazine/newsletter web sites. In addition to providing industry information (articles, research, surveys), these sites sometimes offer online employment classifieds.

One of the best things to use the Internet for is research — use Google to find the company’s web site.

Recruiters/Employment Agencies
For certain kinds of jobs, companies pay third parties (recruiters or employment agencies) to screen and recommend potential employees.

These jobs usually fall into three areas:
• Positions paying under $25,000 per year (usually administrative jobs)
• Specialized positions where a clearly-defined skill set is desired (for example, information technology jobs) or
• Managers and executives making in excess of $70,000. (These jobs are not usually advertised publicly.)

In exchange for finding candidates, screening them and recommending the “best fits,” an employer will pay a fee that is usually equal to one-third of the employee’s base salary for the first year to the recruiter or employment agency, upon a successful hire.

Because the job seeker doesn’t pay for the service, sending a resume to one of these companies is a good idea, but it won’t always result in success — or even a return phone call.

You can find recruiters in the phone book (under “Employment Agencies”) or online. Use Google to search: Recruiter and [city name] and accountant. Or look in the newspaper classifieds for firms advertising for candidates in your skill area. You can also make contact with some recruiters or employment agencies at job fairs.

The people you know can be the best way for you to find your next job. Think about who is in your network. This can include: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents of your friends, relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, your doctor, financial advisor or attorney, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, clients, and your community contacts (civic leaders, clergy, etc.)

Job seekers should assemble the contact information for these individuals (a holiday card list can be a good starting point) and get their resume to everyone on the list. Ask for help in one of the following ways: Leads, Information, Advice and/or Referrals.

You can also tap into your network for specific help. For example, if you want to work at a specific company, ask people in your network if they know anyone who currently works for — or used to work for — ‘Company X.’ Then contact that person and ask about the company, culture and hiring practices.

The more people who know you’re looking for a job, the more eyes and ears that will be available to help.

The single biggest mistake most job searchers make is not asking for help from their network. People want to help you — so let them!

Direct Contact
Tap into the so-called “hidden job market” by using direct contact. Remember: Companies hire people to solve their problems. If the job seeker can do one — or more — of these things, you shouldn’t wait for a “help wanted ad” — go directly to the company.

How do you do this? Use the other four methods for ideas:
• Newspaper. Identify companies that are likely candidates through their ads, profiles about them or job listings that indicate a need for your expertise. (For example, a company that is hiring a lot of production workers will likely need additional managers.)

• Internet. Research trends and companies online. Identify key problems from executive speeches, reports or profiles or read their news releases on their web site. A good source of information is

• Recruiters/Employment Services. This is the ultimate direct contact. (“Hey, I don’t know if you currently need someone with my skills, but here is what I have to offer one of your client companies.”)

• Networking. It happens all the time. Someone in your network says, “You know what? You should talk to John Jones at the XYZ Company. They could use someone with your skills.”

How do you make direct contact? Call, use your network for an introduction, send an e-mail or write a targeted cover letter and send it with your resume. But the real key to success is following up. When using direct contact, persistence is the key!

In reality, there are six ways to find a job: the last is the “miscellaneous” category. This includes going through the phone book, using your alma mater’s alumni career services program, tapping into the membership directory of a relevant association to schedule informational interviews, etc.

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