Previous month:
August 2013
Next month:
February 2015

January 2015

Contacting Employers and Getting Interviews. How the Job Search Pyramid Works, Stage 3

Following Stage 2, Finding Opportunities and contacts, , is Contacting Employers Directly.

Armed with a strong cover letter, a skillfully written résumé, and a telephone script, you begin contacting companies where you believe opportunities exist.  [That’s heard me correctly...pick up the telephone...old school.]  Why?  Let me digress a bit for a moment.

According to Steve Dalton in his book, The 2-Hour Job Search, “in 2008, there were 27.5 million businesses in the United States, and 99.9 percent of those had fewer than five hundred employees.  Furthermore, a full 99 percent had fewer than one hundred employees!

[Here’s more:]

Employer Size (#)






Self-employed (1)



Stage 1 (2-9)



Stage 2 (10-99)



Stage 3 (100-499)



Stage 4 (500+)



The Stage 3 and 4 companies may be the first ones that come to mind, but they make up less than 0.5 percent of the total population of employers available, and between them they account for only ¼ of all employment in the U.S.

That mean that unless you are willing to target only less than ½ of a percent of the total number of employers out there, there are far more targets than one has time to consider.  (Two-thirds of all U.S. jobs are at employers with between 2 and 99 employees!)  The vast majority of those smaller employers don’t have the presence of the budget to travel far and wide looking for the best talent available - and the larger firms don’t usually need to try too hard to find applicants.”

OK, what does this all mean to you?  Old school direct contact with employers works well with small companies because their approach to hiring and recruiting is far more organic and personal than with large companies who have the means to set up a myriad of sand traps for applicants.  It also means the change to contact the right person to arrange an interview is far higher.  Getting interviews is always to key to a successful job search!

So, back to the phone.

  • Pick it up,

  • make the call to determine who is the hiring manager or the person who may supervise someone with your skills,

  • make the contact,

  • state briefly your qualifications, and

  • ask the question when you can come in to meet with them about opportunities that exist now, or in the future.

Some of these contacts take more than one attempt to make a connection, but you don’t give up.  At some point, you will probably begin to feel you are getting pretty good at making contact, and may even have applications in progress, so you will turn your attention to conducting the interview.

Does this job well with the large employers?  Probably not.  Here you’ll have to employ all the skills of networking within the organization.

Watch for the next post on How to Use the Job Search Pyramid!

Success always,


Posted under agreement with Get Hired Now!

Finding Opportunities and Contacts. How the Job Search Pyramid Works, Stage 2

Now that you’ve completed (or at least dug deep into) Stage One of the Job Search Pyramid, “Knowing what you want,” you’ve graduated to Stage 2, “Finding Opportunities and Contacts.” At this stage, you begin building a network of people who can help  you find specific opportunities.  You decide to get involved in one of the association and/or LinkedIn groups that serve the industry in which you are interested and begin attending their meetings and/or participating in LinkedIn Group discussions and starting your own.

In your earlier research, you noticed several companies that seem to be excellent job targets.  You also identified four or five key people you already know who may be familiar with the industry that interests you.  You set up coffee or lunch meetings, or arrange informal telephone meetings with these people and ask them about the industry in general, the companies in which you may have some interest, and where your expertise could fit.  You begin to contact the companies that interest you to find out what opportunities exist there.  (Note that the word “company” here and elsewhere in my posts is meant to indicate any organization that could hire  you, including nonprofits, government agencies, universities, neighborhood businesses, healthcare organizations, professional groups, and so on.)

The network you are building also leads you to a couple of recruiters or employment agencies that might be able to connect you with some opportunities.  You set up interviews with them to see if their clients have any possibilities for you.

Eventually, your persistence in developing your network and making contacts pays off.  You begin getting referrals to companies, hiring managers, and other influential people who have information about job opportunities in your field.  Through various communication methods, you arrange meetings (in person or on the phone) to discuss what these people know about the opportunities.  While you will continue to expand your network and stay in touch with your contacts as your job search progresses, you are ready to switch your primary focus from “Finding opportunities and contacts” to “Applying to employers.”

Watch for the next post on How to Use the Job Search Pyramid!

Success always,


Posted under agreement with Get Hired Now!

How Does the Job Search Pyramid Work? Stage One

If you recall from my last post, “How To Use The Job Search Pyramid to Stand Out,” there are five separate stages beginning on the foundation of “Knowing what you want.”  Here are the five stages again.

  1. Knowing what  you want

  2. Finding opportunities and contacts

  3. Applying to employers

  4. Getting interviews

  5. Landing the job

Let’s first look at how to use the Pyramid to manage your entire job search from beginning to end.  I’ll walk through it step by step over this and the next 4 posts, just as you might in looking for a job.

Before starting your job search, you need to know what type of job you want to pursue.  So you decide to explore several areas, both inside and outside of the industry in which you have been working.  You research a number of industry trends using the Internet, newspapers and trade journal articles.  You look at job listings to help you understand what challenges these industries have currently and who is hiring.

The word “industry” here and throughout my posts could be used to refer to an industry, a job field, or both.  You may define the type of work you are looking for by naming an industry such as healthcare or education.  Or it may make more sense to describe it by naming a job field that exists in multiple industries, such as information technology or accounting.  In some cases, you will be able to narrow your definition to include both industry and job field; for example healthcare accounting.  Think of your industry as being the phrase you use to complete the sentence. “I’m looking for a job in …”

You make contact with professional associations that support the industries you are exploring, build your connections at LinkedIn, and arrange for some informational interviews with people experienced in those fields.  Conversations with people in your current industry point you toward an area where they need people with your skills, training and/or experience.  But you also discover through researching some specialized job listings that your skills would transfer easily to a completely different industry, which interests you more.  You decide to pursue this new career change when looking for your next job.  You are ready to graduate from “Knowing what you want” to “Finding contacts and opportunities.”

Look for my next post, “How Does the Job Search Pyramid Work?  Stage Two.

Success always,


Posted under agreement with Get Hired Now!

How To Use The Job Search Pyramid To Stand Out

Climbing the Job Search Pyramid

Your job search may already feel a lot like climbing a mountain.  Yet you may not have realized that some pre-planning could help make it easier.  There are some stages of your climb when you won’t need a lot of help; in others, you could really use a better map, advice from other climbers, and improved equipment.  If you choose one specific stage of your job seeking climb of which to focus, you’ll be able to put the extra effort exactly where it is needed.

While each person’s job search is unique, you may be surprised to learn that the general route every job seeker follows is the same.  The “Job Search Pyramid” provides a map of the journey ahead.  The Job Search Pyramid is made up of five separate stages:

  1. Knowing what you want

  2. Finding opportunities and contacts

  3. Applying to employers

  4. Getting interviews

  5. Getting a job offer and landing the job

There is a series of typical activities that takes place in each stage and these activities can change from person to person or job to job.  Knowing more about how the Pyramid works will enable you to determine exactly where to focus more time and energy in your job search.

In the Knowing what you want stage, you define the type of job for which you are looking.  In creating that definition, you are determining which positions, organizations, and industries match your unique and marketable skills and fit with your personal vision for your career.  Just as a company targets the market that is best suited for its products, you also must make choices about where your skills, abilities, and desires will fit best.

Once you know what type of job you are seeking, you enter the Finding opportunities and contacts stage.  In this stage, you look for people who can help your job search and for specific job opportunities - advertised or not.  Advertised positions are found through Internet job boards, trade journals, recruiters, agencies, and your personal network.  Unadvertised positions are those you discover through networking, referrals, research, and contacting employers directly.

In the Applying to employers stage, you make contact with companies regarding the opportunities you have uncovered.  The work “apply” isn’t  meant to suggest you are necessarily filling out applications or sending resumes to human resource department, although you might be.  You also apply for advertised and unadvertised jobs by placing phone calls, writing letters and email messages, and scheduling meetings with people who are in a position to hire you.  These people may be individual managers, not human resources staff.

In the next stage, Getting interviews, you persuade organizations to interview you.  The interview may be formal or informal; it may take place in person, over the phone or in video chat sessions.  During an interview, you discover an organization’s needs and desires for a position and demonstrate how you can meet them.  You may have multiple interviews with a number of people from the same organization.

Following up with contacts and opportunities is important at any stage of the job search process, but it is in the applying and interviewing stages that follow-up becomes crucial.  You’ll need to follow up with your referral sources, hiring managers, recruiters, human resource staff, and any other key players.  This is how you will keep your job search in constant motion and avoid getting stuck.

In the Landing the job stage you manage your job search successfully from the point of being interviewed to receiving a job offer.  When you get an offer, you may need to do some negotiating.  When you don’t get an offer, you’ll want to follow up to find out how you compared to the other candidates and what held the organization back from hiring you.

An Effective Job Search - What Works and What Doesn't

The first secret to finding job opportunities and eventually getting hired is to connect with the people who will help you find the job you want.

Here’s the second secret:  a successful job search is more like a marketing campaign than it is an actual search.  The traditional picture of job seeking is that you look for open positions that have been posted somewhere and follow a formal application procedure to be considered for them.. But if 74% to 85% of positions are never advertised, how effective can this be?  And with thousands of job-seekers applying for only those positions that are advertised, the competition can be overwhelming.

While a portion of your job search may be devoted to locating posted position, the only way to beat the odds and the competition is to market yourself actively and locate positions before they are advertised.

Marketing yourself as a job seeker means locating the people who can offer or lead you to opportunities and telling them of what you are capable, over and over.  You do have to seek them out - you can’t wait for them to find you.  There are many ways of telling them what you can do - in person, in writing, by phone, through social media platforms - but you must tell them.  And you have to tell them over and over.  No one will remember you if they hear from you only once.

Just as any company selling a product or service works from a strategic marketing plan with proper tactics to put the plan into action, so should you.  In this case, you are the product.  Finding job opportunities takes a disciplined approach using strategies that are proven to work.  “Effective Job Search Approaches” listed below are the six approaches from which you can choose to design your job search campaign.  All six approaches can work, but he approaches listed at the top are more effective than those at the bottom because of their increased payoff.

  1. Networking and Referral-Building

  2. Contacting Potential Employers

  3. Informational Interviewing

  4. Employing Recruiters and Agencies

  5. Searching Specialized Job Listings

  6. Internet Job Boards

Each of the top three approaches can produce:

  • Contacts.  An increased number of people in your network helping you seek out opportunities.

  • Referral.  Introductions to new people for your network or people with the power to hire you.

  • Leads.  Information about open positions or companies that might have opportunities for you.

Networking and referral-building will provide  you with the maximum number of all three payoffs, so that approach is ranked as the most effective.  Contacting prospective employers and informational interviewing are about equal in terms of their potential payoff, but contacting employers (once you are ready) is more likely to lead directly to a job.

Employing recruiters and agencies will give you more contacts looking our for you and more leads to pursue, but they are unlikely to refer you to others.  Using job listings, in whatever form, can provide you with leads, but no new contacts or referrals.

In any effective job search, you will most likely employ a combination of several approaches, used in varying degrees.

How People Find Jobs

Finding a job is all about people.  It’s the people you know, people you meet and people you locate who have information, who will inevitably help you get a job.  Submitting your resume to hundreds of companies won’t work; neither will it work to sit by the phone or in front of your computer waiting for a response.  You have to find and connect with the people who will ultimately pave your way to getting hired.

There are literally millions of resumes sitting on managers’ desk or in their inbox right now that are headed for the reject pile, the wastebasket or the trash folder.  Many companies receive from 200 to as many as 10,000 resumes a month.  How will you and what you have to offer stand out in that sea of paper and email?

Surveys estimate that 75% to 84% of available jobs are never even advertised.  If you limit your job search activities to finding and applying for advertised positions, you’re missing many more possibilities than you are finding.  How can you find these unadvertised jobs?

Internet job boards are rarely much help.  In fact, some refer to these sites as “resume black holes.”  Whether you use them to seek out job postings or toe post your resume, only 2 to 4% of job seekers find a job using one of these services.

Finding the right opportunities, getting a company to invite you in for an interview, and then having to compete with so many other candidates for the same job appears to be a daunting task.  So how do job seekers find open position and eventually get hired?  Ask any successful job seeker that question and here is what you’ll hear:  “my network,” referrals,” “a lead from someone inside the company,” “word of mouth.” and “contacting people.”

Perhaps you already knew those answers.  So why don’t you have a job yet?  Do these reasons sound familiar?

  • You don’t know where to start.

  • There are too many things to do.

  • It’s difficult to stay motivated.

If any or all of these obstacles have stopped you in our tracks, then you are in good company.  Job seekers rarely fail because there are no job opportunities.  They fail because they don’t contact and follow up effectively with the people who can lead them to jobs.

Why a job search is so challenging these days

Is it a bad economy, bad luck, outsourcing, cronyism, poor work ethic, too much reality TV...WHAT!?  Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search, and Program Director for Daytime Career Services, Duke University The Fuqua School of Business, attributes the challenge to something else entirely - technology.

Here is an excerpt from his book which I believe to be one of the most insightful how-to publications on the entire subject of job search success in this Information Era.

Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways, but it has only complicated the modern-day job search.  Before Internet job postings grew in popularity in the late 1990s, the job search was a simple (though tedious) process:

Step 1 (optional).  Find classified ads in newspaper.

Step 2.  Mail résumé and cover letter to potential employers.

Step 3.  Wait for invitations to interview.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right?  Ship out résumés and cover letters, and whoever is interested writes you back.  Very straightforward.  Of course, those with contacts at the potential employer still fared best, not having to rely on a piece of paper to make their first impression for them.  But cold calls by phone or mail were often all it would take to get an interview.

Fast-forward a decade.  The Internet’s in full swing, websites will find relevant job postings for you, and résumés can be submitted online at any hour of the day.  Although it’s easier than ever before to find jobs, why does it now seem so much harder to actually get one?  In short, technology made applying for jobs so efficient that hiring became inefficient.

Throw in a global recession, and suddenly you’ve got a perfect storm.  However, even if the economy were to recover fully tomorrow, the job search still wouldn’t go back to how it was.

Technology has effectively ruined the “mail and wait” job search strategy because it is now far more difficult for employers to pick out the few interesting applicants from the massive new influx of casual applicants.

Applying for jobs used to require a significant amount of time.  Time to search classified ads in your local paper, type and print your résumé and cover letter on nice paper, and package them up in an envelope for mailing.  Not everyone had that kind of time, and applying to any job required at least a minimal amount of research - heading to the library to find what address to mail your résumé to, for example.

With the Internet, applying for a job can take less than a minute.  Google a possible employer’s name, click on the Careers section of their website, and submit your résumé.  Done!  When it’s that easy, anyone can do it (and everyone does).  Thus, recruiters who before Internet job postings used to get a dozen or so applications from mostly local candidates in several weeks for a job now get hundreds or thousands from across the country within hours.

Who has time to read hundreds of résumés?  Recruiters today read résumés the way most of us read websites; ignoring a majority of what’s on the page and just skimming the headlines; in the case of résumés, usually looking at only schools attended and previous employers, it that.

That’s assuming hiring managers actually look at résumés received online.  There is no way for a hiring manager to read all of those applications, the only fair thing to do is not ready any of them, so online applications may be avoided entirely.  (That this attitude saves a hiring manager many hours of additional work is hardly coincidental!)  Employers these days rely instead of internet referrals to decide whom to interview. Getting internet referrals efficiently is the core challenge of the modern job search.

One aspect of my mission is and always has been to provide the most up-to-date and relevant job search information available regardless of whether I created it or not.  Of the myriad of job search advice and success plans I review, Steve Dalton’s suggestions are some of the most effective.  I suggest strongly you purchase and devour his book, The 2-Hour Job Search, Using Technology to Get the Right Job FASTER.  You can purchase it directly from my blog at along with other relevant publications regarding an effective job search.  Just click on the link “Best Job Search Books” on the navigation bar.

How to Introduce Yourself in Ten Seconds

Your ten-second introduction is what you say when you shake someone’s hand, call someone on the phone, or stand up in front of a group.  It describes who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for in a clear and memorable way.  One effective format is the benefits-oriented introduction, where you state a key benefit that you offer your potential employers before giving your occupation or job title.  Here are some examples created by C.J. Hayden and Frank Traditi in their book, Get Hired NOW!:

  • “I’m Wendy Chang.  I help high-tech companies close sales with customers who need complex technical solutions.  I’m a technical sales rep looking for a new position in the Houston area.”

  • “My name is Ian McDermott.  I develop leadership skills in management teams.  I’m a corporate training director exploring career opportunities in the financial services industry.”

The advantage of this format is that it positions you in the mind of the listener before they have a chance to form their own opinions about what you do.  If you introduce yourself as a project manage, for example, your listener has no way to know what a project manager does or what kind of projects you manage.  An introduction that begins, “I manage new software installations for corporate clients,”is specific enough to be understood and remembered.

Notice that all these introductions use plain language rather than industry jargon.  Unless you know exactly who are your listeners, use terms a twelve-year-old would understand.

Have you developed a Career Vision?

If someone asked you to describe your vision of the most perfect place on earth, what would it look like?  A mountaintop with a spectacular view?  A tropical island with a warm breeze, soft sand and tall palm trees?  Now suppose someone asked you to describe in similar detail your vision of the perfect career.  How do you draw a picture of something you can't yet clearly see?

In developing a career vision, you are creating a work picture of where you want to go with your career, If you can visualize  your ultimate goals, it will become easier to choose what your next job should be.  Even if some portions of  your vision are fuzzy, write down what pieces you do know.  It’s like creating the scenes of a play.  Each scene can be written independently to tell part of the story, and eventually all of the scenes add up to be complete production.

How to know what type of job you want - Sample Job Descriptions

A critical component of knowing what type of job you want is learning what is is that companies want.  Sample job descriptions from the industries you are exploring will help you match your wants, needs and desires with what’s available in the marketplace.  When companies post an open position, they describe the specific skills training and experience required to be a successful candidate.  By examining descriptions of available jobs, you can get a much clearer picture of the job you might want.

Sample job descriptions are a good barometer for both what you might like to do in an industry and what would be the best fit for your skills.