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.

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.

Back in action

Hi all and Happy New Year!

It's been quite some time since I last posted.  I've been working on a very time consuming and important project to help a nonprofit organization start a post-secondary career college.

That project is well underway, and I'm back to my passion of helping job seekers learn how to get the job they really want quickly.

Once again, Happy New Year, and I hope this is the best one ever for you!

Warmest regards,


Identify Your Key Skills - How to Develop a Powerful New Job Search Language

Identify your key skills, is first in a series of 7 posts relating to the fundamental steps every job seeker must take in order to prepare for a successful job search.

I have taught job seeking skills for nearly 30 years at career schools and colleges, and at public and private agencies with exceptional outcomes in gainful employment.  Certainly there are many methods that enable people to secure employment, but regardless of what combination of methods used, these 7 fundamental steps will create the solid foundation you will need to mount a successful job search strategy.

This series is based on the works of the late Michael Farr, arguably the founder of the self-directed job search movement, and my work with literally thousands of career-oriented job seekers.

First Building Block:  Identify Your Key Skills

Interviewing hundreds of employers, they found that most people did not present the skills they had to do the jobs they sought.  Job applicants could not, for example, answer the basic question “Why should I hire you” with any ease.

So, if you want to do well at interviews, it is essential that you be able to describe what you are good at and why you think you can do the job.  This same knowledge is important in deciding what type of job you will enjoy and do well.  For these reasons, I consider identifying your skills the absolute first step in a successful career plan or job search.

Also, being able to identify your key skills will enable you to begin writing effective cover letters, resumes, and social media profiles

Three Types of Skills

There are three types of skills:  self-management, transferable and job-related.  Unfortunately, most people think only of job-related when preparing for their job search, but it’s actually the other two that will most likely convince an employer to hire you.

Self-Management Skills describe your basic personality and your ability to adapt to new environments and situations.  They are among the most important skills to emphasize in interviews, yet most job seekers don’t realize the importance of these skills and fail to mention them.

Key Self-Management Skills include:  accepting supervision, getting along with co-workers, getting things done on time, having good attendance, being a hard worker, being honest, productive and punctual.

Transferable Skills are those skills that can be transferred from one job or career to another.  These are important skills to identify because they can “prove” the much sought after “experience” most employers seek in a viable candidate for a job.  Remember to identify school-to-job, hobby-to-job, and volunteer work-to-job transferable skills as well as job-to-job transferable skills.

Key Transferable Skills include:  computer skills, being able to instruct others, negotiating, managing money and budgeting, managing people, meeting deadlines, meeting the public, organizing and managing projects, public speaking and written communication.

Job-Related Skills are those that, obviously, are needed to be carried out in a particular job or career.  However, before you select your job-related skills to emphasize, you MUST have a clear idea of the jobs you want.  That will be the topic of my next post.  Look for it!

But for now, your task is to carry out a Key Skills Inventory of your 5 top self-management, transferable and job-related skills.

Have great success!

Lee Gamelin