What Works and What Doesn't in a Job Search

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You may have heard that 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 an actual search. The traditional picture of job-seeking is that you look for open positions posted somewhere and follow a formal application procedure to be considered for them. But if seventy-four to eighty-five percent of jobs are never advertised, how effective can this be? And with thousands of job-seekers applying for only those announced positions, the competition can be overwhelming.        

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

Marketing yourself as a job-seeker means locating the people who can offer or lead you to opportunities and telling them what you are capable of, 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—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. The three most effective job search approaches are networking and referral building, making direct contact with potential employers, and arranging informational interviews. Each of these approaches can produce:

  • Contacts—An increased number of people in your network helping you seek out opportunities.
  • Referrals—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 gain, but contacting employers (once you are ready) is more likely to lead directly to a job.

 


Support for Your Job Search

Job Search Support
A job search buddy is a friend or colleague who also wants help to get into action and stay on track with his or her job search. The two of you assist each other in reaching your goals by setting up a regular check-in, with each of you reporting on progress, announcing successes, and stating challenges. The buddy’s job is to listen, celebrate, commiserate, and be a brainstorming partner.

Job search support groups serve the same function for a group of people who wish to work together. Again, there’s a wealth of information Online about job search support groups. Or, you may be able to find an existing support group for job-seekers through career centers, schools, and industry associations.

You can also hire your coach or life coach, a professional trained in assisting people in setting and achieving goals. Some coaches specialize in career transition and working with job-seekers. They may call themselves career coaches, job coaches, or career consultants. Ask your friends and colleagues if they have worked with a coach to whom they could refer you or perform an Internet search.

Keep in mind that support from a buddy, group, or coach does not involve in-person meetings and travel time. Many groups meet via telephone conference lines or live online chats, and your buddy or coach can work with you by phone, e-mail, or an online chat service or all three.


Where Do You Think Your Job Search Needs The Most Work?

If you are still seeking employment? Where do you think your job search needs the most work.

 

  • Knowing what you want. Determining the industry, field, and type of job you are going to pursue.
  • Finding opportunities and contacts. Seeking out new people to contact, companies to approach, and positions for which to apply.
  • Applying to employers. Applying for the openings you already know about; approaching the people and companies you have already found.
  • Getting interviews. Turning your applications and approaches into interviews.
  • Landing the job. Converting your interviews into job offers.

 

Do you already know where you are stuck or lost? If not, try asking yourself the following questions:

 

  • Are you newly entering the job market or re-entering after a long absence?
  • Are you uncertain what you want to do next?
  • Have you been applying for a wide variety of jobs?
  • Do you find yourself constantly revising your résumé?
  • Are the job opportunities in your field extremely limited?
  • Are you thinking of changing careers?

 

If you answered Yes to the questions above, you probably need to focus on knowing what you want.

 

Or:

  • Are you just beginning your job search?
  • Does none of the opportunities you are finding seem right for you?
  • Is your personal network very small or nonexistent?
  • Are you relying on the Internet to find open positions?
  • If you sat down to contact every lead you currently have, would you be done before it was time for a coffee break?
  • Have you already followed up with every one of your contacts or leads within the past thirty days?

 

If you answer Yes to the questions above, you probably need to focus on finding opportunities and contacts.

 

Or:

  • Do you have a stack of leads and opportunities on which you haven’t followed up?
  • Have you been in the habit of applying only for posted positions or only by contacting human resource departments?
  • Have you applied for positions for which you did not receive a response?
  • Are you wondering how to go about pursuing opportunities you’ve uncovered?
  • Do you struggle with composing cover letters or what to say when you phone a prospective employer?
  • Do you give up when an employer doesn’t respond to your first letter or call?

 

If you answered Yes to the questions above, you probably need to focus on applying to employers.

 

Or:

  • Have you applied for a number of positions for which you felt well qualified, but didn’t get an interview?
  • Are you following up consistently on y our applications and approaches, but interviews do not have positive results?
  • Are you relying on your qualifications alone to get you in the door?
  • Do employers refuse to take your call or brush you off when you do get through?
  • Are the companies you’re approaching telling you they don’t have any openings?
  • Are you approaching only companies in which you have no contacts?

 

If you answer Yes to the questions above, you probably need to focus on getting interviews.

 

Or:

  • Are you getting preliminary interviews but neither second interviews nor job offers as a result?
  • Do the jobs for which you’re being interviewed seem off-target or too low level?
  • Do you feel awkward or wonder what to say during an interview?
  • Do you walk into interviews knowing little or nothing about the company?
  • Do you get the feeling your interviews aren’t going well?
  • Have you gotten job offers that you couldn’t take because the salary was too low or there wasn’t much opportunity to advance?
  • Do you feel your only option is to “do nothing but wait” once an interview is over?

 

If you answered Yes to the questions above you probably need to focus on landing the job.

 

Wherever you feel stuck or lost, there is an approach and an action plan that will help you get you back on track to a successful job search.

 

Let me know where you think you need the most help and we can discuss what success ingredients will be most helpful to develop a job search action plan.

 

Caring for your success,

 

Lee Gamelin 


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