Step Know Where and How to Look for Job Leads

One survey found that about 85 percent of all employers don't advertise their job openings. They hire people they know, people who find out about the jobs through word of mouth, or people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. While the Internet has changed how some employers find people, getting a solid lead is still too often a matter of "luck." But the good news is that, by using the right techniques, you can learn to increase your "luck" in finding job openings.

Traditional Job Search Methods Are Not Very Effective

Most job seekers don't know how ineffective some traditional job hunting techniques tend to be. For example, a recent New York Times survey showed that fewer than 15 percent of all job seekers get jobs from responding to want ads and online job postings.

Here is more detail on the effectiveness of seven of the most popular traditional job search methods:

• Help-wanted ads and online postings: Less than 15 percent of all people get their jobs through advertised openings. Everyone who reads the paper or visits the job sites knows about these openings, so competition for advertised jobs is fierce. Still, some people get jobs through ads, so go ahead and apply. Just be sure to spend most of your time using more effective methods.

• State employment services: Each state has a network of local offices to administer unemployment compensation and provide job leads and other services. These services are provided without charge to you or employers. Names of these offices vary by state, so your local office may be called "Job Service," "Department of Labor," "Workforce Development," "Unemployment Office," or another name.

Nationally, only about 5 percent of all job seekers get their jobs here, and these organizations typically know of only one-tenth (or fewer) of the job openings in a region. Local openings are posted on a government-funded Internet site at www.ajb.dni.gov, where you can search by occupation and location anywhere in the country.

• Private employment agencies: Recent studies have found that staffing agencies work reasonably well for those who use them. But consider some cautions. For one thing, these agencies work best for entry-level positions or for those with specialized, in-demand skills. Most people who use a private agency usually

Tip: Never work with a search firm or employment agency that charges you to get a job through them. Legitimate firms are paid only by the employer for whom they fill jobs. There should be no cost to you. (But don't confuse this advice with the fees you pay to private-practice career counselors or coaches; they provide coaching services for a fee and don't promise you a job.)

find their jobs using some other source, making the success record of these businesses quite modest.

Private agencies charge a fee as high as 20 percent of your annual salary to you or to the employer. Because of the high expense, you can require that you be referred only to interviews where the employer pays the fee. Keep in mind that most private agencies find job openings by calling employers, something you could do yourself.

• Temporary agencies: These can be a source of quick but temporary jobs to bring in some income while you look for long-term employment. Temp jobs also give you experience in a variety of settings— something that can help you land full-time jobs later. More and more employers are also using these jobs as a way to evaluate workers for permanent jobs. So consider using these agencies if it makes sense, but continue an active search for a full-time job.

• Sending out resumes: One survey found that you would have to mail more than 500 unsolicited resumes to get one interview! Like other traditional approaches, use this method sparingly because the numbers are stacked against you.

A better approach is to contact the person who might hire you, by phone or via e-mail, to set up an interview directly—then send a cover letter and resume. If you insist on sending out unsolicited resumes, do this on weekends and evenings and save your "prime time" for more effective job search techniques.

Tip: If necessary, leave a problem question or section blank on an application. You can always explain it after you get an interview.

include anything that could get you screened out. Never present something in a way an employer would see as a negative. For example, instead of saying you were "fired," say "position eliminated due to corporate downsizing." If the form asks for pay requirements, simply write in something like "flexible" instead of giving a specific number.

• Filling out applications: Most applications are used to screen you out. Larger organizations may require them, but remember that your task is to get an interview, not fill out an application. If you do complete applications, make them neat and error-free and do not

• Human resource departments: Hardly anyone gets hired by interviewers in HR or personnel departments. Their job is to screen you and then refer the "best" applicants to the person who would supervise you. You may need to cooperate with the people in HR, but it is often better to go directly to the person who is most likely to supervise you—even if no opening exists at the moment. And remember that many smaller organizations don't even have HR or personnel offices.

The Two Job Search Methods That Work Best: Warm and Cold Contacts

About two-thirds of all people get their jobs using informal methods. These jobs are often not advertised and are part of the "hidden" job market. How can you find them?

There are two basic informal job search methods: networking with people you know (which we call warm contacts), and making direct contacts with employers (which we call cold contacts). They are both based on the most important job search rule of all:

The Most Important Job Search Rule:

Don't wait until the job is open before contacting the employer! f

Most jobs are filled by someone the employer meets before the job is formally open. So the trick is to meet people who can hire you before a job is available! Instead of saying, "Do you have any jobs open?" say, "I realize you may not have any openings now, but I would still like to talk to you about the possibility of future openings."

Develop a Network of Contacts in Five Easy Steps

One study found that about 40 percent of all people found their jobs through a lead provided by a friend, a relative, or an acquaintance. Developing new contacts is called "networking," and here's how it works:

1. Make lists of people you know. Develop a list of anyone with whom you are friendly; then make a separate list of all your relatives. These two lists alone often add up to 25 to 100 people or more. Next, think of other groups with whom you have something in common, such as former coworkers or classmates, members of your social or sports groups, members of your professional association, former employers, and members of your religious group. You may not know many of these people personally, but most will help you if you ask them.

2. Contact the people on your lists in a systematic way. Each of these people is a contact for you. Obviously, some lists and some people on those lists will be more helpful than others, but almost any one of them could help you find a job lead.

3. Present yourself well. Begin with your friends and relatives. Call or e-mail them and tell them you are looking for a job and need their help. Be as clear as possible about what you are looking for and what skills and qualifications you have. Look at the sample phone script later in this chapter for presentation ideas.

4. Ask them for leads. It is possible that they will know of a job opening that is just right for you. If so, get the details and get right on it! More likely, however, they will not, so ask them the Three Magic Networking Questions in the following sidebar:

The Three Magic Networking Questions

1. Do you know of any openings for a person with my skills? If the answer is no (which it usually is), ask the next question.

2. Do you know of someone else who might know of such an opening? If your contact does, get that name and ask for another one. If he or she doesn't, ask the next question.

3. Do you know of anyone who might know of someone else who might? Another good way to ask this is "Do you know someone who knows lots of people?" If all else fails, this will usually get you a name.

5. Contact these referrals and ask them the same questions. For each original contact, you can extend your network of acquaintances by hundreds of people. Eventually, one of these people will hire you or refer you to someone who will! If you use networking thoroughly, it may be the only job search technique you'll need.

Figure 6-1: How referrals can expand your network.

If you're worried that you don't know enough people to network effectively, concentrate on going to group events where you'll have a large pool of people from which to develop contacts, rather than just meeting people one by one. Attend professional association meetings, lectures, classes, social functions, and anywhere that you can meet a lot of folks.

Networking is about much more than asking people if they know of any job openings. The answer is likely to be no, so that question doesn't get you far. Instead, look at networking as a way to build relationships with people who know other people, who may know other people who know of jobs. Networking is also about getting advice about your search and insight into the organizations you're trying to break into.

Use Cold Contacts—Contact Employers Directly

It takes more courage, but contacting an employer directly is a variation on the networking idea and a very effective job search technique. We call these "cold contacts" because you don't know or have an existing connection with the employers. Following are three basic techniques for making cold contacts:

• Use the Yellow Pages to find potential employers. Online sites like www.yellowpages.com and others allow you to find potential employers anywhere, but the print version is best if you're looking for a local job. You can begin by looking at the index and asking for each entry, "Would an organization of this kind need a person with my skills?" If the answer is "yes," then that type of organization or business is a possible target. You can also rate "yes" entries based on your interest, writing an "A" next to those that seem very interesting, a "B" next to those you are not sure of, and a "C" next to those that don't seem interesting at all.

Next, select a type of organization that got a "yes" response (such as "hotels") and turn to the section of the Yellow Pages where they are listed. Then call the organizations and ask to speak to the person who is most likely to hire or supervise you. A sample telephone script is included on the following page to give you ideas about what to say.

The Internet provides a variety of ways to do the same thing. For example, Yellow Pages listings are available online for any geographic area of the country. And many businesses have Web sites where you can get information and apply for job openings.

Another good source of company information is your city's business journal, where you will typically find annual reports of the city's top

Note: For much more advice about this important topic of networking and how to make it work for you, we recommend reading Networking for Job Search and Career Success by Michelle Tullier (JIST Publishing).

100 businesses in a specific industry or area. Your Chamber of Commerce can provide additional information, and the reference librarian at your local library can be a gold mine of information about how to find companies that might be able to use someone with your skills.

• Drop in without an appointment. Although building security has become increasingly tight in some locations, you can sometimes simply walk into many potential employers' organizations and ask to speak to the person in charge. This is particularly effective in small businesses, but it works surprisingly well in larger ones, too. Remember, you want an interview even if there are no openings now. If your timing is inconvenient, ask for a better time to come back for an interview.

While this method can be effective, it can be very time-consuming depending on travel distances and how closely grouped your target companies are. Use this method occasionally to get yourself out and about and into new areas. The variety is likely to energize other aspects of your search.

• Use the phone to get job leads. Once you have created your JIST Card (see chapter 4), it is easy to create a telephone contact script based on it. Adapt the basic script to call people you know or your Yellow Pages leads. Select Yellow Pages index categories that might use a person with your skills and get the numbers of specific organizations in that category. Once you get to the person who is most likely to supervise you, present your phone script.

Although it doesn't work every time, most people, with practice, can get one or more interviews in an hour by making these cold calls. Here is a sample phone script based on a JIST Card:

Hello, my name is Pam Nykanen. I'm interested in a position in hotel management. I have four years of experience in sales, catering, and accounting with a 300-room hotel. I also have an associate degree in Hotel Management plus one year of experience with the Bradey Culinary Institute. During my employment, I helped double revenues from meetings and conferences and increased bar revenues by 46 percent. I have excellent problem-solving skills and am good with people. I am also well organized, hardworking, and detail oriented. When may I come in for an interview?

Note that this script is clear, concise, and focuses on what you know (your experience) and what you have done (your accomplishments). In a capsule form, you have given the hiring manager enough information to know whether he or she is likely to need someone like you, either immediately or in the near future.

Resist the temptation to share your entire background and all of your qualifications and achievements. Your goal is to pique the interest of your audience and transform your monologue to a dialogue.

This example assumes that you are calling someone you don't know; however, the script can be easily modified for presentation to warm contacts, including referrals. Using the script for making cold calls takes courage, but it works for most people.

Most Jobs Are with Small Employers

About 70 percent of all people work in small businesses—those with 250 or fewer employees. While the largest corporations have reduced the number of employees, small businesses have been creating as many as 80 percent of the new jobs over the past decade.

Smaller organizations are where most of the job search action is, so do not ignore this fact. Many opportunities exist to obtain training and promotions in smaller organizations, too. Many do not even have HR departments, so nontraditional job search techniques are particularly effective with them. - '

Job Breakthrough

Job Breakthrough

This resume template has been created to help you follow the sections and structure of the resume outlined in this video training, feel free to play around with it. It will enhance you to deliver a winning resume that is guarantee to get you an interview to your potential employer, so take the time to customize it and make it yours.

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