Job Search Techniques - Methods

Before beginning a job search, you need to do a lot of self-evaluation. You need to know which skills are strongest and most enjoyable for you. You need to know what your work-related values are. You need to be clear about your interests. You need to know your basic personality and the kinds of work-environments you will like best. Only then can you investigate job targets and discuss intelligently with employers what your reasons are for choosing that target. Your chances of success will increase dramatically both in terms of getting hired, and also in terms of job satisfaction once you are hired.

Optimism seems to be the best predictor to success in life. "Hope has proven a powerful predictor of outcome in every study we've done so far," said Dr. Charles R. Snyder, a psychologist.... "Having hope means believing you have both the will and the way to accomplish your goals, whatever they may be.... It's not enough to just have the wish for something. You need the means, too. On the other hand, all the skills to solve a problem won't help if you don't have the willpower to do it." ---Daniel Goleman, The New York Times, December 24, 1991. When pessimism is growing internally in every department, employers will immediately turn-off applicants who have bad attitudes about the economy, the country, and life. Sharing optimism with employers you meet will be a definite hot seller for you.

It is essential to have a job target before you begin the search. In a tight market you will need to have more than one target, but begin only one at a time and focus on it in depth. Be sure to enthusiastically and directly tell employers what it is that you want to do. Once you begin getting interviews for one target, you can get another going. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. "After a letdown, job hunters can lose momentum. If, however, you have already started that second campaign, you will know that those cover letters are in the mail working for you. You stand a chance of getting some response from the second campaign. You will do better in the interviews from your first campaign because you will not feel so desperate."---Kate Wendleton. "Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits."---Thomas Edison.

This is true for those happily or not so happily employed. It is not detrimental to your current job to be researching other possibilities. You become more clear about what you have to offer, what you want to offer, and what's going on in the work world. As a result, you become more beneficial to your current employer. "You need to start developing your own job security." ---Marilynn Williamson, Drake Beam Morin. Think of yourself as a product. Develop skills and seek out experiences that will make you more attractive not only to your present employer but to potential new ones as well.

Effectiveness of Job-Search Methods:

Asking friends, relatives, teachers (Networking)        30.6%

Applying directly to the employer                              20.1%

Private Employment Agencies                                   10.2%

Answering Newspaper Ads                                      10.1%

Union Hiring Halls                                                      9.3%

School Placement Offices                                           9.0%

Placing an Ad in the Local Newspaper                        5.4%

Civil Service Tests                                                      5.3%

*Sending out mass resumes online is less effective than answering newspaper ads.  All methods can be successful, but networking is most effective.

Networking is one job search technique that we hear a lot about today. It is simply contacting people you already know and making the acquaintance of others you don't know, in order to get some job search assistance. Most jobs are not advertised, so networking is a much more effective way to find out about current openings. Think of people you know already. Friends, relatives, neighbors, grocery clerks, your mail carrier, your dentist, doctor, banker, your librarian, hairstylist, your church, people you've worked with in the past, other members of clubs or organizations you belong to --- let anyone you can think of, know that you are looking for work and describe to them what it is that you're most interested in and why. Ask for their ideas, advice, and suggestions. Someone will know of someone that you should talk to. You can also network with people you haven't met yet. Join an association that represents the field you're interested in. Look in a directory of associations to identify at least three. Attend their meetings and decide which one(s) to join. Then get involved. Volunteer to help with events and participate in meetings. You'll meet many people involved in doing whatever it is that you want to do, and you'll learn more about the field. Remember to spend at least as much time listening as you do talking about yourself.

Informational interviews to find out more about a particular field can be set up with any of the people in your network. These are not job interviews, but are set up for you to get more information to help you decide if you're headed in the right direction. While you're talking with a person employed in a field you can share your tentative goals and get some expert advice on how to proceed. If it's O.K. with them, leave a copy of your resume in case they hear of anything appropriate, so they have a way to contact you. Later when you're more clear about what you want and are actively job-hunting, you can contact these people again and if you left a good impression, they could lead you to a job offer. When talking with people who could be potential employers, project adequate self-esteem rather than waiting until you feel it. If you behave as though you are confident about what you're doing, then eventually you will be.

An employer with no specific current openings may "click" with you and create a position. "This happens more often than the average job hunter may realize --- and is the ideal scenario. A position created for you has the best chance of being a successful and satisfying one." ---Kate Wendleton

A job campaign involves much preparation. Before the job search, find out how much demand there is for your services in your target market. Research and make a list of the companies you want to contact. Decide what you'll say on the phone. Perfect your cover letters and make sure your resume makes you look appropriate to your target. Plan your strategy for getting interviews (through networking, direct contact, search firms, and ads). Include quality control checkpoints---is what I'm doing effective?---if not, what can I change? Remember that success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Be sure to let your personality come through in everything you do. You want to find a match between your employer, your work environment, your position, and yourself. Since the hiring system works differently in different industries and in different companies, keep your approach flexible. Different techniques also work better for different people. Do what suits your personality. Listen to the advice of experts and friends and use what you want. Do what works for you. If you think of a new creative way to look for work, try it. You don't have to do what everyone else tells you to do. Use your creativity to think of something better. If it works then continue to try it. If it doesn't, then try something else. You are likely to find a solution to those times when you feel stuck, when you least expect it. So prepare the best you can and stay open to small clues, new ideas, new methods that occur to you. And you will succeed.

Be sure that your references are enthusiastic about you. Supply them with up-to-date information, discuss with them what they'll say or even suggest to them what might be important for the type of job you're seeking.

Keep following up. Stay in touch with the people that you've met since you began your job search. Send them notes or copies of articles when you come across something about a topic that you've discussed with them, or that you know might interest them. Friendships in your life take time and nurturing or they fizzle. The same goes for networks that you've developed.

Persistence is the best job search strategy. It's the people who get discouraged, take a deep breath, encourage themselves, and dig in again, who come back and tell me they've been hired.