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To Find Work, Do What Works

If you're not getting many interviews and job offers, have you ever stopped to wonder why?

One man did, and asked me for input.

Dale from St. Paul writes: "How do I respond to companies that require a four year degree? Twice in my life I was #1 in sales for national companies. Yet, I cannot seem to get in the front door because I only have an associate's degree."

I called Dale to discuss how he could produce more job leads. Here's what we found ...

It's always good to analyze what works, so I asked Dale how he got hired by the two companies where he did so well. Dale said he was hired by a friend at Company A, and Company B hired him after he persistently contacted the president asking for an interview.

Takeaway Lesson: If you get stuck in your job search, analyze what got you hired before. Are you doing it now? If not, why not?

In Dale's case, he had been hired twice for good jobs through personal contacts. In both cases, his "lack" of a four-year degree made no difference to the hiring authorities, because they knew Dale could perform.

So I suggested that Dale spend about 80% of each day networking with personal and professional contacts -- since this has worked before -- and the remaining 20% on responding to advertised job openings.

It turns out Dale is already doing a lot of networking and has had 10 interviews in the last four months. But he could be doing even better by making a few changes.

Example: Dale has no business cards, so people have no easy way to remember his contact info. At my urging, Dale agreed to order cards from a print shop or an online store like

Example: How extensively is Dale networking? He said that he's talking to about 30 people each week. Not bad ... until you realize that the average person -- including Dale and YOU -- knows about 250 people. So there's plenty of room for him (and you) to meet more people. All you have to do is ask.

Here's how I suggested Dale expand his network:

So far, we've identified 34 new contacts Dale can make if he goes back to his current network and asks each person for just one referral. There's nothing to stop him (or you) from asking people for two or three more names, however. Why not think big?

Takeaway Lesson: Most people network incorrectly, half-heartedly, or not at all.

Dale is networking pretty well, and can do even better by expanding his thinking.

Important! For networking to work, follow these 3 rules:

  1. Brainstorm with your contacts to help them help you. Ask, "Who do you know that I should be talking to?" Never ask a yes/no question like, "Do you know anyone who's hiring?" That invites a quick "No" and will end all conversation.

  2. When reconnecting with people, always be a bearer of good news, business leads or something else of value. That way, your network contacts will look forward to hearing from you -- and they'll introduce you to others -- because you are a welcome guest (and not an unwanted pest).

  3. Keep records. You'll never remember whom you contacted, when, or what you said. So write it down. Manage this data using software, like GoldMine or ACT, or a simple box of 3x5 cards, as Dale does.

Now, go out and make your own luck!

- Kevin Donlin

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Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others.

copyright by Kevin Donlin