Last week I surveyed 159 job seekers by email and asked them this question: "What one thing could I do to make your job search easier?"
The responses were intriguing and I will share with you my answers to the most relevant ones in this and future columns.
Now, here are three problems that job seekers are experiencing as we near the end of 2006 -- and my suggested solutions. Will you find your problem solved here?
Problem #1: How can I find an "inside" contact at a company to send a resume to when applying for jobs? It would help to personalize communications between the job seeker and the employer.
Solution: When responding to a job posting, do whatever it takes to find out who the decision maker is. To get the names of these hiring authorities, try your personal network first, and Web-based tools second.
Remember this rule: Computers don’t hire. Only people can hire. So any information about an employer you can gather from people you know (or the people they know) is of value. Go through your email address book for names, or use a resource like Linkedin.com to connect with more people.
Another Web resource worth a look is Jigsaw.com. The site aims to help you bypass gatekeepers by contacting decision makers directly, and it boasts more than 4 million contact names from more than 400,000 companies. Jigsaw.com offers a free trial membership.
Problem #2: How can I locate unadvertised job leads? I want to get beyond the recruiter to someone who cares.
Solution: Spend more time talking to people who already care about you. Start with your family.
Right now, the job opening you want is out there -- between somebody’s ears. Your task is to get into the minds of as many people as possible, until your qualifications match an employer’s needs. That’s how you get hired. And that’s what networking is all about.
Now. If you’re at all average, you probably think you’ve told “everyone” in your family about your job search. But have you, really? Have you:
- Written down the name of every single relative you have, aged 18 to 108?
- Shown that list to your family to make sure you didn’t forget anyone?
- Contacted everyone on that list to tell them exactly what type of job you seek, the company you’d like to work for and the city where you want to work?
- Asked each relative for the names of at least 3 people who know of potential employment leads or who might know of them?
- Repeated this process every 30 days until hired?
OK. What about relatives who live far away? Should you spend time calling them for job leads? Well, you have friends in other states, right? Your relatives do, too. All it takes is one contact at one company and you’ll be hired. So stop making excuses and start making phone calls.
In the end, you can’t depend on a recruiter, the government or the Internet to come rescue you -- they don’t care about you. Your family does. Start talking to them about your job search today.
Problem #3: How can I find model answers to the most common interview questions? And how should I conduct myself at the interview?
Solution: Try The Interview Center at Monster.com -- the direct URL is interview.monster.com. There you’ll find tips for answering dozens of the most common questions, with advice on how to handle behavioral interviews, as well as virtual interviews that let you practice online.
Net-Temps also offers interviewing resources in their Career Development Center as well as past newsletter articles geared towards interviewing tips.
However … once you know what you want to say, there’s no substitute for practicing your interview skills with another live human (we’re back to the importance of people again!)
Because there’s more to interviewing than words. You also communicate by your tone of voice, vocabulary, posture, wardrobe, food stuck in your teeth, etc. So you absolutely must get feedback on these areas from people you trust. And mock interviews are the way to do it.
You need to practice live interviews for the same reason airline pilots practice making emergency landings in a flight simulator -- to build “muscle memory” so that your mind and body will react correctly in real life. Whether it’s piloting your career or a 747, you can’t afford to take chances.
Now, go out and make your own luck!
Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and job search help to clients in all 50 states. Author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast -- Guaranteed," Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio and many others. As a reader of this publication, you can get a Free Job Search Kit ($25.00 value) at the Guaranteed Resumes Web site -- The Instant Job Search System.