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Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Search

So you’ve lost (or want to lose) your job, you’ve written the perfect resume, and you’re ready to write a kick butt cover letter. Now to find that perfect job. There are many ways to search. The three major ones are online job search engines and boards, external recruiters, and networking.

Let’s start with the Internet. There are a gazillion job search engines and boards, and all of them want you to post your resume on them.  Resist the urge.   Unless you’re applying for a job listed on their board and they require your resume in order to apply, try to limit the number of boards that you post your resume on.  This may seem counter-intuitive; doesn’t having more eyes on your resume in more places help?  Well, yes and no.  Some boards are great, others just harvest your personal info and sell it, then offer you job requisitions that you can find elsewhere.

Then there are “aggregators” – these are like uber job search engines. They dig deep into other job search engines, as well as company job websites and other boards. Aggregators keep track of all the currently posted jobs, and when you search for a specific term, they direct you to the original website that listed the job. I’ll get to my stories about boards, aggregators, and other jobs sites in a moment.

Next, there’s networking. The basic premise is, you know people. Some of these people like you. Many people you know have a pretty good idea of what kinds of jobs you can handle. Hopefully, those people work. And, hopefully, the companies where they work want to hire someone. If all these parameters come together, a friend or relative or former co-worker of yours might help you get a job. Sounds far-fetched? My outplacement firm told me that 90% of open positions get filled by networking.  While I will not discount the value of networking, I think some of the claims are a bit exaggerated.

In my case, I had three or four great networkers helping me out.  One, a former co-worker, found a job that I qualified for, submitted my resume (with my permission) and even gave me a reference.  Another, a relative, was relentless in putting my resume in front of hiring managers for jobs that I felt I qualified for.  While networked jobs resulted in many phone screens and a few face to face interviews, none ended in an offer.  That wasn’t the networker’s fault, but it does highlight one flaw: selectivity.  When you search for a job on the internet, or for that matter anywhere else, you’re going to search for a specific set of skills that you have, and look at jobs that are looking for those skills.  When someone in your network refers you for a job, it may or may not be a great fit. Think of it this way: you may be the greatest IT C++ development project manager of all time, but (except possibly for former coworkers) your friends and relatives may just know you as “the IT guy.”  There’s a big difference between looking for “IT C++ development project manager” jobs and looking for “IT” jobs.  The point is, when you network, make sure you look for the same criteria as you would when you search in other ways.

Now for my anecdotal data: in the time I was unemployed, I interviewed for hundreds of jobs, with dozens of face-to-face interviews.  Networking resulted in one face-to-face, and no offers.  Job board aggregators resulted in many phone screens, but no face-to-face interviews.  One job board – a board specifically geared toward IT people – resulted in many interviews and one offer (that ended up being a contract rather than a direct hire).  The other contract job, and the permanent job came from my next topic: external recruiters.  This is a topic that I’m going to dedicate one full post on, coming up soon.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 5:58 pm  

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