Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tips From Successful Job Seekers

I never get tired of hearing how people got a job. I don't think anyone gets tired of hearing it, even those who are still looking. So, if you're running out of hope, read this story I did for Gannett/, and know that you should keep hope alive -- and maybe learn a thing or two from those who have successfully moved from unemployed to the working ranks...

In 2008, Linda Woody was a stay-at-home mom for two daughters, sometimes picking up work as a public-relations consultant.

But she began to worry that the pressure of asking her husband to be the sole bread winner was too much to ask and decided to go back to work full time.

Six months later, as the economy grew worse and Woody wasn't getting anywhere with her job-hunting efforts, she had a conversation with her sister.

"She told me that I needed to act and dress like I had a job, and so the next day I should get up and put on a suit," Woody says. "I thought that was hilarious. She was joking, of course, but there was some truth to her story."

The truth was that Woody wasn't really putting a full-time effort into her job hunt, she says. She was being too picky, acting too tentative and relying on outdated contacts.

So she revamped her efforts, networking in person several times a week, joining Facebook and LinkedIn to make more connections and letting everyone know she was looking for work.

In October 2009 — when thousands of people were losing jobs — Woody was hired as communications manager for Association Headquarters Inc. in Mount Laurel, N.J. She says she learned of the job through a former colleague on Facebook.

"There are jobs out there," Woody says. "You just have to be connected and not give up. You have to talk to everyone — even other moms you meet at story time with your kids. They know people. Anyone you're connected to don't lose touch."

Woody's tactics are ones that Andy Robinson says are effective — in large part because Woody came up with a strategy and was consistent and persistent.

Robinson, chief executive of CRG Leaders in Naples, Fla., says many job seekers are so scattered in their job-hunting strategy that they don't have success. Or, they try something periodically, such as using Facebook to find contacts, but don't stick with it long enough to make it effective.

"Some people jump into the latest and greatest thing to find a job, and it doesn't work. You've got to have a plan and follow it through. The biggest magic bullet for finding a job is persistence," he says. "You've got to religiously try every day, but for some people it's too easy to throw up their hands and quit."

Another job seeker who was persistent in her job-search strategy — and found success — was Jess Wangsness.

Earlier this year when she was looking for work, she says that most people believed "there wasn't even a glimmer of hope" of finding a job. But she decided to pursue a job search method she had heard about — proposing business ideas to a prospective employer.

"I suggested in my cover letter some ideas to pique the employer's interest," she says. "Then, when I got the interview, I really stepped it up. I made the ideas as specific as possible."

While she only did about two hours of research to pitch preliminary ideas to the employer, she devoted 10 to 15 hours to prepare for the interview. Scouring the Internet for company information, she got a well-rounded picture of the company so she could propose ideas based on their needs.

"They said I was one of the few candidates that came with ideas I was ready to talk about," she says. "It made the interview feel more like a conversation, rather than an interrogation."

According to a Weddle's employment survey, nearly 53% of job seekers say they expect to find their next job by posting their resume on an Internet job board or by answering an advertisement. Only about 8% said they expect to find another position through networking at a business or social event.

"I think there are real good jobs out there through the job boards, but you don't want to put all your eggs there," Robinson says. "You should complement it by seeing if you can find people who work there through LinkedIn or Facebook contacts."

He adds that when making a networking contact, make sure you let the person know not only what you do for a living but what skills you have and with what companies you'd like to connect.

Robinson says that if you've been searching for a job for more than six months and not getting any nibbles, it's time to think about revamping your strategy. He says that while "affordable" job search coaches can provide assistance, plenty of people also are ready and willing to offer free help.

"Reach out to others you know who have found jobs and ask them if they have any ideas for you. Ask your network for help. Don't try and fix the situation yourself because you need to understand you're not doing it right, so you need help from other people," Robinson says.

Robinson says he believes that there is a "little beacon of light that is getting stronger" in the job market, and as many companies enter hiring season, it's a good time for job seekers to ramp up their efforts.

Adds Woody: "It's easy to lose momentum when you don't hear back from an employer. But just keep plugging away. There will be a fit."

What other tips would you offer to job seekers?



Susan P Joyce said...

Great to hear a success story! Thank you!

I would add just 3 points:

1. I bet Woody focused her job search on a specific job or job family.

2. I bet she had picked out some target employers where she thought she would enjoy working.

3. I bet her persistence, as mentioned, was directed toward her network and expanding it, NOT directed toward applying for as many jobs as possible on all the job boards she could find.

Anita said...

I can answer some of those points: She kept her focus in marketing/public relations because that was her background, but she didn't focus on a particular company.
A former colleague she was networking with on Facebook turned her onto the company and the job -- she did say her job search in the beginning was too picky, and she ended up expanding it.

Kathy O'Reilly said...

Anita, thank you for such a terrific piece! At Monster, we're also keeping hope alive, providing a new Success Stories campaign, for job seekers to read what has worked for others. At a time when folks need inspiration and hope more than ever before, people are stepping up to provide job search tips and career advice that is great to see. You can check out the individual stories and tips at Thank you again for a great article!
- Kathy O'Reilly,

Anita said...

Thanks, Kathy! I think it's so important for people to hear the stories from those who have been "in the trenches." Not only do they provide valuable tips, but they also help, as you say, to keep hope alive.

renego said...

DO What your Love!

My advice is listen to your heart and put the salary aspect in number two. You must prioritize what you love :)

I recommend you to use renego. It has given so many people their dream job.