Q. My husband was laid off recently. This is our first experience with unemployment. Almost everything I have read says the large Internet job sites are a waste of time. What should the first step be in the job search? He was a manager in telecommunications.
A. To be successful during a period of unemployment, your husband needs to balance solitary tasks - such as visiting Internet job sites - with those that include face-to-face contact with people.
In my experience, the most successful job seekers follow a detailed job search plan, which includes actively networking and using the Web sparingly. Encourage your husband to set six-month, three-month, weekly, and daily goals, and to make reviewing his goals a twice-daily habit, like brushing his teeth.
An essential first step for your husband is the development of a compelling resume that showcases his experience and generates job interviews. As it’s hard to be objective about one’s own resume, advise your husband to seek feedback from knowledgeable people in his field and/or a career counselor or coach. A resume-writing workshop (offered for free or for a low fee at a One-Stop Career Center) can be one way to help your husband get started. The National Resume Writers Association is another resource for getting one-on-one resume advice.
If you ask anyone, in any field, how they got their jobs, most people will likely answer “through networking." Help your husband brainstorm and compile a list of networking contacts - including colleagues, past supervisors, college classmates - whom he can approach. Encourage him to tell everyone he knows (and to let you do the same) that he’s looking for work, and be specific about exactly what type of work he is looking for. The wider his network, the more likely he is to uncover a new opportunity, or at least add some new people to his contacts list.
Encourage him to join and to become active in any relevant professional associations. Professional associations may host networking meetings and have job listings as well.
The Internet is an invaluable tool for research, especially prior to a job interview. After your husband has scheduled an interview, he should peruse the company’s website and search for any recent media coverage about the company. If it doesn’t seem counterintuitive to use a book as a guide to using the Internet, then I recommend taking a look at "Guide to Internet Job Searching 2008-09" by Margaret Riley Dikel and Frances E. Roehm. Margaret Riley Dikel is also the originator of The Riley Guide, an online GPS for the job-seeker.
As long as your husband can avoid the trap of spending the whole day on the computer, he should explore some of the large job sites for himself, to see if he thinks they are worthwhile. A better bet for your husband might be to use sites that are targeted to the telecommunications industry, such as telecommunicationscareers.com or ITHeadHunter.net. When he registers on any job sites, he should incorporate regular check-ins to each of the sites into his overall job search plan.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.