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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