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Spend your job search time wisely

Q. My husband has been out of work for six months. While he has had a few interviews, none have resulted in job offers. My question is concerning his sending out resume after resume with no response. Should he be looking to work with more headhunters, although they have been of little help in his search, or perhaps there is some other resource he is unaware of? His efforts are great in trying to obtain a job. It just seems fruitless to continually apply blindly to jobs he finds on the internet. Can you advise?

A. Looking for a job can be a time consuming, frustrating process filled with dead ends and activity that seems to have no pay off. He is generating interviews which is a good sign. Having support while trying to find the right opportunity can make this often ego-damaging situation less stressful, and letting your husband know you think his efforts are great is a good start.

What many job seekers don’t realize is that they have a new career – and that career is sales. Until you are a successful sales person, selling yourself into a job, you don’t get to go back to your previous field, or your new target job. Successful sales people will tell you that being effective means doing the right activities, the right number of times. The job search is very similar.

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In general, there are 4 ways to get a job. Some are much more effective than others, and they are the methods that are more challenging. Let’s say you have 30 hours a week to conduct a job search. Plan on dividing your time so that you focus on high impact activity most, and low impact activity least. Surprisingly, most job seekers do not.

Method 1. Most career and employment professionals will tell you that 60 to 70 percent of job seekers find their jobs through networking. People hear this yet, most job seekers do not dedicate the time it takes to develop a really effective network.

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Experience has shown me that a successful job search at the manager/director level takes about 140 face-to-face networking meetings. You might think that there is no way you can meet this many people. You have more tools now to make this work than ever before. LinkedIn can help you network; college alumni associations, former colleagues; golf buddies; your spin class pals, your hairdresser; your kids teacher…..you get it.

You might be able to make these meetings happen in 4 or 5 months, or 6 or 8 months or longer. Your goal is up to you. But if 60 percent of people get their jobs this way, this is where you want to spend your time. Learn how to network well, develop the skills; provide your contacts with a list of your targets companies, and follow up regularly.

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Method 2. Your next activity is focused on placement firms. Based on your level, you might try to work with retained firms, or contingency firms. Remember that these firms work for the company to find the right person – they do not work for you to find you a job. You are encouraging your husband to work with search firms, and he should try to do that, however in this economy, placement firms are struggling with very few jobs to fill. They are typically highly specialized roles, and not positions for career changers, or people who do not fit the exact specifications outlined by the company.

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Develop a robust LinkedIn profile, and use it. Search firms use this tool and others to find people. Find the right firms for your function or industry, make sure they have your resume, and move on. If they can make a match, they will. In good times, about 15 to 20 percent of job seekers get their jobs through placement agencies.


Method 3. Find the ads. Newspapers still have want ads, as do the Job Boards. Also look into industry specific job boards – find everything that speaks to your function or your industry. Go directly to company web sites to review postings they have. You may not find them anywhere else. Develop and tailor great responses to ads. Make your response as specific as possible and remember to show results. Ads generate 10 to 20 percent of filled positions.
Method 4. The last 10 percent of jobs come from cold job search activity. This is where a mass mailing to specific kinds of companies might come in or a very targeted letter to companies where you believe there may be a need you can fill. This activity can be very time consuming, and the pay off is very limited.
There are all sorts of other job search activities, but these are the primary methods of landing a job. Review your time. Are you spending time on high impact high potential activity, or easier, low impact low result activity? Job searches can be long; tighten your time line by being an effective sales person.

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