What I Tell Job Hunters
When I looked for my first job, Sunday's paper listed all the new postings. I bought it each week at my closest paper-vending box and took it back to my Chicago apartment to circle possibilities.
Back then, I also printed my resume and cover letter and mailed or faxed them.
Given the advance of the Internet, I figure Sunday isn't job-hunting day anymore. But as I regularly get asked for guidance on how to get a job and where to look, I figured there was no better day to post my advice than former job-hunt day.
Let’s be clear: I started FrogDog in 1997. I haven't looked for a salaried job in fifteen years. (I say "salaried" because I look for jobs for FrogDog and Twin Flames all the time.)
So this is advice gleaned from my years as an employer (the receiving end of the job-hunting process) and my experience in sales (because even if you think sales is yucky, it's what you’re doing when you’re job hunting, my friend).
Ask for Help
Don't assume people know you're looking: Ask outright for help. Make sure everyone you know in person and on-line knows what exactly you're seeking. And always ask people how you can help them when you're asking them for help. Try to give as much as you receive.
Ask for help at networking events, by e-mailing personal contacts, and on social media. (Yes, social media. The last two people I hired first came to my attention through Twitter.)
Express gratitude when people assist you. If they refer you to people, whether for networking or for an opportunity, tell them what happened with the referrals. (So few people do either. Bad manners!)
Look in the Right Places
Your ideal job probably has an association. The industry you want to work in probably has magazines and Web sites dedicated to it. Don't ignore generic job boards, but understand that the most relevant jobs are the ones that are posted in related resources. Many companies only pay to list jobs on boards dedicated to their industries and to the types of professionals they seek.
Recruiters and staffing agencies specialize as well. Only contact the ones that focus on filling positions like the one you’re seeking.
Whether or not they're hiring, figure out which companies you'd like to work for. There should be at least a handful. Don't ignore the others you discover on job boards and through networking, but it helps to have targets. For your target companies, exert extra effort:
Set Google alerts to get news about them. This will help you talk intelligently to them in interviews and about them to networking contacts.
Regularly check their Web sites for job postings.
List them for your networking contacts. Ask your contacts if they know anyone who works there.
Find people who work there on LinkedIn. (I hope your profile there is updated—if not, get on that straightaway.) If you're already connected with some of them on the site, send your contacts a message to request an information-gathering call or meeting. If you don't know anyone there, see if anyone you know knows someone there and ask for an introduction. Ask the people you talk to who work there where the company posts jobs first and what its hiring process is like. Ask who typically hires for the type of position you seek and if your contact is willing to make an introduction to that person—even if the company's not hiring right now. Ask the person who typically hires for your ideal role for an informational interview and use the time to talk up your skills, give her your resume, and express how much you want to work there. (This works. See this post for more.)
Follow your target companies on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Most companies post open jobs on these sites—and sometimes they post them there before they post them anywhere else. On Facebook and Twitter, don't just passively follow your targets—interact. Comment on Facebook posts, respond to tweets, and participate in polls and contests. It's another way to get in front of them.
This is common advice, but so few people do it that actually following through will give you a huge advantage: Tailor your cover letter and resume to the company and to the job posting.
I don't mean just changing a few words. Rewrite the cover letter from scratch. Reconsider what you've included in your resume to ensure it's as relevant as possible to the specific job listed and the specific company listing it. Research on-line and via your contacts to figure out the name of the person who is hiring for the role.