Turn Your Job Search Into A People Search

by Sharon O’Toole, Workforce Consultant, Canyon County

When someone is looking for a job, they use a variety of ways to make contact with potential employers. Some are much more effective than others. Here’s the reality:

Methods that work for a few people:

  • Walking into places of business to inquire about hiring
  • Cold calling – calling companies
  • Direct Mail – making inquiries by mail or sending in unsolicited resumes
  • Filling out applications

Methods that work for about 25% of job-seekers:

  • Responding to job ads
  • Using staffing agencies

Method that works for everyone (if you know how):

  • Networking

Networking involves conducting a people search instead of a job search. Here’s how to tap the people you know that can help you turn your job search into a dream job:

Do a Self Evaluation: Identify your best strengths and your accomplishments and write them down. Think about what you like to do, what you are qualified to do. Don’t just think about skills you used at work. Think about skills and talents you developed in all situations including hobbies, volunteer work, school, clubs or groups or any other activities.

FOCUS Your Search: Identify the types of jobs you want. Make a list of keywords associated with those jobs. If you need help go to http://www.onetonline.org/. Type in a job title and get good information on tasks, skills and responsibilities related to that job. Use this information to target your resume.

Develop a List of Companies:  Make a list of five or more companies where you would really like to work. Research those companies. Know what they do, their successes, what issues they face in the marketplace. Decide what it is about the company that appeals to you and what you would like to ask.

Assemble your Job Search Tools: Create a master resume and develop one targeted for the job you want the most. Set up a professional e-mail address and put a professional message on your phone. Set up e-mail folders and a calendar to track job search activities. Identify company sites, job sites, online newspapers and other sources you will use to identify openings.

Build Your Brand: Set up profiles on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Develop a business card (essential).  Make sure your communications and messages are consistent and professional. Build a website or start a blog. Record a video resume. Display samples of your best work.

Network: Track employees who work at targeted companies. Connect with them personally to share information. Participate in group discussions. Go to association meetings,  professional networking groups and other events. Go to job fairs. Make sure you provide value to your contacts and ask them for information, advice and referrals. Set up and complete informational interviews. Ask for additional referrals. Send thank you notes or e-mails.

Prepare for Interviews: Don’t wait until you have an interview to get ready. Write and practice your introductory speech. It should be about 30 seconds during which you tell the employer something about yourself. Include key information about your employment background, what you are looking for, your best strengths. Practice until it comes easily. Prepare your interview portfolio with copies of resumes, cover letter, references, work samples if appropriate, questions to ask employers, notepad for taking notes. Prepare attire that is appropriate for an interview. Now is a good time for a haircut or makeover. Participate in practice or mock interviews to get feedback. Get a head start on doing some company research on the companies to which you apply.

The bottom line rule is that there is no one right way to look for a job, but some ways are more productive than others. Using some of these techniques will enhance the possibility that you will not only find a job, but that you will find one that you actually WANT.