Job Hunting

Often times you come across new job opportunities while you’re gainfully employed and without even looking for them.  But what if you find yourself in a situation where you need to proactively look for a new job?  How do you go about it and what are some of the tricks of the trade?  I published a blog series on this topic and hope it’s helpful to your endeavor.

Here’s the make up of this blog post series:

See my related blog post series on Resume Writing and Interviewing.

Job Hunting Tip #5 – Getting Aggressive with Unsolicited Outreaches

If a target company has a job posting that is a fit, then obviously you should follow the stated process for submitting your resume and then try to reach someone personally in the HR department, or better yet use your personal network to get to the hiring manager.  But if this isn’t the case, and you can’t seem to get any friendly introductions, what should you do?  Well, once choice is to keep waiting to see if something shakes loose.  But if you reach a point where you need to get more aggressive, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands.

My recommendation in this case is to reach out to some appropriate person in the company on your own.  It is important to reach out to the right personal at the right level.  In other words, if you are seeking a sales rep position in a 2,000 employee company, you should not reach out to the CEO but rather the Sales VP or maybe a regional Sales Director.  You’re going to get the names of these people from LinkedIn, the company website or your personal network.

The best method of doing this is email.  Even if you don’t know the email address of the person you want to reach out to, it’s not hard to figure out.  Check the website Contact page and the bottom of any company-produced press releases to see if any person’s email address is listed.  For example, if the target company is Ipswitch Incorporated and you see a press contact (John Doe) listed as jdoe@ipswitch.com, then you can pretty well predict the company’s email nomenclature.  If you can’t find any such clues, then with about 90% odds of success, you should try the following three approaches:

Continue reading “Job Hunting Tip #5 – Getting Aggressive with Unsolicited Outreaches”

Job Hunting Tip #4 – Build Your Research Files

Once you have your first and second lists of target companies and their related industries, it’s time to gather even more information.  Not only will this help you confirm your assessment, but it will better prepare you for your approach to the company and also a possible interview.

There are several ways to conduct your additional research:

  • Friends and colleagues – Start reaching out to them and letting them know which industries you are targeting and which companies you’re initially interested in.  Ask them what they know about any of the companies and find out if they have any contacts that could prove to be valuable.  Lunches and happy hours with your colleague and their contact can provide invaluable inside information.  If you are seeking an executive-level position, you’ll want to expand this exercise to include background checks on the CEO and the investors.
  • Internet Networking Tools – Probably the best example is LinkedIn.  If you are already a member, then you have big leg up.  LinkedIn has a function that allows you to search on a company name to see which direct members of your own LinkedIn network also have people from the target company in their network.  Secondly, does the target company use social media tools like Twitter or Facebook?  If so, it’s time to become a follower, subscriber, friend, etc.
  • E-mail Alerts  – Google, Yahoo and others have a function that allows you to enter keywords to get automated email alerts any time a press release or trade article is published with those keywords in the context.  Many of these will be company-issued press releases, which you can also get from the company’s website but would need to check regularly to see if something new was produced.  But even more valuable are analyst reports or trade articles about the company.  For future reference, make a file for all of this information or at least capture the important information in a document with web links to the get to the full content.
  • Blogs and Message Boards – Find out if they exist for the industry or even the company (ideal).  Read through them, printing out postings of interest.
  • Analyst Research Reports – If you don’t happen to have login credentials with analyst firms like the Gartner Group, Yankee, Forrester Research or The 451 Group, seek out friends or relatives that might.  Typically you can search these sites for industry or company-related reports and even see the abstract for the report.  This will give you a wish list to pass on to your friend or relative.
  • SEC  Reports – This is really just for publicly traded companies.  Search the SEC’s EDGAR site and other  public sites where annual financial reports and 10K/10Q reports are filed.  Much of this you can get from the Investor Relations link on the company’s website, but you might find other interesting things on EDGAR.

Continue reading “Job Hunting Tip #4 – Build Your Research Files”

Job Hunting Tip #3 – Narrow the Focus

The first order of business is to define the perfect job, with the word “job” encompassing the industry, company characteristics and job function.  If you already have experience in a given industry, perhaps you want to continue leveraging your skills and experience.  Or perhaps you’ve been in the same industry for so many years that you really need a change of scenery.  In any case, try to hone in on a short list of industries (perhaps 2-3) that get you the most excited and seem to have good growth potential.  Then, do some basic research to confirm your assumptions.  With the Internet as a tool, find out what the analysts and major trade associations are saying.  Who are the leaders in the industry?  Are they totally dominant or is there room for smaller companies to take a foothold?

Once you have a short list of industries, it’s time to target companies in that industry.  Assuming you already know which city you want to work in (whether it’s where you already live or some place you would like to relocate), find out which companies have their headquarters there or at least some meaningful presence.  The exception is a territory sales job, which are spread all over the place.  Using the Internet again (company’s website, trade articles, local online business journals), gather information about these companies.  Some recommended data points to gather are listed below:

Continue reading “Job Hunting Tip #3 – Narrow the Focus”

Job Hunting Tip #2 – Balance

In Tip #1 I discussed the importance of treating your job search like a job and spending at least 3 hours per day on this new job.  So what are you going to do with the rest of your time when your spouse, friends and colleagues are working all day?  You have an opportunity staring you in the face.  Surely you have things you’ve wanted to do but your crazy work schedule prevented it.  Weave these into your daily/weekly schedule.  Better yet, set some targets and goals around some of the items so that you can celebrate when you achieve them.  You’re likely to get regular rejection with your job search.  So it will be great to have accomplishments to balance this out.  Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Fitness – If you’re not at the weight you want to be at, make this a focus.  Is there a sport you’ve always wanted to learn?  Give it a try.
  • Hobby – Maybe you have one that hasn’t gotten as much attention as you would like
  • Kids – If they are in elementary school, why not have lunch with them once per week?  If they are older, now you can go to every game, performance, etc.
  • Projects – Do you have family videos that you’ve been meaning to compile, edit and produce on DVD?  Have you been talking about cleaning out the attic or garage for years?  Have you wanted to install a compost pile or water retention system?  Now is your time.
  • Volunteer – There are infinite ways to volunteer.  And giving back will definitely make you feel good about yourself and will give you a bigger picture reflection of your situation.

See the rest of my series on Job Hunting Tips here.  I also have a related series for Resume Writing and one for Interviewing.

Job Hunting Tip #1 – Hunting for a Job is a Job

My first advice is to treat job hunting as a job itself, especially if you are out of work and need to get back into the workplace.  Too many people feel that glancing through the classifieds, searching some online job posting sites and letting a few
friends know they are looking for a new job is sufficient.  But my strong recommendation is to introduce some discipline, planning and focus into the process.  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Get up at roughly the same time you would for a regular job and go through your normal work day morning routine.  In fact, do better than that by eating a better breakfast, seeing the kids off to school or whatever you weren’t quite able to do when you had the pressure of being in the office by a specific time.  The main point is to not sleep an extra 2 hours every day and get yourself into a new rut.
  • Dress in business casual attire.  You can decide how far to go with this but the main intent is to put yourself into a serious work frame of mind.
  • Spend your full morning each day of the work week, up until lunch, in your new job – searching for a job.  If you’re following the various tips in this job hunting series, you should easily be able to spend 3+ hours per day.
  • Let your family know you’re “at work” during this time period each day.  For those of you that have worked from home, you know the drill.  But for those of you that haven’t, you don’t want to be interrupted with things that wouldn’t have been important enough to call you at work to discuss.  That’s the litmus test.
  • Set weekly targets for yourself.  How many email outreaches and/or phone calls are you going to make?  How many new companies are you going to investigate?  Keep track of progress and even consider assigning points to various tasks and accomplishments if you the analytical type.

The concept is simple.  Until you find a job, your job is finding one.

See the rest of my series on Job Hunting Tips here.  I also have a related series for Resume Writing and one for Interviewing.

Resume Writing Tip #9 – The Post-Interview Audit

If you haven’t searched for a job in a while, then you’ll be updating your resume and using it without knowing how good it is.  Of course, you should get advice from family members, friends and former work colleagues.  But there’s another hugely valuable audit tool to gauge the effectiveness of your resume.  It’s the post-interview audit.

After conducting any sort of interview using your newly updated resume (including phone interviews), immediately pull out your resume and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did they specifically notice from my resume?  If they use phrases like “I saw that you _____.  Tell me more about that.”, then you know they got the information from your resume.
  • What did they not ask you about that you were really hoping and expecting they would?  Potential formatting problems and an opportunity to use the Quick Glance Test described in a related blog post.
  • What did they misunderstand?  In other words, they asked you a question and you found yourself clarifying their initial observation or conclusion.

You should do this following your first few interviews and after any interview that went especially well or especially poorly.

See the rest of my series on Resume Writing here.   I also have a related series for Job Hunting and one for Interviewing.