Looking for a Job? Take the Initiative!

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 29, 2012 · 106 comments

in Money & Career

This month, nearly 2 million students left colleges and universities around the country with a bachelor’s degree in hand. Some will be headed to graduate school, while others will be entering the job market, many hoping to land their first “real” job. At the same time, 3 million high school graduates have started looking for a summer gig–perhaps their first job ever. Joining them in the job hunt are the millions of Americans who have been laid off, are unemployed, and have been looking to get hired for weeks, months, even years.

What all these folks have in common is that they’re searching for a job in a tough economy. While experts debate whether things are looking up or whether we’re headed for even worse times, the reality for job seekers out there is that competition is tight. The plumb jobs will go to the bright, to those who are well-connected and know how to network, and, most of all…to those who know how to hustle.

Too many men see the job search as a passive process. They spend each day at home on the computer, trolling Monster.com and other job sites, submitting their resumes, and then waiting to get a call requesting an interview. And waiting. And waiting.

The job you want is very unlikely to land in your lap this way. Instead, the job will go to the man hitting the pavement–the man who takes the initiative. Here are some tips on how to grab the bull by the horns when you’re looking for a job.

Note: Obviously, one of the best ways to take the initiative in finding work is to start your own biz. But the focus of this article will be landing a job with someone else.

Hand in Your Resume in Person

The surest way to remain unemployed is to be like the guy mentioned above—submitting your resumes online and then sitting on your hands waiting for a call. HR departments are like employment Bermuda Triangles—your resume gets sent to who knows where to be read by who knows who, if at all. And even if your resume does get read, what will differentiate it from the hundreds of others in the stack?

Instead, if it’s possible, print out your resume/cover letter/application, and go in person to hand it to whomever is responsible for hiring (the hiring manager, your potential supervisor, the head of the department, etc.) for the job you want. Figuring out who is responsible for hiring can be difficult at large, faceless corporations, but often can be done by looking online and making some calls.

This is how I have gotten most of the jobs I’ve had in my life. In each instance, the person was pleased with my initiative, interviewed me right on the spot, and, in some cases, offered me the job right then and there.

Obviously, handing in your resume in person works better for lower-level jobs than more professional ones, but it can be effective in a variety of situations. Awhile back, AoM Community member Ben D. posted an awesome little article on the Community blog about how he landed a job as a respiratory therapist by using this method:

“When my wife and I moved to Chicago, we had no connections here. No jobs, no family, and minimal money. The assumption was that I would be able to find a job in short order. Before we moved, I updated my resume, applied online to many jobs, and then sat back and waited.

When the move was over and we had settled in, I still did not have a job. I had a couple of leads, but they were at companies that are considered resume stains in my profession. Still, a crappy job beats no job, so I bit the bullet, called the hiring manager, and got hired at the Resume Stain.

After one shift I had had enough. While the people were nice, the job and the company were crap. I began formulating plans for my escape. I applied to more jobs online and then waited. That is how one applies for a job, right?

Wrong. I was listening to public radio and a story came on about how people seeking work would fill out online applications, post their resume to Monster, and then just wait for a job to fall into their laps. Listening to this it struck me how absurd and un-manly that was. Unless you can poop golden eggs, you are just one faceless resume in a sea of thousands. I decided to get my job the manly way: with hard work, initiative, and elbow grease.

I printed my resume, wrote a custom cover letter for the company I was applying to, and signed it in pen. I folded these items up into an envelope and addressed it to the hiring manager, put on my good suit and tie, and drove down to the company.

It struck me that what I was about to do–to cold-call a hiring manager–was risky. He could be in a bad mood or out of the office. Any number of bad things could happen. But I wanted this job, and I had nothing to lose.

I choked down my nerves, straightened my tie, put on a big confident smile, and strode through the doors. A little sniffing around brought me to the manager’s office. I knocked on the door, introduced myself with a big smile and a handshake, and before he knew it he had my resume and cover letter in his hands. I explained myself. “Just didn’t want to be another face in the crowd, thought I’d take a little initiative and stop by in person.” He sat me down for an interview, and an hour later I left with a promise from him that he’d be in touch.

A few days later I got a phone call and a job offer. Soon, I will be employed at a company that I respect and that has a great reputation. I got the job I actually wanted, not just one I was randomly hired for from the internet. I got a good job at a good company, and I got to make that critical first impression a good one, all by eschewing the trappings of the internet job hunt for the old-fashioned manly way of getting a job. Another victory for manliness!”

Another victory for manliness, indeed, Ben. And to the victor go the spoils.

Follow Up!

Whether you submit your resume online or hand it over in person, your job is not yet done. Now you must follow up! Hiring managers have a lot on their plate, as do department heads and supervisors for whom hiring is just one small part of what they do. So show your sincere interest in the job by following up with an email or phone call.

If a job posting gave a deadline for the application window, then follow up a couple of days after the deadline passes–following up before then will make you seem impatient. When you follow up, say something like, “Because the deadline for x job closed on June 11, I assume that applications have begun to be reviewed. I just wanted to express my sincere interest in the position. My [couple of key qualities] would make me a great fit for the job.” If you can find out something about the company’s culture or the kind of people the hiring manager likes to hire, then mention your connection to those things.

If the job posting didn’t have a deadline, then wait a week to ten days after you submit your application to follow up. Then give the hiring manager a call, and say something like, “My name is Bob Smith and I submitted my resume on June 11 for X job, and I was wondering if the position had been filled yet. No? Well, [express interest in job + a couple of things that make you well qualified for it].

If you’ve done an interview with the company, but haven’t heard back from them within the time frame they gave you (and make sure to ask for a timeline at the end of the interview if they don’t tell you), then the day after the original time frame expires, follow up with a phone call or email reaffirming your interest in the job, saying politely that you realize the hiring process can take awhile, and inquiring if they could give you an updated timeline on when they will be making a decision.

If the company didn’t give you a timeline to begin with, then wait a week and a half after your interview before following up.

Whether you’re following up on a submitted application or on an interview, keep it to two attempts. If you don’t get an answer on the first follow-up, send an email a week later. Still no answer? Move on.

“Apply” for Unadvertised Jobs and Jobs That Don’t Yet Exist

Many of the very best jobs out there will never show up in the classifieds. The company doesn’t advertise the positions publicly and instead hires friends, internal employees, or folks they have worked with or heard about in other capacities. So you’ll never get these gigs by waiting around for a job posting to show up. Instead, you have to take the initiative!

If there’s some place you want to work, and some position you’re hoping to get, send an email with your resume to the person you think would be in charge of hiring for that position. Tell them that if the job opens up, you’d love to be considered and why you’re qualified for the position.

You should put yourself out there even if a position or job you want doesn’t yet exist, or if you’re a freelancer hoping to pick up a new client who doesn’t even know he needs your services yet. Get a feel for what the company does currently, and where they could use help or could potentially expand, and then contact them and offer your services, giving them a specific idea of something you could do for them. Tell them you’re a big fan of what they do (hopefully this is actually true) and that you would be willing to do a project for them free of charge or at a discount to give back; doing something new is a risky proposition for the potential client, so they’ll be much more willing to give you a go if it won’t cost them much. Now they might not be able to use you at that moment, but down the road a need for your services may arise, and when it does, they’ll think of you first.

Let me give you some examples from running the Art of Manliness. Back in 2009, Ted Slampyak contacted me saying how much he liked AoM, and volunteering to take part in our SWYMJ series. Three years passed (three years!), but this year, the site was finally generating enough revenue to do something I had wanted to do since starting AoM: hire an illustrator to do illustrations for some of our posts. When we were thinking about how to find someone who could do illustrations with an AoM feel, Kate said, “Hey, how about that guy who did the SYWMJ interview? He does really cool stuff.” And so now Ted is our go-to guy for all our illustration needs.

Second case in point:

When I originally started AoM in January 2008, I did all the design work myself. For a law student with no web or graphic design experience, I did okay, but I knew the site could look a whole lot better if a professional applied their talents to it. Enter Eric Granata. Eric has been reading AoM since the beginning and was an active participant in our first version of the AoM forums. In early 2008, Eric reached out in an email introducing himself as a fellow Okie, AoM fan, and web designer. He volunteered his services for any graphic and web design needs that we might have. I had a small project that I needed done, and Eric did it completely gratis as a way to say thanks for the content on AoM.

We were so impressed with Eric’s work, we kept going back to him for other projects, but this time as a paying customer. In 2009, we hired Eric to do a complete redesign of AoM. The site you’re looking at today is Eric’s handiwork. We’ve become a regular paying client of Eric’s, and it all started with him taking the initiative and volunteering his services.

I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the idea. Start offering your services to people, and planting as many seeds as you can. They may not sprout immediately, but could very well bear fruit down the road.

And, it should go without saying, but even if you do that first thing for a potential client for free or at a discount, knock it out of the park! It’s basically your interview for a job. Wow the client with what you can do, and he’ll wonder what he ever did without you and eagerly start throwing more fully paid work your way. Half-ass it and your window of opportunity will close.

Take the Initiative!

So why do these initiative-taking methods work so well? Well, believe or not, companies have just as hard a time finding good people, as good people do finding good jobs. Put yourself in the shoes of the person doing the hiring—they’ve got stacks of applications to look through and it’s hard to distinguish on paper who might be worth calling in for an interview. It takes a lot of work to make that decision. By showing some initiative, you help do some of the work for them, as it shows you have moxie and ambition and that you really want this job: qualities that represent a big percentage of what they’re looking for in an employee.

Now taking the initiative in your job search doesn’t mean you’ll land your dream job tomorrow. But it is guaranteed to get you hired faster than waiting around for your next job to land in your lap.

What’s been your experience in taking the initiative when looking for a job? Share your advice with us in the comments!

{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lou Lu May 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I’m a student still in school so I’ve never been working or applied to a job before. But my school years are getting thinner and I’m starting to think about finding work for the first time in my life just to get some money for gas and other necessities. Thanks for posting this just in time, it will help me a lot.

2 Ben May 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Great Post!! Unfortunately for me, I was laid off exactly a week ago today. However I am not content to sit around on Monster and wait, hope and pray. This post is a great motivation for me to do what others will not. I won’t be out of work for very long, count on it.

3 Okierover May 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

The email to a friend link is 404 gnarly dude.

4 Armando May 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

too real :(

5 Josh May 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm

What if you are really bad at doing all of the above? What are some strategies for landing a job without being proactive?

6 Luke Ryberg May 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I created my own job at 16, welding animal enclosures, fences and horse trailers. Telling people that has landed me any job I want. Great post!

7 Todd - Fearless Men May 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Great post-and good timing (with many graduations done).

Whenever I wanted a job, I needed to be specific about it. And, in a way, more aggressive than I originally planned. As in call after call after call. Really showing that I wanted the job.

When I got to the place where I was the one hiring, if someone didn’t repeatedly reach out to me I knew they didn’t have the desire and will to last in the job they had just applied for.

8 Michael May 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I’m a student in college, looking for a summer job. I have fallen victim to the simple online submission. This will help a lot, thanks.

9 Operator May 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

What if you are really bad at doing all of the above? What are some strategies for landing a job without being proactive?

Seriously?

You get better at things over time.

10 Ryan May 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm

@Josh…do you mean finding a job without being proactive, or finding a job if you’re more introverted?

Honestly, in the current job market you’re highly unlikely to find a job if you’re not proactive. Despite the fact that recruiters sometimes prefer the “passive” candidate, you still have to proactively market and brand yourself as the right candidate for the job, even if you aren’t actively looking for one at the moment.

However, if you’re just a bit more introverted than the manly men described in the article, there’s NO reason you can’t be PRO-active and introverted (and very, very manly) at the same time, and still land the job you want. There are quite a few resources that can be Googled relating to “job search for an introvert,” and being an introvert myself, I’ve found some of the tips to be quite useful. Perhaps the most important tip is to focus on what you bring to the job search as an introvert (thoughtfulness, listening, etc), instead of feeling intimidated into pretending to be extroverted.

11 Andres May 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

An other great post!!

12 Andres May 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I’m offering job as wardrobe consultant

13 Seth May 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I moved to Nashville almost 10 months ago, and had not one, but two “resume stain” jobs. I was laid off last month, which was actually a good thing, as I have been making many connections. While I apply for jobs at Vanderbilt (thanks to some of those connections), I’m also laying the foundation for my own business that has been a vision for several years. This article is a great impetus for all of us who are seeking not only jobs, but to forge our careers.

I would add that the personal connections are important. Check your local meetup.com groups for networking events. Many of these are happy hour-types of gatherings, and are low-pressure and casual. Another valuable resource is your local religious community. Like this article states, the face-to-face introduction is more personal and resonant than a piece of paper in a mile-high stack. You just never know who you’ll meet and where. Good luck to everyone out there looking for work.

14 Steve May 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Great advice. As a professional resume writer I can tell you first hand that those clients who are willing to tackle the job search – as a job in itself- are the ones who land the best positions.

Nothing beats hard work.

15 Ray May 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

At times I’m a guest speaker at PSU and this subject comes up during my talk with the business class. Like I tell the students there, start with removing the metal off your face. Cover those Tats. Dress up. Firm handshake. Know the company you’re applying to, so do your research first. If you smoke, good time to quit because some companies won’t hire smokers. One girl ask me if she didn’t smoke in front of me how would I know she smoked and like I told her, I’ll know the minute you walk in my office, you’ll stink it up. Also, watch what you post on Facebook because a lot of companies are checking it these days. Hope this helps you. You need all the edge you can get these days. Good Luck.

16 Jayson May 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm

@josh it’s not so much a matter of being bad or good at it. If you think you’re bad at it what that tells me is that you’re simply not doing it. This whole article is about taking the initiative; being proactive. The only way I can see your desire fulfilled is if someone marches up to you and offers a job. What are the odds of that happening in this economic climate? Slim to none I’d say. Getting a job is like anything else in life. You won’t do it if you don’t do it.

17 Joe May 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I got laid off from my job in December. I did the apply and wait for a month and got sick of it so I decided to hustle. In the past four months I’ve had 132 meetings here in the Portland, OR area. My dream job is to be a copywriter and through all the networking I think I’m getting close to making that a reality.

18 Spencer May 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

A resume is not a list of places you worked.

Unless you show the VALUE you made (hard numbers, achievements, etc.. ) to the company you worked for then your resume will end up in the garbage.

19 Jayson May 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Here’s a question though. I work freelance and am just starting out. I have had a pretty good rate of success since graduating college in 2010 but many of the people I need to see my resume are very inaccessable to the average person (movie and media producers). If i walked onto the Paramount lot and asked to see a studio executive the security guards would likely tell me to get bent. How can freelancers be certain that their resumes and in some cases reels (a cinematographer’s video portfolio) are getting to the guys with the money?

20 Adam May 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm

As I’m applying for education jobs in the area, all districts are REQUIRING online applications and are not accepting mailed/in person applications due to the number of applications they receive. So, handing in my application in person to the distrcit superintendent is out of the question. However, I still found this article important, because the same methods for talking to HR can be applied to how you aggressively make contacts. I basically consider my entire day/life to be in preparation for vocation. Basically, I’m networking and applying online, but really working on knowing people within the system that can get my application to the top of the pile. Once you in the education system here, that’s when you can start a face-to-face applying method. Thanks for the article!

21 Casey May 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm

This method worked for me. I ‘crashed’ a birthday party (I knew 2 of the 100 people there) and was tipped to a job opening that wasn’t public yet. I submitted my name and resume for the job the next day and was given the offer. I think they were glad not to have to go through the lengthy hiring process, and so was I!

22 Brian May 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm

My older brother graduated with his Engineering degree. His graduation present from our dad: a suit, white dress shirt and tie to wear at graduation (since he was this only graduate in his entire department wearing a suit, this made him the best dressed Engineer there). His present from me: better shirts and ties, and a link to this webpage.

23 Brian May 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Incidentally, my method of getting a job: be that guy that calls to follow up and didn’t stammer or say “umm” while on the phone.

Never overlook the placeholder sounds you use. Plan what you’re going to say.

24 Doc May 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Keeping your job search organized will also help. If you are applying to a moderate-to-large number of potential employers, knowing for example, when you first applied, or interviewed, at a certain company will help you keep track on follow up. You could also avoid the embarrassment of re-applying to a company that was not interested (unless you intend to do so- bringing something new to the table, perhaps).

25 Doc May 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Being pre-prepared for a new job can help as well. It is essential to keep your certifications and licenses up to date (if this applies to your field). Re-evaluate your resume periodically as well, even when you’re not actively seeking new employment. Those key projects or accomplishments that give your resume the most value are best added when they’re freshest in your mind.

26 Doug May 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm

One of the best things I can recommend to college age kids is to do a mock interview. If my small school has them, I guarantee the largest of schools has them. My experience with mock interviews started out terrible, but by doing it, and sitting down with the interviewer afterwards and going over what I did wrong, I felt a boost of confidence. I applied for an internship this summer, and when the woman asked me if I had anything else more to say, after a moment of thought, I told her that I was pleased to see her company had invested so much time in serving the community and how I had done a great deal myself. The look on her face was priceless. While I didn’t get that particular internship, the man (whom I interviewed with after the woman) recommended me for another position for the company. Sure enough, I used the same skills the next day in a phone interview, and now I am working in a paid internship set up for the entire summer! A very respectable article that every college grad should read, and read thoroughly.

27 Lucas May 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Just had an interview today. Making the 40 minute trip to hand in the application was the difference. The principal greeted me by saying, “Thanks for making the trip again.” This advice works!

28 James Petzke May 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Taking the initiative is one of the surest way to land jobs. Passive job hunting isn’t really job hunting at all is it?

29 Mason J Newark May 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm

So, I graduated a little over a year now from Cornell. What I feel is the most important facet in taking initiative is networking. Like the old adage goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Whenever you have the opportunity, introduce yourself to someone new and make a new friend. You never know when an opportunity may arise and a vacancy needs to be filled. I got my first (read: entry level) job about 4 weeks before graduation due to a friend of a friend of a colleague. After about 9 months, this led me into my second job through a colleague. I attribute much of the advancement to networking and making new connections whenever I can.

30 Mike May 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Landed a job about 2 weeks ago, doing some physical labor for a carnival company. I’m a college student, so it fit the needs. I came each day ready to work harder than everyone else, and did so. Was told today that I am their first employee to start with a raise.

31 Andres May 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Great advice

32 Jonathan H. May 30, 2012 at 12:29 am

I’ve applied to a job this very day. Thanks for the much needed kick in the rear!

33 Bo May 30, 2012 at 1:16 am

Very good advice! I would add only “Proofread, Proofread, PROOFREAD your Resume!” Have friends, family, professors etc. look it over to find any type-o’s. There is no better way to get your resume put in the “NO” pile than to have a glaring type-o.

34 Sr May 30, 2012 at 2:05 am

I did this a few times with mixed success at attaining interviews. I stopped this approach after having a few companies threaten me with cops/security and the typical ‘we only accept applications via online/email’.

35 Brandon May 30, 2012 at 3:47 am

I had 5 interviews in one week a month ago, just from handing out a few resumes to places within walking distance and some a little farther who I knew were hiring. The next week I started work unloading trucks in the land of blue vests.

36 Eddie in INDY May 30, 2012 at 7:54 am

Dear AoM,

I hustled for my dream “2nd job”. I have always wanted to work at a baseball park as an usher. I just thought it would be a total kick to not only watch the game but help patrons have a good experience….I did just about everything you mentioned in this article and now, as a PT job, I am an usher for the Indianapolis Indians!!!…..This advise WORKS !!!

Cheers and see you Victory Field in Indianapolis,

Eddie in INDY

37 Tim May 30, 2012 at 8:21 am

I was looking for more work as a private music teacher and had friends tell me to check out some private schools in the area. I re-read the post about “How To Pitch An Idea”, followed the advice, setup a meeting and not only am I now pulling in an extra car payment or two, it has led to more work with the parent company of the school. Thanks for the inspiration.

38 Mike W. May 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

Great advice, but certain industries are pretty introverted themselves. Case in point, I work in the video game/VFX industry and you can rarely get past the front desk at most major developers or studios, ie Rockstar, EA, Bungie, ILM, etc. You must submit everything online. Much of this is due to protected assets, games in development, behind the doors. Which is where HR usually is.

When I worked at ILM for a stint, you would not believe the number of Star Wars fan boys that would try to get a tour on a daily basis. So the studio was effectively shut down tighter than a prison. So no one, and the job seeker was 2nd to the fan boy in terms of showing up unannounced, was allowed even near the building without clearance.

However, all of my jobs were landed or helped along to the front of the pile because I knew people who worked at the studio from online forums. You can still create massive online networks if you are active in your chosen profession’s online community.

You still have to hustle, but more in a virtual way. And not with posts like, “Master! Great job!” You must provide articulate feedback and post work of your own. You must show that you are receptive to C&C and don’t just fight every time someone suggest a way to make your art better.

39 Andrew From Canada May 30, 2012 at 9:34 am

I’d like to bring everyone’s attention to two articles. One is about the process of finding a job:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/rob-carrick/a-29-year-old-on-the-difficulties-of-landing-a-first-job/article2434807/page2/

The other is about a new grad from Calgary doing 112 internships and getting 47 job offers:

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1201971–super-intern-maeghan-smulders-lands-47-job-offers-and-one-job-after-112-day-speed-interning-spree#comments

Here’s the thing, a lot of ads say “No calls”. There are times when I’ve ignored this because I wanted to show initiative and was told “We’ll call you” or they slam down the phone saying, “The ad said no calls!”

40 Patrick D May 30, 2012 at 9:51 am

This is a great article and I’ve lived much of the advice to great success to land several “dream jobs”.

As an auto enthusiast I wanted to be a journalist for a car magazine and I wanted to work for an auto manufacturer. I’ve accomplished both goals using some of the techniques outlined in the above article.

Without going Into too many details I’ll summize with a brief recap. I submitted an article to an esteemed “buff book” about an event i attended that was held for enthusiasts of a particluar brand. That led to paying articles and eventually my own column in a magazine.

While at said event I was able to network with contacts that worked for the brand in question. After three years of maintaining contact and building experience I one day randomly asked for a job at the brand. 7 years later I love what I do and can’t believe they pay me for it!

Good luck and follow your dreams!

41 Andre May 30, 2012 at 9:52 am

With this advice, you risk being frowned upon for not following protocol, but a man should not care about what others think. That’s what ultimately counts!

42 Eric Granata May 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thanks for the shout out, Brett! It’s always a thrill to be able to contribute to a cause you believe in.

Your advise about finding the jobs not advertised is sage. Not long ago I was looking for work in Florida because I hoped to move my kids closer to their grandparents. I had little luck finding work there. In the meantime, friends in OKC who knew I was on the market were keeping an eye out for me. I ended up taking a job that was not all that publicly visible and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s important to realize, however, that there were a lot of interviews, phone calls, lunches, turned down offers, and hustle in between from start to finish. Consider this quote:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” -Calvin Coolidge

43 Brian M. May 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

I realize that all these steps are important but I have had a lot of instances where the employer has told me “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” or given me that impression when I have called. There are few things I respect less than an interviewer who says they will call and does not. If you probably won’t call don’t say you will.
I recently moved to Louisville and I have been looking for a second job but I know I will get nowhere from the Internet alone so this is a good reminder, especially when networking is non-existent because you don’t know anyone.

44 nathan clark May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

Here’s my situation.
I found a carpentry/fine woodworking shop online and love all the stuff they do. I have always wanted to do exactly what they do but my only experience is helping my dad around the house with whatever went wrong (which was a little bit of everything). So I feel I have a little experience but a huge amount of potential just no real training. I’ve called twice but didn’t want to leave a message and their only email address is for feedback and there is no physical address.
Should I send an email or keep calling or leave a message?

45 GetFitCinci May 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

I love your note: “Obviously, one of the best ways to take the initiative in finding work is to start your own biz. But the focus of this article will be landing a job with someone else.”
In this economy I personally have found more success with my own business – yes, I still have to WORK, but I am in complete control of my financial situation!

46 Mike May 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

This post could not have come at a better time. I used to work in publishing, but I was laid off in September. Since then I’ve been searching daily online for a job to no avail. Instead of getting out there and showing initiative, like a real man, I’ve been sitting on my hands hoping something will come my way. Thanks for the kick in the arse that I needed. Now it’s time for me to go get that dream job!
Cheers,
Mike

47 Eddie May 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Twenty years ago the online procurement world was in its infancy. However, I accidentally discovered a novel technique that landed me a good job that lasted for ten years.

Back then one of the most popular media was the local newspaper classified ads. It is still not to be overlooked. So, every day I would check the ads. With time on my hands I would eventually get around to reading the whole paper from cover to cover.

I discovered that the obituaries often listed what the deceased did for a living and where they worked. I found one that matched my qualifications, waited a couple weeks, then cold called the place with resume in hand. The manager told me that he had placed an ad in the paper but it was not scheduled to come out for a few days. I was the first applicant he interviewed. He called me for the job a couple weeks later.

48 Eric Granata May 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

@Eddie: That’s brilliant! Somewhat morbid, but a nice display of hustle, never the less!

@GetFitCinci: I’ve noticed many citing the economy and job market as a reason they’ve decided to “go out on their own.” It’s an interesting dynamic. Perhaps, even, a silver lining.

49 Anthony Kendrick May 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm

When I graduated college and was looking for a teaching job, I was hoping that I would be able to get in at the school where I did my student teaching, however that was not to be. So, I tried the whole internet job search. I had a couple of interviews but nothing promising. So I beat the pavement in my own town looking for anything that might help pay the bills. I decided to walk into the local library to drop off a resume and maybe say hello to the director. I tried to smile and be friendly and, just as important, I dressed for the part. There weren’t any openings at that time, but 3 or 4 months later they were looking for someone and I was the first person the director thought of. Now it isn’t the ideal job for someone who planned on being a teacher, but beggars can’t be choosers, because a job is a job in this economy.

50 Brian May 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Any pointers for those employed and job hunting? I work 8-5 Monday through Friday for a company that will make work miserable for someone that is seeking another job. Walking that line between ethical (not searching for jobs at work, skipping out to pound the pavement) and being active is difficult when my employers of interest operate the exact same hours.

51 Xavier May 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm

What if you don’t have the confidence to go in and hand over your CV ?

52 GP May 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I have been out of a full-time job for several years now. My time spent unemployed has definitely worn my self-confidence and morale down a bit and I have completely fallen into the online job hunting habit/trap you refer to. I know it’s time to pull myself up by the boot straps and be more proactive or things will never change. I have had several unsuccessful interviews lately, and I feel my main hurdle is explaining my time unemployed (I have worked here and there doing part-time work, bartending etc to pay the bills.. I do not list all these filler jobs because my resume would be pages long so my explanation is jumbled and and unclear in interviews) . And I have found in my own experience (and read in other forums) that blaming the economy for lapses-although true-is negative talk and should be avoided. I also have a problem with filler words when interviewing -the um’s and like’s- and I have even trailed off or rambled when answering questions because I am trying so hard to come up with the answers that “I think they are looking for”..and I feel so pressured when I do get the interviews because I NEED a job so badly that I bungle them up in that way too. So my question is this : Is there any suggestions you could give to overcome using filler words and speak with more conviction and confidence? Obviously practicing and mock interviewing would be an idea, but I have found that I can be dynamic and clear in ‘mock interviews’ but when I get in front of the actual interviewer the um’s and like’s start pouring out and I feel like I can almost see the interviewer silently wishing they hadn’t wasted time calling me in ,which only worsens my delivery.

53 Zac May 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I think this is a really great guide. I worked as a job coach for the past year and I found that presenting yourself to your potential employer is a really big step. One thing you left out of here is Linkedin. I know that “sitting on your butt” putting out online applications isn’t the best way to go but taking the initiative to contact a hiring manager through Linkedin and sending a personal message can really help your chances. Also, it really does pay to be diligent about following up after an application or interview. Sometimes companies will let you fall through the cracks but if you show them you are genuinely interested in working at the company they are more likely to make sure they do follow through on hiring you. Obviously you don’t want to be annoying but a little push can go a long way. It really is a tough job market out there and only the strong will survive.

54 Kent May 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Great article, and spot on. I’m “seasoned,” which is code for “experienced,” which is more code for old. 60, to be exact. I’ve been laid off four times in my career. My point? Learn and apply proper job-hunting skills because you will need them more than you can possibly imagine.

Do the internet job-search thing; you cannot afford not to. But, you need multiple strategies. The best results come from networking. It’s the only way to uncover the hidden job market.

Develop a 30-second “elevator speech.” When the interviewer says: “Tell me about yourself,” your well-rehearsed, succinct, goal-oriented, accomplishment-laden “elevator speeech” is your response. Wishy-washy won’t cut it.

55 ctd May 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

“if it’s possible, print out your resume/cover letter/application, and go in person to hand it to whomever is responsible for hiring for the job you want.”

But be smart about it.

While waiting in the Microsoft hiring center lobby, I watched someone come in to do just that: give his paper resume to someone in person. The receptionist asked if he had applied on line (this being Microsoft); he hadn’t. He objected, noting he had flown from Ontario Canada to Seattle just to follow the “in person” advice. Tactfully, she made clear that was…unwise. He was distraught, realizing he had wasted hundreds of dollars and looked foolish.

It’s 2012. Make sure you apply online the way the company wants you to. For many places, paper resumes are an anachronism.

56 Jeremy M. May 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Excellent advice. In the past I have struggled with standing out over the crowed, even though I have a decent skillset and resume.

My question: How does one put this advice into practice from a distance? I’m currently applying for jobs in the New Orleans area but am 1000 miles away.

I would like to have a job lined up before I move. Thoughts?

57 Kyle May 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Great post, however I do have a question I’m hoping someone can answer. I have been attempting to prepare myself for a move to Texas from Ohio, but I would really like to have a job or at least an interview or two set up before I move so I can hit the ground running. What would be the best way to go about being more proactive in my job hunt in this situation? IS there a good way to do this even or should I just wait until I make the move and hit the job search hard once I’m there?

58 Joe May 31, 2012 at 2:40 am

Excellent Post, Linked In is an excellent place to highlight your work experience and make new network connections and in my case it has worked.. The catch is to present your work exp and achievements in way that it stands out from the hundred of other profiles..

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60 curtis carpenter May 31, 2012 at 7:36 am

if i was looking for a job now at the age of 18 and wanted to earn decent money with paid exsperiance, volentry work, and a year in college with 8 GCSE’s with the Princes trsut behind me and 200 pages of my own visions outline. how far will i go? i dream one day i will be employing people myself but for the momment i am intreaged to think of what jobs i could get paid for right now, hours are not a problem, im happy to work from home, i like to work hard and be occupied with work and know what i am going to be doing and i like to think that i am imaginative and knowlageable quit a bit to. but as for the future in the long run i would like to say one day as a employer i will be picking people to work with!

61 don Roberto May 31, 2012 at 8:07 am

Sage advice. I got my bachelor’s last year (I’m 51), and have been trying to break into my field since then (Emergency Management / Business Continuity). I’m fortunate to already be employed, but not in the field I want.
Since my experience level is only moderate, I’m going to nonprofits and offering to help them with their EM/BC planning gratis: I get experience for my resume and they get a level of preparedness they did not have. Even at that, I’m having a hard time building any interest, but in the spirit of President Coolidge above, I’ll keep trying.
Thanks for a remarkable site: so much wisdom packed into one place!

62 don Roberto May 31, 2012 at 8:15 am

Curtis Carpenter, I applaud your desire to go far: if you keep those goals in the forefront of your mind, you surely will. However, may I strongly encourage you to work on your writing skills? I notice at least half a dozen spelling errors in your post, and while it doesn’t make a difference *here,* it certainly will in business.
I saw a woman lose her sales job because the faxes she was sending out to potential customers were horrendous: spelling errors, random capitalization, sentence fragments, etc. She was giving our company a very bad image.
Your first impression will often be by written material rather than your sparkling charm and indomitable drive: don’t let problems with your writing damage your “brand.”
I wrote this to Curtis specifically but, realistically, it can apply to everyone. I am fortunate that my mother is an English teacher by training, but I also use Firefox’s spell-checker for blog posts and Word’s for documents. Don’t rely on those alone, though: they can fail you, as shown here http://www.greaterthings.com/Humor/Spelling_Chequer.htm. There is no substitute for a strong command of the language.

63 Andrew May 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I completely agree, I was struggling with the “how” to find a job, I was noticing that people who were essentially just scraping by in college were getting these awesome jobs. I began to network and even ask my best friends parents/friends of anything and they’ve been so glad to help because they consider me “one of their own.:” Don’t forget to HUSTLE.

64 Andrew T. May 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Thanks so much for this post. I’m currently searching for a local part-time job until I finish college, so these tips are extremely helpful. The potential employee who can stand out and go beyond expectations will usually come out on top.

65 Ryan May 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

@Kyle, I’ve been working a cross-country job search for a while, and while I’m still looking, here’s a few things that have been helpful for me (all of which involve a more digital-type of “hustle”)

1. Networking. Yes, it’s much harder to do not in person (unless you’re more introverted, in which case it’s almost easier). If there are professional groups for your industry/career where you’re looking to move, get in touch with some of the leadership, introduce yourself, and ask them who else you should get in touch with. Rinse and repeat. You may or may not directly get a job this way, but you’ll sure have a much larger network of professionals able to help. LinkedIn is a fabulous resource for this, as the advanced search tools can really help focus you in on the people you want to connect with. And whatever you do, DON’T use the default invitation line. Even something as simple as “Hi Joe, I’m looking for quality connections as I plan a career move to the Nashville area, and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. Thanks, Ryan” tells the person why you want to connect and shows you are putting some effort into the process.

2. Go as “virtually local” as you can. If you’re in a professional career, make sure you’ve got a polished LinkedIn profile that’s focused on where you want to BE, not where you ARE. Recruiters are going to be focusing on local candidates first, so make sure you come up in their searches. Join and participate in destination-area groups and forums. Basically, be as much of a “local” as you can, virtually speaking.

3. Get a Google Voice number local to your destination city. There are several guides available online to help you make the most out of using GV for your job search, so I won’t go into it more than to say that it’s one more thing you can do to show that you “belong” to where you’re moving. Nobody needs to know that the Ohio number they called will reach you in Texas. All they know is that it’s easy for them to reach you.

4. Pay it forward. My own search is an awkward combination of local networking combined with long-distance search, but by now I’ve made enough connections–both in person and online–that I can start helping others in the area make connections to help them in their job searches, too. It’s easy to keep a me-centered focus while searching for a job for me, but nothing says “valued connection” like helping someone ELSE find a job. And few things in life are manlier than helping someone else out who may never be able to pay you back.

66 Alejandro May 31, 2012 at 7:33 pm

This is great advice for the most part. Except, it’s 2012, not 1962, so walking into a place with a paper resume is really out of synch with our tech-savvy universe – especially with post 09/11 security concerns. Many companies won’t allow someone to just walk in and visit; you have to have an appointment. I applied online to one job last year and received an auto-reply stating bluntly that anyone who contacted the company beyond that point to try to determine the status of their application would have their resume pulled immediately from consideration. They were that inundated with applications.

1. Having a responsible, professional online presence is crucial.

2. It starts with your email address. It at least should have your last name in it and not a funky little nickname, or – God forbid – something salacious-sounding.

3. It continues with your resume. It has to be succinct and properly formatted without any fancy text and absolutely no emblems or drawings. Listing goals or objectives at the top is almost juvenile. It must have your name and contact information at the top. Then, you start with your most recent job. If you have gaps in your resume, be prepared to provide a logical explanation. I have one significant gap from October 2010 (when I got laid off) to July 2011 (when I finally found contract work). Given the current state of the economy, no one balked when I told them I was actively searching for work, which I was. But, you definitely don’t want to say, ‘Oh, I was just hanging out in my boxers surfing porn sites.’ Even in a tough economic environment, you have to display a work ethic.

4. Target the right job. Pay careful attention to the skill and education requirements. Most professional jobs demand a full complement of technical skills, such as everything in the Microsoft Office realm. If the job description says a certain skill is “preferred,” and you don’t have that exact skill, it’s okay to submit your resume, as long as you have other talents that make up for it. But, if the description says “required,” don’t apply for the job if you don’t possess that skill. That one little misstep shows you can’t follow even simple directions. For example, I’m a technical writer who used to work for a large bank. Recently I interviewed for a technical writing position at a medical software firm; the job is actually within a financial environment. The company didn’t state that I had to have either financial or medical industry experience, yet I mentioned my banking background. But, I’ve seen technical writing jobs that specifically require a medical industry background. I just leave those alone.

5. As someone already mentioned, Linked In has become an essential tool in the job market. Whether you’re looking for a job, or looking to hire, it’s Facebook for the business world. It’s more important to have a Linked In page than a Facebook page. I have my LI URL listed on my resume.

6. As someone else also stated, networking is important. This goes back to your professional online presence. But, attending business conventions, job fairs and communicating with people via Linked In or other business-oriented networks can’t be underestimated.

7. If you do land an interview, know who you’re going to meet with, where and at what time. Be at least 15 minutes early. Always make note of the interviewer’s name and use it occasionally throughout the discourse; people like to hear their own names. As always, a firm handshake, frequent eye contact and avoiding those pesky filler words are critical. Men especially like good handshakes from other men. I think it’s okay to bring in a bottle of water, so you have something to drink should you choke while talking. Ask when they might be able to make a decision and thank them for their time. The interviewer may be very busy, and an interview is often a painful, but necessary interruption in their day. Ask for a business card if they don’t automatically give you one.

8. Follow up immediately with a thank you note addressed to the interviewer. That again shows you appreciate the time they gave to you for that conversation.

There’s really no magic formula for landing a job. But, you always have to look and act professionally. You essentially become a salesperson and the product you’re selling is yourself and all the experience and skills that come with it.

67 Alain Racette May 31, 2012 at 7:49 pm

What advice would you have for applying to corporations/businesses that discourage in-person applications? Can the same advice in this post apply?

HR is an idiotic firewall that seems impossible to bypass sometimes…

68 Nate May 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Merrill Reese the Philadelphia Eagles announcer got into broadcasting sports by volunteering to do it free at the radio station he worked at…it worked out as you can see.

A great book is What Color’s your Parachute for job searching.

69 James May 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I think it’s funny how some people have said, “going in person doesn’t work anymore,” even though people in the comments and in the article have said it does work. I just wanted to add another confirmation of the effectiveness of going in person too. I used it successfully, just last week actually. Went into a gym and asked about working at the front desk. Got the job right there. So yeah, maybe it doesn’t work for professional jobs, but for anyone who hasn’t graduated from college yet, try it.

70 M.G. Hughes June 1, 2012 at 6:34 am

Great post! When I got out of college I wasted a lot of time submitting resumes online, and got NO where.

71 A6 June 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm

@GP
Read, read, and then read some more. Read the local newspaper, the national edition (USA today), magazines, periodicals. I highly recommend the NY Times. After that, read some books of interest in your spare time. Make reading a daily part of your life just like breathing. Since reading (and the information retained in your brain) is tied to speaking effectively, that “problem” you described in this post should no longer exist.

72 June June 1, 2012 at 11:13 pm

The best overall job I ever had was working in a gas station during my breaks in college. I knew a few people who had worked there, but what really attracted me to this job was that the people working looked like they were actually having a pretty good time together. If you are really desperate for work, which many people are, remember that at this point you should keep an open mind. Many jobs such as this have a great deal of opportunity for raises and promotions, and although it’s not glamorous, if it’s honest work and it gets the bills paid then you shouldn’t be so quick to consider it beneath you. I stuck out my gas station gig even after I graduated, and wound up with a 401k and stock options, and promotion offers and raises. Turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made to ask for an application while I was buying gas.

73 Mr. X June 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

Some of the advice given is good; the other advice is not so good. DO NOT call a harried HR person who gets inundated with applications and receives a lot of calls from desperate job seekers.

You do not dictate their schedule and will only piss them off if you are too pushy.

74 Julie June 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Being proactive finally led to the job of my dreams ;) I just searched “Tissue engineering” in the internet, found a nice group at the university and asked if any free capabilities would be there to start my PhD at the group after finishing my Diploma.

After short writings I had an invitation for an interview and two month later after a short brake I had a wonderful job offer.

Your advices work for women as well ;)

75 Chester L June 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

For the Tulsa MSA folks out there, there is an employment ministry at First United Methodist Church (downtown Tulsa) every Thursday from 11am to 1PM. They cover resumes, networking, LinkedIn and a lot of other topics. The leadership is well connected in Tulsa an thesed guys have a real heart for the jobseeker.

76 GP June 4, 2012 at 10:18 pm

@A6 – Thank you for the comment, I completely agree with you. I have been an avid reader my whole life. My favorite author is Fitzgerald and I enjoy many other classics, I keep a vocabulary list of unfamiliar words that I come across when reading-which I update and review regularly. I can write a KILLER cover letter. I also began reading ‘self improvement ‘ books. The Magic of Thinking Big, some Dale Carnegie etc..I can nail it in writing but once I get to the interview I go blank and completely lose my eloquence. I am also fine speaking with friends or strangers even.. just this job search trips me up terribly. I know it’s due to a lack of confidence in my erratic work history of the past 2 years that I feel inadequate and I need to get over it. I have even looked into professional speaking courses but couldn’t find any in my area . ( I am a college graduate) I so desperately want to drop the ‘ums’, ‘likes’ and all of my other pesky filler words..I hate it ..and this nervous little half laugh creeps in at times after my interview answers too! It’s truly mortifying. I feel like I am cringing and kicking myself inside as I answer the questions but there is nothing I can do- my mind goes blank. Then on the ride home -in retrospect -I nail the interview after it’s too late.

77 Paul June 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I’ve applied for five different positions with the local community college, but it was the last two times when I handed in my résumé and applicaion in person that I got an interview, rather than mailing my app. I came within a hair of getting the job at one time before one other person beat me out, so I’m trying again.

Now, this time around I hit an unusual snag when I handed in my app and résumé. When I arrived at the HR office I was informed that nobody was in, so I had to leave my paperwork with a lady from the business office who said she’d be sure that they get it tomorrow. Should I call tomorrow and confirm that they had seen my app, or follow Brett’s advice to wait a week to follow up? (This job posting has no deadline.)

78 Tofer June 6, 2012 at 6:21 am

I know of a couple of people who have turned up at transport yards armed with a CV and letter to hand in, had a chat with the manager and got a start very quickly. One bloke had all his work stuff in the car and just happened to walk in when they had been let down by an agency driver, “can you start straight away?”. The other turned up on the Wednesday, they had holidays to cover so he started on the Monday initially for three weeks and is still there two years later.

79 Brad June 6, 2012 at 7:56 am

Great post!

A must read for anyone applying for a job or anyone currently in a job that wants to change jobs.

80 Indy June 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

This is how I have earned every job I’ve ever had, from being a waiter to being a high school teacher. Even for a job working at a hardware store I wore blacks and ironed button up, tie, and my good shoes. Everything is second hand, but everything is tailored to fit me. I have my cover letter and resume on nice parchment paper, reference letters in hand just in case.

I learned to speak with confidence, something that is critical for anyone, but particularly because at 5’3 and 115 lbs I am a very slight man, however, what I lack in physical dominance I make up for in skill and confidence.

That is what make my students forget the fact some short, skinny guy who looks a barely out of high school (even though high school was a decade ago) is at the head of the classroom.

81 T-Bone June 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s point about avoiding the “resume stains. Almost 10 years later, I’m still “stained,” and I’ve attempted every combination of old-school “hustle” and Alejandro’s contemporary tactics to land eight interviews with other organizations, yet I’ve had nary an offer.

Admittedly, I’m in a dying industry (print media) with an underwhelming amount of marketability for unrelated careers, but getting sniffs from other companies – including the dream gig where the persistence I exhibited to display my eager anticipation to land said gig was roundly ignored – in a variety of industries has been simultaneously promising and discouraging.

Anyway, good luck, new grads!

82 Brad June 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

Stop looking for a job and start a small business. Your future is better in your hands than it is in the hands of an employer.

83 Noah June 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

A good trick for landing a job is volunteering for organizations you want to work for. It pads your resume, acts as a trial run for you, and links you to the organization so you’re first on their list when they want to hire someone. I’ve seen this done successfully with Construction, museum, and teaching jobs.

84 My Cousin Vinny June 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Great advice, especially as a member of this year’s recent graduating class. Even with a M.A., not just myself, but many of my fellow graduates from the program I was in are having trouble landing that first job. Any suggestions on how to stand out to employers when applying to jobs that are not within my own region. I have done the usual (emails, online apps etc) but I have additionally addressed and mailed out applications, cover letters and resumes trying to show extra interest. Since traveling to meet face to face or cold call potential employers is out of the question (not having an income makes this increasingly difficult), what else can I do?

85 nelya June 22, 2012 at 3:10 am

Urgent Job Online and free to join. Visit the link and
click “Sign Up – Free” for more details.

http://www.peoplestringcareer.notlong.com

86 TAMMY ENGLISH FOSTER June 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

EVEN IF YOU CAN’T STAND KIDS (LIKE I CAN’T)YOU CAN STILL GET A JOB AT THE LIBRARY IN CHINA GROVE AND SALISBURY,NC OR EVEN DRIVE A BUS FOR SCHOOL.THERE IS A JOB OUT THERE IF YOU JUST PUT UP WITH THE CRAP!

87 DELORES MATA June 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

i work at a drug store for an idiot boss,but at the end of the day it is good to know that i’m employed at almost age 60!

88 Bruce June 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Thanks for this post. It is incredibly important to be assertive in the job hunt. When I was severely underemployed after graduation, I applied for dozens of jobs over the Internet and while I had a few interviews, none of them panned out. In the end, I got a job offer after being introduced to someone.

P.S. Just discovered the blog today after it was mentioned in the Daily Muse newsletter. The blog looks great – I especially like career / job advice posts like this.

89 Bruce June 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I once heard someone say about freelancing clients that: “people assign jobs, not websites.”

Unless you can find a way to talk to/phone/email a specific person, then the odds of having the job application work out are quite small.

Question – how can one find the right person to contact for follow up when seeking a job at a big firm / company (+1000 employees)?

90 Henry Briscoe June 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I think finding a job has become too modern, and the best way to find one is the old-fashioned way (handing in resumes in person & following up.)

91 Abhishek Khandelwal September 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Nice Pose help me to go in right Direction

92 alex October 2, 2012 at 4:47 am

nice job AoM. alex from Romania.

93 Stone November 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Great inspiring post. Cheers!

94 Augustus December 14, 2012 at 6:21 am

Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for providing this info.

95 Sean January 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

People send out thousands of applications and can’t even get interviews. Nevermind “passing” an interview.

96 RB January 25, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Good article with helpful advice.

Thanks for the tips Alejandro and I agree with you 100% on everything you said especially about going in person with paper resumes. That was a suggestion made to me by one of my inlaws that he thinks is useful. But he’s a blue collar worker that did that back in 1975 when things were much different than they are now. Granted it may work for a small mom and pop establishment but sadly those are becoming few and far between. Many companies do have security concerns and also many others do resume reviews from a regional office and not from a branch office. They also like to review resumes online since many times there are questionnaires online where they can do an initial filter of potential candidates. I also find that with the economy being what it is and downsizing becoming a reality in many places, people just don’t have the time to speak to an unexpected visitor about potential vacancies when the internet is the perferred method of learning about and applying to open positions, whether current or potential. I went in person to a few places and the people I spoke to seemed taken aback and/or mildly amused at the fact I was using a now antiquated method. They were nice enough but I could tell they thought I was recently thawed out from another era. I have also found that networking and asking friends and family members if they know about any places hiring, is also helpful along with staffing/employment agencies. Like Sean said, “People send out thousands of applications and can’t even get interviews. Nevermind “passing” an interview.” There are more people looking for jobs than jobs available. That’s a familiar and troubling reality of this down economy.
It’ll take a while but somehow or another, opportunities will materialize. Just stay focused, stay positive and use whatever methods (current ones not old-fashioned one) you think may work with that particular employer. Best of luck!

97 Oj February 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm

I have been looking for a job for two years now and this is the strategy I try to use. It works great if you can talk directly to the manager but too often I am told to just apply online and oh good luck or I’ll only be able to talk to some dumb*** employee who may or may not even hand the manager the application. Once or twice I even watched an employee just throw away my application.

The job hunting process has gotten way too messed up. Some of the dumbest people I know have great jobs and complain about them all the time. Meanwhile I live on beans and roman noodles while I continue to go litterally on huge job hunting marathons. I walk around town picking up applications and talking to people all the ****ing time and I have nothing.

98 Bob Prosen February 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I’m working with several university graduates right now helping them determine the job they’re interested in and how to get an offer.
Despite having a degree it’s common for grads not to know the exact industry or type of job they want.

The best way to zero in on the right position is to first select several companies you might want to work for. Go to their website and see if they have any open positions posted. If so, read the job descriptions and requirements to see if any match the position you’re looking for.
Once you find companies that have the jobs you want you’ll have to think and act differently to get hired. If you’re wed to the traditional way of job-hunting you’re destined to compete with everyone else chasing the same few opportunities.
The most effective way to get a job is to think like an employer. Sounds simple but many people don’t appreciate the importance or know how to do it.
Before beginning your search you have to understand why all companies hire. It’s to solve problems and your challenge is to position yourself as the solution. In other words, hiring you allows the company to solve problems faster, better and cheaper than they could without you. Here’s how to start.
Step 1 – Identify your skills and expertise.
Step 2 – Find the companies you want to work for and research them to uncover their problems. Use the Internet, Google alerts, read press releases and speak with current and former employees.
Your ability to uncover your target employers’ problems and position yourself as the solution is what will get you hired.

Here are just a few potential problem areas. Completing projects on time and on budget, improve product quality, improve customer service, increase sales, reduce costs, enhance online marketing, etc.
Step 3 – Identify the hiring manager.
Step 4 – Create a personal marketing plan to get your solutions in the hands of the hiring manager.
Step 5 – Develop a “One-Sheet” resume, to separate you from the crowd, along with a set of compelling cover letters that show your experience solving similar problems.
Step 6 – Follow up is essential to getting an interview. Be persistent but not a pest.
As a former executive with several Fortune companies I know how leaders think. People who have followed this process have gotten hired.
Good luck and never give up!
Bob Prosen – CEO
The Prosen Center for Business Advancement
http://www.mycareeraccelerator.com

P.S. And yes, this works for recent college grads as well.
P.S.S. Market yourself to the companies you want to work for whether or not they have an opening.

99 Jerry March 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I physically cold called over 100 firms of a target industry in the ATL metro area. Resulted in only 1 interview and no offer of employment. This was back in 2009. I was qualified for entry level positions in the target industry.

100 Cynthia May 14, 2013 at 9:12 am

A few of the posters here remark on an inability to determine who to contact within a prospective company to get their resume seen. I suggest The Thomas Register, the Who’s Who of corporations in the U.S. Your local main library is likely to have these volumes, which are several inches thick. At last look the volumes comprised at least a dozen from A to Z. Recently I have discovered that The Thomas Register is now available online through main libraries’ subscriptions, and so, they are accessible to those who have library cards. Perhaps for a ‘guest’ as well. The information contained in The Thomas Register is far more insightful than a corporate website IMHO.
Interestingly enough, I happened upon a YouTube video that presented a resume, put together by an enterprising mechanical engineer. It showed his work from conceptualization (hand drawn rough sketches), then exhibited the flow of his work through fast-forwarded clips of Computer Aided Drafting, then an ‘animation’ ( a visual prototype) of the ‘widget’ he had designed, and finally an animation of assembly line production of the ‘widget’. The ‘hard copy’ of his resume was not a paper resume, it was a DVD resume made up in the software Final Cut Pro, etc. This served as his portfolio of sorts. Of course now with cloud computing (Microsoft Skydrive, which is free for a basic tier) it’s very possible to upload animated examples, especially of Microsoft Office work. I think presenting actual examples gives HR something to remark upon at the very least and shows a refreshing and considerable difference to weary hiring managers. The resume DVD I speak of was very cleverly presented, seeming to communicate the common concerns of an engineering department and how those were approached by the author/candidate, done in such a way that even a general audience could appreciate.

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