I have had both the pain and pleasure of being a human resources manager, of being charged with helping to staff key positions in the companies I worked for. Long before the days when computers searched for keywords, a human being read each and every resume that came across his or her desk. I was once one of those humans, and I have learned a lot about who gets a call for interview and who doesn’t.
You never know who you are talking to – be respectful and nice to everyone.
In 1993, Bob Weinstein wrote a job search book that, ironically, is still timely. Resumes Don’t Get Jobs: The Realities and Myths of Job Hunting discusses how it is our relationships with people that get jobs, not killer resumes or fabulous cover letters. Although resumes and cover letters may get you in the door, it will be your connection with people that snags the offer. Imagine this. You have been handed the project of a lifetime. It is exciting, well compensated, and high profile. But before you begin, you will need to pull together a top-notch team to make the project work. What is the first thing you do? Do you post what you need on Monster or HotJobs? No! You head right for your iPhone or address book. You want people on your team that you know for sure are talented and committed. You want to lessen the chance of this project’s failure by pulling in folks whose work you already know. Keep this thought in mind while you are submitting resumes into that black hole known as cyberspace. Unless and until there is a person connecting you to that job, your chances at getting a call are minimal.
Every place you patronize, ask if they are hiring.
Think you are too good, too educated, too young or too old to work at Starbucks or Regal Cinema? Your next big break may be hiding behind a coffee cup, but you won’t be able to see it if you are only looking for a certain job title or salary. In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered the commencement address at Stanford University. One of the things he talked about was how he learned that in life, connecting your life’s dots can only be understood in retrospect. How many times have you believed something was bad that actually turned out to be a good thing? You never know where the next door of opportunity will lead you; you just need to try the door to see if it will open. Who knows, you may end up actually liking coffee and ultimately owning a Starbucks franchise.
While surfing the Web, check every site you visit to see if they are hiring.
I got into a recent discussion with someone about how, when I was growing up, my family was a Neilson ratings family. Our family logged the TV shows we watched into a little booklet, and in doing so helped to shape the agenda of which programs the networks thought should stay on the air. This discussion led me to the Internet to look up the Neilson ratings service. I wanted to know what the organization was up to now and, just for curiosity, to see if it was hiring. Surprisingly, it was not only hiring, but it was hiring in my hometown. The point I’m making is this: check everything and keep an open mind. Remember, the fishing is best where the least go. Many jobs never make their way to the big posting boards – they don’t need to. In addition, if this is a site that you frequent, and you like that site’s product or service, that’s half the battle. You can easily talk to anyone about what the company does and how you can help make it better.
Do not solely rely on job boards or classified ads.
Do folks still read the classifieds? I guess so, because they keep getting published. However, under no circumstances should you only use job boards or classifieds. You are doing yourself a grave disservice by only using them for your search. By taking this “old school” approach, classified and job boards have the ability to wreak havoc on your emotional health and self esteem. Even the mentally toughest of us would have a hard time sending out hundreds of resumes without the benefit of a decent response. Save yourself the heartache and include other avenues in your arsenal.
Consider temping, freelance, and virtual work while searching.
Do you have a skill or service that you can offer on a temporary or freelance basis while you search for a permanent position? Also, consider freelance job websites such as elance.com or ratracerebellion.com, that showcase opportunities that can help you earn cash while continuing your job search. Independent, self-employed positions are important in that they keep your skills fresh, and more importantly, they keep your brain out of the dark place to which so many unemployed go.
Need a break from all the looking?
What issues do you care about? Animal welfare? Children? Hunger and poverty? Make a list of the nonprofits in your area that are important to you. Check each website to see if they are hiring. If they are not hiring, contact the agency for volunteer opportunities. Volunteering allows you to see an organization from the inside, and if a position opens up, you may be one of the first to know. Like freelancing alternatives, volunteering keeps your brain fresh, your attitude positive, and your skills sharpened. And let’s not forget the people connections. You never know from where you next job will come. I have worked with many people who were on the fast track to feeling sorry for themselves until they volunteered to help someone far worse off.
Above all else, fill your time with something!
Doing something shows employers that you are a self-starter, rather than just saying so on a resume. It shows that you own your circumstance, and that you are willing to put in the work to do something about it. It also makes talking to a recruiter or hiring manager easier than trying to explain what you did at home in your robe and fuzzy slippers for the last 18 months.
All in all, we have to hold onto the faith that the rain will eventually stop, and that the sun will come out. For now, we just need to endure some bad weather. Until then, dress warmly and carry a good umbrella.