Three Secrets to Finding the Job You Really Want

By Frank Traditi

What you are about to read may shock you. Over nine million people are unemployed. At least twenty-two percent of them have been looking for a job for more than six months. Over forty percent of the working population is currently seeking other employment. Almost fifty percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their current job. Most people can't stand their boss.

The truly shocking fact, however, is that the majority of these people are doing all the wrong things to find a job. Greater than seventy-five percent of job-seekers look only for advertised jobs, then send out numerous resumes and wait for the phone to ring. But for every advertised position, there may be hundreds or even thousands of hopeful applicants. As a result, there are literally millions of resumes sitting on managers' desks right now which are headed nowhere but the reject pile or the wastebasket.

If this has been your approach to job-seeking so far, the bad news is that you'll be lucky to get even a "thanks, we'll keep it on file" response to most of your applications. The good news is that you can turn your job search around by learning three simple secrets to finding a job and putting them into action.

1. Find and connect with the people who can help you.

Finding a job is all about people. It's not about looking for advertised positions, sending a resume, and waiting for a response. Ask any successful job-seekers. They'll tell you they found out about open positions and eventually got hired through their personal network, including referrals from friends, leads from people inside the company, or contacting people they thought could help.

Surveys estimate that 74-85 percent of available jobs are never advertised anywhere. Of all the job-seekers using Internet job boards, only two to four percent ever find a job that way. If you limit your job search activities to finding and applying for advertised positions, you're missing many more possibilities than you are finding. Not sure where to find the people who can help you? A good place to start is your own personal network. Family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, and neighbors can be excellent sources of information about job opportunities or introductions to other people in the know. They know you best and can give you a jump start toward locating a job that might be right for you.

There is no shortage of resources for meeting new people, too. Industry association meetings, lectures, conferences, workshops, business mixers, and fundraisers are just a few of the venues where you can mingle with well-connected people. Community or neighborhood gatherings offer a terrific opportunity to spend time getting to know people in a casual environment. Consider extending your reach by contacting alumni from your university or training school, former clients, or vendors and salespeople in your industry.

2. Conduct your job search like a marketing campaign.

The traditional picture of job-seeking is that you look for open positions that have been posted somewhere and follow a formal application procedure to be considered for them. But with thousands of job-seekers applying for only those positions that are advertised, the competition can be overwhelming.

The only way to beat the odds and the competition is to actively market yourself and locate positions before they are advertised. Marketing yourself as a job-seeker means locating the people who can offer or lead you to opportunities and telling them what you are capable of, over and over. You do have to seek them out-you can't wait for them to find you. There are many ways of telling them what you can do-in person, in writing, by phone-but you must tell them. And you have to tell them over and over. No one will remember you if they hear from you only once.

Just as any company selling a product or service works from a strategic marketing plan with proper tactics to put the plan into action, so should you. In this case, you are the product. Finding job opportunities takes a disciplined approach using strategies that are proven to work.

There are six different approaches to conducting your job search like a marketing campaign. Here they are, listed in order of effectiveness:

1. Networking and referral-building

2. Contacting potential employers directly

3. Informational interviewing

4. Employing recruiters and agencies

5. Searching specialized job listings

6. Using help-wanted ads

Networking and referral-building will provide you with the maximum number of contacts, referrals, and leads, so this approach is almost always the most effective. Contacting prospective employers and informational interviewing are about equal in terms of their potential payoff, but contacting employers is more likely to lead directly to a job. Employing recruiters and agencies will give you more contacts looking out for you and more leads to pursue, but they are unlikely to refer you to others. Using job listings and want ads can provide you with leads, but no new contacts or referrals, so these approaches are much less effective.

3. Choose a set of simple, effective things to do, and do them consistently.

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you get serious about job-seeking in a focused, consistent way. You begin to get results in unexpected places. The telephone rings and it's a manager you spoke to six weeks ago now expressing a sudden interest in interviewing you. You go to a networking meeting that appears a complete waste of time and run into an important new contact in the elevator while on your way out. You get an exciting referral from someone whose name you don't even recognize. It's almost as if the universe has noticed how hard you are working and decided to reward you.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that these out-of-the-blue opportunities are accidents. There is a direct connection between the level of effort you put into your job search and the results that emerge, even when it seems as though the results are completely unrelated to your efforts.

This phenomenon is so common among job-seekers that it has a name: the Persistence Effect. If you persist in making ten calls every day, you will get interviews, but they won't all originate from the calls you made. If you consistently attend one networking event per week, job opportunities will appear, but not necessarily from the events you attended. Don't worry about why it works; just know that it works.

The existence of the Persistence Effect can help you enormously in designing your job-seeking campaign because there is one more secret to a successful job search: it doesn't matter so much what you choose as it does that you choose. Picking specific things you can do about your job search - and actually doing them - will break you out of analysis paralysis, give you a plan, and get you into action.

Copyright © 2005, Frank Traditi

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