Education Career Services

June 5, 2009

Diagnosing Your Job Search Problem Areas—Part 3b – Overcoming!

red-crossHow do you do it?  While I’m not old fashioned when it comes to résumé formats, I think old school techniques have a lot to offer in targeting strategy…especially since such a small percentage of job seekers are using them.  Here are a few techniques:

 *  Who do you want to work for?  Rather than papering the online world with résumés trying to fit everyone else’s description, take back the control and think about what types of companies fit your criteria.  Create a list and develop a strategy for getting to each one. 

Network, network, network.  Your most valuable resources are the people you know.  Who can recommend you…and who do they know?  Can you play “six degrees of separation” to make contact within your target companies?  If your network could use work, try industry events, community organizations, etc. to broaden your base.  

Direct is best.  If you can’t network you way into the company, you can always send your information directly.  First, do some research.  Identify the individual who would be your boss.  Then send a personalized package by mail to this individual.  Email runs into spam blockers and easy deletion; the personal touch of paper still means a lot. 

What are you asking for?  Most people’s immediate response is “A job, duh!”  (Cue annoying buzzer sound.)  Sure, you can send your résumé and hope it doesn’t get sent to HR.  Or you can send a letter intended to open a dialogue.  Entry-level candidates, for example, might ask for advice about pursuing a career in the industry.  Many higher-ups are more than willing to guide new graduates, and such a conversation gives you an opportunity to make an impression.  When a job comes open, guess who is already in the door.

Use the boards wisely.  I’d never recommend abandoning any strategy, even job boards.  Allocate your time more constructively, however, by conducting highly targeted searches for positions that truly fit your abilities and background.  Then, maximize your chances by creating a customized submission for each posting you respond to. 

Final Polish

The approaches recommended here require more interpersonal skill than online-only strategies, so you’ll want to practice your pitch.  Start by creating a brief statement describing your value to an employer.  Often referred to as an “elevator speech” because it should take no longer to give than a short elevator ride (should you be so lucky as to get those 20 seconds alone with your target), this pitch is strongest when it’s something only you could say. 

 Don’t waste your limited time talking about what a nice person and hard worker you are.  What will really make you stand out?  You may need a counselor or coach to help you arrive at the most powerful summation, but it’s well worth the time, as these couple of sentences will be key in your networking, your direct contact attempts, and you’re your interviews. 

We’ll have more about interpersonal skills for various stages of the process in our next post.  Stay tuned.

Amy Lorenzo

Sr. Writer

Career Services International –

Education Career Services –


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