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Job Magician The Short Course:  
The Basic Roadmap to Finding a Job

  • The traditional job hunter concentrates his efforts on two areas: chasing after recruiters, and applying to ads online.
  • Unfortunately, applying to ads and contacting recruiters are the two least effective ways to find work.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t include these two methods in a job search, but these should be limited to 20%, and probably less, of your job hunting time.
What is the best way for you to find a job?  The truth is that I can’t tell you what is best for you, because everyone is different. 

I have a friend who has an MBA from Harvard Business School.  We spent some time talking about how he could best find another job, went through his career history, and he realized that most of the jobs he’s had have come from working the Harvard Business School alumni network. My advice to him was simple: he should spend most of his job hunting time working the Harvard MBA network. 

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I suggested to another friend that he join Linked In, the free business networking site that recruiters are also able to search.  He is very senior and has a very desirable background, and actually got a call from two retained search firms within a week (however, many others will list themselves on Linked In and never hear from a recruiter). 

Assuming that you don’t have a Harvard MBA or a picture-perfect background, there is a general course of action that works the best.  Here’s what I would do if I was looking for a job:

1.  Determine your career path and your goals.  No reason to plunge into something without a proper target.  So first, figure out what it is you want to do.  Click here to go to our Career Planning section.

2.  Buy Rites of Passage at $100,000+, which is easily the best job hunting book, and read it cover to cover. Click here to learn more about Rites of Passage.

3.  Networking.  Develop that long list of all the people you know who could be a resource to you.  Click here for more on Networking.

4.  Quick and easy stuff.  The next four steps are a series of things that you should do early on and then move on.  I list them as early steps because they’re not a lot of effort.  They are less likely to be produce results for you than the other methods listed here, so you shouldn’t spend too much time on them. 
  • Email Retained Search Firms.  Get your name in the files of retained search firms. Use RiteSite to email your resume to all retained search firms.
  • Job Boards.  Post your resume on the free sites: Monster, Yahoo/HotJobs and CareerBuilder. Post your resume anonymously - just to ensure that an unscrupulous contingency firm doesn't start marketing your resume for you without your permission, or to protect your confidentiality if you are employed. Set up agents that will notify you when jobs that meet your criteria are listed on all of these sites, plus Indeed Jobs.  Indeed is a handy one-stop-shop, because it searches most of the major free job boards plus newspaper want ads across the country.
  • Join ExecuNet, The Ladders, Netshare, or RiteSite. These are executive job hunting sites which will charge you a membership fee to join. Retained search firms often post jobs on these sites that will be posted nowhere else, because they are reserved for $100K+ execs, and we can post unlimited jobs for free on two of these sites (Netshare and RiteSite). The Ladders allows recruiters to have one job posting for free, and to view resumes for free.  Post your resume on the site or sites that you join, and set up job agents there. If you are aggressively looking, I would recommend that join more than one - the cost isn't that high. I would certainly include RiteSite as one of them; its resume emailing service to retained search firms alone is worth its $94 cost, and it has many other features. The second site I would join would be ExecuNet or The Ladders. ExecuNet has the higher-paying jobs; if you are under $200,000, The Ladders is a better bet.
  • Enter your profile on Zoominfo and Spoke, along with your email address. Zoominfo and Spoke comb the internet to find names and emails of people working at companies, and sells usage of their database to recruiters, who can then email you about jobs. You can also add your profile for free if it's not listed.

If you’ve spent more than about one day on these four steps, you’ve spent too much time. Move on to more productive stuff.

If I was looking for a job, I would concentrate my efforts on networking and direct mail.  I have gotten job offers by using all of the methods listed here, but networking and direct mail are always the most effective.  A lot of people eschew direct mail, but of those people who use all of the methods outlined here intensively, probably 30% will get their new job via direct mail.

5.  Contact your College Alumni. Even if you didn't go to Harvard Business School, your college and graduate school has numerous well-placed alumni, many of whom will be happy to help a fellow alum.  Click here for more information on reaching out to your college alumni.

6.  Networking, part II.  Research companies that you would really like to go to work for, and figure out how you can get introduced to key people at these companies. I'm not talking about having recruiters make these introductions for you; I'm talking about getting your contacts to introduce you. 

7.  Join Linked In (Networking, part III).  Linked In is a business networking site that provides membership free of charge.  You can contact members for job referrals, and recruiters may find you there as well. Using Linked In requires a level of expertise and a lot of work, but it is worth the time. Make sure that you include your phone number and/or an email address in your listing, or you will make it complicated for someone outside of your first level network to reach you.  Click here for more information on Linked In. You may also want to consider joining ExecuNet, which has a strong networking component among its other executive-level job hunting services. RiteSite now has an inter-member networking function, as well.

8.  Direct Mail.  Research companies that you’d like to go to work for but can’t figure out how to get someone to connect you with them, and mail your resume to them.  Click here to learn more about Direct Mail.

9.  Work the Telephone.  I know this is no fun, but the only way you’re going to be successful in a job search is if you get on the phone, talk to people that you know, talk to people that you don’t know, talk to people you’ve mailed to, and leave lots of messages.  Mail and email (beware of trying to do too much via email – people get way too many of these, and they’re so easy to delete) without any follow up will only take you so far.

Click here for more on how to do effective telephone follow up.




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