Finding work is a full-time job, and with 15.3 million unemployed Americans to compete against, it pays to work smarter.
To help local job seekers gain a competitive edge, the Orlando Business Journal recently hosted its periodic seminar called, “Job Hunting with the Business Journal.”
Robert Bobroff, circulation sales executive, walked attendees through the journal while teaching methods to uncover potential job leads.
Right out of college, Bobroff launched a 13-year career in the real estate industry. When the market tanked, Bobroff started looking for new career opportunities.
He started his job search the way many people do — behind the computer screen. He e-mailed resume after resume and filled out tons of online forms.
But the phone never rang.
Everything changed when he stepped away from the computer, and started networking. In fact, his current job at the OBJ was never posted.
Today, many companies know that they don’t have to bother with posting opportunities on job boards, Bobroff says. They can simply wait for candidates to come to them. And boy, do they come. Bobroff beat out 16 other qualified candidates for his un-posted job.
Here are some of Bobroff’s job search hints.
Read business news to dig up potential jobs in the hidden market. Review articles through a job-hunter’s glasses. Look for news about:
- new permits
- project or grant awards
These are all indications that a company may need to hire soon.
Don’t dismiss a company because it’s not in your industry. Remember that hospitals, engineering firms and research institutes may need sales professionals, marketing people, administrative support and more.
Get active. Gain valuable insight about potential opportunities before they’re public, and expand your network by using warm calls, Bobroff says. People love to hear, “I read about you in the paper.” Call or e-mail a potential employer and congratulate him or her on the company’s new expansion project, contract, award, etc. Employers want to hire a person who shows initiative.
Make networking a priority. Study the business news to find people you know, and people who you should know. Look for news about companies on your wish list. Cut out the clipping and send it to the contact with a handwritten note, Bobroff says.
While e-mails can get stuck in spam folders or lost in inboxes, most people read each piece of U.S. mail they receive. Offer to treat the contact for coffee in the handwritten note.When you attend networking events, arrive early and stay late.
View relationships as opportunities to help others, rather than what you can get out of them. The best networkers want to help you first, Bobroff says. To start a conversation, ask a person what he or she does. Think about who you can introduce them to. More often than not, they will reciprocate.
Pay attention to advertising. When a company purchases an ad to announce an achievement, take note. Send a congratulatory e-mail. Show interest, and watch what happens.
Dig for contact info. To uncover contact information for companies, check out SunBiz.org. Can’t find the e-mail address for a specific person? Check the company Web site for e-mail addresses that are available. Copy the formatting to potentially uncover the e-mail address. For example, if e-mail addresses on the company Web site uses the first initial followed by the last name, most likely it’s the same format for the person you hope to contact.
Bobroff’s workshop was right in line with what I’ve been reading in Kathleen Conners’ “The Thrill of the Hunt.” Conners began her human resources career in the early 1990s when unemployment in her hometown, Colorado Springs, hit 7.9 percent.
In Chapter 7 of her book, Conners describes strategies to uncover employment opportunities using:
- industry award lists
- industry and trade publications
- university alumni publications
- chamber of commerce directories
- business journals
- Books of Lists
She even includes scripts to use during warm calls to help shy job hunters.
To find out about industry trends, Conners suggests reaching out to sales executives at companies because they tend to know everything about their industry, stay on top of news, know everyone in their company and keep tabs on their competitors.
To find out the telephone extensions of hiring managers, Conners recommends calling the company after-hours and listening to the company directory, if available. You can experiment with extensions and listen to names to uncover direct lines for key contacts.