Resuscitating you job search

DFN: My job search has never been in such dire straits, NOT! FYI, if you have any questions about you search, the process, need someone to bounce ideas off of; send me a comment or an email to, I’ll do my best to help you.

Resuscitating your job search
By Kate Lorenz on Dec 18, 2009 in Books, Featured, Job Search, Mature Workers

Is your job search is showing no signs of life? Are its vital signs weak?

Today we have a guest post from Duncan Mathison, who is the co-author of the book “Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Search When Times Are Tough” with Martha I. Finney (FT Press, 2009). You can check out their Web site at

Job Search CPR: How to Bring Your Job Search Back From the Dead

The difficulty with evaluating the progress of your job search is that there is only one true sign of success – a new job. So when you don’t see a lot of progress in this awful job market, you have to ask yourself, “Am I doing the right things to land a job or am I simply missing the mark?”

OK, so your job search might not be completely dead, but if it is not showing much life it is probably time to check its vital signs. Here are the signs of trouble and the right treatment to bring your job search back on track.

Your calendar is blank. You have no job interviews or networking meetings scheduled except coffee with an old friend. You might also have next month’s networking mixer mostly attended by other unemployed people. Your search is on life support.

The treatment: Start by scheduling the activities that will fill your schedule with interviews. In addition to meetings, schedule the time you will check job postings, research companies, and catch up on your professional reading.

Schedule specific telephone time to follow-up with every networking lead you have including those intimidating, very important and hard-to-reach people. With busy people, it is easier to schedule appointments a few weeks out than next week when they are heavily booked. Sure you want to be working instead of networking next month. Be happy that you won the appointment. If you land a job before then, the meeting can always be cheerfully cancelled.

Nonresponsive employers after a having “for sure” job interviews. It has been weeks since a promising job interview after which you heard nothing. Even your follow-up calls have not been returned. Careful, this can be a job search momentum killer.

The treatment: Grit your teeth, give out a low growl and vow never to treat a job applicant like that once you are in a position to hire. Sorry, but this is pretty typical (and inexcusable) behavior of employers. It’s time to move on. The best cure for a job that does not pan out is to have another two in the hopper. While you are at it, vow never to ease up on your job search just because you have a hot prospect.

Flat-lined with no new job leads. On-line job search tools significantly cut the time it takes to find any posted positions in the open market both for you and everyone else. As a result, employers are often buried in applicants and competition can be intense. Often employers bypass posting positions preferring informal sourcing instead.

The treatment: Apply only to posted job ads that are a fit and skip the long-shots. Adjust how you invest your time and go after the hidden job market through targeted identification of possible employers and, of course, the holy-grail of any job search: networking.

Exhausted network with no pulse. You have talked to “everyone” and they don’t know of any jobs “out there.” Now you are starting to feel like a stalker and you soon will have no friends left much less networking contacts.

The treatment: The important thing about networking is to know that networks tend to form in clusters of smaller groups. Network clusters can be insular and you may find yourself operating in a closed loop of contacts, thus the impression you have talked to everyone possible. If so, it’s time to “cluster jump.”

Start with the “100 rule.” Make a list of 100 people you know regardless of their relationship to your profession as well as industry experts such as authors, professors and consultants. Make sure every one of those people know the type of job you are looking for, the typical job titles of someone who would be your manager, and the industry you could work in. For bonus points, give them a list of 75 employers you think might hire someone with your skills. Ask them if they know of anyone who might know something about employers on the list.

Not enough major employers. You think you know who they are. You have established who among the top local employers could hire people with your skills, you have spoken to the hiring managers and they have your resume. Now what?

The treatment: According to government statistics, about 50% of all jobs are with employers who have less than 500 people. It’s time to dig deeper beyond the darlings of the local business media. Consider that many companies could have small field offices and R&D operations in town. Can’t relocate? In today’s virtual world, your job may not require you to be in an office or at corporate headquarters. Look outside of your community for employers if your job can be done remotely.

Duncan Mathison is the co-author of the book “Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Search When Times Are Tough” with Martha I. Finney (FT Press, 2009). For more information or to contact the author directly, visit


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