22514097OK we’ve heard over and over again about how we have to get down and dirty and sometimes try off the wall tricks to land a job in this economy. Well, I have heard and tried just about every trick in the book. Some are a bit “out there” but effective none the less. You can try some or all of the tricks I’m about to reveal, but be responsible about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures so you must have the hunter instinct and be willing to try the unusual.
  • Find out who the hiring managers are at companies you would like to work at and then treat them to lunch! Managers get tons of resumes from tons of people on a daily basis. Hardly any stand out on paper, so this is your chance to shine and make a lasting impression. Reach out to the manager to “network”. Don’t ask for an interview or even intimate that you are on the market. Once you exchange a few email and perhaps a phone call to introduce yourself, suggest you meet for lunch. Then you can use this opportunity to let the manager talk about the company, their department and any hiring needs they may have. When you have your cue, mention that you might be interested in learning about any opportunities. At this point, give them a Resume Card, not an actual paper resume. If your card is designed right, it will have just enough information and key points to make you shine. But don’t leave it there. Follow up thanking them for their time and offer to forward a resume “just in case”. Then KEEP IN TOUCH. You don’t want them to forget about you.
  • Say you’re a Graphic Designer looking for work or freelance projects. Here’s a tip someone share with me. Wish I could take credit but I can’t. Do a search of Creative Director or Art Director job ads. Follow them until you know they are filled. About a month after it is filled, reach out to the new person in the position and introduce yourself.  Get to know them and make sure to let them know you do graphic design and that you are available for freelance or project work.  Ask to send a link to your online portfolio (which you will no doubt have because you ARE a professional, right?). Then follow up ever so often to establish a trusting relationship.  Of course the rules differ slightly from position type to position type.  But you get the gist of it.
  • Try the unthinkable. A few months back, I posted about a former Wall Street employee who was at his wits end. He had lost his job and had to send his family to stay with his wife’s parents so he could find work in NYC.  Well, this gentleman, feeling he had nothing to lose, would go out into downtown Manhattan and hand out copies of his resume. He also had one of those “Job Wanted” sandwich boards made. Well after almost a year, he got a job because his tactic worked.  Now I’m not saying do anything that will degrade you or make you feel uncomfortable. But as the title of that blog entry said Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures.  His tactics got him coverage in the Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets and it netted him a job.
  • Think Bond. James Bond. You have an arsenal at your fingertips that you take for granted every day.
    Remember the old Get Smart episodes where he’d get a message and after the message played, it said that the tape would self destruct? No, I’m not suggesting sending a tape or CD that will actually self destruct. But I am saying follow that lead. Everyone send resumes. We live in the YouTube age.  Many computers have the capability to play video, CD and DVD. Why not put together an homage of your past experience?  This would go over well for the more creative type jobs.  But who says only the creatives get to have fun? A long, long time ago, I had to take a series of temp jobs to get back on track financially. I decided to register with an agency and take an Admin job. Well I put together a CD with an overview of my “experience” (had to exaggerate a little because I was a Recruiter, not an Admin) and it culminated in the top 10 reasons why they should hire me. I later found out it was between me and two other ladies. I won out because of my CD. And even long after I left that temp job, the manager kept it on his desk as a reminder! You can break out your webcam, fire up Microsoft’s Windows Media Maker (which is free and already installed in most PCs) or use a media maker on Mac, and burn baby burn.  My teenage son has put together his own football highlight tape using his laptop.  Why can’t you do the same? Don’t forget to make an eye catching label and cover.
  • Drop the pride. We all have an ideal image of the perfect type of position. But in times of job scarcity, you have to adapt and accommodate.  You must be willing to step out of your norm to try new jobs. The more flexible you are, the better chance you’ll have to find a job. Now don’t resign to just taking “anything”. But keep your options flexible and open.
  • Pay per interview. Hold on. It’s not what you think. If you’re out of a job, chances are you don’t have funds to “pay” for an interview of any kind. But hear me out.  A young man, Javier Pujals, came up with an idea of paying per interview.  The pricing structure is based on actual real jobs posted and priced per level (HR, Managers/Directors, CEO/President). He gets 20 minutes of uninterrupted interview time with one of the above mentioned. The money he “pays” will go to an agreed upon legitimate charity. He set up a website to chronicle his journey. http://www.buyaninterview.com He is being very innovative and socially responsible.
  • Big companies not hiring? Well position yourself as a consultant. Attend industry events and market yourself as a “business”. Consultants in a sense are their own business. If you’re an Accounting whiz, hire yourself out to handle overflow from accounting firms.  Tax time is a great time to contract yourself out if you specialize in taxes. If you’re more of a general bookkeeper, you can sell yourself to handle bookkeeping for small businesses, or take overflow of other bookkeeping businesses. There are opportunities out there.
  • Recognize that social media and web 2.0 is dated. EVERYBODY (including me) uses Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, etc. There is nothing new or innovative about social networking any more. But you can do something to make yourself stand out from the crowd.Tap into your creativity. Know that recruiters are watching these mediums. Get out front and get seen.
  • Dress up everyday in your best interview attire and go hang out downtown.  Pay attention to the people who frequent certain hot spots like the local coffee shop or restaurant. Get a feel for who all goes in there on a daily basis. Once you’ve done your research, ask the shop or restaurant owner if you could host a group meeting there and advertise it with flyers.  You can put together your own “lunch and learn” and pick topics that would appeal to people and show off your professional knowledge. Or you could start a lunch meet up type thing. Reach out to the “regulars” and let them know that you are interested in starting a Lunch Up. Invite them to join you and bring co-workers. You get to network, meet new people and share your knowledge. Pretty extreme, but it works! But DON’T go begging for a job. It’s ok to let them know you are passively on the market. But don’t beat them over the head with it.
  • Get some resume cards made.  I create these for clients so reach out to me for more details.  A resume card is better than a resume, especially if you include your Linked In profile on it. They allow you to give people a brief overview of who you are and takes away the awkwardness of carrying around resumes. You can think of them as your own business cards.  When you run into someone who’s worth networking with, you won’t have to say “I don’t have any cards”. Who says only the employed should have business cards? Hand them out with care and be sure to use a P.O. Box address instead of your home address (for safety).
  • Volunteer. You can volunteer your time and expertise to non profits.  Keep in mind, CEOs and major decision makers often serve on boards of non profits. This is your opportunity to give back and get to know the CEO or decision maker of companies you’d be interested in working with. Now don’t volunteer for the sole purpose of connecting with a decision maker. That’s not genuine and people can spot a fraud a mile away. Approach volunteering with a pure heart and give it 110%. You never know who’s watching and where opportunities can lead.
  • Chronicle your job search (tactfully) in a blog.  Then promote that blog. If nobody sees it, how will they know of your creativity?

Step back and think about the times we live in. Every day, the media, much like a cuckoo clock pops out announcing “thousands of jobs cut, thousands of jobs cut!”.  There is a fine line between clever and stupid. Carefully plan out your tactics and make sure you don’t offend, harass or embarrass.  The goal is to capture the attention of those who may be in a position to hire you. Let them see your ingenuity, not view you as a sophomoric college prankster.  Multiple strategies will net you more leads than just relying on one or two. Combine your “extreme tactics” with traditional ones. It’s nobody’s job to find you a job.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Let’s face it, the market is tight and jobs are at a premium. While I do encourage you to use any and all resources available to find a job (job boards, associations, company websites, news ads, social networking sites, etc), I encourage you to be more self sufficient and proactive and tap into your network. One of the things I ask of the corporate folks in my networks is to let me know when they’re on the market or about to be. It helps me to better determine who I should put them in contact with. And sometimes, I might even be working on a position that I can recommend them for. This is why I tell people to get proactive and start the search before you get the axe.

I always recommend reaching out to your network when you are passively or quietly exploring opportunities before you actually need to look. I’m pretty sure the folks on Wall Street (the top folks who had ample warning that is) started reaching out to people they knew because they saw the writing on the wall. Starting before an impending threat of lay off or your resignation is the best time because you are not under as much pressure and you already have a job. It is easier to find a job when you already have one. Chalk that up to the law of attraction. When you’re passively looking, you are in a better position to see what’s out there and shop around without any pressure to make a quick decision. Start by targeting the companies and industries you want to explore. Then check within your network to see if there are any direct people you know who work at these companies that you can reach out to. In this instance, I would recommend picking up the phone and making a call to catch up with the person and suggest meeting. Whether you meet for coffee, breakfast or lunch it doesn’t matter. You want to get that face time. Ask for a time and location that is convenient to them. Remember, you don’t want to inconvenience them.

When you meet, keep the conversation light on business. It is an informational meeting not a job interview. Ask your contact about the state of the industry (which you should already know) and how it affects their company. Let them know that you may be considering a change and ask their opinion about what direction you should take. This leaves an opening for them to tell you about opportunities they know of in their company or with other companies where they know someone. And if there aren’t any opportunities now, at least you’ll be in the forefront of their minds when one does come up. Be sure to highlight a few of your best accomplishments and how you feel they translate into being qualified for other roles. Have a clear idea of what it is you want to do, otherwise you’re really just wasting your time and theirs. If you have a specific goal, then you can have a focused meeting.

Keeping up with what people are doing is in your best interest. Suppose you know a Recruiter who works for a Fortune 100 company you’d love to get into. And you know talking with her will at least get a foot in the door for you to meet the IT Director. But she has changed gears a couple of times since you spoke to her 3 years ago and is now the Director of Communications for the company. Technically she is still a ally, but she is no longer in the same capacity to get you any face time with the hiring manager. Sure there’s a small chance she may know this person and could help you somewhat. But you haven’t kept in touch with her so you don’t know what her relationships are within the company. By keeping up with people in your network, at least annually, you can better plan your approach when looking for leads.

Updating your resume at least annually is critical. Even if you’ve been with your company for 9 years, you never know what might happen. Ask the folks on Wall Street who lost jobs at their 100+ year old legacy companies. Nothing is guaranteed. Even if you don’t want to do a formal resume (which I think you should) keep a journal. Note any projects, accomplishments, promotions, increase (or decrease) in responsibilities, project outcomes, training, etc. Keep track of conferences, continuing education or workshops you were required to attend. All of this helps build the foundation of your resume. Also keep note of salary increases, bonuses and reviews. By keeping a journal it makes it easier to put together your resume the correct way. Remember, a resume is not a regurgitation of job descriptions. It is a tool to show your best professional self.

Finally keep your brand fresh. Continue aligning yourself with projects, volunteer work and events that are in sync with your authentic self. If you do not create or define your brand, someone else will. You always want to be in control of your brand and how people see you. Position yourself as a subject matter expert (SME) by using the appropriate forums and mediums to display your knowledge.

Career management is a long term thing. You can’t just focus on it when you feel you may lose your job or want to quit. The more time, effort and thought you put into it, the less time you will have to look for a job or be unemployed. Keep your network warm and it’ll be easier to pick up the phone when it’s time to look. If you only contact them when you need a job, don’t expect a warm reception. Build those relationships and make them work for you. I promise you will love the return on investment you’ll receive.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

The internet is on FIRE. It is used for everything imaginable. A great deal of people search for jobs on the internet and don’t give a second thought to it being any different or unsafe than any other method. Let me ask you this. How many times have you gone to a message board, Myspace, or any other public forum and posted your address, phone number and email address? You might be thinking “why the heck would anyone do that?”. But you know what? YOU do it all the time. We all do (well not me). That is how recruiters, like myself find you. Here’s what I mean.

It is a common thought that job boards, like Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice, etc are only accessible by recruiters and HR professionals. WRONG. Kind of. The problem is they allow any company or agency to buy a subscription. Here is why that is a problem. We assume for the sake of argument that companies legitimately buy their subscriptions to seek out employees and post their jobs. But people leave their jobs (recruiters, HR people, etc). Sometimes companies forget to change log in information. Also, smaller agencies look to “sub lease” or sell their subscriptions to other independent agencies to help alleviate the costs. So you don’t truly know who is getting access to this information. Now this is not to knock or point the finger at any one board. A lot of those boards have helped me do my job in the past (I’ve moved on to more sophisticated search methods). And they do fulfill a need…matching employers and job seekers. But it is up to the individual to take precautions on their own.

  1. Don’t post any information on your resume or online job search profile that you would not put on Craig’s List, the supermarket bulletin board, MySpace, or any other public forum. This includes home or work phone numbers, home or work addresses, social security numbers, etc. You’d be surprised at the number of people who put this information on their resumes.
  2. Personal security begins with you. When preparing your resume, opt for a P.O.Box address or simply use just the city and state you live in. A recruiter who is truly interested in contacting you will understand your apprehension of sharing your address.
  3. Use a cell phone number…that you check often. Some people use their cell number as their primary contact number. That’s fine. If you feel comfortable using a work number or home number, you can do so.  Just remember you are opening yourself up to calls. A cell phone number is more discreet and can be changed easily without disrupting your life.
  4. Do not use your work email. First of all, you shouldn’t be getting job solicitations at work. The public doesn’t need to know where you work. You can use your alumni email, a home email through your ISP or any of the free email options out there. I would opt for a first initial and last name if possible when creating our email address. Whole names or those funky names some people come up with (you now what they are) are not ideal to use.
  5. Make your current employer confidential. I usually advise people to make all of the employers on their resume confidential and only cite the position, city and state if you are really looking to remain confidential. If you think about it, say they have your name but not your current employer’s name. Well, all they have to do is go back to your previously listed employer and call them to try to find you. So having all of them confidential isn’t a bad idea. It’s a matter of personal preference.
  6. Always research any company that contacts you. Now, I’m not intimating that you should be afraid to speak with a recruiter. There will be times when you have not heard of a company. It doesn’t mean they are not legitimate. Ask for a number to call them back, then check the web to see if you can find information about them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. And besides, what if your boss happens to stumble upon your resume.  Confidential is the way to go to avoid drama.

I hope this doesn’t scare you out of a job search. We all could stand to be a little bit more cognizant of what we put out about ourselves. A little commons sense and an ounce of prevention go a long way.

Til next time.
Adrienne Graham