In The Job Dog offices, it is common for us to have people contact us after fruitless months of applying for jobs online. The fact is people do find opportunities online. However, the greater truth is that the longer you are unemployed, the more difficult it is to sell yourself into your next opportunity. You cannot afford to wait and determine if or when the job boards will work for you.
If you work this Tip, while also applying for jobs online, you will uncover hidden opportunities not yet known to the general job market. Just as importantly, you will make contacts and become known as a genuine person rather than a commodity in a stack of hundreds of resumes.
Consider the research actions, and extra efforts, of these job seekers:
Research Public Records
Jen is a great example of the approach recommended in this Tip. She is a young, up-and-coming restaurant manager who lost her job when the summer resort season was over. She moved back to her hometown and, with our coaching, she applied to related jobs online. Yet, she also researched her county health department and reviewed publicly available documents for restaurant plan reviews filed by every new food establishment. She retrieved names, addresses, and phone numbers and contacted each person responsible for a new restaurant, writing that she would like to be part of the startup team. She was hired as part of a new restaurant management team and became the person who posted jobs online – and who hired the rest of the team.
Research Professional Journals
Joe came to The Job Dog after he had given up on ever finding another professional job. He was working a warehouse delivery job for a big box store. As a Construction Manager, he applied for similar jobs online for the past two years. Joe worked with The Job Dog, believing that he just needed a better resume. He thought if he just kept applying online, he would eventually find an opportunity. The Job Dog gave him more than a great resume.
At The Job Dog’s suggestion, Joe also researched an article in a construction news magazine about a recently announced construction project. We coached him to locate the name of the VP of Operations for the company. Joe wrote a letter, not an email, to the VP, saying he wanted to be part of that new team and that he wanted to demonstrate he was more than just another candidate. He explained his career journey and said that if he could just have an interview, he would demonstrate he had a lot more to offer than what came across on even a well-constructed resume. It worked. Who knows why? Perhaps that VP had a son or daughter in a similar situation. The VP gave him a chance and said “Yes.” Joe sold himself; he got the job.
Holly graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, but never launched her professional career. She found a temporary job as a sales clerk at a fashionable retail store. The job was mind numbing. Five years at this temporary job and she was still living with her parents, making less than $10 per hour. Holly then took a second job cleaning offices each evening to earn additional money to pay ahead on her school loans.
When Holly came in to meet The Job Dog, we first asked her what she had been doing to find a professional job with a future. She told us she applied online for over 100 jobs in the last year, without results. She also told us she knew she was losing $20,000–$30,000 or more per year being under-employed.
We asked her where she cleaned offices. She told us she worked in a large office tower and cleaned for about ten small companies. We suggested she learn more about each company. She did a bit of research and reviewed each company’s website. We wanted her to be prepared for what we hoped might happen.
We recommended she dress a bit more neatly as she cleaned offices. We instructed her to begin smiling and saying hello to those people she met who were working late and to introduce herself by name. Finally, we suggested she say something like, “Wow, you must love working here, I frequently see you working late – wish I had a job I liked that much.”
You get the drift: (1) be friendly, (2) act interested and know something about the company, (3) look clean and neat, (4) introduce yourself and remember names. Essentially, be likeable.
Holly’s story is here because one of those employees who was working late – Anne – eventually said, “Holly, tell me what you are looking for.” Holly was ready to talk about her career goals. Anne offered her a temporary job in the marketing department, entering data for a new project. A year later, Holly is working full-time at that company as a marketing analyst, earning $40,000 per year in a company that has an excellent career future.
What Should You Research?
Research websites, magazines, business newspapers, and professional journals to identify insights and growth trends – and new products – and new companies relocating to your area – and public announcements of new projects and . . . The example research recommendations we include with this Tip provide abundant additional topics.
As you research, think beyond the website or article’s content and consider:
- Who is in charge?
- How might this person help?
- How do I contact this person?
- What related jobs may be developing?
- Who do I know that can make a networking connection into this opportunity?
- Who do my family and friends know who can make a networking connection into this opportunity?
This is hard work. Research takes time. Great. That assures you that not everyone else is doing it. That creates opportunity. You will be the one who found the opportunity before it was posted. You will not be one in a thousand applicants. Even if the job ultimately is posted, YOU will be the ONE remembered as someone who showed an interest before everyone else.
It is time to follow the news to know where new employment opportunities are developing. For example, a recent issue of Inc. Small Business Success contained an article titled The Best Industries to Start and Grow a Business. New businesses create new job opportunities. Here is one step you can take to learn where new opportunities may begin. Ask for the help of a Research Librarian at your local library. She can help you evaluate the range of information that is publicly available.
- Research where government or foundational money has recently been granted.
- Learn who is winning new contracts within your industry. Look in industry journals for those announcements.
- Monitor the “In the News” section of local business journals to note who was hired or was promoted. This may indicate a business reorganization that can create new job opportunities.
- Attend professional events or tradeshows to meet colleagues and discuss what is happening in your profession.
Basically, begin to collect any information that may lead to job opportunities.
Do not limit yourself to researching only one category of information. Recently, a client was looking for his next opportunity in the nursing field. We told him that if he did not reconnect with former coworkers, he was overlooking information that could lead to a new job. He began his research by developing a simple networking list of other nurses he knew. Within a month, his database produced a job lead, which turned into a job offer.
We’ve also seen opportunities develop when clients reconnected with employers with whom they previously interviewed. Just because you were not the winning candidate in the past, does not mean there may not be an opportunity for you today. After all, if they once called you in for an interview, they liked you.
You should also be researching what is happening with your prior employers.
In our coaching sessions, we remind clients that the lead, which results in the job, seldom begins with a bang. Minor leads, even from months past, when given attention, create paths.
An Insider’s Tip
Creativity and research happen more readily when you talk it through with others rather than think it through alone. We recommend you have a friend or significant other help you work through this Tip. It is a fact: spontaneous research ideas are more likely to develop in a conversation than in deep thought. Get a research partner.
Many people will not invest the time to do this type of work. To get ahead of everyone else, that is why you should.
ALWAYS a Winning Tip: Numerous clients attest to the significant value of adding a visual management tool to their career transition process. Once you have a list, post it on flip-chart paper in your work area at home. Creating a visual dashboard helps manage both your daily activities and long-term strategy.