Sharpen your job-hunting skills
by Richard J. Bocklett
Jun 30, 2009 | 15364 views | 0 0 comments | 512 512 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The key to getting the employment you're seeking is to sharpen your job-hunting skills, according to Astoria resident and career coach Robert Hellmann. Hellmann, who teaches career development at NYU and is a staffer with the Manhattan-based, career counseling Five O' Clock Club, insists you need a solid plan to succeed.

"Networking and direct contact are the active and most successful ways of getting a job," explained Hellmann. "Dealing with search firms and waiting for recruiters to call are passive because you must match their requirement exactly, and there's thousands of applicants for each job ad you read."

The Five O' Clock Club philosophy is to take control of your job search via a well-targeted marketing plan complete with techniques to reach the companies and important people needed to further your career.

First, Hellmann says, devise a job market target plan including a geographic area you're willing to work in. Select the industry and company size - small, medium or large firm. Choose a desired work environment and style, for example, a fast-paced versus a routine work pace with sharp, challenging workers or more friendly and laid-back people.

Also consider the specific job or function desired with a view to its responsibility, challenge, complexity, creativity, visibility, opportunity for growth, and mission. Then, your research should elicit the organizations in each of your target areas, along with the names of hiring supervisors and managers of departments you must contact.

Hellmann stresses that "good job-hunting targets are the foundation of your research," and targets will lead to interviews and interviews to job offers.

A full-time search consists of 35 hours a week; 15 hours for part-time. "And, remember, you're not going to be successful if you're not putting in the time," Hellmann noted. "Don't go after just one job, rather have at least six to ten irons in the fire at all times because often things will fall away through no fault of your own."

Define yourself before potential employers define you. Your resume should tell the hirer how they should see you, for example, as an account manager, and why. After your cover letter opening, the second paragraph elaborates on why you are appropriate for the position and in paragraph three your bulleted accomplishments.

A well-rehearsed "two-minute pitch" used in the interview process or in the cover letter succinctly tells the hirer why you are the right person to meet company needs. Hellmann opts for customization

"Avoid a one-size-fits-all resume, pitch or cover letter," he said. "Research your audience and explain how you understand them and can help them more effectively than your competitors."

The job interview is one important way of obtaining knowledge about the company and the hirer's needs. What were their most important issues discussed? Why might they be reluctant to bring you on board compared with other candidates? How can you win over the decision-maker?

"Interviews are great for information gathering, for turning a no into a yes," explained Hellmann. "You've learned their concerns and found how to help them."

After the interview, instead of sending a "thank you" letter to each person with whom you interviewed, write them an "influence" letter. This demonstrates the insight you gained into their operations and just why you'd be the right choice for them by dint of skills, experience, ingenuity, analytical and organizational ability, enthusiasm, demonstrated commitment, and so forth.

If, happily, you receive more than one job offer, don't decide solely on salary. Since the average person has been on the job only four years, consider the long run. Choose the position best for your resume, the one that will make you a stronger candidate next time.

Bert Marro, C.M.F., a senior career coach at the Five O' Clock Club, detailed resources for networking and the direct approach to finding a job. For researching companies, search Google, the networking website, the Encyclopedia of Associations to find professional associations and journals, and business newspapers and magazines.

The website offers a lot of career information, salary surveys, and other useful research data. The Securities and Exchange Commission database, EDGAR, gives company executives names and titles. The website contains a plethora of job-hunting and career development material, including case histories.

"Using these resources you can literally build a network out of thin air," Marro asserted.

"When contacting a company bypass the Human Resources department that more than not will filter people away," Marro added. "Instead, from your research, contact line managers and supervisors who actually do the hiring with the message that you understand their special needs and why you can help them. Your resume will be read, or forwarded on to the appropriate person, or maybe even Human Resources. But now, it will be treated as an internal message and taken seriously."

Karen Bowser, a certified career coach at the Five O' Clock Club, pointed out one common job-seeking mistake.

"People get discouraged when their phone or e-mail messages go unanswered," she reported. "Instead, to not appear desperate or as a stalker, after two messages just redial until you eventually catch the person. But, bottom line, have many things going for you, not just one or two."

Bowser stressed that career-enhancement is a long-term process. Always add value to what you have to offer - build your experience; build your resume. She advises volunteering, especially during unemployed periods, to develop new skills or polish old ones.

"Volunteer strategically" she said, "it's a good filler for your resume."

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