Job Search Tips for Creating the Perfect Job Search Plan

The reason you need these job search tips for a list of steps to follow is to focus your job search efforts and avoid a scattergun approach. If you want to find a job fast, you need to make certain you’re doing everything possible and doing it regularly. Having set steps to follow helps you do this.

The steps below are the ones you’ll need to do on a regular basis, in order to identify job openings. These are not one time steps – they are steps you need to repeat frequently in order to find a job as fast as possible.

  • Check Company Web Sites Regularly for Job Postings. By regularly, I mean at least three times per week for the companies you most want to work for, and at least once per week for all other companies on your web site list. At my current company, we post new openings once per week, but other companies post them more often – sometimes daily. The only way to be certain is to check them frequently.
  • Check Newspaper Classifieds Regularly. You should check the paper version at least once per week on Sunday, as most of the employment ads appear on Sunday. For newspapers with online classifieds, you need to check them daily because new jobs are posted daily.
  • Check Online Job Posting Sites Regularly. You’ll need to check the online job posting sites daily because most of them post new jobs daily. Your job search agent (be sure to set them up) will automatically notify you of new jobs that meet your defined criteria, but employers may post jobs in categories different from what you have defined. The only way to be sure you don’t miss any is to also do a manual search using similar, but different, criteria to that used in your search agent.
  • Attend Job Fairs. You should attend all job fairs that are held in your area. Remember: employers that go to the expense of setting up at job fairs are there for one reason: they have jobs they need to fill. Plus, this is an excellent chance to meet and network with other job seekers who may be able to point you to jobs that don’t work for them but may for you.
  • Spend Time Every Day on Your Job Search. If you are currently unemployed, you’re a lucky person in one respect: you have plenty of time to spend on your job search. While you are unemployed, your job is to find a job and you should be working full time on this. You should spend a minimum of six hours per day on your job search efforts. If you currently have a job, you should spend at least two hours per day on your job search. The more time you devote to your job search, the faster you’ll find a new job. This is the single best job search tip.
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About the Hiring Manager

Just Who is the Hiring Manager?

The Hiring Manager is the creator of this web site and the author of all advice found on it. But what you really want to know is how good is the advice and why should you follow it?

Good question and, seeing as I’m the Hiring Manager, I’ll try to give you a good answer.

I’m currently a “director” level manager at a large (16,000 employee) organization. I’ve been a mid-level and senior-level manager for almost 30 years at several organizations in several industries, both private and public sector.

I’ve interviewed and hired hundreds of people over the years in organizations as diverse as: retailing, finance, insurance, one of the largest school districts in the nation, and one of the largest county governments in the nation. I was also a manager at an up and coming dot-com during the explosive growth of the late 1990’s.

I’ve made hiring decisions on employees ranging from clerical all the way up to upper level managers, in both blue collar and white collar positions.

And now let me tell you what I am NOT. I am not in HR (Human Resources) and have never been in HR. HR does not make hiring decisions. I am not a recruiter and have never been a recruiter. Recruiters also do not make hiring decisions. HR and recruiters may be facilitators, but it’s the Hiring Manager who you must impress and it’s the Hiring Manager who can give you that job.

What this means is that it’s the Hiring Manager who is in the best position to advise you on how to get that job.

That’s what I’m here for – to help you get that job.

Why Do You Remain Anonymous?

I choose to remain anonymous because I am still currently employed. I want to be able to give frank and uncensored advice without having to worry about how my employer might look at it.

When it comes to this web site, I’m working for you – the job seeker – not my employer. Consequently, I’ll go by the alias of Russell B.

My best wishes for your successful job search.

— Russell B. (AKA the Hiring Manager)

Jobs in Government – How Secure?

Jobs in government do have an advantage here. While job security is basically a thing of the past in the private sector, the public sector still offers one of the more secure job environments. After all, a government agency is not going to be bought out by another company and they are not going to be outsourcing jobs overseas.

On the other hand, government budgets can go up and down, with corresponding staff reductions, depending on the economy and tax collections. But in recent years, the public sector has offered greater job security than the private sector.

If staff reductions do have to take place, seniority plays a big role in the public sector. Generally speaking, if staff layoffs become necessary, people who have the same job title will be laid off based on the newest staff first. The downside of this, of course, is that sometimes the better person gets laid off because they were the newest.

As to working environment, you’ll find large public sector organizations to be pretty much like their private sector counterparts. Overall, people work hard and want to do the right thing.

One thing I have noticed in the public sector is that people are frequently working there because they truly believe in what they are doing. Otherwise, they would be out in the private sector chasing money. The old stereotype of the lazy government worker doing the minimum to get by is simply not true in my experience. You will be pleasantly surprised at the quality and high moral character of many employees in the public sector.

Overall, after having worked in both the private and public sector, I will tell you they both have their strong points.

If you’re young and single and want to make as much money as you can as fast as you can, stay in the private sector.

If you are more mature in your career – or if job stability is important to you – you may find the public sector attractive.

Government Salaries and Benefits – The Straight Scoop

When it comes to government salaries and benefits, there is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that government salaries will tend to be lower than comparable positions in the private sector. The truth of the matter is simply that the government isn’t able to compete with private sector salaries. The government is not in the business of making money and thus can’t support the top pay ranges.

However, many positions – especially in the Information Technology areas – can be fairly competitive with the mid-range in the private sector.

How Salaries are Set and Administered

Salaries in the public sector are almost always a set range, based on the job. Each pay range will usually have a set number of “steps” to get from the lowest salary to the highest salary in that range. 10 steps are a common number of steps.
What usually happens is that everyone gets moved up one step each year and this is usually on top of a cost of living increase. Typically, steps increases range from about 1.8% to 2.2%, so combined with whatever the cost of living increase is, your salary can go up a decent amount each year. The downside is everyone gets the same increase: one step. There is seldom a way to get an additional “merit” increase.

Benefits Can be Good

The good news is in benefits. Many government jobs have excellent benefits that stack up quite favorably with the private sector. Two benefits in particular are frequently much better than the private sector.
The first one is vacation time. Since giving time off is not money out of the pocket, many public sector organizations are generous with vacations. This is particularly true in school districts. My last job was with a large urban school district and they started everyone off with 17 days vacation – that’s over three weeks. And it went up rapidly from there. Also, as you all know, the government takes ALL holidays off.

So if time off and predictable salary increases are what you’re looking for, look in the public sector!

The other benefit that is frequently better in the public sector is the retirement plan. With many private sector companies cutting back – or eliminating – formal retirement plans, the public sector retirement plans look particularly attractive. It’s not unusual to still be able to work 30 years and retire with 60% of your highest salary for life. Very few private companies offer this type of retirement plan anymore.

The bottom line is that whether or not you find public sector salaries and benefits attractive will to a large degree depend on where you are in your life and career. If time off is more important to you than money at your stage of life, then the public sector could very well be for you.

Yes, US Government Jobs CAN be Rewarding

If you think that state, local or US government jobs might be right for you, here’s a complete overview of searching for jobs in the public sector.

By the way, several different terms are used to describe jobs with the government: government jobs, public sector jobs, civil service jobs – they all mean the same thing and will be used interchangeably.

While most of my career has been in the private (corporate) sector, I’m currently a hiring manager in a large (16,000 employee) government agency. This is the second large government agency for which I’ve worked, so I’m fairly qualified to comment on the job search and employment differences between public and private sector jobs.

Many people don’t think to consider public sector (government) jobs in their job search and as a result are excluding a significant percentage of available jobs. Like any employer, the various government entities have their good and bad points.

In some respects, public sector jobs stack up very well against private sector jobs and in other respects not so well. A lot depends on exactly what you’re looking for in a job and the stage of career in which you find yourself.

Looking for state, local or US government jobs is pretty similar to looking for private sector jobs, with a few but important differences.

Look through the categories listed below for a complete overview of the advantages and disadvantages of public sector employment, as well as specific advice based on my experience as a hiring manager in the public sector.

Government Job Opportunities and Where to Find Them

The Application Process for Government Jobs

Salary and Benefits in the Public Sector

Job Security and Working Environment in the Public Sector

Based on my own personal experience in the public sector, plus doing research on what the experts are saying about the job outlook for public sector jobs, here is a recap of what’s happening at the Federal, State and Local level for US government jobs.

Federal Government (US Government Jobs)

Most of the statistics I read say that US government jobs at the federal level are projected to grow by about 2.5 – 3.0 percent through the year 2014.

Job growth generated by increased homeland security may be offset by slow growth or declines in other Federal agencies because of cost-cutting, transferring of programs to state and local governments, and the increased use of private consultants and contractors.

Specialize workers will see a growing demand, in areas such as border and transportation security, emergency preparedness, public health, and information technology.

A study by the Partnership for Public Service, which surveyed Federal department and agency hiring needs for the 2005-2006 period, found that most of the new hires for US government jobs will come in 5 major areas. They are:

  • Security, enforcement, and compliance, which includes inspectors, investigators, police officers, airport screeners, and prison guards
  • Medical and public health fields
  • Engineering and the sciences, including microbiologist, botganists, physicists, chemists, and veterinarians.
  • Program management and administration
  • Accounting, budget, business, which includes revenue agents and tax examiners needed by the Internal Revenue Service

The Department of Health and Human Services will need health insurance specialists and claims and customer service representatives to implement the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit. Patent examiners, foreign service officers, and lawyers also are in high demand.
The distribution of Federal government jobs will continue to shift toward a higher proportion of professional, business and financial operations, and protective service workers.

Employment declines will be the greatest among office and administrative support occupations and production occupations, due to increasing office automation and contracting out of these jobs.

State and Local Government

Government jobs at the State and local level are projected to increase 11 percent during the 2004-14 period.

An increasing population and State and local government assumption of responsibility for some services previously provided by the Federal Government are fueling the growth of these services.

Professional and service occupations accounted for over half of all jobs in State and local government. Most new jobs will stem from steady demand for community and social services, health services, and protective services.

For example, increased demand for services for the elderly, the mentally impaired, and children will result in steady growth in the numbers of social workers, registered nurses, and recreation workers. There will also be strong demand for information technology workers.

Employment of management, business, and financial occupations is projected to grow at about the same rate as overall employment in State and local government.

Employment in office and administrative support occupations in State and local government is expected to remain close to current levels as these functions are increasingly outsourced to the private sector.

The Best Job Interview Tip is Be Prepared

As a Hiring Manager, I’m often asked what is my best job interview tip and I always say: “Be Prepared.” I”m now going to tell you how.

Many times in my role as a Hiring Manager, I’ve had job applicants come into an interview like they just woke up that morning and said to themselves, “I think I’ll go on a job interview today.” They then proceed to snooze through the interview and follow-up a week later to find out why they didn’t get the job.

Boy, could I give these applicants a good job interview tip!

I can tell the applicants who come properly prepared within the first ten minutes of the interview. They are the ones who can give me a well thought-out, 30 second overview of their qualifications (this is usually the first question I ask). If they are particularly good, they relate their qualifications to my specific job, as well as speak knowledgably about my company.

Remember: even if you’re just interviewing for an entry level or clerical job, you can still do your homework.

Here are six job interview tips to prepare you. These will automatically put you ahead of 95% of the job applicants I’ve interviewed over the years.

  • Prepare a 30 second “marketing message” to use when I ask you to “tell me about yourself.” This should be about your job qualifications, NOT about your personal life. At this point, I’m not interested in where you were born, went to school, how many kids you have, etc. It’s all about the things that make you a good candidate for my job opening.
  • Find out the name and title of every person you will meet on the interview. Memorize the names. This is a job interview tip that most applicants, oddly enough, tend to ignore. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the HR person who set up your interview to provide these details.
  • Have anecdotes ready. This is a job interview tip that is frequently missed. Many times, I’ll ask questions that require you to provide examples of how you handled a difficult challenge or other work situation. These questions often start with a phrase such as, “Tell me about a time when you faced….” Since these questions can be about any subject, they can be difficult to prepare for, but they do follow a pattern. I’m usually interested in a few general categories, such as how you handled conflict, a difficult situation, a problem employee, or one of your success stories. Prepare a good example for each of these areas and one will very likely fit.
  • Do your homework and research the company. The company web site is the best starting place because it will have all the positive things that the company wants you to know. Be sure to do a search on the web site for the name of the Hiring Manager and any others you are scheduled to meet. You just may find out some information about them that will help establish rapport in the interview. Learning about the Hiring Manager is one of the best job interview tips I can give you.
  • Read the common questions you may come across in the interview and practice developing answers that are framed with your accomplishments and qualifications. It’s one thing to say you can do something; it’s another to give examples of things you have done. Be sure to have some good examples of your work that is applicable to that specific job. Your answers to questions will be much stronger as a result.
  • Have some questions prepared that you will ask the Hiring Manager (me). This shows you did your homework and have thought about the position. You should have at least four or five questions of your own, in case some of them will have already been covered by the interviewer. You want to be sure to still have some to ask. Here are some general questions that fit almost any interview:
  • “If I were to ask one of your employees what the best thing is about working here, what would they say?”
  • “Why is this position open?”
  • “Is there a job description I could see?”
  • “Can you tell me about the people I’d be working with? How long have you worked with them?”
  • “How will you measure success in this job?”
  • “What projects will I be working on?”
  • “What do you look for most in a new employee?”
  • “What do you like best about your company? Why?”
  • “What do you see as the most important qualifications for this job?”

Special Warning and job interview tip: The first interview is not the time to ask questions about salary and benefits. Save these types of questions until you’re actually offered the job.

Return from Job Interview Tips main Interview page

Interviews – How to Prepare, Act and Answer That Tough Interview Question

You’ve finally made it to the Holy Grail of the job search process – the interview! The interview question you’re probably asking yourself right now is, “How Do I Not Blow It?”

This is what all your hard job search efforts have been about: getting that elusive interview. So let’s talk about how to ace it and get that job offer.

The first thing to remember is that you’re a sales representative on the job interview and the product you’re selling is you. So, you must be prepared to sell your skills and experiences as they specifically apply to the job for which you’re being interviewed.

But this is only 50 percent of the interview. Bear in mind that the interview is not just about your qualifications and experience. You probably had a good cover letter and resume or you wouldn’t be on the interview, so the Hiring Manager already knows your qualifications and experience.

Yes, you’ll be asked questions to prove your qualifications and that you can talk about accomplishments that back them up. But just as important, the Hiring Manager wants to get a feel for your personality and if you’re “likeable”, which is of course a very subjective thing.

Hiring Managers don’t necessarily offer the job to the most qualified person. Rather, they offer the job to the most qualified person that they also like the best. A pleasant personality, the ability to project confidence and enthusiasm, and good communication and interpersonal skills count heavily, assuming that you’re also highly qualified.

On top of all of this, you must dress appropriately, properly prepare by researching the company, anticipate and have well prepared answers to common interview questions, and master a dozen other details before you step in the door for the interview.

Click on the links below for specific advice – straight from a Hiring Manager – to help you successfully play the interview game.

Before Your Interview

During Your Interview

After Your Interview

Interview Blunders

Common Interview Questions

Phone Interviews, a Special Case

The Best Answer Ever to an Interview Question

Employment Agency or Recruiter – What’s the Difference?

Although the terms Employment Agency and Recruiter are frequently used interchangeably, there are generally some differences that are important to job seekers.

Employment Agency

An Agency works with candidates who come to them and promotes those candidates to companies that may need their skills. Fees can be paid either by the candidate or the employer. Employment Agencies usually focus on lower level positions and many of them now concentrate on temporary positions only.


Many times called an “Executive Recruiter” because they tend to concentrate on upper level executive positions. Some concentrate on high-end technical positions in the computer and engineering fields and will frequently recruit for candidates with very specific skills, even though the positions are not at an executive level. Fees are almost always paid by the employer.

Instead of depending on candidates who contact them, they search and locate candidates for specific openings. They may be paid on a contingent basis (paid only when they successfully place a candidate) or a retained basis (paid up front to recruit).

Who Should Use An Employment Agency or Recruiter?

Recruiters Are Not For Everyone

As a hiring manager, let me say this right up front: unless you are a senior level executive or have very specific technical skills that are in high demand, you are probably wasting your time trying to be taken on by a Recruiter.

Why? Because for mid-management and below positions, hiring managers such as myself can now recruit all the qualified candidates they need by posting openings on their company’s web site and/or advertising in the newspaper (which also includes a listing on their online job site). Why should they pay fees to a recruiter (or to an Employment Agency), which can be up to 30% of the first year salary?

Consequently, recruiters today will usually only take on executives or high-end technical candidates.

It wasn’t always like this. In the seventies and eighties, the primary methods for a company to get candidates were to advertise in the paper, depend on walk-ins or their own networking, or use recruiters and employment agencies. Back then, even non-executive level positions were able to work with recruiters.

Case in point: about twenty-five years ago, I was looking for a first level manager position. I was able to register with several recruiters and one of them found a good job for me very quickly.

Fast forward to the year 2000, when I lost my job due to a re-organization. By then, I had extensive management experience at the upper middle level (I was an AVP).

As part of my job search, I contacted five of the top executive search firms in my area. I sent cover letters and resumes (and believe me, I have a very good resume). I was unable to get a single response. These agencies were only interested in recruiting senior level executives. They no longer recruited below that level.

I was able to get into a second tier recruiter, but they never actually found me an interview. I found a very good mid-management job – at a higher salary – on my own through an online job posting.

Bottom line: companies are simply no longer willing to pay recruiting fees except for senior level executives. If you are not a senior level executive and don’t have high demand technical skills, it’s not a good use of your time to pursuer recruiters.

Okay, What About An Employment Agency?

I’ve already said elsewhere that as a hiring manager I love Temporary Employment Agencies. For you, they can be a great way to get experience, network, and fill in gaps in employment.

But what about permanent employment agencies? Today, the typical Employment Agency no longer specializes in permanent jobs only. There simply aren’t enough companies willing to pay fees for non-executive permanent employees. Consequently, the employment agency has to either charge a fee to the job seeker or branch out as a temporary employment agency.

This means that many permanent jobs advertised by employment agencies will involve a fee paid by you. If you can find one with an employer paid fee, great! Jump on it.

Otherwise, and employment agency will be best for finding temporary jobs.

What to Watch For With Recruiters or Employment Agencies

If you’re determined to find a Recruiter or Employment Agency that will work with you, here are some things to consider and be cautious about.

  • Never pay a fee to an Employment Agency or a Recruiter. Never agree to reduce you salary, bonus or relocation expenses to make up for the fee. This is the same as you paying the fee, so avoid completely any agency that asks you to do this.
  • With Recruiters, keep in mind that they are not your personal employment agent and will not look for a suitable position for you. Their job is to find a candidate for a job, not find a job for a candidate.
  • They all like to present multiple qualified candidates for a position – you probably aren’t their only one.
  • Most specialize in certain fields or a certain level of employee. If you don’t fit their focus, they won’t bother with you.
  • Recruiters do not like candidates looking to change careers. They want ones with a specific career path or specialization. They will not do career counseling for you.
  • Building a relationship with a recruiter is a long term deal and takes patience. It’s not a solution for finding a job quickly.
  • Be cautious of “resume services” and “career consultants or coaches”. They primarily give you advice about how to find a job, for a fee paid by you. They are not employment agencies and typically do not have contact with employers about jobs.
  • It’s hard today to get into a recruiter without a referral from someone already working with them. This is where your networking can help you.
  • Be wary of signing any contracts. If you find the job you accept is a mistake, you may still be liable to pay the agency its full fee. Ask the agency for a copy of the contract and have it checked before signing.
  • If you study the classifieds and see the same agencies running the same ads every week, this is usually just a way to stockpile resumes for potential employers and they may not have any actual job openings.
  • Do not respond to employment ads that direct you to a “900” number. You will be charged a fee for calling.
  • Be careful of agencies offering unusually high salaries, bonuses or other unrealistic benefits. These are simply ways of getting applicants. Reputable agencies do not use these tactics.
  • Request specific job information. A reputable agency will tell you on the phone the location of the job, skills required, size of the firm and salary. They will not tell you the employer, for their own protection.

It’s Not All Bad

On the plus side, good recruiters are professionals that look out for both the company and the applicant. They have valuable contacts with employers that took years to build and they can be very valuable to qualified applicants.
They only make money if they successfully place applicants who succeed on the job, so they have a vested interest in only working with candidates that are highly qualified for the jobs they are recruiting for.

But always remember: even though the recruiter only succeeds if they place you and if you succeed, they have no obligation to you.

Is Business Networking Really the Best Job Search Technique?

Does the hidden job market really exist? Is business networking really the best way to find a job? As a general statement, networking is an important tool in your job search. Is it necessarily the most important tool? Maybe so, maybe not….

If you research much of the available job search advice, you’ll come across many articles proclaiming that networking is the best way to find a new job. The primary reason given is that 75 – 80% of all jobs are never advertised and are filled by networking contacts. This is the so-called “hidden job market”.

Don’t believe it.

While this may have been partially true many years ago, as a hiring manager I will tell you that much of this hidden job market today has moved online with the tremendous growth of the Internet.

The Hidden Job Market Isn’t so Hidden Anymore

Prior to the widespread use of the Internet and company web sites, the only alternatives for getting qualified candidates were to advertise in the newspaper or work with employment agencies, both of which were costly. Keeping an active network of candidates was more important then.
Today, however, for a relatively modest sum I can post jobs online and reach millions of potential candidates. And I can post jobs online on my company’s web site for free.

I’ve been a hiring manager for over thirty years at three different Fortune 500 companies, a Dot Com, and a large (8,000 employee) public sector organization. In today’s world, I can absolutely tell you that at the mid-management level and below, the vast majority of job openings appear either on a company web site, online job site, or in the newspaper.

This does not mean that the hidden job market no longer exists – it does. But it certainly doesn’t contain 80% of all jobs. And while networking is an important part of any job search, it should not be your only technique and maybe not even your primary technique.

Sure, there are exceptions. For example, you will very seldom see the following types of jobs advertised:

  • Senior executive positions – vice-president and above. You will seldom see President and CEO openings in the Sunday Times or on Monster! There are only a small number of qualified candidates for these positions and they are usually well known in their industry.
  • Unusual jobs in very specialized industries. Only a few people will be qualified and they too are likely to be well known.
  • Fast food and other entry level retail jobs. These are high turnover jobs and almost all candidates apply in person, so there’s seldom a need to advertise.

Another reason why a job never gets advertised is because it’s filled with an internal candidate. As a hiring manager, I always consider internal candidates first because their skills and work ethic are known to me. Over the years, I estimate I’ve filled at least 25% of my job openings with internal candidates.

If I’m unable to find an internal candidate, I will post the job either in the newspaper or online. Remember: we’re talking about jobs at the mid-management level and below. So the bottom line is that 75% of my job openings are advertised. Most other hiring managers I know tell me the same thing.

Networking is important so long as you understand what it can and cannot do.

Effective Networking

The main thing to realize about networking is that it’s best as a long-term strategy.
Building a list of business and personal contacts and keeping in touch with them should be something you do on an ongoing basis. Not for the sole purpose of finding a job, but to keep current, do mutual favors, exchange information, and generally build a long term relationship.

Then, when you do need a job, you simply get the word out to the contacts with whom you’ve built up a solid relationship. Most will be happy to help you. And since they know a lot about you, they can be an important and credible source of referrals to others who may have job openings.

As a hiring manager, when I have a job opening, I’m very receptive to referrals of candidates who are well known to people I know and trust.

This is networking at it’s most effective level.

INEFFECTIVE Networking (Don’t Do This!)

A networking strategy that you will still see on many job search advice sites is the “informational interview”. This also may be called a “referral interview” or a “networking interview”.
With this strategy, you find out the names of managers in target companies and pretend to not be searching for employment. You send them a letter stating that you’re seeking their expert knowledge and advice on information and careers in that industry and how you might prepare yourself. You then ask for a short “informational meeting”. Once in the meeting, you sell yourself and hope this will turn into a job interview or that you’ll be referred to another hiring manager.

In other words, you attempt to completely skip the need to build a network of contacts by going directly to the source!

As a hiring manager, let me be very blunt about this strategy: it’s been overused and played out years ago, and I immediately recognize this for what it is – a job search ploy. I will also consider you less than honest if you attempt it.

I don’t know of a single hiring manager today that would grant an “informational interview”.

This tactic has been around for so long that only the newest and most amateur hiring manager would fall for it, yet this bad advice comes up again and again on job search advice web sites. I can only guess that they are using information that is many years out of date.

As a networking strategy, forget this one.

Other Ways to Network

Okay, you haven’t developed a well-established network of long-term business contacts – now what? There are various offline and online methods to network and begin building some contacts.
WARNING! If you are still working, be very cautious about telling too many people you are job hunting. This may get back to your employer and result in less than pleasant consequences. If you’re currently unemployed, there’s no problem – shout it to the world if you like!


Get the Word Out
Let your relatives, friends, neighbors and people you’ve worked with know you’re looking for a job. The more people who know you’re looking, the better the chance that you may be able to get a referral.

Join Professional Associations
Consider joining some professional associations. It’s not only a good way to keep up with your industry, but it can lead to lasting business contacts and referrals for job openings – so long as you don’t promote your interests too heavily. Here’s an comprehensive list of Professional Associations.

Join Networking Groups
There are groups that are specifically formed to give career coaching and networking opportunities with other members. Here are three of the most well know ones.

  • The Five O’Clock Club- This is a membership-based organization that offers outplacement assistance and career counseling. Membership is $49 and they have branches in cities across the country. The original Five O’Clock Club was founded in 1883 and they claim that the average member finds a new job in 10 weeks, as compared to eight months for a professional.
  • Forty Plus – Forty Plus groups are non-profit and look for managers and professionals over the age of 40 who earn at least $40,000 per year. However, most chapters say the salary requirement is only very loosely enforced. “We teach people how to network, train them in ways of marketing themselves, and teach them all the techniques — resume writing, interviewing, negotiation — having to do with job search,” says Barbara Lowery, the Houston chapter’s executive director. “If you learn to feel good about it, you’ll network without fear.” There are 10 chapters across the country.


There are litereally hundreds of online networking sites today and the list is growing. While a relatively new technique, it is catching on quickly, especially if you’re seeking a high tech job.

These online communities can provide advice, job leads, or simply the chance to communicate with others in the same situation as yourself. But they can be addictive and you’ll need to watch that you don’t spend more time networking online than you do job searching.

Here are some of the most popular online networking sites.

Bright Star – This is an alumni community where current and past employees from companies and organizations stay in touch.
Jobster – You must have an invitation to join this one. Companies use Jobster to reach out to working professionals who can provide referrals.
LinkedIn – This is a relationship-based job network. Members can search job listing, network with other members, and occasionally get inside connections to the hidden job market. One of the newest and fastest growing networks.
Ryze Business Networking – A network designed to help grow your career and find jobs. Offers a free networking home page and messaging.
Monster Networking – This is one of the best features of Monster. It’s a huge network of contacts to network with and you can search by keyword, occupation, company, school or location. For an additional fee, there are additional features such as Instant Messaging.
Vault Message Boards – These are online discussion forums for various career topics, undergraduate and graduate schools, companies and industries. Good networking sources for career and company information.
Viral Commerce – You can meet people and build a network by inviting others to join. The network expands as your contacts invite their contacts to join.
WorldWIT – This is the largest online discussion community for women in the world. You can use it to find jobs, get resume help, connect with other businesswomen, and obtain a variety of other career and business advice.

The Hiring Manager’s Best Networking Tip Ever

As a hiring manager, the absolute best way to get your name in front of me is….through one of my employees.
That’s right – not by referral from a friend, not by referral from a business associate, and certainly not by the time worn technique of trying to get an “informational interview”.

Whenever I have a job opening, the first thing I do is ask my employees if they are acquainted with anyone that qualifies for the job. I trust that they would only recommend people who are extremely good because their reputation is on the line. These are the referrals that I always consider before anyone else.

If you want a job with me and are fortunate enough to be well acquainted with someone who works for me, that is almost a certain path to at least an interview.

This is admittedly probably the most difficult way to network, because you have to know an employee of the hiring manager. But if you do, your chances for an interview are excellent.


Job Fairs – A Top Tool in Your Job Search

Job fairs give you that rare opportunity to meet potential employers (and sometimes even hiring managers) face to face. But you must learn how to work them for your best shot at a subsequent interview.

Job fairs, especially the big ones, can be overwhelming. The secret is to prepare yourself in advance and know how to work the fair when you get there.

Above all, don’t be intimidated by the sight of all those potential employers in one place. Remember: they are only there because they have jobs to fill that they haven’t been able to fill using other methods. Otherwise, they wouldn’t go to the time and expense of a display booth. Even a small, local job fair can cost an employer three or four thousands dollars to buy a display booth. Major job fairs are much more.

Case in point: As a hiring manager, I was recently asked by HR to work a shift at a local job fair. I had a couple of technical job openings that HR wasn’t yet able to fill and they wanted to advertise them at the job fair. Plus, three other managers had several openings that still were unfilled after advertising them elsewhere, so they took turns staffing the booth also.

Now, just imagine this: we went to the expense of buying a booth at the job fair only because we had job openings and were desperate for qualified candidates. This is a job hunter’s dream – employers begging for qualified candidates! So don’t be shy or intimidated. The companies wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have jobs to fill.

What to Prepare in Advance

It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to visit every employer at the fair, so it’s important to choose them in advance and be prepared to make the most out of the visit to each booth.
Here’s what you should do in advance of every job fair:

  • Research the companies that are attending the job fair.
    Almost all job fairs have a web site on which they’ll list the companies that will be in attendance. It may also include some information about each employer, such as the types of openings they have. If not, go to the web site for each employer to research job openings and information about the company.
  • Narrow the employers down to a manageable number.
    You can’t do a thorough job of researching more than about three to five employers. Decide on the ones you are most interested in and do enough research to get a good sense of what they do, how big they are, what their primary goals are, etc. Be sure to know what jobs openings are shown on their web site, as they may not be specifically displayed at the job fair. You may want to then choose another three or four employers for your ‘B’ list. For these, you can do a more cursory job of research, but you should still be sure to know what job openings are posted on their web site.
  • Print plenty of resumes to take.
    You should take at least 20 copies of your resume with you. Even if you only visit a small number of employer booths, you may have more than one person ask for your resume. You’ll also need a few copies to give to other job seekers that you may meet and network with. If there are a couple of employers you are particularly interested in, and you’ve researched them in advance and know they have openings you are qualified for, you may want to specifically tailor a version of your resume just for them. This action alone will put you way above most other job seekers at the fair.
  • Prepare a 30-45 Second “Infomercial” about Yourself.
    At the job fairs I’ve worked as a hiring manager, I always find it awkward when someone stops by the booth and simply mumbles something about how they’d like a job at my company and hand me a resume. What really impresses me are those job seekers who can tell me who they are, what their major qualifications and experience are, and a few comments about how that fits in with the openings at my company. And they do it in 45 seconds or less. These are the resumes I flag for potential interviews. Practice in advance of the fair until you can do this smoothly and in an articulate manner.
  • Research the dress code.
    Many times, the job fair web site will suggest a dress code. They may specifically say “business casual” or some may say “dress or interview attire”. If it doesn’t say, then dress business casual if you’re seeking a non-management position, or the more formal “interview attire” if you’re seeking a management position. By the way, business casual means nice slacks and a collared shirt for men, a skirt and blouse or nice slacks for a woman. Under no circumstances should you wear any kind of jeans or tee shirts (not even for programmer positions!).

What to Do at the Fair

Once you’re at the fair, here’s how to make the best impression and the best use of your limited time.

  • Carry a portfolio
    Carry a simple portfolio for your resumes and into which to put brochures, business cards and other information you gather at the fair. This keeps your resumes looking neat and gives a more professional overall impression.
  • Questions you should never ask
    Two questions you should never ask are: (1)”Can you tell me about your company?”, and (2)”What job openings do you have?” These questions show that you’ve done no research about my company and you are just there to throw resumes at employers in the hope that some will be caught. You should research in advance the companies you’re most interested in. You should also know what job openings they have, so that you don’t waste your time or the employer’s time.
  • What to say
    I know this sounds contradictory, but when meeting an employer you should not talk either too much or too little. I’ve had many candidates that ramble on about what they like and don’t like, what their hobbies are and what they had for breakfast that morning. After 10 or 15 minutes it becomes clear that they have no idea as to if they are right for my company. At the other extreme are those job seekers that hand me a resume and expect me to read it and tell them if they are qualified. These types of job seekers rarely make it to my resume ‘A’ list. As a hiring manager, I like you to: make eye contact, have a firm handshake, and be able to tell me in a few sentences how you are qualified for the job openings I have. You should be able to clearly tell me how your skills and experience are a good match for me. Those who can do this in a confident and articulate manner are the ones who get called for interviews.
  • Be sure to get a company brochure and a business card.
    Always get as much information about the company as you can. This shows you’re interested. And always get someone’s business card. It’s best to get a hiring manager’s business card if they are present, but any company employee business card will at least give you contact information for any needed follow-up. At a minimum, you should ask for the hiring manager’s name so you can apply to that person by name in the future.
  • Ask how to follow-up.
    Don’t leave the booth without asking if it’s okay to follow-up with the person whose business card you obtained (you did get one, didn’t you?). If so, ask if they prefer a follow-up by phone or by email. And then be sure to follow-up if – and only if – there is a match between the jobs they have open and your skill set. If there isn’t a good match, you’re wasting both your time and the employers time by following-up simply for the sake of following-up.

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