The Best Way to Find a Job

The rules for successful job-hunting have changed--these are the strategies to know now

Your Career

The Best Way to Find a Job

The rules for successful job-hunting have changed–these are the strategies to know now

-Susan Crandell

interview handshakeWe talked with Martha I. Finney, the author of Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss about the best way to find a job. “I make the reader feel they’re not alone. I’m the snarky older sister who tells it like it is, while everybody else is blowing sunshine.”

You’ve done a lot of business books. What did you learn writing this one?
What struck me the most was that, even in this climate, high performers think that being laid off can’t happen to them. Some of the people I interviewed were instrumental in designing the company’s layoffs. You think you’re in the know and are trusted with the secrets, therefore you’re indispensable. Turns out there’s one more severance package that needs to be put together.

Rebound bookIf everyone is vulnerable, what can we do?
There are all those articles out there right now on how to recession-proof your career. Face facts: it’s impossible to do. So, no matter who signs your paycheck, never lose sight of the fact that we’re all self-employed. When you realize that, you make a different set of priorities. You don’t let networking atrophy. You take the attitude of an entrepreneur, and the name of your business is My Career.

You tell us to prepare for “intense and transient relationships.” Can you explain what you mean?
We are constantly moving around in varying networks and circles. You will work with some people very intensely, developing workplace intimacy, being collaborative and creative. Then you may not see them for years. Suddenly, you think, Sarah is working in the company I want to work in. I’d love to reach out, but I can’t. I haven’t even sent her a Christmas card. She’s not going to be happy to hear from me.

Reach out.                                                                                                              Those old rules for sustaining relationships aren’t in place anymore. We’ve all gotten a little wiser. The enduring lesson is that time goes fast and we’re all busy. Just pick up the phone.

How about the new ways to keep in touch – emailing, IM-ing, Facebook, Twitter?
All are ways to keep in touch and a distraction. An old friend of mine reached out via Facebook after 30 years, and I was so happy to hear from her. But getting caught up in Facebook — the top 25 random things about me – can be a time suck. If you budget your time, it’s very useful.

What can be a total waste of time is depending on job boards. The job hunt is more than looking for companies that have posted jobs. It’s going after the jobs that haven’t been posted yet, the hidden job market. We all need to be real entrepreneurs growing our careers.

How do you go after a job that isn’t posted?
You need to know yourself very well, what kind of job, role company, industry, sector would sustain your interest and make you happy. Seek out your counterpart in that company. Don’t be shy. Pick up the phone and say I’d like to come in and meet you and talk about careers. Be honest that you’re looking for a job. This whole business about “I’m not looking for a job” — people see right through it. The strongest time to do this is when you’re not looking for a job. Say, “Let’s get to know each other because we’re in the same business.” Do that enough, and pretty soon people will be calling you when a job is available.

The unpublished jobs are usually the highest in quality. If there is a job opening that’s still just a twinkle in the eye of the hiring manager, he or she doesn’t want to put it on job board because they’ll get thousands of unqualified resumes. A recruiter will cost money. If you show up, you just saved them 30 percent of your potential salary. You’re coming in cheap and you’re coming in convenient and you’re coming in passionate. That’s a trifecta.

Sounds like it’s just networking, networking, networking.
Yes, you have to make networking a fundamental life activity. If you’re a young mother, you’re balancing motherhood with career. It’s still essential to put networking on your priority list, and by that I mean one-on-one meetings, not going to trade association gatherings. Make it a point once a month to meet someone new one-on-one. Those contacts add up.

What else is important when you’re job hunting?
Don’t worry about having a perfect resume. What you need are great stories of accomplishments, initiative taken and projects completed. People get tied up in writing the perfect resume. Someone emailed me at three this morning asking if she should put her picture on hers. It’s not about the resume. It’s about being able to tell the story of how what you have done could help a company in the future. Set up a website––telling story after story. It’s out there in a readable format.

Any final point you’d like to make?

This is the time when legends are being born and stories passed on through generations. If you’ve had a serious crisis, you have to pull back your lifestyle. As you do, keep in mind that the kids are watching. Interpret the experience. You can teach them about resilience, and little miracles that happen every day. I still remember stories my mother told me from the Depression. Hope prevails. Fun can be free. Kindnesses to friends. Farmers in the 1600s taught their kids to plow a straight line and plant with the seasons. Those were survival lessons. Our survival lesson today is teaching ourselves and our kids to be resilient.

Read more about how to handle a layoff: The Bounce Back Book and A Good Cry

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