Here are ten ways to find a job. Some will help when you’re just starting, some will help you when you’re stuck, and some will help you many times over.
1. Hire a cold caller.
Cold calling to get a job really works–if you’re good at it. Your ability to sell yourself on the phone shows exceptional sales skills, self-confidence, drive, and commitment. But most cold calls are executed poorly.
Debra Feldman is a professional cold caller at Job Whiz; you hire her to get you a job, and she can do it. By cold calling CEOs. What’s the catch? She costs thousands of dollars. So consider teaching yourself the skill well enough to talk your way into a job where you can afford Feldman.
2. Use proactive recommendations.
Instead of waiting for a hiring manager to ask for references, have your reference call immediately. This works well if you have a heavy-weight reference, like a well-known CEO or someone who knows the hiring manager. But it also works well if you have little professional experience.
“The good employers have relationships with professors and they forward students who seem exceptional,” says Joel Spolsky, chief executive of Fog Creek Software and author of the blog Joel on Software.
Also tap your coaches. They tend to know students well after meeting daily for practice over the course of a few years. “A coach has extended knowledge of the students’ personalities,” says Tom Carmean, head lacrosse coach at Amherst University, who has given many references to employers.
3. Stay organized with job hunt software.
How many times have you put the wrong name on a cover letter? Forgotten where you applied? Forgotten what the job was? You need to be organized right off the bat — maintain an Excel spreadsheet with all your contacts.
For a serious job hunter who recognizes that a hunt never ends, you could try JibberJobber, which not only helps you organize your information, but can bug you about the things you should be doing but might not be, such as following-up with a phone call.
4. Turn a non-job into a job.
Many companies use temp agencies as recruiting firms. Instead of going through the interview process, companies sift through temp workers until they find one they like. So when you find yourself temping at a company you like, give a star performance; even if the work doesn’t require much skill, personality matters a lot in this sort of situation, so be fun and charming. And don’t be shy about asking for full-time work.
Note that this tactic will work for an internship as well. Matt Himler, a student at Amherst College, started out looking for an internship, and shifted his focus when he saw an actual job was a possibility. He now gets paid to blog for AOL Money & Finance.
5. Use social networking sites.
Some, like LinkedIn, are full of professionals who understand that a good job hunt is not an event but a way of life. Most of these people are good networkers and emphatic about making sure they are in a job they love; definitely the types you should be hanging out with, so sign up and create your own profile.
“Ninety percent of jobs posted at LinkedIn are associated with a profile,” says Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn. So you can find a job you want, then find a way to connect with the hiring manager through people you know, and you’ll have a leg up on the competition because — as if you haven’t heard this a thousand times — most people get their job by networking.
6. Date someone with a network.
Ubiquitous job hunting question: What if I don’t have a good network? Match with someone who does and use theirs. Kay Luo works in corporate communications and has an extensive network that she just forked over to her boyfriend, a software engineer. His LinkedIn network: seven people, including Luo. Her network: More than 100.
7. Use U.S. mail.
You’re probably not going to get past the automated resume scanner at a big corporation. Even qualified candidates don’t get through. So don’t even think about getting through if you’re not a perfect match.
Instead, circumvent the system with snail mail. That’s right. Go to Kinko’s and buy some of that bonded resume paper that you always wondered who was using. Find the name of the hiring manager and send the letter directly to her. Chances are she receives 200 emails a day and one or two pieces of physical mail a day. So at least you know she’ll see what you sent.
8. Write a blog.
Don’t tell yourself that blogs are for kids. They’re not. They’re for professionals to get noticed.
Himler, the Amherst student and AOL blogger, points out that blogging is very time-consuming, even for a college student. “College students are really into MySpace and Facebook. Blogging hasn’t taken off. But in five years my friends will go into a profession and they will want to get their name out there, and the best way to do that is with a blog.”
Himler fits in blogging with his full-time job of being a student and a lacrosse player, so consider that you might be able to tackle a blog as well.
9. Comment on blogs.
Realistically, most people don’t have the time or mental energy to maintain a blog. But you can target people you would like to work for and start commenting on their blog. Bloggers notice the people who regularly send great comments. This is a way to enter into a conversation with someone you want to notice you.
This is a good tactic for not just hiring managers but also a person in your industry who is well-connected and could help you if he knew you.
10. Be nice.
People who are perceived as nice get hired more frequently,” says Robin Koval, co-author of The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness.
But you probably already think you’re nice. Most people do. If you get jobs easily, then chances are you probably are nice. Or so talented you can get away with being only moderately nice. But if your job hunting is strained, check out this test to see how nice you really are.
The good news is that just taking the test could make you a little closer to getting that dream job; Harvard professor Tiziana Casciaro reports that just caring more about being nice will make you a little nicer.