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.

Chris Russell, who blogs at Secrets of the Job Hunt, says this tactic also works well at a small company where you can target the CEO.

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.

Michael Keleman, who blogs at Recruiting Animal, says that recruiters who blog regularly turn their commenters into job candidates.

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.

16 replies
  1. Dave
    Dave says:

    Re: #6 – I’m married, so no dating for a network, but it is true that a few key people can make a big difference. One guy sent me a link to join LinkedIn, so I set up a quick profile. Then a former colleague who is a sales VP added me. Then I added my best friend. So I have 3 people total. But then, a few weeks later, I logged in and my network had grown to over 25,000 people because those people KNOW EVERYBODY. Now, I’m not saying LinkedIn is going to get me a job. But don’t underestimate the power of a few connections to expand your network.

  2. Emily
    Emily says:

    I went over to LinkedIn today after reading this, and supplemented
    my existing bare-bones information with – essentially – my resumé.
    And of course, I added a link to my blog! We’ll see what happens. Has anyone else had experience with LinkedIn?

  3. Jason Alba
    Jason Alba says:

    Hey Penelope, I appreciate #3 because, well, I’m the guy who started JibberJobber :) :) I think these are all good tactics for job hunting (I can’t date anyone new for my network either, like Dave ;))

    I did want to comment on LinkedIn, which is a great social networking site and favored by lots of recruiters and hiring managers. I would caution that you learn what it is all about and rely on it for its strengths… if you think you will have a huge network soon you may be a very lonely LinkedIn-er. I was for quite a while. Also, once you have your “25,000” people in your network, do you know what to do with them? How to approach them, how not to, etc. Point is, LinkedIn is a great tool, but not a silver bullet. And, word to the wise, begin to build your LinkedIn network BEFORE you need it!

  4. Steve Anzelc
    Steve Anzelc says:

    Good article and very sound advice for the job hunter. I never really thought about the snail mail as a way to go now. I use to remember the days when 100s of resumes came through the mail. Makes me realize I am aging.

    As far as Linked IN, I have been working my connections for about 8 months and I am now connected to 1100+ good professionals (executives, directors, owners, manufacturers, investors) and now can reach 3 million people in almost 60 countries through a warm introduction. I can reach 24000 in the Venture Capital industry alone. Old school networking works but so does the new school way of Linked In and blogs.

    I got here from a blog on Linked INs MLPF Forum.

    Steve Anzelc PE

  5. John Mallon
    John Mallon says:

    Some great ideas here, but hiring a cold caller to do your
    networking for you? I’m sorry, but that whole idea
    frightens me. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I think
    we should do our own networking, thank you very much.
    Have a plan, select the companies you want to work with,
    and make some calls to see who hires the likes of you.
    Really, is it that hard to do?

  6. penelope
    penelope says:

    John, You have to be pretty darn good at networking to call someone cold and turn it into a job. Networking is a great talent to have, but a secondary great talent is knowing when you are not great at something and hiring someone who is.

  7. Erik
    Erik says:

    Penny – do you have any experience with how employers react to having someone cold calling on behalf of a potential applicant? My initial thought is that if someone called me on behalf of someone else looking for a job, I would immediately think the applicant is too lazy to do their own leg work.

  8. Recruiting Animal
    Recruiting Animal says:

    Recruiters who blog for their existing and potential client and candidate pool, in one profession or business sector, will turn qualified readers into candidates and clients.

    In fact, some derive most of their business via their blogs (eg marketingheadhunter.com – he’s a great guy).

    But other recruiters blog primarily for other recruiters and while their blogs might give job-hunters good career and job-hunting ideas, they will not be targetted toward people who will be of great use to them as candidates or clients.

    I often get resumes from people overseas who work in areas I have no experience in. What can we do for eachother? Nothing much.

  9. penelope
    penelope says:

    Erik, I thought, like you, that hiring someone to cold call was suspect. But I talked to Debra Feldman for a long time about how she operates, and she makes a lot of sense.

    For example, the high-level people she is dealing with in the cold calls are used to having someone (an assistant or a mutual friend) as a go-between.

    Debra’s rule of thumb is that she only calls people who she can offer value to. So most of her cold calls involve her telling a CEO about how the person she’s representing has a lot of contacts or a lot of ideas that the CEO would benefit from. This is why the CEOs generally take the meetings. It’s up to the candidate to get the job. Debra gets the meeting.

  10. Antoine Clarke
    Antoine Clarke says:

    Penelope,
    About the last point.I tried the NiceQ test and found it poor. For example, in answer to the question Most people think Nice comes last, I think the answer is true, but that most people are wrong to believe it. The program is unable to make such a distinction so invites a “false” answer. Which is naive not nice. Another statement “Niceness is a state of mind,” generates what I think is a silly response, because the unspoken assumption in the author’s mind is that “a state of mind” is something set, when I reckon like Rosie in the African Queen “Nature, Mr Allnut, is what God us on this earth to overcome!”
    So while I completely agree that niceness at work is likely to be effective as well as less stressful than acting tough, I don’t think the Power of Nice has got it right. Which is a shame.

  11. Shin Kadota
    Shin Kadota says:

    I am a senior student at UCLA and have been using LinkedIn to gather relevant information about job-hunting rather than looking for jobs. I feel that seniors who are job hunting should use professional networking sites more often than they use social networking sites because every connection could lead to a potential offer from a company.

    A tool that I have found very useful during my job hunt is the “Ebook: The New Rules of Recuitment – Making Yourself Stick.” (http://thefdworld.com/edge/pub/cat/ebooks) I feel that every student should read this because it will help them prepare for the recruitment process.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Recruiting Bloggers.com says:

    The Casting Couch

    Is now The Networking Couch. Attention, job-hunters. Brazen Careerist recommends “dating” someone who has a big network. (Or big networks if you’re a guy). No kidding. She references a marketing thingee who let her job-hunting boyfriend swallow her …

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