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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Job Search Success - Lessons Learned

As you can see from the Forbes Layoff Tracker, the media company has created a widget to track unemployment data at America's 500 largest companies.
I wish we had a similar widget that showed how many unemployed people landed jobs. Do you know of one?
I thought it would be helpful to start documenting lessons learned from the few that are having job search success. A friend of mine laid-off on the same day as I in January recently rejoined the work force. He had some good points to share and I talked to three other people last week who also found jobs and asked them, "What do you feel made a difference in your search - any lessons learned you can share?"

Here's a summary:
  • Take time to really understand what types of work (the job content, types of people, work environment, organization culture) you enjoy and have great passion for - The job interviewer was impressed on how passionate I was for the position and said it was a differentiating element in their decision.
  • Avoid shell shock - layoffs seldom come out of the blue - look for the signs and start your job search immediately.
(Click here to see signs you may be on next rif list.)
(Click here to see what to do about it)
  • Three key things for me - Network, Network, Network. Reinforce your network early (prior to layoff) good source for recommendations and reference, expand your network quickly join a new online group, find communities of professionals who share a common experience, passion, interest, affiliation or goal. The only interviews I had were with people / companies within my network.
  • If a target company is sponsoring an local event - connect with them, schedule time to speak to leaders tell them of your interest in their company - Good leaders understand the labor market uncertainties and most will take time to speak with you.
  • In everything you do - Be positive. You may hate that the recruiter didn't call you back or you received a sorry-but note that day - be positive it is as contagious as being a pessimist. Recruiter mentioned positive attitude as a hiring factor.
  • Take full advantage of any available transition services, even if only to get ideas on your job search strategy and compare notes
  • Pare your spending back so you feel you have at least a little time to search and can avoid hitting the panic button
  • Be an advocate to others who are also transitioning -- building good karma can only help and you may need to rely on others in the future
So help me share some positive news - take this week poll and if you or someone you know found employment lately ask them to share what contributed to their job search success and add to the comments below.

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cyfogle said...

Hi Joe - I'm not over 50, but I'm quickly approaching the end of my 40s, so I hope that qualifies. I received notice of my layoff in early January, so I was technically employed until the end of the first week in February and I landed a job for June 1st. I didn't wait until I was no longer on the payroll to reach out to networking contacts, and I definitely didn't hang around my old job any longer than I needed to in order to transition my work. I got to 'work' right away on finding a job. Although the position I landed was through a recruiter, I got connected to the recruiter through a networking connection. He's an executive recruiter who works through retained searches only, but who agreed to speak to me and take a look at my resume based soley on the strength of the recommendation from my networking contact. The recruiter specializes in my industry - insurance - and agreed to make a few calls to see if any of his prior company contacts knew of positions coming open. It so happened that there was one such position and my background was a great fit. This company interviewed other candidates, but never publically posted the position. They worked through their internal recruiter and used referrals to find candidates. Interestingly enough, their internal recruiter also found me, but I was already working with the outside recruiter and had had a first round interview - but I guess it was meant to be. So a few lessons learned: 1- I got on the horn to old managers and other solid references right away, and although the interview process took the better part of 3 months to complete because of work considerations at my new company, I was there at the right time. Had I come in when they were further along with other candidates, I might not have gotten an interview. 2- If someone is willing to make a call for you, let them - it may get your name and background in front of someone who will remember you when something comes up later - and that 'referral' from the person who made the call will still be good. I would never have gotten an audience with the recruiter if my referral hadn't been so strong because he didn't have any retained searches for someone with my background at the time, but was willing to make a few calls. 3-Be patient and follow-up as the company recommends. For whatever reason, even when hiring managers have the green light to hire for a position, they seem to be taking longer to work through their process. 4-Send hand-written thank-you notes. I can't believe I'm giving this as a lesson learned, because I've always personally discounted them, but I wasn't taking any chances in this market, and the hiring manager made a point to tell me how impressed he was that I sent one and that he doesn't see them much anymore. I was sure to write a thoughtful note relating to some aspect of the visit - not just a 'thanks for interviewing me' kind of note. And as this job requires excellent writing skills, it was an opportunity for me to show him mine. CYF

Unemployed over 50 said...

Congratulations on the job and for sharing your lessons learned. Joe