Finding the Job You Want

Have you ever heard that searching for a job is the hardest job you’ll ever have? It’s true. Even with today’s economy and on-line job sites, finding the perfect job is still a challenge. Yet no one’s figured out how to avoid a job search completely, there are many things you can do to make it a much easier process.

CFS’ six-step process includes several components essential to compete in a rapidly evolving labor force. In reading each step, understand that the two most important elements in any search are a positive attitude and dedicated follow-through. You’ll find that these elements make the entire plan most effective:

1. Network

Networking is one of the fastest and most effective methods for securing employment. Unfortunately, few people really know how to network well. We recommend the following:

  • Develop a detailed list of everyone you know who might be able to help you identify and secure a job. Include family, friends, prior employers, fellow college alumni and fellow association members.
  • Write a cover letter and send it along with a resume to everyone on your list. Make the letter clear, concise and direct. Include information on your previous experience and how that has prepared you for the position that you seek. Conclude the letter by mentioning that you’ll follow up with them in a week—and by all means, be sure to do so.
  • During the course of your follow up telephone call, take the opportunity to explain your situation to the recipient and ask if he or she is currently hiring anyone with your qualifications. If the answer is "no," ask if he or she knows of anyone else who might currently be hiring someone with your qualifications and background, and if they can facilitate an introduction with this individual. To build a strong contact list, we advise you to request a minimum of two referrals from everyone with whom you speak.
  • Send a letter and a resume to any new contact provided by your initial contact. Be sure to mention who referred you—referrals add credibility.
  • Avoid a defeatist attitude—be tenacious. Don’t despair if your messages aren’t returned—the people you are calling have numerous, time consuming responsibilities. Therefore, it is crucial that you are persistent, with the highest degree of professionalism. Send another letter explaining that you recently left a message and that you are interested in seeking their advice. Mention that you will try them again in several days. If you don’t hear from them, move on. There’s no need wasting time trying to contact people who don’t have time for you—too many others will want to help.

2. Reply To Classified Ads

Classified ads represent approximately 10% of all employment opportunities. However, they also generate substantial competition. As a result, it’s critical for you to capture a potential employer’s attention more effectively than your competition. We recommend the following:

  • Write a cover letter highlighting your skills and qualifications. Discuss these areas immediately, since potential employers are interested in what you can do for them. State in the cover letter that you will call in the near future to arrange an interview. If the contact is in the human resources department, conduct additional research to identify the person to whom you ultimately will report. Every letter sent to a human resources administrator also should be sent to your potential superior.
  • Be sure to place a follow up call. If you are unable to make contact, leave a message and mention that if you don’t hear back from them, you will call again soon. Don’t be discouraged; you may be one of several hundred applicants.
  • Continue placing follow up calls until you make contact. Most candidates will send a letter and make one call at best. This is where you can separate yourself from the pack. By calling a second time, you are no longer one of several hundred, you are now one of a few. By calling a third time, you narrow the field further. After each call, whether you leave a message or speak with someone, send a follow up letter restating your interest in the position.

3. Utilize the Services of an Employment Agency

Carefully evaluate the services of several employment agencies and develop relationships with those that best match your needs. You should consider several things when selecting an employment agency:

  • The experience and qualification of its management team
  • The background(s) of its consultant(s)
  • Its reputation and level of exposure in the market
  • Its methods for identifying and locating job openings

Employment agencies, like a suit, fit some candidates better than others. In view of this, we recommend that you carefully evaluate several choices before making your final selection(s).

4. Target Specific Industries

To maximize your time and efficiency, carefully research and target specific industries which are attractive to you.

  • Research those companies whose needs best suit your skills and experience. The library offers a wide range of directories with critical information. Additionally, the internet is an important information resource where you can access vital information on businesses in almost every industry. Use this information to formulate a list of businesses that you plan to target for potential employment.
  • Determine who the decision makers are within your target companies. The simplest method for obtaining this information is to call the company’s receptionist for the appropriate name. Don’t waste your time sending your resume to the wrong person — it also makes you look unprofessional.
  • After obtaining the appropriate information, send them your cover letters and resume. Explain to each recipient how you got their name (people are impressed by your ability to display initiative), why you would like to work for their company, what value you bring to the table, and finally, that you will be calling them within a week to arrange for an interview. Remember, it is critical that you follow up.
  • Utilize the networking techniques described above to make inroads with companies on your list.

5. Identify and Apply for Temporary Positions, Many of Which Could Evolve Into Full-Time Employment

Very few employment consultants recommend this to those who are employed full-time. We can’t understand why, given the myriad of benefits which temping provides for the unemployed. These include:

  • Possible full-time employment. 80% of the hiring process is chemistry. Accordingly, it stands to reason that once you are in the door at a company and you are given an opportunity to perform, your odds of landing a full-time position greatly increase. We have countless stories of outstanding companies hiring our temporary employees for exceptional opportunities. For example, CFS once placed a temporary Chief Financial Officer at a large mid-western health services company who today is their Chief Executive Officer.
  • Networking opportunities. The person you are temping for may know someone looking for an applicant with your background.
  • Cash flow. You aren’t going to get rich temping, but you can make a decent wage until you have a full-time job.
  • Flexibility. Everyone knows that your goal is full-time employment, so it’s easier to schedule interview times with other companies.
  • Maintain and sharpen skills. You’ll have the opportunity to perform numerous functions, ensuring that your skills remain sharp.
  • Gain new skills. We have found that if you request more responsibility on a temporary assignment, the company will give it to you. For example, you may be filling an accounts payable assignment and end up learning and executing a Lotus 1-2-3 project.

The best advice we can offer you when on temporary assignment is to maintain a positive attitude. You will only be noticed if you are ready, willing and able to do anything the company wants.

Apply the same research methods to selecting a temp agency that you used in identifying recruiters for full-time positions.

Try this: Look at your RESEARCH/TARGET list of companies and find out which temp services they use. Then register with those respective temp companies and tell them that you will only work for that company or one like it. Be open to the possibility of filling a wide range of positions. Also be realistic.

If you don’t have cost accounting experience, don’t expect to get a temporary assignment as a cost accountant. However, if you get placed in the general accounting department, try to network in the cost accounting department.

6. Use the Internet to Your Advantage

The internet is a critical tool which can aid you in your search. We recommend the internet for the following:

  • To research companies and information. The internet contains volumes of information about a wide range of companies which can be crucial to your search. Accordingly, we recommend using the internet to conduct research on the companies which you are targeting. Specifically, you should visit the company’s web page to obtain a company profile and any other available background information. You’ll be surprised by the level of detail available.
  • Use one of the on-line job search services available on the internet. We recommend that you apply the same safeguards when utilizing one of these services as you might when dealing with a traditional recruiter or temporary employment agency.
  • Effectively implementing the integrated approach we have just described requires substantial effort on your part. Nobody said it would be easy—finding a job is serious business and a lot of it is timing. The more activity you can generate, the better your odds will be.

We hope you find this process helpful. Good luck!