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5 Steps to Finding a Job

Finding a jobLike me, you probably have friends looking for work. Maybe you’re looking for work yourself.

Either way, for most people, finding a job involves getting on the internet and combing through posting after posting on sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster.

Unfortunately, your chances of landing a new job through an internet posting are not good. Maybe not winning the lottery bad, but there are better options.The number of candidates looking at the postings coupled with the ease of applying means there will be so many applicants, getting your resume to stand out is nearly impossible.

You will also find that many of those jobs you see posted on a site are already filled – formally or informally. By that I mean, a hiring manager has already decided who they want for a particular role, but most companies require that they go through a formal posting process. Again, your chances of beating out that preselected candidate are almost none.

And obviously, your chances get even worse in a down economy.

Related: Key to Surviving an Economic Downturn

I’m not trying to preach doom and gloom for all those folks currently looking for a job, I’m just telling you like I see it. That said, if you can’t find a job through an internet posting, how can you find a job?

If Work Was Fun, They Wouldn’t Call It Work

I know it’s a cliché, but is there truth to it?

The other day, my teenage son made an observation,


the best paying jobs are usually the least fun jobs.”


This was in response to seeing his parents working 70+ hour weeks and traveling every week for many years. Working in finance and consulting, this isn’t that uncommon, at least when the markets are good as they have been.

I have to say, based on my own observations, I am inclined to agree with my son’s comment.

Before we get further, let’s clarify. I am talking about “fun” as opposed to “satisfying.” Isn’t it true that often the most satisfying of activities are not fun?

Running a Marathon for Fun?

I have never run a full marathon. I have run a half-marathon and it was a very satisfying experience. But I would not say it was a fun experience. The preparation was miserable. The lead up was stressful. And the event itself was physically and mentally grueling. Even the post run period was painful. But eventually the satisfaction of having competed a half-marathon set in and I was pleased.

Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of people that do run for fun. No matter the distance, they enjoy the process, not just the sense of satisfaction at the end. If this is you, maybe you have found your calling. But if you have read my other articles, you know I am not a believer that you need to find your calling or passion. Instead, find something that interests you. So even if running isn’t your passion, if it interests you, go ahead and pursue.

Earning my CFA designation was not a fun experience. It required four years of study. It’s actually a three-part program with each part only offered once per year. But I didn’t study enough for level three and had to take it a second time. I didn’t find spending four months each year studying to be much fun, but receiving the designation was satisfying.

A few months ago, I was sitting around watching football on Sunday and I saw it again. Sure, there is a part of being a professional football player that’s fun. But there’s also quite a bit that’s not fun at all – injuries, long workouts, performance pressure, etc.

The reason I bring this up is in the context of finding a job. Being unemployed is not a fun experience and finding a job is difficult. There’s the emotional stress of an uncertain future.There’s the real stress of not having a steady income to pay your bills.

Related:  How Much Do I Need to Retire?

But when you are unemployed, you need to be treating your job search as a full-time job. At the same time, get back to the mindset that you work so that you can live your life. You don’t live your life to work. I suggest using this time to also develop outside interests and hobbies beyond your business. Maybe pick up a new sport or learn a new language. Or better yet, start a business.

Those that know the difference between fun and satisfaction and can put that knowledge into action will find more fulfillment.

Back to Finding a Job

Every job I have held came about through a pre-existing relationship. The relationship might have been relatively short before being offered a job, but I somehow met the individual doing the hiring prior to actually applying for the job.

A few examples:

In business school, I was running a group that arranged for alums to come in and do mock interviews for the students to get a little practice before formally interviewing. I had a situation where the student didn’t show and rather than leave have the alum with an empty slot, I jumped in and did the interview myself. The alum and I hit it off and next thing you know I was invited in for a real interview and got a job that I had never applied for.

In another example, I was a member of a professional association. I had decided that it was time to not just change jobs, but change cities as well. I reached out to the chapter president in the city I was moving to, explained my situation, and next thing you know I was interviewing for a newly created position that hadn’t even been posted yet, and I was offered a job on the spot.

I have additional examples, but they all share a common theme. Finding a new job isn’t about applying to internet job postings. Finding a job is about networking.

When most people think about networking, the image of an industry conference cocktail party probably pops into their head. Sure this is a form of networking, but honestly, it’s the bottom of the barrel. The folks at those events are in your industry and you probably already know them anyway. If you’ve been in the same industry for any length of time, you will see the same people at these conferences year-after-year. The only thing that changes is the logo on their golf shirt. Networking with these folks isn’t likely to help you much.

Instead, you need to be meeting new people. I am active in a number of professional associations. And in any given week, I will reach out to 50 or 100 new people from those organizations and introduce myself. On average, I will hear back from maybe 1/3 of those I reach out to, and of those maybe another 1/3 will become regulars. But that means I am adding 6 to 10 new people to my network every week. Over the course of the year, that’s 400 to 500 new “friends.”

Here is my top 5 list for building your professional network:

  1. Be active on social networking sites. Even though I think your chances of finding a job through an internet posting are relatively low, I do recommend that you get active on the social networking and job posting sites. Connect with as many new people as you can. Reach out to existing connections.Write articles. Make sure people know you are out there.
  2. Join a networking group. I would take this a step further. Not only should you join a group, but also seek out a leadership role within the group.This gives you a certain level of credibility and opens the door for you to reach out to other members of the group.
  3. Be visible. The worst thing you can do is isolate yourself. The longer you are out of the workforce, the harder it is to get back in. Finding an executive position can easily take 6, 9, or 12 months, so get started as soon as possible and be consistent.
  4. Pay it forward. One of the best ways to get the attention of hiring managers is to be constantly providing quality candidates to them. You want to be the person they call when they have a hot job lead. If it’s a good fit, you’ll get primary consideration. If it’s not a good fit, you’ll still earn a reputation as someone well connected which will benefit you in the long run.
  5. Find something to sell or create. It’s much easier to get someone to return your call if you have something of value that you can provide them. For instance, come up with an idea for a new business and reach out to your network and ask for a few minutes of their time to discuss the idea. This gets you an audience which is the first step to getting hired.

What other strategies do you have for building your network and finding a job?


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