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Job Searching

Remember that looking for work is an activity. People who actively seek work find jobs. People who rely on passive approaches often spend more time looking, and may never find what they really want. Have you ever heard the phrase “pounding the pavement?” This refers to walking up and down the street to find a job. Although we have more tools at our disposal today to conduct job searches, the essence of the phrase remains. To find a job, you must actively look. Finding new work is a job in itself.

Around the world, many companies don’t advertise job openings. Companies rely on word of mouth, review resumes submitted for previous jobs or unsolicited ones, and use outside recruiters. Often, they may not ever advertise in newspapers or the internet. Unadvertised jobs usually exist in greater numbers than advertised positions and make up the hidden job market.

When it is time to begin your search, have a friend help you spread the word. That first friend tells two friends, who each tell two friends, and suddenly your network as begun. This ripple effect is why it is so important that you know what you want and what you offer.

Leads are more likely to come to you from a friend of a friend, rather than through the first friend you told. For example, a truck driver wants to drive for a new company and mentions this to his friend. The friend knows the safety officer at a well-respected company and mentions that he knows a driver looking for a new opportunity. The safety manager discusses it with the hiring manager who is setting up interviews.

While you are networking, stay positive. Use phrases like, “I am actively seeking a new opportunity,” to remind yourself you are looking for something new and interesting. Do not get caught in a negative trap and grumble or complain about your previous employers. No one wants to hire a negative or toxic person. Remember you are relying on a network, so keep your contributions to the network upbeat and positive.

Knowing who your network is will help you to get started. Think about your network. It includes people you know, such as friends, neighbours, and teachers; people in the community, such as shop owners, doctors, lawyers, and your children’s teachers or coaches; and people in the target business area, such as past employers or co-workers, past customers, and competitors. Your network also includes other organizations such as clubs and support groups, church and community groups, volunteer coordinators, recreation groups, and unions.

When you are actively looking for work, everyone you meet is a potential lead. That may seem daunting if you do not have a large social network, but it is a key element of networking. Even if you have a small group of friends, practice will help you get comfortable talking to people that you don’t know very well, just as this workshop will.

Since you are relying on friends and acquaintances to help you locate work, make sure that you handle yourself well. This means that you develop and maintain a reputation as someone that does excellent work, is reliable, trustworthy, punctual, etc. Your friends will have a hard time recommending or asking questions on your behalf if you are not someone worthy of working with.

Many organizations rely on volunteers, and this can be an excellent way for you to become known in the community and to expand your skills at the same time.

Read the news, investigate companies, and do your homework to learn about companies that interest you or are in your area. Check their websites (and their career postings on those sites) while you develop an idea of what they are like, who their clients are, or why you would want to work for them.

Sources of job leads can also include

  • Business directories.
  • Chambers of commerce, service clubs, and organizations specific to your occupation or industry.
  • Employers (you can apply directly without suggestions or referrals).
  • Private employment agencies.
  • National and local newspapers – help want ads, of course, but also the financial section, business news, business project articles, and government announcements.
  • Governments and associations.
  • Union websites.
  • School, college, and university placement offices for graduates.
  • Professional and trade journals.

When you are pursuing the hidden job market, you are promoting yourself. Do it happily and boldly to find the job you want. Take advantage of computers and desktop publishing software to create business cards or postcards since you won’t always have resumes with you. Imagine a postcard that advertises who you are and your professional abilities. Don’t try to put your entire resume on the card. Leave plenty of space for notes or even superimpose the text over a picture of a project you completed. Your guide has an example of a business card.

Use the blank space in your guide to creating your business card.

How Does the Market Hide

The hidden job market is simply made up of job vacancies that are not conventionally advertised. Employees retire, resign, go on medical leave, have children, and so on. Employers don’t always advertise because doing so can be expensive. They may receive large volumes of unsuitable applications, so they are willing to miss some candidates to let the hidden market work for them.

The advantages of the hidden job market for job seeker including:

  • Learning about openings before they are well known or advertised.
  • Less competition since you will be one of the few people aware of an opening.

Using your network to tap into the hidden job market takes a bit of practice. If you know of a job or company you want to work for, don’t call them first. Make a few practice calls to work through nervousness or to improve the questions you ask. Be ready with what you intend to say before you say it.

In your guide, list people in your network under the four categories we discussed earlier. Identify at least three names and phone numbers for each column. You can add to the list as you continue to network. If you do not know many people for the third column (for example, people in the target business area), ask friends for suggestions. You can also look up companies in a library copy of the local business directory, use online information, or visit your local labour market office to conduct some research. 

Try to start using this networking list within the next few days.

When you contact people in your network, be specific and polite about what you are asking your contacts to do, and don’t drive them crazy with requests, or you will not find them very helpful.

When you make networking calls, having a script ready will help you to include everything you need. Practice your script several times before calling and be open to feedback from your colleagues or friends about what you are saying.

If you wish, you may write out a script in your guide.

Step One

Introduce yourself using your first and last name.

Step Two

Provide your connection to the person you are speaking to, like the name of your mutual friend or colleague, or where you met this person in the past.

Step Three

Let them know you are looking for a new opportunity or a new position in the field. Try not to sound desperate or needy. You could mention why you are looking, but keep the tone pleasant and positive. For example:

  • “I am looking for a new opportunity in the computer programming field.”
  • “I am an experienced baker currently working in a bread line. I specialize in pastries and cakes and would love to get back into that area again.”

Step Four

Give a brief description of your skills and experience. This is your marketing pitch, so keep it pleasant and positive.

Step Five

Explain why you have called them for help. Perhaps they are active in the community and have lots of contacts, or they work in your field and might be able to suggest helpful leads, or they work at a company that interests you.

Ask for their help in just one or two areas from the list at the beginning of this section. Be precise about what you want.

Step Six

Suggest a convenient time for you to follow up if appropriate. Here are two phrases you can use:

  • “May I call you back next week to follow up?”
  • “When would be a convenient time for me to call you back?”

Make sure that you call them back. Note the task in your calendar to ensure you remember your commitment.

Step Seven

After the call, or after you receive a lead from someone, it is always a great idea to send them a quick note. Depending on your relationship with them, this could be a quick email, but in this day and age, people appreciate a personal touch. A handwritten note saying something like, “Thank you for your time in my job search efforts,” can have an impact.

Then, practice and refine your script using the form in your guide. If some questions don’t seem to flow, change them to reflect your personal style and situation. 

When you are comfortable with your script, it is time to move on to setting your goals.