The book that answers your
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June 28, 2005
I just wanted to say Thank You for your support these past 4 months in my job search which has just now ended in my acceptance of a job with Fiber SenSys in Tualatin, a maker of fiber optic security devices. I start my new job on July 1, and accordingly, won’t be at the weekly July 1 meeting at the library.
I thought I’d share my story. Please feel free to do with it as you see fit, to share with the group if you like, and anyone else you think might benefit from it.
My advice to all job seekers is to take seriously the job search advice from all sources - Cleon’s support group, other support groups such as Professional Resource Consortium NW, the Capital Career Center, private career counselors, and your outplacement professional if you are fortunate enough to have one, advice from other job seekers, and others in your network. Some of the advice and techniques will feel very natural for some people; some will feel foreign, unnatural, contrived and not something you are willing to do. But they will all work, to varying degrees, if you are conscientious about doing them, work them hard each day and put in a good days’ work. Also, if you really want a job, you can’t just answer a few ads from the papers or on-line job sites, you must get out and approach the job search as a job, albeit a difficult job, that doesn’t pay very well. But the payoff will be when you finally land that job you want, and realize people really do love you, and you do have something of value to offer to the right employer. Be assured, the same wild emotions that you experience daily, both positive and negative, are shared by all job seekers. You are not alone and all those with jobs are not pointing at you and whispering about you behind your back. On the contrary, as you meet people, it is only natural for people to ask “what do you do” and “where do you work?” Look for opportunities anywhere that you can interact with others and you can exchange these questions. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are looking for a job right now, and give them your 15 second elevator speech. You will be amazed at how helpful people want to be with your search. Even if they can’t think of anything of help right now, make sure to always carry at least a few business cards so they can contact you when they come across an opportunity for you.
Cleon has told you before, and I’m going to say it again, the best, most effective way to get a job is through networking. Other methods such as answering ads will work too, but the vast majority of your most promising leads will come as a direct or indirect result of networking. Therefore, spend your time wisely. Spend it where it is the most likely to do the most good, that is, networking. Don’t ignore the ads and recruiters, just don’t spend a disproportionate amount of time there and don’t expect your phone to ring off the hook from these sources.
Network broadly. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job, and tell them your elevator speech. Tell your family, neighbors, friends, business associates, doctor, dentist, stylist, mechanic, grocer - anyone you have a relationship with or come in contact with. Look for networking opportunities to attend. Many are listed in the Sunday Oregonian Business section, OregonLive.com, the Portland Business Journal (and online) and other periodicals. Regularly looking at these sources of networking opportunities must become almost religious. Your next job may depend on it! Some of these events will cost some money; others won’t. Do as much as you can afford, and don’t be intimidated by the event. The Oregon Entrepreneur’s Forum sounds very imposing, but trust me, you will survive it, and if you loosen up a little, may even enjoy it. Besides, the cost includes pizza and micro beer! But when you go, you must balance your eating and drinking with mingling with others, and be prepared to take the initiative to mingle. Just look for an opportunity to say hello to someone and exchange names. Next you ask, “what do you do?” Everyone opens with this. Everyone expects it. That’s what they are all there for. Remember to bring a good supply of clean, fresh business cards. Never be without at least a few. And they shouldn’t be crusty old ones that have lived in your wallet for years! Those can be disgusting. Old, soiled cards speak volumes. People can’t tell you of opportunities they run across if they don’t have your contact information. The last OEF event I went to in June, I me a fellow and gave him my card. The next week, he e-mailed me with 3 job leads on 3 company websites. I responded to all three, interviewed with one, and was about to get an offer from one, Tactix, when I accepted an offer from a different company, Fiber SenSys, which I also found through networking. Networking works. I am living proof, and I am an introvert by nature. Tactix was very disappointed when I called him and let him know I had accepted someone else’s offer. Networking works.
My search strategy involved going to as many networking opportunities as I could afford and could withstand. Some came naturally for me, such as training and seminars that were relevant. A number of these resulted in meeting people that asked me to e-mail them my resume and they would keep their eyes open for me. Others didn’t result in any tangible help in my search, but you just never know. Some networking events were not natural for me, and initially I felt out of place. But I always settled down and survived the experience and came away richer. I have even won 4 nice door prizes at various events, including at two consecutive Portland Business Journal Power Breakfasts! Cleon will encourage you to attend a Toastmasters meeting and maybe become a member. I didn’t join, but I did attend one meeting, and found it quite interesting. I know I could benefit from joining; I’m just not prepared to make the commitment at this time. But I encourage you to attend at least one meeting.
Job search is not very predictable. I only predict that if you work it diligently and consistently as if it were your job at least 5 full days a week on average, you will succeed in finding a job. Your search will probably ebb and flow. Two weeks ago, I was in the midst of a 2 week dry spell. I had one opportunity I was working on, and I had doubts about it. All of a sudden, partly because of networking, maybe partly because of a minor change to my resume, I ended the week with 2 interviews on Thursday, and 2 more on Friday. Two of these four led to second interviews, and ultimately the job I took, and the job I turned down just before it was formally offered. Sometimes when it rains, it pours, and that can be good! If you work hard and diligently, don’t be surprised if you have multiple offers to choose from at the same time. It happened to me this week. It happened to me the last time I was looking in 1991. It could happen to you. You just need to follow the principles that Cleon and others will teach you and work hard at finding your next job.
Don’t be afraid to follow your gut instincts about a job being or not being the right fit for you. This is sometimes easier said than done. It is very hard to walk away from an opportunity or offer if you are faced with economic reality, particularly if you don’t have any other good alternatives at the time. But if you can afford the economics, my advice is to listen to your gut.
I’m sorry for rambling, but I just want to encourage each and every one of you that you are very employable, that you just need to take the job search process seriously as if it were a job, and if you practice the concepts Cleon and others share with you, you will be successful. I am living proof the stuff works.