Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Are you looking for a job or waiting for a job

by Kevin Donlin,
Are you looking for a job — really looking? Or are you simply waiting for employment to fall into your lap?
If you’re like about 75% of the job seekers I’ve met over the past nine years, you’re probably doing too much waiting and not enough searching.
Instead, here are two ways to be more proactive — and much more effective — in your job search.
1) Stop waiting for job leads to appear. Start making your own.
Here’s a real estate analogy that directly relates to your job search. (Trust me.)
Where would you rather buy a 3-bedroom house, in Japan or the United States?
Considering the price would be about $2 million in Japan vs. about $200,000 in the US, you’d likely opt for an American home. And why is Japanese real estate so pricey? Mainly because only about 15% of Japan is habitable. The remaining 85% of land there is too mountainous to build on. So prices are driven into the stratosphere by the intense competition for prime real estate.
Well, the traditional employment market is just like Japanese real estate.
Advertised job openings — those listed on the Internet or in newspaper classifieds — are only about 15% of the market. Yet, this is where about 80-90% of job seekers spend most of their time looking … so the competition is fierce. And, like Japanese real estate, you are far less likely to find what you want.
It’s far better to spend most of your time looking for jobs that are not advertised, since you’ll have less competition.
And how can you find unadvertised job leads? The two best ways I know are:
  1. Calling employers to ask for an interview (explained in a prior article of mine, here –
  2. Networking more effectively
Since so many people get networking so wrong, I’ll tackle that one next …
2) Stop waiting for people to hand you job leads. Start networking right.
Here’s a recent email from an unhappy job seeker with a common — and completely wrong — negative attitude about networking:
Past experience has shown that most people will only help you when it directly benefits them, such as when there is an incentive hiring plan. For many years, I have tried to keep in touch with numerous people I knew very well. Most refuse to even answer. No returned emails, calls, etc. If people won’t even answer, they certainly will not help you. I would speculate that 98% of the time when I contact past acquaintances, I get the cold shoulder.
Jim, Pennsylvania
Like most job hunters who network unsuccessfully, Jim is asking the wrong questions. And getting the wrong answers. And not getting hired.
Instead of, “Why won’t anyone return my calls or give me job leads?” Jim (and you) should ask, “How could I give people a reason to contact me with job leads?” This simple change in mindset will make all the difference. Try it and see.
Here are more questions to ask yourself if your networking is not panning out.
  • How can I make networking a two-way street, and do something that benefits the people I want job leads from?
  • What news/tips/advice/suggestions could I give to people in my network FIRST, which would ethically obligate them to help me in return?
  • Who else could I be networking with?
  • How many new people have I met this week who could give me job leads AFTER I help them out in some way?
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Networking is like skiing. If you give up and say, “It didn’t work for me,” it’s because you weren’t doing it right. Period.
Here’s hoping these two ways to uncover job leads and network better will help you get hired fast. Now, go out and make your own luck!
Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.” and “Guerilla Resumes“   (Which I review here).  Since 1996, he has provided job search assistance to more than 20,000 people. Author of “51 Ways to Find a Job Fast — Guaranteed,” Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio and others.Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. To learn about Guerrilla Resumes and how it could help you, visit his site at

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