Losing a job can be really scary. It brings up all kinds of primal fears like, "will I be homeless, will my spouse divorce me, will I not be able to feed my kids"...truly scary stuff. I got hammered in the dot com bust of the late 90s and then again in the bankster bust of 2008. The first time I was unemployed for six month and the second time for eight months.
I've been fortunate in that I've had a good career. I started out as a technical support representative and went as high as executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer support. I've been in my current job for just over two years and really like it. I feel lucky to have it and I never take it for granted. I know, that this job will come to an end also, sooner as opposed to later. I'm in tech, at two years on the job. I've probably got between nine months and two years left in this job, best guess. That's the way it goes in tech, you are always on the move, the clock is always running down.
Don't get me wrong, I really like tech, it's fun and exciting. The problem for me is that as I get older, I need less "fun and exciting" and more stability. Anyway, enough about me. This diary is for you. What I have to offer you is a great approach to finding a job quickly. I've honed it over the years by necessity. I know it works for me because it has landed me eleven jobs over the years. I've also coached family members and friends through the process, with great success. It seems to work regardless of industry and or type of job sought. Interestingly, this process also works well for consultants, contractors, and small business people offering services to the business community.
What I'm offering below the squiggly is a step-by-step process for finding a job quickly. I'm also offering support. Looking for work is a long and lonely process. I will be here to listen and help.
This is my way of saying "thank you" to the entire Occupy Wall Street movement. Occupy has given me and my family hope that we can get our country back from the 1% and make it work for the rest of us also. I look forward to the day when I can once again say, "I'm proud to be an American". I also want to thank MinistryOfTruth (MOT), from here at KOS. MOT is our lobbyist. He is our spokesperson. He speaks for the 99%! Last but not least, I want to thank Zwoof, also from here at KOS, for this amazing video. The video is a masterful piece of film making. It's amazingly inspirational! It brings tears of joy to my eyes every time I watch it. I live in Oakland California and was at ground zero with my kids 45 minutes before...shit hit the fan...watch the video and you'll understand. Thanks again Zwoof...amazing.
Okay, let's jump the squiggly and get down to business...
A few quick points to provide a frame of reference.
The steps listed below are a proven system that is easy to accomplish and not expensive. It may feel a little odd at first, for some, as does all new learning. The key is to stick with it long enough to get comfortable. In a short amount of time you will begin to see results. You may see an encouraging result in your first hour, definitely by your third hour.
The job search process has been broken for a long time. In good times, there is so much demand that people just kind of stumble through the process. Because there is demand, it does not take a long time to find a job and so the pain of the process is not that great. In slow times like now, the pain of the process can be unbearable. The good news it that there is an approach that is way better than the usually method and that's what we are going to cover here.
The Hidden Job Market:
Most job openings are not posted. In other words, most job openings are not listed anywhere. They are not listed on the company website, on a flyer in the employee lounge or with a recruiter hired to file the position. Most job openings are just not posted. As many as 80% of all job openings are not posted anywhere. In addition, the vast majority of job opening are created by small businesses.
This is what's known as the Hidden Job Market. It's called hidden because job seekers can't see any part of it. Most job seekers are looking for something, that in large measure is invisible to them. Most job seekers are looking for job openings that are posted. If most job openings are not posted, how can job seekers be expected to find them?
Let's take a look at how jobs are really created so we can take a closer look at this Hidden Job Market. A hiring manager keeps an eye on his or her business. As things occur they are always aware of what they are going to need to run the business. For example, if they land a big new client, they may need to ramp up production. Another common example is that business improves in general and lots of new orders are coming in. At this point the hiring manager starts to think about adding staff. It's at this point the the job has been created. This is often months before anyone in the Human Resources department has any knowledge of it at all. Heck, at this point, the hiring manger's boss does not even know about it. For that matter, the position does not even officially exist. Perfect.
This is exactly when and where you want to get your hat into the ring for this job. You don't want to wait until the job is public knowledge and the Human Resources department feels obligated to collect 50 resumes for the hiring manger to sift through. You don't want to wait until the Human Resources department has arranged a caddle call interview process. No, you want to skirt all of this by talking to the hiring manager way before any of these painful charades are even considered.
Here is an important secret. Hiring managers don't want to do any of that traditional hiring baloney either. As a matter of fact, hiring manager hate hiring. All managers hate hiring because it is so risky. It's risky mostly because managers don't know how to do it and basically despise the process, hence the rise of the Human Resources department. Now we are going to see the Hidden Job Market in action.
Since the hiring manager does not like hiring and really has a jammed schedule already, they try to go with the informal network. They mention it to their current employees, they mention that they are looking for someone when they speak with suppliers. They mention to their old college chums over lunch, that they are looking to add staff. They are do this because they want someone to make it easy for them. They want one of their current employees to say, "I know just the person". The hiring manager loves this because it saves a boat-load of time and takes the risk down. The time is saved via skirting most of the HR stuff and the risk goes way down because the recommending employee knows the culture and what is required in the job. And this my friend, is how most jobs are filled.
What you will need and how much it will cost:
In order to make this work you will need access to a computer that is connected to the Internet. You will also need a telephone (with a greeting in your name and voice mail). You will also need an email account that you can check at least daily, if not more often. You will also need about $300 to buy names. Perhaps another $100, if you can afford it, to have a professional scrub your resume. You will also need a quiet place to make and take telephone calls. As things progress, you will need a set of interview clothes, but not right away.
1st: Don't waste time on what doesn't work.
The best way to save yourself a lot of time and anguish while looking for a job is to not waste time on things that don't work and or can hold you back. The first of these time sinks to avoid is the job boards. As everyone knows there are lots of internet job listing services. These services list supposedly available jobs. Often times job seekers waste hours and hours basically throwing their resume into this black hole. The problem with these services, for job seekers, is that your resume never gets seen. What happens is that the hiring manager or HR department gets 300 resumes from the service in response to the ad that they placed. No hiring manager with a real job has the time or interest needed to sift through 300 resumes looking for a good match. As a result, the resumes sit in the hiring managers desk in a file for a month and then get filed or thrown away, untouched. Short story, don't waste your time.
The next big time sink to avoid is the Human Resources department. They cannot help you get a job. They can help you with paperwork after you are hired, but they cannot help you get a job. Only the hiring manager can decided to hire you. Do what you can to avoid them. If you call in to a company and the operator sends you to the Human Resources department, hang up. The Human Resources department is more geared to screening you out, so avoid them when you can. Also, hiring managers are not keen on the Human Resources department either. Smart hiring managers also avoid the Human Resources department also.
If you are able to stay off of the Internet job boards (services) and avoid the Human Resources department, you will save yourself a very significant amount of time that you can put into a productive job search. On to the next step.
2nd: Get your list ready.
This is perhaps the most important step. It is responsible for perhaps 65% of your results. As a result, it is worth it to take the time necessary to get it as right as possible. Doing so should not take more than a couple of hours either no money or a little bit of money.
Your list is the list of companies that you are going to call to see if they are hiring. In a perfect world you would have as many as 300 companies on your list. In some situations that many names may be unrealistic. If that's the case for you, then you need to expand your geographic search radius until you can pony up at least 100 names if not the full 300. Don't worry if you can't get that many names, just know that this process depends on having at least a critical mass of about 100 names, more is better, but not above 300. Going above 300 names is not good because he list becomes difficult to manage. Yes, you many have to look outside of your neighborhood, city or even state. However, when you start "working" the names, always work the ones closest to home first and hardest.
You make your list by looking at your past work history and determine what you've got the most of. Let's say that you've got twenty years of work experience and fifteen of it was as an accountant and five of it was as an engineer. In this case, you are going to be in the market for small companies that use accountants. You are going to go with the accountant work experience and not the engineer work experience because you are looking for a job quickly. Small companies, the kind you are going to be seeking, like to hire people with experience doing whatever the job is. Since they are small, they don't have lots of expertise and so they want hire people who do. They want to see resumes that have mostly whatever they are trying to hire on them. If they are looking for an accountant, they want to see that most of your experience is in accounting.
After you figure out what you've got most of on your resume, then you start building your list. Go to a list broker or a website that sells lists and first find out what the SIC code is for companies you have worked for in the past as an accountant, to continue with our example. SIC codes are a way to identify companies that do the same thing. Once you know the SIC codes for the companies you worked for as an accountant, you then get up to 300 company names with the same SIC codes, as close to home as possible. For example, your past work experience companies may fall under three separate SIC codes, no problem. In this case, you would get 100 company names per SIC code, that are all as close to home as possible.
In summary, if you are an accountant in Baltimore and the companies you have worked for fall under two separate SIC codes, then you buy 150 company names for each SIC code, of small companies, as close to Baltimore as possible, that are all smaller companies (say, 10 to 250 employees). At this point you should have a spreadsheet with 300 companies on it.
The spreadsheet needs to list the company name, address and telephone number. It also needs to list the name of the highest ranking person possible (CEO, owner, president, etc.). The next step is to sort the list by city, this is how you order the list so that you start with the companies that are closest to you.
3rd: Get your resume, and cover letter ready:
Often times job seekers spend way too much time on their resume. It's a hangover from the days when everyone used to try and get a job at bigger companies that always had Human Resource departments. Human Resource departments use resumes to screen people out and not in. That's where that nonsense about not having any gaps in your resume came from. Smaller companies, the ones we are targeting are not looking to screen you out, they are looking to see if you have any experience that they need. They don't care if you took a year off between two jobs or if you were unemployed for a year and a half. What they are looking for is experience and talent that they can put to work now.
If you can afford it, have a professional scrub it. I would not spend more than about $150 to get this done. It's optional as long as you can get someone else to give it a good proof and make sure there are not typos and that it makes it easy to see the experience you are selling. Once you are happy with your resume, save it as a PDF and put it somewhere handy, like your desktop.
As far as the cover letter is concerned, it's an email that says:
Hello Mr. Jones,
Thank you for taking my call today.
Also, thank you for letting me know that you may be hiring accountants in the next few months.
Attached is my resume for your consideration.
You will send this via email with your resume attached only after you have a discussion with a hiring manager who says that they may be hiring in the next few months. Let's talk about what you are going to say when you start calling the companies on your list.
4th: Get your script ready:
When you do a job search work session, you are going to take you list and start calling the companies on the list. You are going to ask for the highest ranking person as noted on your list. Once you reach the person and or his or her assistant, you are going to recite this script.
Hi, my name is Fred Jones.
I'm calling to see if you guys are going to be hiring accountants in the next few months.
And if so, I'd like to submit my resume for consideration.
Key point: You have to say the script without any breaks. If you stop after the second sentence, the hiring manager may think you are a recruiter who wants a commission to find an employee. Not good. The purpose of the third sentence is to make sure they don't think you are a recruiter of any kind. The purpose is to let them know that you are an individual job seeker, speaking for him/her self.
Most of the time after you say the script they will say "no". No is a great response. It's great because it saves you time. If they say no, you can say thank you, hang up and cross them off of your list. You have run them to ground and the answer is no. Done, move on to your next call quickly.
Often times they will say something like, "I'm not sure, you should talk to Jane, she runs the accounting department, you can reach her at (555) 999-8888". Or something to this effect. When this happens and you are referred to someone else, when you reach that person, you say the script again, word for word (see above). Once you get comfortable with the script, which won't take long, you can slip in something like "Bob Jones suggested I contact you" at the beginning. Not necessary but may be helpful.
If they say, something like, "yes, we may be looking for an accountant in the next few months", then you have hit pay dirt. This is what you are looking for. Often times they will say yes indirectly because they aren't yet comfortable enough with you to disclose that they may be hiring an accountant in the next few months. Instead, they will say something like, "so, your are looking for a job", you say, "yes". They then might say, "go ahead and send me your resume", you say, "Okay, what is your email address." The point is that they may not want to tell you directly or they might not know for sure but they think it's a possibility but they don't want to say that to you. It does not matter. What you want is permission to email them your resume.
In summary, if they say yes, send the resume and make a note on your calendar to call them back in one week. If they say no, thank them, hang up, cross them off your list and move on to your next call. If they refer you to someone else take notes and run the lead to ground using the exact same script.
Note: If you can't get a list that has the name of the top person, you can still use this plan, it will just take longer. What you do is when you call the main number, you will get an operator. Just read him or her the exact same script (see above). They will then transfer you to whomever and when they answer, you will say the exact same script (see above). You basically say the exact same script to everyone you talk to until they say yes, not or maybe and then you act accordingly. Easy. Nothing to remember, just keep the script taped on the wall where you can see it easily when you need it.
Key point: Sometimes you will reach a hiring manager who wants to telephone interview you right then. Don't let them do it. They will start by asking a bunch of questions. This always goes bad for the job searcher. It's basically a way for them to screen you out. They keep asking you questions until they find something they can exclude you on. For example, "oh, I'm sorry, we would need someone with more experience doing whatever, click". When this happens the opportunity is not genuine or the hiring manager is trying to use you as column fodder. This most often happens when the hiring manager already knows who he wants to hire but needs to be able to tell his boss that he talked for 3 other candidates also and they did not workout for the following reasons. If this happens to you, immediately jump in and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I have a call in five minutes, would you like me to send you my resume?" If they say yes, ask what their email address is, get it and hang up. If they say no and or don't want to give you their email address, say thanks and hang up. This won't happen that often so don't worry about it. You have nothing to lose. You will not blow legitimate interest by doing this, in fact quite the opposite, you will be perceived as busy and that's good.
5th: Practice your script:
Often times people are scared to do telephone work. They worry about things like, "what will I say, what if they hang up on me, what if I sound like an idiot, what if they reject me". These are all perfectly legitimate concerns; if you are not using a script. If you are using an initial contact script, especially a tested one (see the one above), you have noting to worry about.
All you have to do is to say the script out loud 100 times. It will only take you a few minutes. The benefit is huge. By the time you recite the script the 100th time, you will be bored of it. You will also have it down cold. This will put you at ease when you are on the telephone. When you are making calls you DO NOT recite the script from memory, you read it from the piece of paper you have it type written on handing where you can easily see it while you are on the telephone. Somewhere past your 1,000th call is when you can consider reciting from memory. Regardless, always have it posted where you can easily see it.
Don't cop out or listen to anyone who has not make thousands of cold calls, as I have. A script is what takes away the fear. Also, the people you call prefer scripts also. The people you call all want to know who you are and what you want. They want to know this in under 15 seconds. If you can't get them that in under 15 seconds, you are toast with them. A proven script, like the one I've provided above guarantees that they get what they want within the time period they are willing to wait, every time. This kind of script is called an "initial contact" script. The purpose is to script the first 15 seconds of the call, no more. After the 15 seconds, after the person receiving the calls basic questions have been answered, there is no need for a script. Also, after you practice saying the script out loud, as we discussed above, the person on the other end of the phone will have no idea that you are using a script, and even if they did, they would not care, because you are telling them who you are and why you are calling, quickly. You are getting to the point, and that's what they want above all.
6th: Complete your first hour of dialing:
At this point you should be ready to start working your list. This means that you will start at the top of your list, because they are closest to where you live, and start dialing. You will call the first number, ask for the top person, wait to be transferred, if the number was not a direct dial and when you reach the person, after they say "hello" you then say our script.
They will say yes or no and you will take the appropriate action, send the resume if appropriate and update you spreadsheet with what happened, when and what your next step is with this person, if applicable. And then you move on to your next call as quickly as possible. Your goals is to move through the list as quickly as you can for one our. The purpose is to get you comfortable with the various moving parts. Once you have put in your first hour you will be much more comfortable with the whole process.
Some people prefer to work the end of the list during this first hour. The logic is that you don't want to do your initial training practice on the companies that are closest to where you live because you want to make the best impression possible on these people. The way to make the best impression on those companies that are on your list and closest to your house is to call them after you have completed all of your practice and training. To call them once you are comfortable and in the groove.
Be sure to update you spreadsheet as you go. You want to add columns to help you keep track of who you talked with, when and what the result was. You also need a column to enter your date of next action, so you know when to follow up. Be sure to check that column every day so that you don't miss and due action items.
7th: Complete your first three days in a row of dialing:
In this step you dial for one hour for three days in a row. The purpose is to get you into the groove of making these calls every day. Even after these three days, you should only dial for one hour per day. The reason for this is that you will hear lots of rejection along the way. My limiting the dial time to one hour, you limit the amount of rejection you experience. This is an important point because it is very important that you keep your spirits up. Losing a job can put anyone into a depression. Making these calls can be mentally taxing, if you don't follow a proven plan like the one you are reading now.
After you finish dialing an hour a day for three days, you can consider yourself trained and ready to begin the job of looking for a job.
8th: Put it on your calendar and do it every day:
Put an hour per business day on your calendar, in the morning, as dial time. This is an appointment with yourself that you will not miss. Every morning you get up and get ready for work. Your work is looking for a job. Your first activity of every day is to spend an hour on the phone cold calling businesses as we have described here. You do everything quickly so you can get at least 25 dials done in that hour. You don't leave voicemail messages. Instead, you mark them as dialed for that day and try them back later. If you can't reach them in ten tries, cross them off of your list. Your pitch must me made to the live on the phone, no voice mail.
After you spend the first hour calling the list and updating the spreadsheet as you go, you then spend the second hour on follow-up. Follow-up items are those actions that you put on a calendar based on earlier conversations. For example, if you talk with a hiring manger and he or she says to call back on the 19th, then you need to call back on the 19th. Every day you check your calendar or spreadsheet to see what follow-up actions you are supposed to do that day. At first you will not have many follow-up items, but in not time, the list will start growing.
You should expect to get between one and three "yes" responses per one hour dialing session. That means one person will say that yes they may be hiring and yes you can send your resume. That's a big deal. That's a huge milestone. Each one of these should be considered a win and savored as a victory. Your goal is to build up a pipeline of these opportunities. The more you dial, the more "yes" responses, the more resumes send, the more follow-up call backs made the more telephone interviews scheduled and completed.
9th - The telephone interview:
The larger goal of all this is to land you telephone interviews. These are also called screening interviews. These interviews are conducted by telephone and are a prelude to an in person interview. Interviews are beyond the scope of this document but I would be happy to write about how to handle them if there is interest.
You want to generate as many interviews as possible. When you generate and complete say, five interviews you will then begin to get job offers. Some of the interview will turn into offers. Not all of them, not even most of them. But one in five will likely turn into offers. You keep dialing, until you generate enough interviews that you begin to get job offers. The key is to keep dialing. Even when you start getting interviews and or offers, you have to keep dialing. That's way I recommend only one hour per day. The reason is that if you slow down or stop the dialing, the interviews will slow down and the offers will stop. It's all about volume. Keep the volume high enough to keep the interviews and offers coming.
The benefit of all this pipeline building stuff is that it works. Dials will turn into interviews and interviews will turn into job offers. That's all great, but there is an additional very important benefit. The additional benefit of this pipeline building stuff is that it generates so much volume that you are free to not care that much about any company or job. You will not mind the "no" responses because you will have so many additional irons in the fire. This is key. This is how you keep the stress down.
The basic idea is to call small companies as near to where you live as possible and ask them if they are hiring. If they are, you send them a resume and call them back in a week to see if the timing is right to schedule a telephone interview. You spend an hour per day calling down your list of 300 preselected prospect companies. You don't leave voice messages. It only counts if you speak to the hiring manager live on the telephone. You keep your dialing volume up by committing to one serious hour per day. You keep on dialing an hour per day, even when you start getting interviews and offers. You don't let your productivity slip so that you don't have to worry about getting or losing any given job.
I will do my best to answer your questions and provide you with support and encouragement. Looking for a job is a big fat pain in the ass. Looking for a job using the usual method is depressing because it only works during a boom economy. This approach has worked for me many times, in all types of economic conditions. My hope is that it may work for you also.
The Hidden Job market concept is not mine. I first heard about it from Richard Nelson Bolles, author of "What Color is Your Parachute".