I was recently asked for advice about seeking a job, a request we all get from time to time. In this case it was someone who had been very technical for most of their career, but then changed direction and was now seeking to return to technology. Nothing wrong with that, but it does present it’s challenges and a slow economy doesn’t help. I’ve got a few tips to share that maybe go beyond checking your resume for spelling errors.
- Use two staffing companies. Think of them as your network by proxy, they know far more people in your area (or the area you want to move to) than you will, and they have a profit motive to find the job openings. Use more than one because not every staffing company will work hard for you, and by their nature they tend to have exclusive agreements with potential employers, so having two – in theory – doubles your chances.
- Search Monster, Dice, and the local newspaper for openings that might fit. Some of these are recruiters trolling for long term prospects, but many are valid jobs. When you’re out of work, you can’t afford to ignore opportunities. Don’t expect much feedback from this, just think of it as buying a lottery ticket and maybe you’ll win and get a call for an interview. While this seems obvious, it’s important to not rely solely on staffing companies.
- Let your personal network know you’re looking – tactfully. No need to go into the details of whether you were fired, downsized, quit – just a short message that you are looking for opportunities doing X in area Y. I wouldn’t send this message more than once every three months. You can do a broadcast to the group or email people individually, or a mix of the two. LinkedIn makes it easy to set a status message and that’s a great low key way to get the message out.
- Increase the size of your personal network. It’s not just the people in your network, it’s also the people they come in contact with that might open a door. If you don’t have the ability to reach 100 people (not all will be technical) start scouring through your email, thinking about previous jobs, and building up the list. This is one area where doing the work now before you need it works out a lot better.
- Leverage membership in existing groups and join new ones. A common theme at user groups is for new members to show up when they are out of work. It’s worth doing, but it works better if you were participating before you need work. Consider attending some other user groups, there is often a lot of crossover between .Net and SQL, and Oracle and SQL. Even more social groups (LinkedIn is a good place to find these also) often have value, I see a lot of staffing and HR professionals participating in them, making it an interesting place to be seen and get to know people. If you’re on LinkedIn (or similar), joining virtual groups is also a nice way to meet more people. Use a light touch!
Nothing very original there, but I rarely see candidates doing all five of them. Given the small amount of time required, are there any you would not do?