Dear Kate & Dale: I am a middle manager who is looking for a job. I have vigorously pursued "research interviews." People say they wish they had something to put on the table, but no offers, after five months. My job search is stalling out. I'm running out of contacts. Should I revisit some of the people I have talked to? - Darryl
Dale: When we hear people say they are running out of contacts, or out of "things to try," we know there are fundamental flaws in their searches. If you had, say, just 30 people you thought of as "contacts," then averaged just two leads from each, then you would have tripled your base, and it should keep on growing. Further, your research should be expanding your job targets - finding new industries to explore, new companies being created and so on. Done right, the job-hunter has more work each passing week, not less.
Kate: The good news is that it sounds as though you already have many elements of a good search. If you're doing "research interviews," then you are able to get in to talk to people even when they don't have current job openings. And if they are saying they wish they could hire you, then you obviously are making a good impression. Now it's just a matter of expanding your search. One excellent way to develop new momentum is to re-contact those people with whom you have already met - usually every month and a half to two months. You can write them letters telling them how much you appreciate their help and how well-received you have been (giving examples). You can say that you will call them in a few days to see if they have come across any new information.
Dale: To keep those conversations from being awkward, do plenty of research and ask their opinions. (For instance, perhaps the person works for a large bank, and you inquire about suppliers your research has told you the bank uses.) You have to help them help you. Further, you shouldn't just be asking for help, but giving it - telling people about speakers coming to town or about someone at another company they should meet. If you're serious about your search, you might be out of a job, but you are never out of work to do.
Dear Kate & Dale: I am a manager who reads your column every week to keep informed about the job market. Any advice on reducing turnover when you are very limited in what you can pay? - Emily
Kate: Let's start with some statistics, taken from a study commissioned by AOL: 63 percent of those employed say they are happy in their jobs, but 73 percent of those surveyed are dreaming of a new job! And more than one-half (58 percent) feel that an improving economy will increase their desire to find a new job.
Dale: Given the way the economy is moving, you should expect even more pressure on employees to find ways to increase their pay. Not only is there the price of gas, but many people in the country have had "raises" via refinancing of their homes. As interest rates climb, so will floating mortgage rates and house payments. So, what can a manager do, besides pay more? Three things: First, you can find employees outside the usual employment base - I've known managers who've had great loyalty from retired people or those with disabilities or church groups. Second, you can adjust the work schedule to fit employees - for instance, creating a work schedule around school hours. Third, you can find other rewards, besides money. The expert here is Dr. Bob Nelson, who has just come out with a new edition of his best-seller "1001 Ways to Reward Employees." You'll find plenty of lively new ideas about making the workplace more satisfying. Sure, nearly all employees will jump if they get a better offer, but you can make them less likely to go looking for that better offer.