Archive for Monday, March 27, 2006

Libraries can provide wealth of information for job searches

March 27, 2006

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Q: We have a daughter who wants to move to Albuquerque, N.M., after graduation. Do you have some reference book that might be applicable? - Joan

Kate: I think your daughter should call the local Albuquerque library and ask if they have a reference book of local companies. Then she'll know whether one exists. Either way, she can then ask what they recommend to help her compile a list of target companies.

Dale: A conversation with a reference librarian is always a good idea. Your daughter will probably scoff at getting information from an actual human, but I'm certain she'll be delighted by the helpfulness of these saints of information. In fact, on my computer I keep a list of reference-desk numbers for four libraries because various librarians have different attitudes, resources and time.

Kate: The library should have lists of local companies, which your daughter can then research on the Internet or via the Chamber of Commerce. She might want to travel to Albuquerque to visit some of the companies, stopping by and dropping off her resume. Then she should follow up with each one, mentioning that she contacted them before, so they will appreciate her persistence. That will help her stand out over the thousands of other recent graduates.

Kate: This notion of showing up in person will likewise strike your daughter as woefully old-fashioned. However, the resume she hand-delivers will get routed to the right person and, arriving via interoffice mail, will stand out. Plus, each visit to a company will be a chance for learning and for luck. The president of a shipbuilding company told me about the time he walked past the reception desk one day and overheard an applicant inquiring about openings. The president was so impressed with the applicant's willingness to inquire in person that after a brief interview, he hired her on the spot. Sometimes, the no-tech approach gives you the human connection that is at the heart of business ... and of hiring.

Q: Our family relocated out of state for my husband's new position. My husband was laid off, but we've settled here and would like to stay. Unfortunately, finding a job locally has been a tremendous headache. My husband ended up taking a job six hours from home. I've been job-hunting for him on the Internet, but I've hit a brick wall. With 10 years of training experience, I can't believe he can't find a decent job. - Vicki

Kate: Let's cut to the chase, Vicki. Here's how a successful search works: You don't just go after job openings, you work a target list of companies. In your husband's case, his list probably would be major companies or training firms. I just put your city and "large employers" into a Google search and got a long list.

Dale: That's the first step, and also the easiest. Now he needs to find out who the person is in each company who would be in a position to hire him, if/when they are hiring.

Kate: That's why it's called a "search." Finding the right people to talk to and staying in touch with them is the essence of a successful search, especially when traditional methods have failed. We at The Five O'Clock Club call this "direct contact." It's not "networking," where you try to get personal introductions. With direct contact, you do your own introductions. It works. Our latest data shows about one-third of our members get jobs this way.

Dale: Meanwhile, your husband might also be in a position to experiment with telecommuting. Many employees in his situation are able to work from home two or more days a week. That might solve the problem, or, if not, it might give him more time to get involved with local associations, suppliers and consultants.

Kate: None of which represents the easy answer you were probably hoping for. There are no quick remedies - as you've already experienced. Indeed, the truth is that hard work and the long view result in the shortest search.

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