Top 10 Most Helpful Things for Job-Seekers

December 11, 2009 at 12:05 am 16 comments

[Updated, December 2013 ...]

Recently I allowed myself to vent when I published my list of “Top 10 Most Annoying Things for Job-Seekers.” I’m usually a much more positive and optimistic “glass half full” kind of person, so I made the promise to return to a more uplifting tone in future blog postings. The most obvious way I could think of to do that is to flip around that last list and to publish my list of “Top 10 Most Helpful Things for Job-Seekers!”

Now I realize that being unemployed is, by its very nature, an unpleasant state – to say the least! However, there are obviously many things that can be of great help to a job-seeker. Some of them are relatively new and innovative tools and technologies, and others are tried and true things that have been around seemingly forever. Once again, I’m sure I’m missing some important things here … but without further adieu, here’s my list in no particular order …

TOP 10 MOST HELPFUL THINGS FOR JOB-SEEKERS:

10. The Internet (Free Info, Job Search Resources, Company Websites, etc.)
It’s so easy to forget how relatively new the internet is. (The internet was still in its infancy as recently as the 1990’s.) Today, the amount of information that is free and available at the touch of a button is mind boggling! Resources for job-seekers that would have taken weeks or months and a lot of legwork to track down in the past are now right there on your screen at home! Job postings, résumé writing help, interviewing tips, detailed information about companies and the people who work there, salary surveys, career advice, relevant blogs … the list is seemingly endless and truly remarkable.

9. LinkedIn and other Social Media Networking Sites
While technically a subset of #10, the recent mainstream popularity of online Social Networking Sites – and in particular the more business-oriented LinkedIn – has radically changed the way jobs-seekers connect with potential employers, recruiters find candidates, and companies search for and uncover details about potential employees. Creating an effective online profile on LinkedIn is one of the most important things a job-seeker can do right now. It has certainly revolutionized the methodology of networking as a job-seeking activity. And it’s hard to believe that it’s still free! In addition to LinkedIn, there are dozens of other lesser-known Social Networking sites that are also changing the way business gets done and people communicate in the “Web 2.0″ age. To see an extensive list of nearly 300 Social Media sites, just click on the “Share” button to the right of this blog, on the side-bar.

8. Public Library Database Access
This one never ceases to amaze me … and so many people are still unaware of it. Almost every public library now provides free online access to dozens of professional business databases like Dun & Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Database Premier, ReferenceUSA Business, and many others. This gives you access to full information on millions of companies, including every business in the U.S. and the leading businesses in Canada. You can research companies for job searches, lead generation, marketing and simple company look-ups using multiple search criteria, including geography, industry, size, and specialty fields. Information includes contact information, decision-maker names, executive biographies, and more. Staffing Firms use to pay thousands of dollars to get access to these resources. Now anyone can log into these databases from any home computer with nothing more than a public library card number! Ask your local librarian for help if you don’t know how to do this. It’s your tax dollars at work!

7. Email
The use of email is possibly the most significant change in the way people in the business world communicate with each other over the last 15-20 years. Most professionals respond much more favorably to an email approach than a cold phone call. Executives, company representatives, HR people and hiring managers rarely answer their phones anymore. Emails are much more likely to get through to the person you are trying to reach if it is targeted properly, and written well. That certainly doesn’t guarantee a response … and I am certainly not suggesting that email communication should replace phone calls or in-person meetings. In the end, direct live communication with actual people is the ONLY way business gets done, decisions get made, and people get hired. However, a well-written email can still be the most effective way to get your “foot in the door” – and it’s free and easy!

6. Cell Phones
We all tend to take cell phones for granted these days, and it’s so easy to forget how recent it is that we’ve become so dependent on them! All you have to do is watch reruns of popular TV sitcoms from just a few years ago on TV Land or Nick at Nite to be reminded of how relatively new they are. (Remember “Car Phones?” How about Public Phone Booths?!) The pervasiveness of simple cell phones has totally changed the way business gets done in today’s fast-paced and mobile world. It really wasn’t that long ago that we were all tethered to our desk phones at work, or our home phones. If you got a call back from a prospect that you left a message for, and you happened to not be by your phone – you were out of luck! Now, our phones follow us everywhere … and it’s rare for a person who is expecting a call to miss it due to being away. And, of course, those people who are lucky (and affluent) enough to have a “smart phone” (iPhone, Droid, etc.) can combine all of the above mentioned things (#10 through #6) — literally half of this entire list — in one device held in the palm of their hands! It’s starting to look like Star Trek had it right!

5. COBRA
Losing your job is a huge problem … but losing your employer-related health insurance can be much worse. In fact, it can be a matter of life and death! In 1986, congress passed the “Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act” (COBRA) which entitles anyone who was involuntarily terminated from a job at a company with at least 20 employees or more to extend their company’s group Health Insurance Benefits for a period of up to 18 months. Of course, anyone using COBRA must pay the full cost of those benefits. Extending your former employer’s group health insurance coverage at full cost with COBRA can be prohibitively expensive for many people. However, in most cases that cost would be even higher if you tried to get the equivalent coverage with private health insurance — although with the advent of the new Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) that may or may not change. The jury is still out on that one! [For more detailed information on COBRA, go to this website from the Department of Labor: "FAQs for Employees About COBRA Continuation Health Coverage."]

4. Job-Seeker Networking Groups
Not to be confused with those mass “Networking Events” held at hotels or bars when everyone mills around trading business cards, Job-Seeker Networking Groups (sometimes called “Job Clubs”) are popping up all over the country. They range from small, industry-specific groups to larger community-based groups. Often meeting in churches or community centers, these groups are almost all free and offer all sorts of advice and help, résumé reviews, interview tips, guest speakers, private websites with job leads and discussions, and best of all – support from your peers! It’s an excellent way for job-seekers to navigate through the often confusing steps needed to conduct an effective search, and it’s also a great way to meet helpful and supportive people – many of whom are in the same boat as you. [As a starting point, check out his state-by-state list of job-seeker support groups: "Directory of Networking and Job Search Support Groups by State."]

3. Industry Associations
My advice to job-seekers has always been to focus on a target list of companies, and to try to limit networking activities to meeting with people specific to their industry niche who can connect them with actual decision-makers in their target companies. [See “Looking for Networking in All the Wrong Places.”] Joining an Industry Association that is specific to your particular specialty niche is one of the best ways to meet such people. There are often regular local chapter meetings featuring guest speakers on topics of interest to that industry. There is almost always a time at those meetings to mingle and “network.” Membership fees can sometimes be quite costly … but I’ve found that many of those professional associations will either greatly reduce or even totally waive the membership fees for people who are “in transition” (there’s that lovely euphemism again!) If you don’t see a reduced fee advertised on their website, it never hurts to contact someone in their membership area and simply ask!

2. Networking Connections
This is the lifeblood of modern job searching in today’s challenging market. [Read “How to Network: A Step-by-Step Guide for Job Searching” for details on how to network your way to a job.] The main goal of every job-seeker should be to cultivate and maintain a strong network of industry-specific people who are in positions to help you. They can give you very targeted advice, alert you to opportunities in your specific niche industry, and they can introduce you to other key people to expand your own network with. I’ve found my networking contacts to be incredibly helpful and supportive. I often get emails or calls with tips on positions at other companies that have not been advertised or posted anywhere. I’ve also received numerous high-level referrals to other decision-makers through my networking contacts. These people are gold … staying in touch with them is critical. And make sure you give back as much as possible – networking should always be a 2-way street! [See “The Art of Giving: the Key to Effective Networking.”]

1. Support from Family and Friends
Never underestimate the power of a strong network of family and friends. Staying positive through a period of unemployment can be extremely challenging. Having the support of your spouse or significant other, parents, children, siblings, friends, and community members is huge, and will go a long way toward keeping that positive energy necessary to succeed. [See “The Power of a Positive Attitude.”] They may not be able to provide you with useful job leads or referrals … but they can give you something even harder to find: friendship, unconditional love and support!

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Top 10 Most Annoying Things for Job-Seekers How to Network: A Step-by-Step Guide for Job Searching

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Bisignani  |  December 11, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I’d like to see some “how to” articles on networking. For me, it is the most frustrating job search skill to master and although I have tried hard to give something back as your article suggests, very few people are actually able to help or are even interested in helping. Everybody says to network but I’m just not sure how. I have spoken to anyone who will speak to me and even tried sending information I find that may be of value to them. I have rarely if ever received any sort of response. I know it is about who you know rather than what you know but I’d sure appreciate some concrete and specific tips.

    Reply
  • 3. Michelle Alton  |  December 12, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Interesting. Since losing my job on September 20, most advice columns I’ve read say that cold calling is the best route. And they never tell you how to figure out who to call at a company, or how to present oneself. You say emailing is more effective these days. But the same question arises: How does one find out who to email?

    The second question I would ask is, “How do I find a local job club?

    Reply
  • 5. Cindy Clinco, CPA  |  December 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Michael, I just wanted to say I have enjoyed reading your discussions since being laid off September 15th after seven years of dedication. You have helped me through this rough time with solid advise and continued motivation. I appreciate you and look forward to your future blogs as I continue my search for full time employment!

    Reply
  • 6. Karen Baker  |  December 12, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Michael,
    I really enjoy reading your blog. Your voice is crisp, clear and to the point. You have much to offer those in transition, and those along side them.

    I look forward to your musings, and suggest they are more like rare and wonderful gems.

    Reply
  • 7. Jon Williams  |  December 12, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Numbers 1 and 2 are tops for me, too. Support and networking are the keys to my search. Family support is so helpful and I get it with sincerity. The best networking input I got was training at http://www.NetworkingSteps.com. It was practical, usable, and gets me into offices of people I need to see.

    Jon

    Reply
  • 8. Angie Sallese  |  December 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Both articles were very helpful. Sometimes we know these things instinctively, but seeing them in black and white sure drives the point home. Thanks for putting them together in one place.

    Reply
  • 9. Aileen  |  December 14, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Michael. Reason #8, the public library database access to Dun & Bradstreet is one I did not know before – that is very valuable information. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • 10. George Vacca, Jr.  |  December 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Great post! Solid useful advice I’ll be visiting often.

    Reply
  • 11. Sherri Henkin  |  December 14, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Michael – great list; thanks. Two additional tips about cell phones: ensure that your outgoing message is professional and select a quiet place to take (or make) the job-related call.

    Reply
  • 12. somaie  |  December 15, 2009 at 2:28 am

    According to one study, the most important tool for small businesses to succeed in 2010 is search engine marketing, while email marketing, public relations and social media cited as crucial for success. 23.8% of all small businesses reported that search engine marketing was the tool most needed for their business to succeed in 2010.

    Reply
  • 13. David VanderMeulen  |  December 22, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for posting the link to your job search related Blog. Good information and I agree with your ‘take’ on a number of items, like Twitter, what to do/not-do about Age Discrimination, Networking, etc. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

    Reply
  • 14. John Zajac  |  December 31, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Michael,
    I believe you hit the best top 10 for most job seekers, thanks for helping us vent with you.
    -John Zajac

    Reply
  • 15. Lorella Murgolo  |  January 20, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Comments (2)
    Lorella Murgolo
    Business Development Professional at CEGOS ITALIA SPA

    See all Lorella’s activity »
    1) Know what you are looking for
    2) have expertise for the job that you are looking for
    3) have the right standing
    4) select the companies panel that are more fit for you
    5) think what can be useful for the company you are offering your position
    6) Don’t think to be the best
    7) Don’t think to be the worst
    8) try to prepare yourself for the “position of your dreams” if you can
    9) Don’t want the moon
    10) Try to choose what you like and don’t choose a job only for money or other

    Good Luck!

    Bye,
    Lorella

    Reply
  • 16. Ziad Haddad  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Michael:
    This has been very interesting, enjoyable and educational. You speak about things that are common, yet you put them all in special order, and you were keen to advise on all ideas in much a detailed yet realistic way possible.
    The article is built on realistic and practical facts which show professionalism and much years of experience.
    Very insightful, thank you for that,,,

    Reply

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Michael Spiro

About the Author:

Michael Spiro has been a 3rd-Party Recruiter and Account Executive for over 15 years. He is currently the Senior Finance Recruiter at Experis, a dedicated business unit of ManpowerGroup. Other recent positions include President of Midas Recruiting, a boutique head-hunting firm, and Director of Talent at Patina Solutions, a professional services firm that deploys professionals with at least 25 or more years of experience. Prior to that, he worked for two of the largest search firms in North America. Before his career in the staffing industry, Michael was a manager in a large non-profit organization. And in a former life, Michael was active in the entertainment industry, with extensive road-warrior experience as a touring performer (singer-songwriter / guitarist / comedian) and as a recording artist, producer and booking agent.  [More...]

Index (by Topic):

Résumés & Cover Letters:
 The "T" Cover Letter - The
         Only Type Worth Sending

 The Brutal Truth on How
         Résumés Get Eliminated

 Explaining Short Job Stints
         and Employment Gaps

 The Résumé Test &
         Checklist: Does Yours
         Pass?

 Beating the Résumé-
         Elimination Game: Where
         Do Recruiters' Eyes Go?

Networking:
 How to Network: A
         Step-by-Step Guide for
         Job Searching

 Looking for Networking in
         All the Wrong Places

 Targeted Networking: How
         to Effectively Reach Out

 The Art of Giving: the Key to
         Effective Networking

Interviewing:
 Phone Interviews: Secrets,
         Tricks and Tips

 Face-to-Face Interviews:
         Secrets, Tricks and Tips

 Skype Interview Tips ...
         Welcome to the Future!

 Nuggets: A Secret
         Interviewing Technique

 Answering the Dreaded
         Salary Question

 20 Surefire Ways to Blow
         an Interview

 "So, Do You Have Any
         Questions?" Nailing the
         Interview Closer

 Cool InfoGraphic: "What
         You Wish You'd Known
         Before Your Job
         Interview"

Age Discrimination:
 Age Discrimination: Secret
         Conversations Revealed

 Age Discrimination:
         Exposing Inconvenient
         Truths

 Are You "Overqualified?"
         Handling the Age Issue

 Baby Boomers to the
         Rescue! An Idea Whose
         Time Has Come ...

 Overcoming Job-Search
         Obstacles and
         Redefining Your Career
         After 50

Switching Jobs:
 The Proper Way to
         Quit a Job

 Counteroffers: Just Say No!

General Job-Seeking Info:
►  Let the Jobs Find You:
         Making Yourself More
         "Searchable"

 "Help ... I Need a Job!" A
         9-Step Guide for Newly
         Minted Job-Seekers

 Contract/Consulting Jobs
         Explained ... Available in
         3 Different Flavors

 The Real Truth About
         Working with Recruiters

 Avoiding the "Black Hole
         of HR"

 Is Your Elevator Pitch
         Taking You UP
         or DOWN?

 Advice for Recent Grads
         and Career-Changers

 Time Management: Recipe          for a Well-Balanced Job          Search
 Getting Un-Stuck from your
         Rut!

 The Double-Whammy of
         Rejection and Isolation

 "Unemployed Need Not
         Apply" - Working Around
         This Scary Message

 Using Social Media to
         Enhance Job-Searching

 Warning: That Rant You
         Posted Just Went Viral!

 The Golden Rule: Never
         Burn Bridges

 The Power of a Positive
         Attitude

 Why Job Hunting is a
         Consultative Sales
         Position

 Top 10 Most Helpful Things
         for Job Seekers

 Top 10 Most Annoying
         Things for Job Seekers

 New Year's Resolutions for
         Unemployed Job-
         Seekers

Job-Seeking Humor:
 Comic Relief: Volume 1
 Comic Relief: Volume 2
 Comic Relief: Volume 3
 Comic Relief: Volume 4
 Comic Relief: Volume 5
 "In Transition" and Other
         Awkward Euphemisms

 Candidates Gone Wild:
         Recruiter Horror Stories

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Job Opportunities:

Click below to see job opportunities listed through the author’s company, Midas Recruiting:

Blog Visitor Count:

  • 388,673 hits

Recent Posts:

Previous Posts (by Date):

►  "Unemployed Need Not Apply" -
      Working Around This Scary
      Message

------------------------------------------
►  Explaining Short Stints and
      Employment Gaps

------------------------------------------
►  The Lost Art of Customer
      Service: Unreturned Phone
      Calls & Emails

------------------------------------------
►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 3

------------------------------------------
►  The Résumé Test & Checklist:
      Does Yours Pass?

------------------------------------------
►  The "T" Cover Letter -
      The Only Type Worth Sending

------------------------------------------
►  The Brutal Truth on how
      Résumés Get Eliminated

------------------------------------------
►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 2

------------------------------------------
►  Age Discrimination: Exposing
      Inconvenient Truths

------------------------------------------
►  The Double-Whammy of
      Rejection and Isolation

------------------------------------------
►  Is Your “Elevator Pitch” Taking
      You UP or DOWN?

------------------------------------------
►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 1

------------------------------------------
►  Warning: That Rant You
      Posted Just Went Viral!

------------------------------------------
►  Using Social Media to Enhance
      Job-Searching

------------------------------------------
►  Avoiding the “Black Hole
      of HR”

------------------------------------------
►  “In Transition” and Other
      Awkward Euphemisms

------------------------------------------
►  Getting Un-Stuck from
      your Rut!

------------------------------------------
►  Time Management: Recipe for a
      Well-Balanced Job Search

------------------------------------------
►  Face-to-Face Interviews:
      Secrets, Tips and Tricks

------------------------------------------
►  Counteroffers: Just Say No!
------------------------------------------
►  The Proper Way to Quit a Job
------------------------------------------
►  The Real Truth About Working
      with Recruiters

------------------------------------------
►  Phone Interviews:
      Secrets, Tricks and Tips

------------------------------------------
►  The Golden Rule: Never Burn
      Bridges

------------------------------------------
►  Candidates Gone Wild:
      Recruiter Horror Stories

------------------------------------------
►  Following-Up: An Essential
      Key to Success

------------------------------------------
►  Nuggets: A Secret Interviewing
      Technique

------------------------------------------
►  New Year’s Resolutions for
      Unemployed Job-Seekers

------------------------------------------
►  How to Network: A Step-by-
      Step Guide for Job-Searching

------------------------------------------
►  Top 10 Most Helpful Things for
      Job-Seekers

------------------------------------------
►  Top 10 Most Annoying Things
      for Job-Seekers

------------------------------------------
►  Age Discrimination: Secret
      Conversations Revealed!

------------------------------------------
►  The Art of Giving: The Key to
      Effective Networking

------------------------------------------
►  Targeted Networking: How to
      Effectively Reach Out

------------------------------------------
►  Why Job Hunting is a
      Consultative Sales Position

------------------------------------------
►  The Power of a Positive
      Attitude

------------------------------------------
►  Looking for Networking in
      All the Wrong Places

------------------------------------------
►  Answering the Dreaded Salary
      Question

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