Ready, Set — Let’s Find Work

How to effectively prepare for the job search

Kill the career history résumés. “Describe the results of your activities. That’s what employers are paying for,” Conway says. Instead of chronological résumés that list job titles and tasks, functional résumés describe the impact of each activity, says Joe Watson, author of Without Excuses (Macmillan; $24.95) and CEO of Strategic Hire, a Reston, Virginia-based executive search firm. He explains, “Quantify your work: I led the team that delivered this many days ahead of schedule, this much under budget.”

Get ready to sell. After you’ve successfully outlined your skills and talents on paper, you have to be confident in delivering your story—liken it to a sales pitch for a great product, Watson says. “Some tend to be reluctant to do this because they don’t want to be seen as bragging,” he says. “But telling people that you took a business from zero to 15% is not bragging. It is giving them information to make an educated decision about you.”

Build your network. “Networking is a big part of how people get jobs,” Rosner offers. “I’ve had a recruiter say to me, ‘When I post a job on a Website or [in a] newspaper, it means I’ve failed. I should have been able to fill that position through my network.’”

A great way to develop your list of contacts is to conduct informational interviews. These are face-to-face meetings, usually 15 to 30 minutes long, with senior level executives in a particular industry solely for the purpose of gaining industry insight and gathering information on trends. “It’s a non-threatening, non-needy way to get on people’s radar,” Conway says. “I’ve had several clients that have gotten jobs through doing informational interviews. If you don’t leave with a job, you leave with five more contacts.”

Additional Resources to Equip You for the Job Hunt

Click: Ten Truths For Building Extraordinary Relationships By George C. Fraser (Amazon; $16.47).
For building a networking game plan.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009 By Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press; $18.95).
Offers guidance on how to change your career and/or industry.

The Power To Get In By Michael A. Boylan (Macmillan; $14.95).
Offers guidance on how to land and prepare for informational interviews.

The Employment & Career Channel
A clearing house for job hunt advice from recruiters and coaches, cover letter and resume writing tools, and insights on career management.

Previously in the series: Advice on Remaining Relevant | Identifying Your Skill Set

Originally published in the November 2008 issue.

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