February 1, 2003
The Resume The Pitch The Close
The economy is bad. Scratch that — it’s in the toilet. As of press date, unemployment was at 6%, with thousands of talented, credentialed people struggling to find work. Evelyn Rivera is one of them. In November 2001, Rivera was laid off from Merrill Lynch & Co., where she worked as a marketing associate for six years. With roughly 10 years of public relations experience, a bachelor’s in communication arts, and nine credits shy of a master’s in the same field, Rivera has spent the last nine months booking meetings in a dead-end temp position at Morgan Stanley.
Many career experts agree that if you’re educated, experienced, and good at what you do but have been laid off or out of work for more than a year, your approach to job hunting may be all wrong. First, forget what you knew. Landing a job today in this competitive job market requires — in addition to talent and skills — creativity, initiative, and extensive knowledge of your industry. It’s important to have access to the right people.
“People think that rÃ©sumÃ©s get you jobs,” says Ron Mason, a human resources consultant formerly of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. “RÃ©sumÃ©s get you access, but you’ve got to increase the possibility of access through different techniques.”
Consider the following techniques and hiring trends for getting in the door and landing a job:
Angella Bearden-Byrd, an executive staff member of Computer Science Corp. (CSC) in Fairfax, Virginia, hadn’t considered leaving her job as an assistant VP of the information technology company CENTECH until a friend who had worked for CSC for 25 years told her about the benefits of joining a larger global IT company. On her friend’s prompting, Bearden-Byrd introduced herself to CSC’s top brass. “I sent out an e-mail to all the top executives of the company, saying that I was interested in joining and wanted to know if anyone had an opening in any of the business units.” As far as Bearden-Byrd knew, CSC had no openings, but she remained persistent.
“I just put out a feeler. You’ve got to try your luck. You’ll be surprised at what is not actually posted with HR, or in the newspaper, or through any other channels,” Bearden-Byrd says. “And because people are busy, they may not have had the time to post the job.”
Her assertiveness paid off. Less than three months after September 11 — a time when many employees were feeling the most vulnerable about the economy — she was hired at CSC. The lesson: You can’t let fear paralyze your efforts. It’s more important to be creative and forward thinking, literally seeking out prospects. Mason suggests targeting companies that are relocating. “In many situations, they are moving with only part of their staff,” he says. “Reaching out before they make any solid decisions is an opportunity to gain access to a hiring manager within that company to make a direct pitch.”
NETWORKING IS MORE THAN SHOWING UP FOR COCKTAILS
Since 75% percent of all jobs are attained through networking, 75% of your