Career Watch: Finding a job in a third the time

Is there one thing job hunters can do that would shorten their searches? Stop looking for jobs. Start looking for employers and influencers.

Q&A: David Perry

The co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 explains how an unconventional search strategy can result in a new position in a third the time.

Is there one thing job hunters can do that would shorten their searches? Stop looking for jobs. Start looking for employers and influencers. Pick a list of 10 to 20 companies where you want to work. They're not hiring? Doesn't matter. The one-word cure for "hiring freeze" is attrition. People get fired, laid off, quit or die every day, even at companies that aren't hiring. When you focus your efforts on a short list of target companies, you will make connections that lead to meetings that lead to employment.

How can technology be better utilized in the job search? There are 4 million HR managers and 174,932 professional recruiters in America today. The first place these recruiters will go to find a potential candidate is ZoomInfo.com. The second is LinkedIn. If you don't have a profile, you can't be found -- in fact, you don't exist. By creating a profile, you are basically putting your résumé on the Web. Better yet, ZoomInfo will update your profile with new career info whenever it appears on the Internet.

Online tools can also be helpful in focusing your job search. FreshContacts.com is a free, downloadable plug-in for Microsoft Outlook that gives job hunters unfettered access to intelligence on 45 million executives. Using FreshContacts.com, it is simple to put together a list of the companies you want to work for and the e-mail or phone number for the vice president or department head that is doing the hiring.

Once you have identified your target employers and influencers, Google Alerts can notify you when there's a reason to call, such as a significant event involving a company or one of its executives.

What are some examples of guerrilla marketing? Career experts claim that only 20% of open positions are posted online. Guerrilla job hunting is about targeting the other 80% of jobs. Unfortunately, most people still focus on applying for advertised positions.

To crack the hidden job market, a person needs creativity, focus and persistence. Guerrilla job hunting is about engaging your audience and surprising them. It can take the form of an educated and targeted phone call, developing a guerrilla résumé that includes full-color graphics and testimonials from past clients and managers, or something as bold as the coffee cup caper.

What is the coffee cup caper? And has it really helped anyone get a job? It's literally a job in a box. The ingredients are simple: a full-color guerrilla résumé, with logos and quotes from past employers; a paper Starbucks cup; and a cover letter that asks, "Could we meet for coffee to discuss how I might help you?" You send it in a FedEx box. Does it really work? Ask Mark Thomas, the systems admin from Mesa, Ariz., who started his new job on March 8. He got so many interviews that he had to stop after sending 10 coffee cup capers to employers.

Will guerrilla marketing help someone working in IT land a job, such as a programmer or a systems administrator? Absolutely! Technology professionals are probably better suited for guerrilla job-hunting techniques because they already have an understanding of the networking and collaboration tools from companies like Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and ZoomInfo.com. As the above example describes, the most important thing about looking for a job in today's intensely selective and competitive job market is to target your search, leverage your network and be bold. These three things will shorten your job search regardless of your field of expertise or specialty.

IT Hiring Could Be Headed Up

Unemployed technology professionals are certainly due for a break, and one may be coming to many of them later this year. Dice.com surveyed more than 600 human resources managers and professional recruiters from across the U.S. in May and found that a majority expect to hire substantially more technology professionals in the second half of 2010.

Do you expect you or your clients to hire more technology professionals in the second half of 2010 than were hired in the first half?

* Yes, substantially more: 20%

* Yes, slightly more: 51%

* No: 29%

What constitutes "substantially more"? While 36% of those who expect more hiring said the increase could be as little as 1% or as much as 10%, more than half (53%) cited an anticipated increase in hiring of between 11% and 30% in the second half compared with the first.

By what percentage do you foresee the number of IT professionals that you or your clients employ increasing from the first half to the second half?

* 1%-10%: 36%

* 11%-20%: 30%

* 21%-30%: 23%

* 31%-40%: 4%

* 41%-50%: 4%

* More than 50%: 3%

In a bit of good news for laid-off workers (but not-so-great news for recent graduates), much of the anticipated hiring will be for jobs that require two or more years of experience.

For what level of experience do you expect to hire in the second half?

* Entry-level: 16%

* Two to five years of experience: 52%

* Six to 10 years of experience: 60%

* More than 10 years of experience: 29%

* Don't know: 8%

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

As for salaries, not many employers are paying new hires significantly more than they did last year, but those saying they are paying them "slightly more" rose to 26% in the May survey, up from just 8% in a November 2009 survey.

What trend do you currently see in salaries for new hires compared with one year ago?

* Significantly higher: 4%

* Slightly higher: 26%

* The same: 43%

* Slightly lower: 23%

* Significantly lower: 4%

Finally, 66% of respondents said they think layoffs at their companies or their clients' firms are "not likely." That's up from just 37% who said the same in November 2008. And while 25% said they expect hiring to return to more normal levels in the first half of this year, the largest percentage of respondents said "Not sure -- we'll have to wait and see how the economy evolves." Still, that 31% figure is down significantly from a recent high of 52% in May 2008.

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