Here are detailed instructions on how to implement the series of action items we’ve recommended on the “Plan” tab of your Job Search PhD® spreadsheet.

Assessing Your Career Goals

As your job search unfolds, you’ll discover that there are numerous correlations between the principles of effective corporate marketing and the ways in which you’ll need to market yourself as an “exciting product” to potential employers.

One axiom that holds true between both worlds?  You can’t effectively sell and market a product until you’ve actually figured out what the product is!

Along these lines, before you start your job hunt in earnest, it’s imperative to make sure you can clearly answer the question “what kind of job are you looking for?” and that you’ve defined the types of organizations you’re interested in pursuing and types of specific problems you’re proposing to solve for them.

For some people, this is a simple process and involves nothing more than continuing down the same path they’ve already been working in for many years.  For others, it might be time to consider some sort of career shift or change, in which case you’ll likely need to conduct a serious round of research, brainstorming, and exploration in order to get your goals nailed down — and before you’re able to kick off your job search in earnest and use the tools provided on this spreadsheet.

As for how best to explore some new and different career options?  That’s a big topic and one that your Career Horizons coach might need to discuss with you during a 1:1 session, if you’re feeling stuck. As a starting point, however, we’d encourage you to read Chapter 6 of the Job Search PhD Workbook which talks a bit about this issue — as well as read the series of blog articles we’ve written here about this topic.

Read Chapters 1-2 of Workbook

If you’re just starting out on your job search journey, we’d highly encourage you to read the first and second chapters of our Job Search PhD Workbook. These chapters contain important insights about the job market today and provide a good “reality check” about what can be expected in the weeks and months to come.

These two iniital chapters also discuss some of the common emotions that professionals experience during the course of looking for work, in addition to outlining some coping strategies that can come in handy for weathering the emotional ups-and-downs that are often an unavoidable part of this process.

So when time permits, take a look through these first two chapters to get a sense of the road that lies ahead and gain a better understanding of the modern job market — and some of the new dynamics that are impacting it.

Explore the Client Resources Portal

As a Career Horizons client, you are now entitled to access the large number of additional tools and downloadable files we’ve made available via the “Client Resources” tab of our website.

If you’re just starting out on your job search campaign, we’d encourage you to review these resources immediately (click here) to gain a sense of the wide range of tools and materials we’ve made available in this section — including cover letter samples, resume samples, career change resources, target company database links, and helpful articles on various issues.

Since these files are protected and intended solely for the use of our clients, however, you’ll need to enter a password in order to access them. This code should already have been shared with you by your Career Horizons coach, but if you need a reminder from us, just click here!

Join Various Career Horizons Mailing Lists

In order to get the most out of your work with Career Horizons, we’d strongly suggest you sign up for several critical, value-added resources we maintain to assist our clients in transition:

1) You can click here to sign up for our monthly career newsletter and job lead bulletin, where we feature hundreds of job openings that we hear about through our network in the Puget Sound area.

2) You can click here to subscribe to our corporate blog, where we feature our latest advice about career success and the keys to effective job hunting.  When you visit the main blog page, note that you can also search through all past articles by keyword to turn up advice related to very specific career topics — such as phone interviewing or salary negotiation — and that you can also browse through the articles based on specific categories like motivation, cover letter writing, and career change based on the menu of categories on the bottom right side of the page.

3) To help our clients network, practice their skills, and learn even more about the latest techniques involved in job hunting, we host a “JobTalk Networking Event” every two weeks on Mercer Island.  To receive invitations to these meetings, click here to join the invitation list and you’ll receive the details about each new event as it gets scheduled. Most clients find these meetings immensely helpful, not only based on the expert information provided, but also based on the opportunity they provide to compare notes on the search process with other professionals and executives in transition.

4) Lastly, if you’re a LinkedIn user, we’d encourage you to click here and join our “Career Horizons Community” LinkedIn group, where clients/alumni of the firm share job leads, articles and relevant discussions!

Evaluate Your E-Mail Address & Voicemail Message

While it may seem trivial, we encourage every active job seeker to think hard about their “communication channels” at the start of their search and make sure their e-mail and voicemail messages are sending the right professional impression.

For example, on your voicemail, we’d suggest that your greeting message clearly state your full name, since many employers and recruiters will be hesitant to leave a message for you unless they’re sure they’ve got the right mailbox.  As for your e-mail, you’ll definitely want to create an automatic signature that conveniently includes all of your contact information in a single attractive block at the bottom of each message you send out.  You might even add a creative element or two to give your signature block some pizzazz, such as a quote, personal tagline, or your LinkedIn Profile address.

Also, many experts advise against job hunting using e-mail addresses from sites like AOL, Yahoo, and Hotmail since these systems are seen as “old fashioned” by certain employers. If you’re currently using one of these sites, you might want to take this opportunity to switch to another provider.  Virtually any other service except the the three listed above should be just fine.

Lastly, we’d recommend you pick one and only one phone number to use as the primary contact method during the course of your search.  This simplifies things greatly for potential hiring managers.  Many people choose to use their cell number for this purpose, which also reduces the possibility that a family member (especially a small child) will answer the phone and garble an important message or interview opportunity!

These steps may not seem important, but we’ve come across many job hunters who make it much harder than it should be to reach them — or whose messages are too casual or unprofessional.  So just think for a second and make sure your various contact methods are set up properly and conveying the positive brand image you want to project out there in the marketplace!

Establish a Daily Reading Regimen

During the course of a job search, it pays huge dividends to stay as up-to-speed as possible in the ongoing developments within your industry/field — as well as the marketplace, in general.  Doing so not only will provide you with a steady stream of “fuel” for your networking conversations, but also will alert you about important trends and emerging opportunities.

As you get ready to kick off your job quest in earnest, therefore, we strongly suggest that you set up a steady reading regimen of such materials.  We’d encourage you to not only track down and follow some top blogs and news sources in your particular professional and industry, but to review general business news sources, as well, to stay current on market developments.

Top news sources in the Seattle area include:

•  Seattle Times Business Section
•  Puget Sound Business Journal
•  Seattle Business Magazine
•  NWInnovation (high-tech industry news)
•  Geekwire (high-tech tech industry news)

What’s more, if you’re reasonably savvy with technology, you can use what’s called a ” feed reader” to easily track breaking news from all of the above sources, plus thousands more, either via your desktop computer or mobile phone.  It’s a very convenient way to keep tabs on a large variety of information sources, and at the present time, we recommend the tool Digg Reader as our favorite news reader option.

For more information about how feed readers work and how to set up one up successfully, don’t hesitate to contact your Career Horizons coach!

Register for Unemployment Benefits

Were you laid off or terminated involuntarily from your last position? If so, you’re likely entitled to collect unemployment benefits from the State of Washington.

In order to check your eligibility, and find out how much of a weekly payment you might be able to receive, contact the Washington State unemployment website by clicking here. This site will answer all of your questions about the Washington State unemployment system and allow you to register for benefits with a few simple clicks.

While you may feel reluctant to collect unemployment, thinking that you won’t need it or that it should be saved for the less fortunate, keep in mind that this system is designed exactly for workers, like you, who have temporarily lost their jobs.  It’s not charity by any stretch of the imagination — it’s a legitimate insurance plan you’ve paid into, significantly, over the years!

Engage in Some Personal/Household Budgeting

While many job hunters prefer to maintain an optimistic outlook about their chances of returning to work quickly, we strongly recommend that all of our clients talk to their families right at the start of their job search, about some belt-tightening and budgeting measures.

By slowing down the financial “burn rate” during your unemployment period, you’ll decrease your anxiety level and buy yourself weeks or months of extra time to hold out for the best possible opportunity. Additionally, many of our clients report with pride that they end up maintaining these thrifty habits even after taking their next position, which stretches their next paycheck a lot farther and helps them save for retirement!.

For additional budgeting tips, please refer to Chapter 4 of your Job Search PhD Workbook.

Keep Track of Your Job Hunting Expenses

While the exact rules of what a job seeker can (or can’t) deduct on their taxes change each year, and you’ll want to check with your accountant or the IRS to make sure you’re taking advantage of every possible deduction opportunity, job hunters can usually itemize and write off the following types of expenses::

•  Career coaching & counseling fees
•  Resume-writing, printing & mailing costs
•  Subscriptions to job hunting tools & technology
•  Phone charges directly related to job searching
•  Auto mileage to and from interviews
•  Travel expenses directly related to job hunting

Since it’s very easy to forget to track some of these expenses, however, amidst the “busy-ness” of a serious job hunting campaign, we’d recommend you start by setting up a system NOW that you’ll use to save your receipts and monitor your expenses carefully.  A simple envelope or expanding receipt file can do the trick, as can a spreadsheet or computer-based solution you create to capture this information.  Feel free to use whatever system works best, for you, and that will help ensure that you remember to record and write off as many legitimate expenses as possible!

Obtain a Set of Business Cards

Unless you’re currently employed, and already have a set of appropriate business cards in hand, we’d encourage you to obtain your own personalized set of cards early in the job search process, since they will come in handy during your networking efforts.

In terms of locating a good vendor to produce your cards, the trick is to balance quality with affordability, since you obviously don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for these materials — but also don’t want cards (such as the ones you’d print on your home printer) that are cheap, flimsy, and won’t make a quality impression.

One source many of our clients have used with satisfactory results is www.vistaprint.com — but if you go this route, make sure to order the “premium” cards without advertising on the back. Additional vendors you might check out are www.clickbusinesscards.com and www.moo.com. Each of these sites offer tons of different design templates and produce high quality materials at a reasonable price point.

In terms of content, some people merely list their name and standard contact information on their new business cards — but we’d encourage job hunters to add a little more description about their target job titles and their professional focus.  Some people even treat their business card as a “mini resume” and print their contact information on the front and a list of their top skills, credentials, and qualifications on the back!

Get Your References Lined Up

One of the basic preparation steps you’ll want to conduct at the outset of your job search is to determine who you’ll be providing as references when you reach the interviewing stage with a prospective employer.

For starters, especially if you’ve been through a layoff, make sure you fully understand the reference policy of your current or most recent employer, since many companies don’t allow managers to provide references and only permit the verification of employment dates.

Whether such a policy affects you or not, however, you’ll still ultimately need to line up at least 3-5 people willing to vouch to your next employer that you’re a quality candidate. It also can be very effective to include some additional categories of people in your reference list, such as customers, vendors, and subordinates you’ve worked with. Once you’ve identified who these individuals will be, reach out to them immediately in your job search and ask them whether they’d be willing to serve as references for you at the appropriate time.

For more information about reference issues, check out Chapter 11 of your Job Search PhD Workbook!

Google Yourself / Evaluate Your Online Reputation

Given the emergence of the Internet, and the vast amount of information employers now have at their fingertips, many savvy companies and recruiters will immediately “Google” potential job candidates to see what cyberspace might reveal about the person’s career history, track record, and reputation.

As a result of this phenomenon, we recommend that all of our clients spend a few minutes early on in their job search campaign to do some targeted web surfing and find out what information — good, bad, or ugly — might be floating around out there about themselves.

The simplest way to do this is to just visit Google and run a search with your full name (and any relevant variations of it) contained in quotation marks (e.g. “Jon Doe” OR “Jonathan Doe”) to see what turns up.  And if you have a fairly common name, we’d recommend that you run this same search, but include some of your recent company names to cut through the clutter a bit, since this is what employers and recruiters would likely end up doing, as well.

Hopefully, any information you uncover about yourself on the web will be positive (or at least neutral) in tone.  If you see some negative references or comments, however, you may want to take steps to try and remove them or to push them down farther in the search results.  Should this be the case, talk to your Career Horizons coach about your options, or consider hiring as service like ReputationDefender to assist you.

Draft, Edit & Finalize Your Resume

In order to ensure that your written materials are as effective as possible before you start sending them out to potential employers, we’d recommend you read through the tips/suggestions we’ve listed in Chapter 7 of the Job Search PhD workbook.

Additionally, you can also browse through the 100 resume samples you’ll find available for download on the “Client Resources” tab of our website — and if you’d like us to send you any of these templates in MS Word format, just e-mail us the appropriate sample number!

Once you’ve made any needed edits to your resume, it’s wise to run the document by at least 2-3 people you trust — including your Career Horizons coach and anybody you know who does a lot of hiring — asking these individuals for input and feedback.

Keep in mind, however, that resumes are highly subjective documents and it will be impossible to come up with a format that will be universally liked by everybody you encounter.  What’s more, the web is full of conflicting advice that will paralyze your efforts if you try to take all this information at face value.

So once you’ve had a few trusted friends look over your document, who have verified that it presents your background in a reasonably clear and professional manner, don’t waste unnecessary time agonizing over it or second-guessing yourself.  Start sending it out to any/all leads that seem appropriate (customizing it slightly for each opportunity) in order to see what kind of feedback you receive from the marketplace.

P.S. You might also want to save a copy of your resume in “text-only” format, which strips out all the formatting making the document more scannable and easy to paste into web application forms and such.  For instructions on how to do this, click here

Get Your Cover Letters in Order

Once you kick your job search into gear, you’ll quickly encounter situations where you need to pair your resume up with a targeted cover letter of some kind.

In recent years, however, the “rules of thumb” for writing cover letters have changed considerably.  Today, the vast majority of recruiters and employers report that they only skim such letters — or don’t even read them at all, due to time constraints, especially the full-page documents people have traditionally attached. As a result, we now recommend that our clients send along shorter, more customized “cover notes” via e-mail.

To best understand how to approach the cover letter/note process these days, we’d encourage you to click here and read through the series of articles on this topic we’ve posted in recent months via our blog. Once you’ve read through this information, you can then visit the Client Resources tab of our website here where you’ll find several different packets of sample cover letters you can draw from for inspiration.

Once you’ve put together your first cover letter, we’d recommend you e-mail it to your Career Horizons coach before sending it out.  Your coach will review your letter and offer advice on how to improve it — or may even edit it directly, depending on your program.  Once you’ve put together a few of these documents, you’ll get in the swing of things and know exactly how to approach this aspect of your search, going forward!

Optimize your LinkedIn Profile

In addition to having a good resume, it’s become imperative today to set up a solid profile on the LinkedIn.com website, as well, since tons of employers and recruiters now use this site as a primary method for finding talent.

If you don’t have an account on LinkedIn and are brand-new to the system, talk to your Career Horizons coach about how to get set up on the site and how to start using it most effectively.  If you’re already on the site, however, you likely just need to make a few tweaks to your profile to optimize it for maximum “findability” by the right audiences.

To do this, click here and download our step-by-step handout on how to set up an effective profile — and when finished, feel free to have your Career Horizons coach give it a quick review!

Finalize Your Personal Press Release

In Chapter 8 of your Job Search PhD Workbook, you’ll find a wealth of advice on how to answer one of the most challenging questions that comes up in the job search process: “Why are you in the job market?”

Whether you’ve been recently laid off, or are currently employed and exploring new options on a confidential basis, hiring managers will be keenly interested in the circumstances that have led you to come talk to them about employment.  Were you fired?  Were you selected for a layoff based on poor performance?  Were you part of some scandal or political upheaval?  Are you a chronic job hopper?  Are you bitter, angry, or depressed about your circumstances?

Since they won’t know the answer to the above questions, in most cases, your job will be to develop and practice a short 30-60 second verbal message that explains your situation in the most positive possible light. You’ll find a clear outline on how to build this message in the workbook, and once you’ve got your list of talking points pulled together, you may want to contact your Career Horizons coach to set up some time to role-play your message and receive some feedback.

Finalize Your Personal Elevator Pitch

In Chapter 9 of your Job Search PhD Workbook, you’ll find a number of tips on how to develop a clear, compelling answer to a very important question you’ll face numerous times during the course of your job hunting efforts: “What type of job are you looking for?”

Often called the “30-second commercial” by other career assistance organizations, this message will have a tremendous amount of influence in the number of personal referrals you receive and the degree to which friends, allies, and networking contacts understand your goals and are able to help you.

If you think you can just improvise this message, and haven’t taken the time to formally work on and practice it, we’ve got news for you — when job hunters do this, they often burn a lot of bridges and miss a great many opportunities they could have uncovered if they’d simply put just a little more thought and practice into this critical piece of communications.

Finalize Your Personal Success Stories

In Chapter 10 of your Job Search PhD Workbook, you’ll find a number of tips, suggestions, and frameworks for developing a set of compelling stories to showcase your capabilities as a professional.

Having these “personal success stories” fully outlined and practiced will not only boost your confidence about your search, but will also ensure you’re adequately prepared to sell yourself in the interview process.  Many employers these days now follow an approach called “behavioral interviewing” where they request specific examples of how candidates have demonstrated certain skills and competencies on the job — and those who haven’t rehearsed their stories in advance often lose out on some promising opportunities.

Once you’ve drafted your success stories, following the format recommended in the workbook, you can practice them either by yourself or pair up with your Career Horizons coach to work on them until they flow smoothly.

Create a Portfolio or Set of Work Samples

These days, almost all employers are impressed by candidates who can provide them with formal work samples or a set of portfolio items to review, even for professions that haven’t historically required these types of “show and tell” deliverables.

At the start of your job search campaign, therefore, we’d encourage you to think hard about whether you can pull together any hard copies or electronic documents that will add credibility to your candidacy and offer tangible proof of your skills, talents, and abilities.

If you have such materials available, however, we’d strongly discourage you from presenting them to employers in a three-ring binder — since that format is now pretty antiquated.  Instead, what many savvy professionals do is capture their work product on a personal portfolio website (there are tons of simple sites today allowing you to create one) and/or as multimedia links and files on their LinkedIn profile,

Additionally, some candidates arrive at interviews with their portfolio loaded on an iPad or tablet computer — allowing them to interactively walk through it with the employer — or in a slick, colorful bound “coffee table book” format which are now pretty inexpensive to order through sites like www.shutterfly.com.

Commit to a Job Search Start Date

Once you’ve knocked off a few of the initial preparation steps we’ve suggested, and feel you’re ready to kick your job search off in a serious, structured way, that’s when the spreadsheet tool will really start to shine!

As a first step, go to the Cover tab of the spreadsheet and enter your “start date” into the green box asking for this information.  Once you do this, the spreadsheet will start tracking (in the yellow box on the same tab) the average number of activities per day that you engage in throughout the course of your search.  Don’t worry — we’ve programmed it so only weekdays count!

This feature is critical, because as a professional in career transition, one of the most important keys to your success is going to be your ability to engage in consistent outbound effort — and ensure you produce a steady stream of marketing calls/letters/appointments every single day during the course of your search.  In a sense, job hunting really is a numbers game, and those folks who spend too much time monkeying around with their resume or over-analyzing things, versus getting seeds planted out in the market, are going to lose out on quality opportunities almost every time.

So this first page of the sheet is going to be a handy way that you can keep track of your consistent activity level.  In fact, we recommend that full-time job hunters commit to making no fewer than 5 new contacts per day as a minimum guideline.

How does the system keep track of your activity level and tally it on the first page?  It’s simple.  You just need to consistently use the Activities tab on the sheet to capture each daily step — and outbound effort — you make as part of your search.  This tab of the sheet, as you’ll see, allows you to “code” each activity in terms of whether it relates to the Published Ads, Recruiter, Networking, or the Direct Marketing channel.  As you’ll see, you’re also allowed to substitute a Stress Management or Professional Development activity if you’d like — perhaps on a day when you aren’t feeling terribly “assertive” or “energized” about your search.

You’ll find each of these various marketing channels discussed in depth in Chapters 17-20 of your Job Search PhD Workbook, and your Career Horizons coach will also be advising you on the “marketing mix” that makes the most sense for you given your background and career targets.  So get in the habit of using this tab of the spreadsheet to track your various activities as soon as possible, and before you know it, you’ll be project-managing your search like a pro!

Consider Posting Your Resume Online

While this aspect of job hunting has become less important with the rise of sites like LinkedIn, and is also not usually a good strategy for candidates who are searching for work confidentially, it can still pay dividends to post your resume on a few of the most common websites that employers/recruiters today still occasionally use when trying to locate talent.

Here are the top websites where we’d encourage you to upload your resume (or create a searchable profile) if you haven’t already done so — and again, you’re not worried about confidentiality in your search.

•  Indeed.com
•  Monster
•  CareerBuilder
•  DICE (if you’re in the technology field)
•  ZoomInfo (primarily for executives)

There are three additional important tips we’d share if you decide to engage in this step:

Tip #1: If you DO decide to post your materials to some of the above job sites, we’d strongly recommend that you set up and use an alternate e-mail address for this purpose other than your main one — since this will protect your primary e-mail account from getting hopelessly “spammed” given that many of these sites sell off your address to third-party marketing firms.

Tip #2: Keep your guard up, since most of the leads generated by these sites today, sadly, are of questionable legitimacy — and some may be outright scams.  So don’t ever give you any of your personal information to companies that approach you from these sites if anything seems fishy or you can’t verify that they’re a legitimate employer with a legitimate job opening. Trust your instincts!

Tip #3: Lastly, if you’re going to post your resume on some of these sites just to see if you can snag a decent leads every now and then, realize that most recruiters only review the resumes submitted over the past week or two — since they assume anybody on the system any longer than that has already been picked over.  So for best results, log into each site once each week, change a word or two on your resume, then re-save it to bring your resume back up to the top of the pile!

Start Locating & Responding to Published Ads

While there over 50,000 job websites now in existence, our efforts over the years have revealed that almost all legitimate job postings can be found by searching on only three sites alone: Indeed.com, Craigslist.com, and LinkedIn.com’s “Jobs” page.

While it’s tricky to explain, Indeed basically “scrapes” the jobs off almost every place on the web EXCEPT for the two other sites mentioned — so with these three sites alone, you’re finding just about everything out there.  If you’d like a more detailed explanation of these dynamics, and to understand why some job sites are so much better than others, feel free to review our blog article here discussing our most recent research into this subject.

Knowing that these sites exist, however, is only half the battle.  You also need to know how to search them properly, both to avoid getting overwhelmed with a ton of “bad fit” jobs — as well as to ensure you find all the different variations of job titles that could possibly fit you, since there have been thousands of new names invented for careers in recent years.

The key to doing this properly is to create a flexible search algorithm using a few simple and powerful rules known as “Boolean” keyword syntax.

For help with how to do this step, if you haven’t already received training around it, is to review the handout here or talk to your Career Horizons coach — who will help you come up with the best possible Boolean search phrase to ensure your online job searching produces the best results.

Additionally, once you run your initial searches, we’d recommend you save them as “daily e-mail alerts” (each one of the sites mentioned above has this functionality) so that any new matching job listings are e-mailed to you automatically, each day, for maximum convenience.

By following the steps above, you’ll avoid wasting an incredible amount of time during your job search — in addition to making sure you turn up a lot of listings you might have otherwise missed.  So again, make sure to work with your Career Horizons coach carefully on this step to ensure you’re going about the process in all the right ways.

To learn more about responding to Published Ads, read Ch. 16 of your Job Search PhD Workbook

Remember, also, to track each advertisement you pursue on the Activities tab of your spreadsheet, using ADV as the “type” code!

Identify & Contact Suitable Recruiting Firms

Once you’ve started responding to published ads, the next typical step a job hunter should take is to contact any recruiters or staffing firms that routinely place individuals in your professional field.  Chapter 17 of your Job Search PhD Workbook has an extensive amount of advice on how to work with recruiting firms, if you’re unfamiliar with this aspect of the job search process, and you’ll also find quite a bit of relevant advice on the subject contained on our blog, here.

As a starting point of your recruiter contact efforts, however, e-mail your Career Horizons coach and ask him or her to send you a set of local recruiters (we maintain a deep database of these firms for Washington State) that best matches your background.  Once you’ve received this data set, you can whittle it down further by scrolling over to the detailed notes available on each firm’s occupation and industry specialties.

Job hunting outside of Washington State?  If so, no worries, just let us know and we’ll steer you to the best-in-class resources available for locating recruiting firms in other markets around the country or globe.

Once you’ve obtained a list of recruiters that relates to your background, we’d recommend you either call them to inquire further about their services — and whether they might be able to place somebody with your credentials — or send them a short e-mail, instead, outlining your background and career goals. If needed, Career Horizons has dozens of recruiter letter samples available on the “Client Resources” tab of our website to help with this step.

Just follow two rules in any of your dealings with staffing and recruiting firms — 1) if they ask you to pay any money, walk away, since that’s a scam and all legitimate recruiters are paid by employers, not candidates; and 2) make sure you ask them to treat your materials with confidence, since you don’t want them spamming your resume all over town without your permission, where you’ll lose control of the process.

To learn more about working with Recruiting firms, read Ch. 17 of your Job Search PhD Workbook

Remember, also, to track each recruiter or staffing firm you approach on the Activities tab of your spreadsheet, using REC as the “type” code!

Compile a List of Your Networking Contacts

Now that you’ve fired up the initial job lead generation efforts recommended above, in terms of the Published Ad and Recruiter channels, it’s time to begin preparations to tap into the “hidden” job market.  This market, consisting of job leads circulated via the grapevine, versus published channels, is best accessed via your own network of personal/professional contacts.

As a starting point in your networking efforts, you’ll want to build a comprehensive list of the “social capital” you have available to you — aka, all of the relationships you’ve built over the years.   This list may take you several hours to complete, and you’ll likely be adding names to it for weeks to come, but it’s vital you take stock of all the people you could potentially engage as allies in your search since personal referrals are the most likely way of finding a new position.

We’d recommend you assemble this list on the Contacts tab of the spreadsheet, which we’ve designed for this exact purpose.  The process is easy; just start typing in the names of everybody you know, adding whatever contact details you might have available for them at your fingertips.  As you do this, DON’T exclude anybody or make assumptions about who may or may not be able to help you.  Truly include everybody you know, ranging from former colleagues and personal friends to your accountant, attorney, or hairdresser.   In the end, if you don’t make assumptions up front, you’ll be quite surprised in terms of who turns out to be most able to offer useful leads, resources, and assistance in your job search effort!  So be thorough and make sure to continue adding names to your list, as you go.

As for that mysterious “LTD” column on the left side of the Contacts page?  That column stands for “last touch date” and is designed to track the most recent date on which you had any type of interaction with the individual in question.  While you can enter this date manually, at any time, the sheet is programmed to automatically fill out this column as you faithfully track each of your daily networking efforts on the Activities tab of the spreadsheet.  What’s more, as time goes on, it will then start to color-code each listing to remind you of when each contact might be in need some “freshening up” and further attention.  For example, a date listed in green indicates that you’re pretty caught up with that contact and have touched base with them in the last 30 days.  Dates showing in yellow or red, however, suggest that your last interaction with the contact was over 30 or 60 days previously — suggesting that it’s time to find a reason to reach out to them again!

To learn more about how to Network effectively, read Ch. 18 of your Job Search PhD Workbook

Remember, also, to track each of your networking calls and meetings on the Activities tab of your spreadsheet, using NET as the “type” code!

Draft & Send Out a Broadcast Networking Letter

One powerful networking technique you might want to consider — right up front — is to send out a “broadcast” e-mail note to your entire contact network in order to bring everybody immediately up-to-speed on your current situation, future goals, and the fact that you’re actively seeking job leads and assistance.

While your first reaction may be to view this type of “form letter” approach as too impersonal — our clients have used it with great success over the years and it’s often given them a HUGE burst of leads and moral support, right out of the gate.

In fact, if you want to read a few comments and case studies related to other clients who have engaged in this step, you’ll find a few of them here via our blog.

If you’re job hunting confidentially, of course, this step might not be very wise — or you’d want to limit your note to only the select handful of people you can trust with knowledge of your situation.  But for everybody else, if you’re conducting a no-holds-barred search for a new opportunity, a “broadcast” letter is a very smart idea.

Here are a few guidelines we’d suggest you follow, if you try this particular strategy:

1) Don’t pretend this note ISN’T a form letter or try to trick them into thinking the note is customized, simply by mail-merging their names into the letter.  Instead, be totally up front and just BCC: everybody with the same exact note, making it clear that the message is designed to get everybody on board regarding your search efforts, in a hurry, and that you’ll then be following up with people on an individual basis.

2) Don’t send out more than one of these letters during the course of your job search; it’s acceptable one time, up front, but if you keep bombarding everybody with “form” letters on an ongoing basis it will seem desperate and you’ll alienate some folks who start to feel that you’re “spamming” them!

3) Keep the letter casual, positive, and concise — don’t dwell on the “bad news” of your availability or come across as a “victim” in any way.  For samples of the type of message we’d recommend, click here, and you can read through a few examples of what other clients have sent out over the years.  Or there’s another GREAT example we featured here a while back, on our blog!

Again, while it may seem counter-intuitive, it usually pays dividends to “blast” everybody your news this one time, at the start of your search, since you never know who exactly in your network might be sitting on that one great lead for you, right out of the gate!

How you do track this one-time “broadcast” campaign on your spreadsheet?  We’d suggest you manually type the date the letter goes out into the “LTD” column of each appropriate recipient on your Contacts page — then add a SINGLE entry describing the mailing on the Activities page.

Identify Relevant Networking Groups to Investigate

While you’ll definitely be spending a healthy portion of your job search networking with people you already know, you’ll also want to get out of the house and investigate some new groups where you can build some fresh relationships and contacts.

Depending on what occupational field you work in, there’s a good chance you’re already aware of some relevant professional or industry associations that it would make sense for you to join.   There’s no reason why you shouldn’t also contemplate checking out some non-business groups as well, however, such as social clubs, charities, community groups, and your local Chamber of Commerce.  In fact, often times it pays even more networking dividends to attend those functions outside your field where you WON’T be surrounded by dozens of potential competitors with similar skills!

If needed, your Career Horizons coach can easily make suggestions about the groups that would make the most sense for you to get involved with.   Additionally, you can check out websites such as the one here for a detailed list of networking events in your local area.

Research & Build a Set of Target Companies

Without question, one of the most common mistakes many job seekers make is to go out hunting for job opportunities without first determining who their ideal “customers” might be.  We can’t emphasize enough how much more effective you’ll be if you first take the time to research and create a list of specific organizations that meet your ideal size, location, industry, and other preferred parameters.

The Companies tab of the spreadsheet is the place where you’ll want to build and manage this running list of target organizations that you’re most interested in talking with about employment possibilities.

In fleshing out your list of companies on this tab, start with the obvious step, which is to type in any specific organizations you already know you’re interested in for whatever reason.   Once you’ve finished this step, then move on to search for additional companies using the many powerful, free websites out there such as Zoominfo.com, LinkedIn.com, and ReferenceUSA (available through the public library) — or review some of the dozens of other terrific company-finding tools and resources Career Horizons has assembled here.

Going forward, you’ll want to constantly add employers of interest to the Companies tab to give your search (and your network) a strong sense of direction — and once you have a sufficient number of firms pulled together, you can consider prioritizing them using a color-coding scheme, an A/B/C ranking system, or some other organizational approach that works well for you.

At the end of the day, however, those job seekers who channel their energies into generating dialogue with a specific list of 25-30 companies will get farther, faster than those professionals who are just “winging it” and aren’t target-marketing themselves in any capacity!

For more tips on how to narrow down your ideal “target company criteria” and build your list, read Chapter 15 of the Job Search PhD Workbook

Direct Marketing: Contacting Companies Directly

Last but not least, once you’ve invested some appropriate effort in the three job search channels discussed to date (Published Ads, Recruiters, and Networking) you can always consider trying to drum up some additional leads/interviews through the time-tested method of Direct Marketing, as well.

While many job hunters today are too scared to try it, “pounding the pavement” used to be a perfectly normal way of finding employment and reaching out to appropriate companies directly, to introduce yourself as being available to work, can still pay dividends if you go about it properly.  Remember again, most job openings never get advertised, so if you reach out and contact the right corporate decision-maker, at the right time, with the right message, the stars can align and you can gain a jump on a great job with little or no competition!

In Chapter 19 of your Job Search PhD Workbook, you’ll find a lot of advice about how best to use the Direct Marketing channel in a career context — including advice on how to pick the right employers to target and what to say, once you reach them.  As for which actual method of direct contact to use, some people make cold calls, others send unsolicited e-mails, and others just stop by the corporate facility to say hello.  There isn’t a clear-cut winner among these methods, in every case, so we’d encourage you to just play to your strengths in this regard — or experiment with a combination of all three techniques, to see which one works best!

To learn more about the Direct Marketing channel, read Ch. 19 of your Job Search PhD Workbook

Remember, also, to track each “direct” job hunting step you attempt on the Activities tab of your spreadsheet, using DIR as the “type” code!

Read Chapters 21-22 & Improve Your Interviewing Skills

As the good news starts to happen and you reach the interviewing stage of the job search process with various organizations, you’ll want to read a few chapters of the Job Search PhD Workbook to ensure you’re ready to “sell yourself” most effectively, when given the chance!

Chapters 21 and 22 are the sections of the workbook dedicated to helping our clients with these pivotal final steps of the search process.  The first chapter outlines 25 of the most common questions you might face in an interview, and our suggested responses, while the second chapter outlines some even deeper dynamics and factors that take place in hiring conversations.  So read these two sections carefully, when time permits, and let your Career Horizons coach know if you have any questions or need further help of any kind in regard to this area.  We’d also steer you to the running series of interviewing tips on our blog, via the link here.

Should interviewing continue to a problem area for you, in terms of either your nerves or perhaps the discovery that you’re not “closing” as many offers as you might have expected, keep in mind that Career Horizons does offer hourly coaching in these areas — and can work with you on your interview preparation efforts, as well as conduct a role-play session where you can practice your interviewing skills and receive constructive feedback on how you might best be able to improve.

Read Chapter 23 & Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Stressed out about “talking money” with employers? Or unsure of what to say if an employer or recruiter asks for your salary history or to answer the question: “How much compensation are you looking for?”

If so, don’t overlook Chapter 23 of the Job Search PhD Workbook, which discusses all the various dimensions involved in negotiating with employers, ranging from how to determine the “fair market value” for your skills to how to evaluate a job offer thoroughly and properly — and prepare a counteroffer, if circumstances warrant.

Additionally, make sure you don’t miss Page 220 of the Workbook, where we lay out a simple “RFP Model” for responding to the common salary inquiries that come up almost immediately these days in many interviews.  Not only is there a great deal of bad advice on this subject out there, which we’re trying to overcome, but in our experience many job candidates botch this step of the interview process without even realizing it — so you owe it to yourself to have a great answer to these questions practiced and ready to roll, when the time comes!

Last but not least, free feel to review some of the most recent articles we’ve written about negotiating and job offer evaluation on our blog, here.

Read Chapters 24-25 & Wrap Up Your Search

Made it this far?  Have a solid job offer (or two) sitting in your hot little hand?  Well, guess what.  Once you’ve made a successful transition and landed your next job, you’re almost done with the job search process, but not quite!  Savvy professionals today, who understand the importance of ongoing career management in this day and age, don’t just rush into their new job without engaging in a few final job hunt wrap-up steps.

In fact, in Chapters 24 and 25 of the Job Search PhD Workbook, you’ll find a series of recommendations about the steps you should engage in to properly wind down a professional-level job search.  These chapters contain advice on how to spread your happy news and close the loop with the members of your network, as well as some tips to help you get your next assignment off the best possible start.

You’ll also find an optional exercise where we encourage you to take a deep breath, at the end of your search, and capture some of the key “lessons learned” from the entire process you just went through.  As you’ve probably discovered, we now live in a world where networking and career management aren’t just occasional activities you engage in once every decade or so, when needed, but you have to be thinking of to some degree, year-round, if you want to keep your career in happy, healthy condition.

Complete these few final steps, though, and you’re golden!  It’s then time to celebrate, pat yourself on the back for a job (search) well done, and hopefully enjoy a few final days of relaxation before your next exciting career assignment kicks into gear!