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How to conduct a job search: What you need to know today

Meridith Levinson | Sept. 27, 2011
When IT Director Henry Hirschel started his job search in June 2011, his first move wasn't to hit a job board looking for ads for IT leadership positions.

When IT Director Henry Hirschel started his job search in June 2011, his first move wasn't to hit a job board looking for ads for IT leadership positions. His first step was to connect with his network.

Using Microsoft Publisher, Hirschel created a one-page "marketing brochure" that he emailed to 400 contacts over four weeks. The simple brochure explained that he was on the market, described the kind of job he was seeking, and linked to his Website, LinkedIn profile and online résumé.

Hirschel says he focused on marketing himself and connecting with his network as "a way of making people aware in a positive way that I was transitioning out [of my job] and at the same time notifying them of what I was looking for."

Hirschel's decision to initiate his job search by networking represents a significant change in the way savvy IT job seekers look for work today. Rather than spending the bulk of their time trying to find their next job via a job board, sophisticated IT job seekers have made face-to-face networking, online social networking (using LinkedIn in particular) and personal branding as the cornerstones of their job searches. Their focused efforts are bearing better results.

Hirschel, for example, says he goes on several interviews each week, and that's not just because the market for IT jobs is better than it was two years ago. He adds that most of these interviews are a result of his networking efforts. Daniel Bobke, an IT director based in Orange County, Calif., says he's been on seven job interviews since he started his job search in July, four of which stemmed directly from networking.

"The number of positive hits [responses] I got from that [marketing brochure] certainly outweighed anything I'd get off a job board," says Hirschel.

How the Recession Changed Corporate Hiring and Recruiting

Job seekers and career experts alike say that today's job search requires more focus, more networking and more personal branding than ever because the recession changed the way employers recruit new employees. Consider the following numbers:

Between January 2008 and December 2010, 6.9 million people were laid off from their jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, 14 million people are unemployed. Add the people who are working part-time either because their hours have been cut or they can't find a full-time job, and you have 22.8 million Americans looking for work. Of course, that number doesn't include all the professionals who are employed but who'd like to find a new job.

How many jobs are these tens of millions of Americans chasing? According to Rob McGovern, founder of job search Websites CareerBuilder and Jobfox, there are 3 million jobs currently available. That means at least seven times as many people are searching for work as there are jobs.


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