Blogs Blogs ... Careers TechJobs — 10 March 2013
Finding a tech job requires more than surfing the Web

By Kimberly Lucas


here’s more to finding work than surfing job sites.

Looking for a job is not something that we studied in college. When faced with unemployment, many of us are at a loss as to what makes a well-rounded job search.

Most of us start with the obvious: We begin mining the job boards. If you work at it, you can actually spend the entire day applying for open positions that are posted. That’s fine. But using this method you would be only applying to about 30 percent of the open positions. Moreover, if you are a manager, or director, or other senior level professional, job postings will net you only 10 percent of the openings. Let’s take a closer look at what this means to a job seeker.

Brandon is a software project manager with an MBA, PMP certification and an undergraduate degree in software engineering. He is studying Six Sigma, has a solid work history and a great track record. He’s been unemployed since before the end of the year.

Brandon is spending a lot of time on Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, and other job sites. He has been interviewed, even as a finalist, for a couple of positions. He’s hitting obstacles because of the current economic climate (at least that’s what he believes) and just isn’t getting any traction. Brandon’s resume looks just like every other Project Manager resume on the job boards. When you Google Brandon, you can’t find him. On LinkedIn, the popular networking Web site, his name is registered but his profile is non-existent and he has only three connections.

I asked Brandon what else he is doing to find a job. He replied, “Networking with my buddies.” That’s a good start, but is he asking his friends for referrals to other companies that might be hiring? Is he asking what recruiters they know and respect? Is he checking the calendar of events in the area to see where he should be “hanging out”? Is he making connections with former colleagues, associates and classmates on the social networks? His answer to all these questions was, “No, I’m too busy looking for a job to do that.”

John is a software architect who was with his last employer for four years. He was recruited into that position and had been there since 1999. John has not looked for a job in quite some time. However, John has more activity than he can handle in his job search, not because his experience is any better than his peers, but because of his approach. John has been unemployed for barely four weeks, but is already in discussions with five CIOs and is expecting an offer within the next two weeks.

John learned early in his career about the power of building a solid network outside of his own company. He has kept in contact with his former colleagues, helped them in their careers and offered them advice. He participates in technical forums and has earned the reputation of a genuine thought leader among his peers. John spends about ten minutes reviewing job board results in the morning over his coffee. He does this purely as an information collection exercise. He is looking for new companies and postings by companies that he is targeting to see where there is activity. If he finds an interesting company he researches them further on the Web.

The rest of the morning is dedicated to connecting with people that are in a position to hire him. He does not call or e-mail the HR department. He reaches out to CIOs, CTOs, VPs and CEOs of companies he is interested in. John will absolutely follow protocol and get his information in place with HR, but there is no sense in creating extra work if there isn’t a position available right now.

John sets coffee meetings and lunch meetings with people he knows to talk about their businesses, their challenges and their opinions on where their industries are going. John is a thought leader, and these meetings provide great peer discussions.

John makes it clear that he is looking for his next career move and asks for referrals. After his meetings, John heads back home to check his e-mail and voice-mail, return phone calls and follow up on opportunities he is currently targeting. He checks LinkedIn for the day’s activities – job postings, group discussions, contact updates – and to close out a busy day, John makes a list of planned activities for the next day.

Brandon is taking a bottom up approach to his search. He is feeding on the bottom 30% of open positions. Brandon will get a job, but he may not be satisfied and will likely just survive until the economy improves.

John, meanwhile, is taking a top down approach. He is looking for the “unadvertised” openings and will be gainfully and happily employed in a very short period. He will continue to build his network and will rise in his career as high as he wants to go.

Which approach – and which outcome – do you prefer?