Finding a job is no easy task. But author and motivational speaker Rod Colon has broken the process down into seven steps that are simple if not always easy.

Colon will speak on Wednesday, February 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at a Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Business Council event at the Robert Wood Johnson Conference Center at 3100 Quakerbridge Road. Tickets are $25 at the door. For more information, visit www.midjerseychamber.org.

Colon is an author as well as a speaker. In addition to his books, Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs; and 10 Powerful Networking Tips Using Business Cards, Colon writes a blog at www.rodcolon.com. The following steps for job seeking first appeared on Colon’s blog:

Step 1: First, you will determine what your core skills are. Everyone is good at something; so what are your skills, talents, and abilities? What would be a suitable title for someone who does your kind of work?

Step 2: You call your work by a particular name; now it’s time to find out what the marketplace calls it. Are you a Java Developer? A Financial Analyst? You’ll make good use of a web site called Indeed.com to perform this task. You’ll also get a first look at opportunities that may be a good fit for you. The importance of this step is that it helps you determine the market demand for your skills (i.e., the spot market; a snapshot of what the prevailing market conditions look like).

Step 3: Now, using LinkedIn and your networking skills, try to identify advocates; these are people either in your network or in the networks of friends, business contacts, etc. who can “connect the dots” for you within a targeted company to get your name circulated among key decision-makers. At this step, you are performing “networking research”, that is, you are not actually reaching out to these advocates yet, just identifying who they are.

Step 4: You will then develop your value proposition consisting of: 1) a targeted resume; 2) a cover letter (or T-Letter), and 3) the job description itself. In this step you are building your case for the job. Since these documents will either make or break you, you will want to have them as close to perfection as possible.

Note: Although the value proposition consists of 1) the job description, 2) the targeted resume, and 3) the T-Letter, you will only actually submit the resume and cover letter. Decision-makers don’t need to see the job description. We include it as part of the value proposition to make sure that we keep ourselves properly tracked with its requirements while engaging advocates.

Step 5: Once you’re SURE you understand the position for which you’ve identified suitable advocates, prepare to connect with them. For advocates who are in a decision-making role, you’ll place a call to them and sell, i.e., your “Sales & Marketing Team” swings into gear. With advocates who are friends, or friends of friends, you’ll network to establish a communications chain to the decision makers (your “Research & Development Team” manages this). In all cases, you will document all contact with advocates to ensure timely and appropriate follow-up.

Step 6: After that, you will submit your value proposition as instructed and set up a specific follow-up schedule. You will track your contact with all advocates to ensure that no follow-up calls or e-mails are forgotten.

Step 7: Finally, you will repeat the process. As the CEO of a business, you never settle for having just one client. When you’re in transition and actively looking for work, your goal should be to find at least one new client a day.

Due to the sheer volume of applicants competing for a fixed number of positions, many employers don’t even bother registering their openings on big-name job boards like Monster, Dice, and CareerBuilder.

Instead, they turn to the networks of their existing employees to help recruit qualified candidates. This means there may be great opportunities at a company of interest, but you’ll never find out about them via the traditional approach of querying Internet job boards.

Why would an employer do this? There are two immediate advantages. First, hiring managers can avoid the torrent of paperwork from job seekers who aren’t even remotely qualified for a position. Second, they can bypass the registration process with the job boards and confine interview time to a bare minimum.

There’s something else you need to know about the Hidden Job Market. Step 2 of the 7-Step Job Search Methodology (Module 9), is based on the spot market. In other words, it uses today’s market conditions to determine what positions are currently available. By contrast, the Hidden Job Market is based on the futures market, that is, the potential for positions that might exist or that could be created in the future – your future.

Expand your search tools (don’t confine yourself to one job search engine; there are several out there and results can vary significantly).

Do Google searches on keywords associated with your industry to bring up names of organizations, memberships, employee directories, etc. Again, they don’t pop up out of nowhere; you need to be diligent and persistent.

Use advanced filters for your Google search to either expand your search outward or confine it to a certain set of pre-determined keywords.

Craigslist is a potential source of leads that can fall through the filter of Internet job boards. There are documented incidents of job seekers finding their “perfect job” by combing through Craigslist postings every day.

One of the very best sources of information about companies and contacts within companies is LinkedIn. Continue to use LinkedIn to gather information about people, companies, trends, innovations, mergers, reorganizations, major announcements,

An excellent way to uncover a company’s “inside intelligence” is to tap into its online network through the power of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you tend to dismiss these sites as “gossip centers”, you’re making a mistake. Businesses are leveraging the power of rapid information exchange to stay ahead of the curve on trends and issues affecting their industry. Many postings on these sites are gold mines of industry-specific or niche-specific information.

One of the great lessons learned from Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone is that job seekers must learn to be bold and audacious. In that vein, there’s no law against picking up the telephone and contacting a company directly with suggestions about how your products or services will bolster their bottom line.

Blogging is another great source of leads into companies of interest. How? Visit a company’s blog and post some insightful comments. If you leave a link back to your own blog, you can easily start picking up feedback streams of replies from employees.

What it boils down to is this: the Hidden Job Market is created through your own ingenuity. But penetrating this market relies on the same machinery that drives all your “regular” job searches: networking.

For the most part, employers base their hiring decisions on trust. They are more likely to hire people they know or those referred by people they know. For this reason, your warm trusted network is your No. 1 source of solid job leads.

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