Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the November 6, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Turning the Job Hunt on Its Head
One of the reasons that a job hunt is so difficult
is that the applicant is putting himself on the line. Each resume
that receives no response at all and each interview that leads to
no second interview is just so personal, such a rejection. The job
hunter most often feels like a supplicant, and each time he is turned
away his ego suffers a little more.
In a new book, Niels Nielsen has turned the self-image of the
typical job hunter upside down. The job hunter is not a supplicant,
offering himself up to the indifferent gods who guard company gates.
No, he is an entrepreneur looking for one really good customer. He
is the CEO of a company, and he is that company’s product.
Nielsen knows a lot about the job hunting process. The principal in
Princeton Management Consultants, a human resources consulting firm,
he is also the founder of Jobseekers, a support, networking, and information
group for people looking for employment. Jobseekers, which charges
no admission, meets on Tuesdays at Trinity Church on Mercer Street
in Princeton. Call 609-924-2277.
Nielsen’s new book is Princeton Management Consultants Guide to Your
New Job. Published by John Wiley & Sons, it is available now on Amazon.com
and will be in bookstores on Friday, November 8.
More than half of the book consists of actual cover letters and resumes
— with names and contact information altered — prepared "for
and with clients over the past 20 years." He has chosen cover
letters and resumes — key marketing tools for the job hunter —
for a number of job responsibilities and industry niches, including
marketing, finance, customer service, sales, and operations, and for
a variety of job levels — from CEO to administrative assistant.
The book offers advice not only on searching for a job, but also on
weighing the pros and cons of changing careers, starting a business,
and negotiating a favorable employment agreement.
No matter what the topic, this job seekers guide approaches it as
a business would. Chapter headings include Business Operations, Business
Plan, Product Plan, Marketing Plan, Advertising Plan, Pricing, and
Customer Management. This approach is refreshing, removing the vulnerable
— often-downsized — individual from center stage and replacing
him with a company, an enterprise in search of the perfect customer.
Here is an excerpt:
sell your services. Granted, you are only looking for one customer
— an employer — but in every other respect, you are in business
This means you have to set up operations exactly the same way you
would if you were going to be in business permanently, even though
it is only a matter of time until you return to the world of employment.
You may already be in this situation if you were telecommuting, employed
by a virtual corporation, working out of your home because you were
in sales or otherwise traveling extensively, or taking a lot of work
home from the office.
need the facilities to pursue it effectively. Unless your former employer
is paying for outplacement counseling services that include use of
a time-shared office or you have the resources to rent space commercially,
you have to set up an office in your home.
The most important thing if you have a home office is to be professional.
Children, pets, or household noises distract you from devoting yourself
to your search. They reveal to anyone you contact by phone that you
are not fully engaged in your job hunt. So do whatever it takes to
set aside space that lets you function efficiently.
Much of the equipment you need relates to computer and connectivity
capabilities. Do your research thoroughly before you buy anything
or sign up for any services. The wrong choices can be a serious impediment
to your work and a drain on your finances.
Most likely you already have a computer at home but you need unimpeded
access to it during your working hours. If you have to, buy a computer
for yourself. They are so inexpensive that you ought to make that
investment. Purchase the very bottom of the line because you need
only minimum power and capacity to run the software and store the
data that relate to your search.
You will need a filing cabinet to store all the files you will create
in the course of your search. You may have copies of files from your
former jobs that you had a legitimate right to take with you that
also need to be stored.
You may be able to create your stationery yourself on your word processor,
but make sure its appearance helps you create the professional image
that you need to convey to the recipient. Use high-quality 25 percent
rag content bond paper, preferably in a businesslike color. Include
your address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address on the
letterhead. Otherwise, get letterhead and envelopes designed and printed
at a print shop so that they look professional.
Get a business card designed and printed that is consistent with your
stationery in style, font, and color. Computer designed and printed
cards and stationery rarely look professional.
creating a list of contacts, making contact with them, keeping track
of what you have done, and scheduling what you have to do. It also
involves sending letters, resumes, and e-mails and keeping track of
contacts and appointments.
You can do this manually using an appointment calendar, a Rolodex,
an index card box, a business card folder, an accordion file, a looseleaf
book, and a file drawer with hanging files. These no-tech methods
work very well and there is a very low cost and a fast installation
and learning curve.
However, there are many powerful software packages that can automate
these processes. Be aware, though, that installation can be complicated
and there is a fairly steep learning curve for them.
You will be using the World Wide Web extensively for your job hunt.
Therefore, you need to get a high-quality, reliable Internet service
provider. Use a screen name that identifies you in a professional
You may decide to create a website. AOL and MSN provide do-it-yourself
capability. If you want something more sophisticated, shop for available
Web design and hosting services in your area.
You need uninterrupted access to your telephone for voice, fax, and
Internet. If this is not possible on your family line, consider adding
one or more phone lines for the duration of your job search.
Get a separate voice mailbox or answering machine for your home office.
Carefully write a script for your outgoing message that is friendly
and businesslike. Personal or cute messages do not fit the business
image you need to convey.
for a job. You may have to dip into your savings or borrow money if
your severance pay and unemployment benefits run out. So budget for
these costs rather than have them surprise you.
Set up a budget to finance your job search. Don’t do things yourself
that others can do better for you at lower pay rates than you can
eventually earn. You need to save your time to do those things you
alone can do to conduct the job search.
Revise your personal budget to reflect the loss of income and the
costs of your job hunt. Do zero-based budgeting and take immediate
steps to cut unnecessary spending.
you will face working in your home office will be self-discipline.
There are innumerable distractions: refrigerator, family members,
pets, errands, and chores. Conversely, lonesomeness can be a burden
that can compound the depression you may be experiencing from losing
When you went to work at your former employer’s location, your work
habits and routines were mostly set by other people. Now you have
to be totally self-directed. Experiment to find out what your best
rhythm is and establish the pattern that suits you. Then stick with
At the end of every work day, plan what you are going to do the next
day, preferably in the sequence and time that you will do each item.
Use your pocket or desk calendar, your computer calendar, or PDA to
do this. That way, you can start working on your job search immediately
instead of spending a good part of the morning deciding what to do.
Many things will be repetitive: researching, phoning, and sending
out cover letters and resumes. Do them according to a set schedule.
Others will be mandatory, such as going to networking or interviewing
appointments. Allow for flexibility in your routine for those events.
It is every bit as demanding as a paid job. Therefore, it also requires
leisure and recreation, otherwise you may burn out. To the extent
your budget allows it, keep doing the things that give you pleasure.
Besides, your family deserves your attention too, especially because
they are under the stress of you being out of work.
On the other hand, avoid overdoing it. Many people who are out of
work rejoice that they now have time to spend with their partner and
children. However, the downside is that you may disrupt their routines.
And you will presumably be reverting to much the same work pattern
when you resume working for an employer, which means that they again
have to adjust.
to being a solo operator, especially if you have been working in an
organization where you had a boss, colleagues, perhaps subordinates,
and experts from other departments and from outside the company to
draw on for direction and help. Therefore, create substitutes. Set
up a "Board of Advisors." Make alliances with people who can
advise and encourage you while you are out of work. Ask them to meet
on a regular basis to review your plans and progress. Offer to reciprocate
by telling them what you have discovered during your networking and
research that will benefit them in their jobs and careers.
reads: HOW WILL THIS MAKE MONEY? I recommend it to you as a great
way to focus your job hunt and avoid wasting time.
Corrections or additions?
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