Monday, March 23, 2009

How to find a job in this lousy economy:

Kelly Jo, a fellow Portland MySpace friend spills her secrets....

How I Landed a Great Job in this Lousy Economy

I recently found a great job in a dream company during the worst economic times since the Great Depression. How did I do it? I spent at least an hour every day for two years doing all of the things I have listed below. These are my Cliff Notes for landing your dream job, or at least a job that is a stepping stone to your dream job. This is a really long blog, and I'm sure most of you won't read it all. But you at least have to scroll down and read the last section about first impressions!

There is so much more to say, but I think I'll just put it in a book and let you download it if you want it.

Find a Business Networking Group

A business networking group is a place where you can go and meet people from all kinds of industries who may or may not be able to connect you to someone who can help you get a job. I attended a networking group called "The Breakfast Club" every other Tuesday morning for a year, and made some fantastic connections.

Update Your Resume
Customize Your Resume Every Time

I know it sounds like overkill, but the only way you're going to get a job in this economy is if your skill set is an exact match to what the hiring manager is looking for. If the job description says they're looking for a one-legged pirate who can knit, by God you'd better be a one-legged pirate with lots of hand-knitted sweaters in your portfolio!

Have Someone Review Your Resume
Give your resume to someone in your industry and have them give you constructive criticism. I probably have 10 different versions of my resume thanks to all of the suggestions I got.

Know Which Industries are Hiring
I come from the land of high tech, but high tech isn't doing so well these days, so I had to broaden my search scope into other industries. Let's brainstorm here for a minute and come up with a few companies and industries that are thriving in this economic downturn:

* NetFlix. People are staying home more, going out less. NetFlix is hiring.
* Alternative energy. We have a company here in Hillsboro called SolarWorld. They are the largest solar cell manufacturer in the country. They can't find enough qualified people for all of their job openings! Vestas, the turbine wind company from Denmark is moving its U.S. headquarters to Portland.

* Certain media companies. The company I work for creates, supports and manages interactive TV applications that allow you to interact with applications on your TV. In the UK you can even buy stuff from QVC with your remote.

Be willing to change industries.

Join an Industry Group
I am a member of OEN (Oregon Entrepreneurs Network) and SAO (Software Association of Oregon). These groups hold business and social functions where you can meet all kinds of people, and get introduced to companies you've never heard of. Find an organization in your area and join!

Subscribe to the Online Business Journals
I subscribe to the headlines for three business journals: Portland, Puget Sound and Silicon Valley. Every day I get little snippets in my Inbox telling me which companies are laying people off, which new companies just got more funding, etc. This is the way you track where the jobs are.

Create a Profile on LinkedIn
Become a Master Networker on LinkedIn
I have been online since the word was coined. Seriously. If there is a new business or social networking site in town I check it out. LinkedIn is a business networking site that allows you to keep in touch with current co-workers, ex co-workers, friends and recruiters.


If you're not on LinkedIn, sign up. It's free.

Create a profile that showcases your job experience.

Start looking for people you know to connect to.

Ask for Recommendations
Ask anyone you've ever worked with to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. These are public references that potential employers can view. The more recommendations you have on LinkedIn the better.

Update Your Status


Change your status on LinkedIn at least once a week. Why? Because it keeps your name showing up at the top of everyone's update list. It keeps you visible.

Put industry keywords in your status, because that's how recruiters will find you. I swear if my status said, "Kelly is slaying SQL Server dragons and writing complex queries," my profile would get views from all kinds of people in the database industry, and I would get contacted by recruiters.

* Say you are interviewing for jobs even if you have no interviews lined up.

Which brings me to...

LinkedIn Keywords
I'm not exactly sure how the LinkedIn search engine works, or how the paid part of the site works, but I will tell you that keywords are everything. If you are looking for wok in the IT industry you better have buzzwords in your profile and in your status. Use hot words like "whitelisting" and "positive IT tools."

LinkedIn Jobs Page
Linked in has a jobs page, and there were probably 25-45 jobs listed within 15 miles of my house at any given time. Not just job jobs, but great jobs. Many of the jobs actually give you the recruiter's name, so you can apply directly. Many of the jobs say "recommendations preferred," which is why I say get as many people to write
recommendations for you as possible. It really pays off.

Other Places to Find Work
Create a Profile on
Create a profile on, and sign up for the job alerts. Update your profile on a weekly basis, even if you only change one word, because it pops you to the top of the stack when employers are searching for people. You land in the "recently updated profiles" bucket.

Which leads me to...

Hang out a Shingle
Start a business on your own. My fallback skill has always been writing, so I hung out my shingle and started my own contract writing business. How did I get that first job? A friend on MySpace. Gary (Garibaldi) hired me to help him with an RFP. How did I get the second job? LinkedIn jobs board. I interviewed for a sales engineer position,
and I didn't get the job, but they did hire me as a contract writer for almost a year, which was much more lucrative.
Yes, craigslist! Not only are there many jobs posted there, it's also a great place to post your resume.

I posted a mini resume on craigslist and got three contract jobs in less than a week. There are hundreds of people looking for jobs on craigslist so the key is to differentiate yourself.

My headline was this:

>>> Not Your Typical Tech Writer <<<

The first line of my posting was something like, "Highly technical perfectionist with a Journalism degree, social skills and a sense of humor." Then I had 10 bullet points that listed what my skills were. You have to differentiate yourself or you will get lost in the rubble.

Register on Company Websites
Go directly to the companies you want to work for and use their online registration to post your resume. And sign up for their job alerts!

Get to Know Some Recruiters
Some companies still have inside recruiters, but more often than not companies will hire outside recruiters to fill positions. I had recruiters coming out of the woodwork when I posted on craigslist, and I called every one of them, and then chose ONE to work with. Not all recruiters are created equal. Choose one who will go to bat for you.

Get Someone to Hand-Walk Your Resume
Many jobs on company websites are in the final stages of interviewing before you even see them posted. The only way you're going to get an interview is to have an inside source who can tell you what jobs are going to be posted BEFORE they get posted. Have your insider walk your resume to the inside recruiter or the hiring manager's desk.

First Impressions Are Everything
When I had been doing all of the above for two years and I still hadn't been able to land a full-time job I had to ask myself why. Why did I always get down to the top two candidates and come in second? I finally decided to try something that even I didn't believe would work: I changed the color of my hair. Why? Because most people, whether they will admit it or not, have preconceived notions about blondes. They are perceived to be flaky, fun and dumb.

(Kelly Jo is now a blonde...)
To read her fabulous blog directly link here:

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