How to find that perfect job
When Michael Daish left his sales director job at a technology start-up in 2003, he looked everywhere for a new position. He surfed the Web, scoped out the national job-listing sites and some smaller ones. He made a list of prospective companies and sent out query letters. He talked with former colleagues and friends. "No one thing by itself works," says Daish, 51, who eventually learned of his current position as a regional manager for Electro Industries through a friend. "You have to try all sorts of things."
That can mean searching the Internet, scouring the classifieds, and tapping family and friends. You can try headhunters, on-campus recruiting events, and temp agencies. "We tell people to leave no stone unturned," says Michael Shahnasarian, president of Career Consultants of America in Tampa. "Look at the want ads, but don't rely on that solely."
Some approaches are more successful than others. A whopping 60.7 percent of job seekers found new jobs through networking, according to a 2002 poll by BH Careers International. Sixteen percent found their job through the newspaper want ads. Others found success on the Internet through either a newspaper website or an online job site.
Before you start exploring your options, figure out what you want from your next position. "Be prepared," says David Watson, executive director of the Houston chapter of Forty Plus. "The stress and the pressure can make you run in all sorts of directions for any job out there." He advises seekers to detail the responsibilities, salary, and other particulars such as commute time before searching.
Jocelyn Gibian, 38, created a spreadsheet of all the people she knew shortly after she left American Express. Gibian was contemplating a move into education but lacked relevant contacts. Still, she sent E-mails to her friends and colleagues asking about new opportunities. "I always had people in my pipeline," she says. "I never reached a dead end."
The approach worked. Gibian heard of a position at New York University's Stern School of Business in the executive M.B.A. program, through a friend of a friend. She applied and began work in business development and corporate sales in November.
Formal networking organizations may also be valuable. These groups run the gamut, from industry-specific associations to those designated solely for women. Daish used ProMatch, a Silicon Valley organization designed to help local professionals find work. "It supports the whole job transition for people," he says.
Focus. Don't rule out other sources. Experts say to spend some time looking through the classified section of the newspaper or online job boards. But do so wisely. "You can start more general, like the big, national boards, but then get out of those and find the more targeted sites," says Margaret Riley Dikel, coauthor of The Guide to Internet Job Searching.
Those who follow this advice may be more successful in the long run. According to a survey by CareerXroads, of those hired from the Internet, 53.3 percent came from a company's website while 16.9 percent came from niche sites. The remainder came from national boards like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and HotJobs.
James Crowley, 35, found his current position at the Seattle Public Library by searching job-listing sites that fit his interests. Crowley was working at Amazon.com but wanted to put his Ph.D. in English language and literature to better use. So he would occasionally check the websites at the public library and the University of Washington for job listings. When he saw an opening for a Web manager at the library, he quickly applied. "It worked out very well," says Crowley, who started his new job in late January. "I was able to find something that closely matched." -Nisha Ramachandran
This story appears in the March 21, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.