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Unique Job Search Tactics That Work

In my June 24 Yahoo!Finance column, I look at some unique job-search tactics that helped unemployed folks find new jobs. A recent survey by found nearly a quarter of hiring managers have seen attention-grabbing methods, which in some cases led to a new hire. A few examples:

Survey respondents said some job seekers used the “show-me-what-you-got” method: One candidate applying for a casino table game position came into the manager’s office and started dealing on the desk while pretending to talk to players, which demonstrated her guest-service skills. A prospective teacher brought in a box of props to demonstrate her teaching style. Another person came prepared with unique business cards featuring the company’s logo and a self-introduction brochure.

Other new hires demonstrated the value they could add to the company: One candidate sent in a letter that explained how to solve an issue the company was having with a certain type of technology. Another wrote a full business plan for one of the firm’s products with his resume submission. A third created a full graphics portfolio on the company’s brand. Here are a few other tips gleaned from the experts I interviewed for the story:

1. Leave a trail of “digital crumbs” so employers can find you.

“If you’re not on Linkedin or Facebook, or don’t have a Twitter account or a website, we can’t find you, and if we don’t find you, we can’t call you,” says Dave Perry, managing partner of Perry Martell, an executive search firm in Ontario, Canada. “Most people will get up in the morning and apply to jobs online for hours and get nothing but frustration. All it really takes is sitting down for a couple of hours to think about how you are going to leave a trail of digital bread crumbs so some recruiter somewhere who is looking for someone like you can find you easily.”

2. Get your resume hand-delivered to HR.

If you don’t know anyone at a specific firm you are targeting, find the name of anyone at the company, even if it’s the CEO, and snail-mail your cover letter and resume to that person, says Cynthia Shapiro, career strategist and author. (See below for a way to find names.) “They will open it up and hand it over to HR or the hiring manager, but it will look like a hand-delivered submission from that department – it’s a great way to get them to read it first,” she says. Make sure the resume is on 100 percent cotton paper, she says: “Psychologically, the thicker and nicer the paper, the more substantial the candidate appears.”

3. Get on ZoomInfo.

“Most large Fortune 500 companies have a subscription to Zoom Info, as do executive recruiter firms,” says Perry. “Recruiters have become very adept at micro-targeting candidates rather than running an ad and sifting through 10,000 responses for an ad on a job board. We’d rather talk to the six people we know who are qualified.” Zoom Info has created an application that job hunters can use for free. It also launched a program last year that gives new users eight weeks of free access to all 65 million people in its database, so you can find the right people to target in your search.  Click here for more info.

Let’s say you want a job in engineering. You can do a Zoom Info resume search for the vice president of engineering at the ten or 12 companies you are targeting – finding both current and past employees. Perry suggests calling former employees with this pitch: “This is unusual, but I know you used to work at XYZ Company, and I’m looking for a job there. Can I ask you a couple of questions about this department?”

Have your script worked out, Perry says, and nine in ten people will tell you want you need to know. That information can be used to create a targeted letter, focusing on the successes you have had in the past dealing with similar challenges or issues. (Obviously, don’t suggest the company has problems or mention your source. You might say, “Many firms in the industry have faced ____ issues, which I managed successfully at my last firm by doing x, y and z.”)

Have you used an unusual tactic to find and land a new job? Comment here or email me at laura at laurarowley dot com.

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6 Responses to “Unique Job Search Tactics That Work”

  1. Ranu Says:

    I want to ask about how to make resume if we are fresh graduates with less work’s experience or unrelated job’s experience with the company which we sent the job’s application?
    In my country, companies tend to seeking employee candidate who have some experiences, while fresh graduates can’t have it or maybe have different experience with what those needed. While looking part time jobs from students (and college students) are something hard to do

  2. Abhijeet Says:

    Great column Laura! Really like the ‘digital crumbs’ reference….here are some additional tips for your readers:

    1) Have a focused job search rather than targeting every employer posting on Monster. Having that focus will enable you to better utilize your time towards more result-oriented activities.

    2) Have an elevator pitch that can help you connect with potential employers during networking events, meetings or even good old email

    3) Approach any meeting with prospective employers as a problem solving solving session….try to understand ‘why’ is this employer hiring

    hope this helps!

  3. Chuck Says:

    Hi, Laura — What suggestions might you have for a recent PHd graduate who is struggling to find jobs? The new doctor claims that things are “different” for such jobs and cute marketing doesn’t work. He also claims the way to success is via the on-line job application systems. Thanks.

    Hi Chuck: All of the career coaches and recruiters I spoke with for my Yahoo!Finance story said most people don’t land a job through the online job search engines, especially the highly skilled. They find their jobs through other people — people they know directly or through friends of friends (this has been true for every job in my career as well). Someone with that level of expertise should focus on the 20 or so companies where they would like to work and have a very clear vision of the kind of position they want. Then use Zoom Info and search for people who are doing that kind of work at those companies. Look at their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles — what industry organizations are they involved in? What conferences do they attend? What LinkedIn groups are they part of? The job seeker needs to get himself in a room (real or virtual) with those people, or call and ask for an information interview.

    He could also try the tactic of the bank president I mentioned in the story. He found and called former employees at the firms where he wanted to work, and asked for a little of their time to do an informational interview. That gave him an insider’s perspective on the problems and issues the companies had, so he could position himself as a problem-solver in his cover letter and resume. One recruiter put it this way: “A manager gets up in the morning and says, ‘I still have that problem I had last week.’ But he doesn’t necessarily make the connection between having the problem and finding someone who can solve it for him, because to go through the process of finding and hiring is a pain in the butt. So he suffers needlessly for months before he finally posts a job. Find the head of the department and say I have solved problems in this area in the past for other firms. Shall we have a coffee?” Nothing cutesy about that. –Laura

  4. GL HOFFMAN Says:

    Hi Laura,
    I think there is only one true job search engine and that is because we truly search for job openings ONLY on company websites. The other job boards only have jobs that are posted there. About 70% of the 500,000 jobs up on linkup are never advertised elsewhere.
    thanks for allowing me to set the record straight. I think people should check out simply hired because then they will find jobs from every job board, but then GO TO

  5. Stansa Says:

    I am leaving these comments with the genuine hope that they may help someone still looking for that ever elusive job. My husband was 59 when he was downsized from the company he served 18 years. Our state has a 9.7% unemployment rate. He got a job in about 5 months and these are the techniques he used.

    1. He searched for a legitimate job coach who helped him update his resume, fine tune each cover letter, review each contact and discuss each position. We used his severance pay for this and we thoroughly researched the individual through friends and contacts. Linkedin is the single best sight for a profile and job search.
    2.The local college was offering up to four free courses for people who had lost their jobs. Although he has a degree with heavy experience in consumer relations and IT, he took two additional courses in IT, listed them on his resume and people hiring noticed them.
    3.He created a social network and talked over his ideas with them.
    4.This idea was his and it worked and did not fall into the category of “gimmick”: if he applied to a local company on line or through the mail, he would complete the information needed and send it. Then immediately after, he would shower and change into business casual and take a copy of what he sent to the business and tell them he had just applied on line and that he wanted to make sure they had his resume, etc. He was never pushy and I think this gave him an edge.
    5. When his resume wasn’t considered, he called the company and tried to speak to the person who was hiring to ask what he could do to improve his chances in applying for the next job. He met with very positive results and got some excellent tips from those people.
    6. My husband, the coach, his little network and I worked as a team. Although he is a good dresser and is in good shape, we worked to update his look. For him this meant updating his hair and facial hair to a more contemporary style. When he went out the door, he looked like the person for the job. It seems unimportant, but this is a shallow world when it comes to appearance.
    7. Lastly, he remained positive overall and always positive when he went to an interview. He had well honed questions, one of which was always, ” After interviewing me and reading my resume, how do you feel I can best help XYZ Company in the position of______________?”
    In other words, how can I help you best? This always led to a longer more solid interview and eventually to his new job.
    8. The company that hired him only hires from full time temporary to new hire. He actually made less working for the first six weeks than he did on unemployment but his willingness to comply with their arrangement helped land the permanent position.

    I hope these ideas can help others. Recently after his year end review he and his boss were wrapping up and he asked her what was the deciding factor in hiring him and she said she always hired experience and that his interviews left no doubt in his interest in the job and the company.

  6. Larry Says:

    Can I have a job working for you?

    (Posting for a job on a comment board, how’s that for unique?)

    Haha… j/k


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