Job Hunting Basics: Do you Really Want a Job There?

By: John Groth

Basics of job hunting: Research the potential opportunities to reach the job you want.

Are you in a typical job hunt mode? Many times the job hunter mistakes activity for progress in finding that new job or the new career. By activity means pushing out a lot of resumes. With the internet, computers and printers it’s never been easier to mail out a huge volume of resumes. There are even some experts that advocate this approach again mistaking activity with progress.

This approach is like going to a gun fight with a shotgun in a dark room. So before we blast holes in the walls and hit nothing important, let’s see if we can bring some illumination to the process.

Essentially, there are two important problems with the “activity is everything” approach to job hunting. First, not having done the necessary research on the potential employer because of the large volume, if you get lucky and there is the initial phone interview, you don’t have the basic information about the employer or the job.

Sure, you can delay and call them back after you’ve done some research but this doesn’t always work. They may be in a time crunch and not give you the extra time, or your computer will crash or you internet access is down so you can’t get the information in time. In any event, you don’t come out of the encounter looking good, and your resume just went into the round file.

Second, if you haven’t put any thought or research into the possibility of working for a particular employer you are put into a vulnerable position. Let’s say you get the interview, and a subsequent job offer. If your career goals are not well defined, you tend to overlook possible negatives on the position and on the employer. You get caught up in the overall process and the possibility of change. Then, only later do you realize you made a big mistake.

The time to research the employer and the possible career fit is before you send out the cover letter and the resume. With a whirlwind of activity how can you possibly do justice to proper follow-up? This is only one of the defects to the “big activity” approach.

The lesson here is to do your research before you send out the resume. Keep a file on each resume sent out. The file will contain the following information about the company: amount of sales, locations, number of employees (get info from the internet or call and get an annual report); products and services; their competitors; recent newspaper clippings and magazine articles; reference information at your local library and other necessary financial data from Standard & Poors. This information is basic.

If possible interview people who now work for the company or worked for them in the recent past. This many times is not as hard as it sounds. For example, needing to get some basic information about a privately held company we found a newspaper story along the picture and name of a recently promoted manager. We called the company and asked to speak to him. He gave us ten minutes of his time to answer out prepared questions.

When you do receive the initial telephone call you’ll now be prepared. Your knowledgeable conversation will communicate to the caller your interest in the company and the opportunity. More often than not, this interest will move you to the next stage in the interview process. You now can take your research and do a more in depth study.

Nothing should escape your notice. In a competitive hiring situation a candidate got the job because he had learned the person he was going to report to graduated from the same college he graduated from. Of course this came up in the interview. And he learned later it was a close call between himself and two other candidates, but he was successful because of his in-depth research.

Do your basic research on the employer before you send out the resume. It will pay dividends in helping you make the early decision if the employer is the right fit for your career. This shouldn’t mean that you are overly critical of rejecting a relatively large number of employers, but the preparation will allow you to focus on the best fit. It’s better to spend your time on proper follow-up and research than throwing a large number of resumes into the mail and hoping something will land on the right desk at the right time.

Your project focus will also help keep you from making a big employment mistake by agreeing to a job offer with the wrong employer or agreeing to accept the wrong position.

Careers and Job Hunting
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