To Uncover Career Gold, Be Bold

   Tim Conway   

In a weak employment market, it’s a smart strategy to take risks.

Push yourself to try unconventional job search methods.  By being a go-getter, you will spot hidden opportunities.

Here are surprising tactics that are productive:

  • compose brief bio and case studies (format of Situation, Actions, Results); send as an alternative to a boring resume
  • create a digital portfolio to showcase academic/campus/on-the-job achievements (fact:  “less is more” so only display best samples such as transcripts, commendation notes and awards)
  • skim “Newsroom” press releases of target employers to spot names of executives; then use those names during outreach campaigns (e.g., postcard)
  • join professional associations to access membership databases; schedule lunch with chapter officers for insights
  • attend industry events; stay afterwards to meet-and-greet speakers/panelists
  • rehearse 30-second Personal Pitch to highlight useful skills/career goal with relatives, neighbors, community/religious leaders, family physician/dentist/attorney and former supervisors/professors/tutors/coaches; mention preferred organizations to spur others to share contacts
  • approach sole proprietors, boutique agencies and fastest-growing firms since these are first to hire during a slow economy; call before 8 a.m. and after 5:30 p.m. when gate-keepers aren’t there
  • craft a Solutions Letter to organizations covering specific recommendations to existing problems (that you’ve identified from input by referrals along with observations)
  • make phone calls to university/Greek alumni to seek advice (objective is to establish a mentoring relationship so do not inquire about job openings; instead ask about hot projects that need support)
  • move cross-country or overseas to an emerging location (check library publications for list of regions/cities)
  • leave short voicemail messages:  “Hello ___________, this is ______ _________.  I have some useful information for you.  Please call me when it’s convenient.  Reach me at ___-___-____.   Again, it’s ______ _________ at ____-____-_____.”  The information you exchange should be about recent category or competitive activity.
  • submit a Results Letter to prospective firms stating your performance commitments for Years 1-2 (e.g., product training, account management, foreign language fluency, sales revenue, cost savings)
  • accept a temporary role or unpaid internship with goal to quickly demonstrate value
  • offer to work for F-R-E-E for a limited time in chosen or related field (for instance, pursue a hotel, rental car, airlines or retailer to build client service abilities)

By taking more chances, you will boost odds of being noticed.  Plus, you’ll gain respect of influential staffers for being proactive.

Friend and former colleague Tim Conway is a one-on-one adviser to job hunters.  He wrote about proven employment techniques in “25 Ways To Make College Pay Off” (AMACOM; 2007).  Reach Tim at:  847-749-1394 (office) or

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