Hindsight is 20/20, my friend. And as I’m watching many friends and clients searching for jobs right now, I see a clear trend emerging – one that reminds me of the last time I was job hunting. They attend as many networking functions as possible, post résumés to all the career sites and send out as many queries as they can. Yet, they aren’t getting interviews.

This was me six years ago. I’d been out of work for a month, living in a city where I barely knew anyone and had $37 in my bank account. Desperate, I sent out more than 150 résumés in one week, made dozens of cold calls and hit up every networking event in town. With all my hard work, surely someone would magically see my talents and offer me the perfect job. With all that effort, all that elbow grease, surely some opportunities would surface.

After several months of beating my head up against this wall, it occurred to me that I was doing exactly what everyone else was doing, and it wasn’t working. I needed to do something different.

New game plan? Asking people how I could be of support to them, rather than always asking for help. I conducted informational interviews with people at companies I was interested in – and asked how I could help them. Instead of talking about myself and hoping they’d offer me a job, I listened to them.

I began understanding where these companies needed support and how I could add value. In the process, I became a resource instead of an annoyance. I could then clearly communicate to my new contacts the value I could bring to their companies – and they listened longer.

It wasn’t long (maybe a month) before I started getting job offers. Instead of taking the sane route and accepting one, I decided to become an entrepreneur. (Fortunately, my new-found skill hasn’t gone to waste. I use the same strategy to find new business opportunities for my company.)

Here are three methods for finding people who want to work with you:

  1. Focus. The vast majority of job seekers send out as many résumés as they can. Instead, I encourage you to locate no more than three companies you want to work for and begin learning about them – through informational interviews, formal and informal. Do some research on the best companies to work for and learn why they’ve been given that status. Find out who you know who loves their companies – and why. Once you’ve narrowed down organizations to focus on, see who you know on Linked In who knows someone at your company of interest – and ask for an introduction. Find out where employees from that company hang out? How can you build relationships with them? Being able to communicate why you’ve chosen this company out of thousands to focus on and having done your homework will make you stand out in an interview.
  1. Clarity. Now that you know more about the company, consider what skills, experiences and connections you have that will add value there. How exactly can these skills help this specific company? Be able to articulate this in your cover letter, rather than sending out a form letter that recruiters will ignore.
  1. Generosity. When networking, be the person who listens, makes connections and follows up immediately. This alone will make you stand out brilliantly. Look and listen for ways you can help others – even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone to help someone make a connection at a company where you don’t know anyone. Find out who you know (or who your friends know) that this person needs to meet – and pick up the phone and make the connection. When you’re focused on serving others, good things will happen to you.

I know it’s harder to find a job than it has been in decades, but you just need one great opportunity to get you back on track. Don’t let your résumé become just one more in a growing stack. Instead, let your job clarity, commitment to others and passion guide the way. Companies are always in need of professionals with integrity, a great attitude and willingness to go the extra mile.

I welcome your questions and ideas. Just e-mail me at MBurmeister@InspirionInc.com.

Rock on!


Misti Burmeister