Job Hunting: Get Aggressive to Get the Job You Want
By Lisette Hilton

Job-hunting can be excruciating for the hunter. Especially if you've gone through the utter rejection of losing your previous job, the hunt for a new one can be identity threatening and rejection filled. Depending on your luck and skills, job hunting can tear down the biggest of egos.

The best approach, says Barry Cohen, university employment coordinator for City University of New York, Manhattan, is to tackle job-hunting aggressively. Cohen, who also works privately as a career counselor, said that of the three stages in obtaining your next position, the first is to get the interview. You'll find that your cover letter and resume are not just important but critical. It's a myth that people don't judge you by what you send. Everybody does, Cohen said. The reality is an HR professional will scan a resume of seven seconds, if that long. If they don't like what they see, you're gone.

The second stage is once you're called into the interview, convert that interview into an offer. If you can't get an offer, get a hand off or a referral.

Third, you have to be able to negotiate what you're worth. You never get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. Use a script.

Starting your aggressive job search

By using the Internet, applying to different employment agencies and recruiters, scanning the want ads and working through referrals, you cover the bases of aggressive job hunting. Recruiters can be helpful in that they have corporate relationships in place. "There are two types of recruiters: contingency and retainer. The contingency type gets paid between 15 to 33 percent of what you'll earn after you accept your position. The retainer types are paid in advance. They generally work for highly specialized jobs. What people have to remember is that recruiters don't work for them, they work for the companies that pay them," Cohen says.

Job recruiting Internet sites are good sources in your job hunt (See Working with Third Party Recruiters on this site). But take note that by putting your resume on the Internet, you're posting your personal information for a world of eyes to see. Learn more about posting your resume on the Net in the article Balancing Risks and Rewards: Putting Your Resume on the Net, which is on this site.

Often, your resume will get you the interview, so it's imperative that it's written by a professional, Cohen says. "Referrals are really the bread and butter. The key is to try and reach the decision-maker through the back door by approaching someone who knows someone," Cohen says.

Don't stop with one

Consider sending your resume to multiple employers so that you get as many interviews as possible. Do something everyday for your search. Send out resumes, follow up on the phone to make sure that your resumes have been received but don't be a pest. One call will do.

Cohen suggests that those who are unemployed should accept the first offer that comes their way. "You can always jump ship afterwards," he says. "If you get two offers, take them both. Tell company number one that you'll start immediately. Tell company two that you're very flattered however you have a project on the table and you don't feel right just jumping ship. You'll be more than happy to start with them in three weeks. In two weeks, you'll know if company one is right for you. If it is, call company two and say, 'I'm sorry, I decided to stay where I am. Thanks anyway.' If company one is not right for you, call company two and say, 'I was able to conclude my project faster than expected. When can I start?'"

Cohen's tips continue

  • Interview like a jobholder, not a job hunter. Job hunters might come across as needy, dejected and too willing.

  • Too much honesty isn't necessarily a good thing. According to Cohen, being too honest and revealing too much can turn against you in the job hunting process--especially, if you've been laid off or let go. When an employer asks you, "Why did you leave your last job?" or "Why were you let go?" he's really asking: "What's wrong with you?" An example response is: "My company suffered a severe downsizing. My immediate boss had no choice but to let me go and after she let me go, she was let go."

  • Would you hire this guy? Don't come into the interview cocky. Dress professionally. Go after every interview like it's the last one you'll ever have.

  • In salary negotiations, the person who mentions the number first loses. When they ask you how much looking for, say that you don't want to disqualify yourself by a number, can you tell me how much you have budgeted for this position? You can also give employers a ballpark, saying that your current compensation package is in the $60,000 range and that you want to stay in that range. Lump all your compensation together. By throwing out numbers you might sell yourself short. After all, you don't know the company's range of salary or compensation.

  • Say thanks by sending thank you letters within 24 hours of each interview. If three people interview you at one company, send three separate thank you notes. Cohen says that when competition for a job is tight, thank you notes have the power of swaying an employer your way.

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