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Investigative Skills for Job Hunting

I have been working with a young client in the Midwest who graduated from college last year and has yet to land a job in his industry. He is currently supporting his family by working in a job outside of his field.

His area of the country has been hit especially hard by the downturn in the economy and we are diligently working to establish connections that could lead to his goal of a job in video/media productions.

He recently joined a couple of related groups on LinkedIn and became an active member of a local industry association in his home town.

This week he compiled a list of the largest employers in the area and is in the process of identifying the director of media productions in these organizations.   Often this is as easy as checking the organization’s website for a list of key employees. However, in this case finding the necessary information required additional investigative skills.

He began with a “company” search on LinkedIn and came up with a listing for the director of marketing and communications at his target company. Unfortunately, because he only had a third degree LinkedIn connection with this individual he could access just the first name and last initial.

Bummer! But, he wasn’t done yet. He Googled “director of marketing” for the city and got the hit he was looking for – an individual with the same first name and the full last name.

Next he went back to LinkedIn, searched for this person by first and last name and found the director’s full profile.  As he scrolled through the profile he discovered that his target had attended his alma mater 30 years earlier. This was an unexpected and extremely helpful development which gave my young client a good reason for contacting him.

After reviewing the director of marketing’s entire profile including his blog, my client quoted one of the blog posts in the opening sentence of the letter he wrote requesting an informational meeting.  He identified himself as a fellow graduate of Midwest University and asked for a meeting to get advice and suggestions about how to best to get started in the video/media productions field.

The purpose of this meeting is to get expert advice on how to transition into his desired field, identify other contacts in the industry, and of course, make a great impression on the hiring manager.  Under no circumstances should my client inquire about a possible position during this meeting. His goal is to get suggestions about other industry movers and shakers to contact and organizations to investigate.

Is this approach guaranteed to lead to a job? No, there are no guarantees today.   What it is guaranteed to do is help my client build connections, make industry contacts and keep his job search active in the face of trying circumstances.

Employers are concerned about making the right hiring choices, especially in this economy. Increasingly they are looking within their personal and professional network to source employees. They prefer a warm hire to a cold hire off the street.  Using this approach enables hiring managers and job seekers to develop a relationship without the pressure of needing to immediately fill or find a position.

Mary Jeanne Vincent is a career expert and strategist with a private coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831.657.9151 or mjv@careercoachmjv.com.