How to search for a Job in 11 steps!

August 27, 2009

Are you fresh out of college and want to look for a new job? Are you experienced professional want to switch to another job? If yes, please read on.

Few days back, a friend asked advice about the business of going about looking for a job in US. I quickly wrote him up an email with whatever advice I thought would be useful. I would like to share that same advice for the benefit of all job-seekers out there, for what it’s worth. This is out of my own experience, by no means a complete guide, but still useful, or so do I hope. 🙂

  1. Sign Up – sign up on dice.com, monster.com
  2. Complete The Profile – Step #1 is obvious step, but make sure to COMPLETE the profile. Don’t just hastily sign up. Do it one site at a time, so you don’t get bored. Do one site, after a week do the next.
  3. Do Not Disclose – Do NOT mention your name, current company name, current client name or any easily identifiable information anywhere in the site profile or uploaded resume. Mention something like very large US health care company, large multi-national IT company and so on. Remember recruiters only search for keywords on the job websites. If your profile matches the keywords (DBA, Oracle, C#, etc) they will send you an email through the website requesting for your resume. They will also brief you in the same email about  themselves, job description, location etc. In reply to this email, you send your REAL resume with all real information as actual name, company name etc. You can always choose not to respond to this email and they will never know any specifics about who you are (you didn’t mention anything on site profile, remember?).
  4. Cover Letter – Prepare a nice ‘cover letter’ email. Use this email to send resume attachment to the recruiter.  Clearly state in cover letter brief about what you do, your career highlights and what you are looking for. MODIFY this generic cover letter each time to cater to the email you are replying. Try not to make it look canned. In any case, cover letter (even canned) is better than no cover letter. IMHO, 80% job seekers reply with just resume. You will immediately stand out if you have cover letter. I had experiences, when some recruiters were extra impressed by me, just because I had included a cover letter (even though they did not understand anything about my technical  abilities). I CANNOT emphasize this point any more.
  5. Do Not Rush – These things take time. Give it like 3-4 months at least.
  6. Trial Run – Look at first 20 recruiter calls, job interviews as trial run. You should use these calls to gauge the market price, typical interview  questions for your field, etc. Refine your price after each call.
  7. Cut The Crap – Know whom you are talking to. Many recruiting agencies do initial screening by some dumb front desk helpers. Answer their questions briefly, but don’t let them waste too much of your time. You want to talk very nicely to high level recruiting manager though. Don’t worry, you can tell the difference, or you will by the time your trial run is over.
  8. Know Your Price – Know your desired salary range. Remember, your range should change according to job location. In states like WI, OH, you may ask for 65-70 K for senior software developer. For the same position, you should ask for 85-90 K in FL, CA. In NY you would ask for 100 K. Use salary.com, payscale.com to calculate cost of living for the location. These websites give you lot of options to select which can be confusing. Don’t worry too much about selecting correct choices. Idea is to get ballpark approximations about how expensive or cheap the job location is with respect to your current city.
  9. Keep Preparing – Pass one good certification exam (BrainBench, MCTS, OCP, etc) in your field. You stand out with a certification recently passed. During job interviews, briefly note down questions which you can’t answer. Look them up IMMEDIATELY after the interview. Again, do it immediately, not later. I cannot believe how many times I got stumped by questions, which I was asked in previous interviews as well and I had thought in my mind that I should look this up.
  10. Know your preferences – And stick to them. You only want a job in places like Florida/California? You don’t want to work hectic schedules? You can come on sat-sun but you have to leave by 6 pm on weekdays, because you have to pick up your daughter from daycare? You don’t want to work on maintenance project? What is the bench policy? Is there an option to work on percentage basis? Try to know answers to these questions. Don’t worry about getting all preferences right at once, you can refine them during trial run. Ask to speak with the project manager (or immediate supervisor). Do not hesitate. Get answers to all your questions, before you finalize.
  11. Again, Go Slow – Always ask for more time. Don’t hurry to say yes or no. Recruiters will always pester you to say yes. They will give all kinds of excuses and show extreme urgency to get your answer. If he gives you 10 reasons to take a decision, be ready with 11 reasons why you can’t decide right now. The only reason they hurry you is, they know you are hunting too, if you get a good deal somewhere else you are gone. They want to lock you in. Don’t fall in their trap. If your interview goes well and you are serious about the offer, again, ask to speak with the project manager (or immediate supervisor), before you finalize.

I know this advice is not perfect. It’s only a quick reflection on a question, how to look for job? What steps to take? Feel free to leave comments if you have any more tips, advice to share.

P.S. – I know the title sounds a little cheesy. People are more like to click on such links, they say. 🙂

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