Taking The ‘PULSE’ Of Your Job Search

AjustDaSailsA lot of individuals with a rebellious streak resist structure, snub the idea of a schedule, and then find that their lives and creative output aren’t nearly as harmonious as they hoped. As job seekers, they may find it quite difficult to get in to a productive and efficient routine, the implementation of their Personal Marketing Plan.

If you fall at this end of the spectrum and find it hard to accept — and even harder to follow — a standard routine, maybe it’s time to stop thinking about managing your time and effort as developing a set of strict rules to follow. In fact, implementing your PMP wisely is to commit to averaging your activity counts and time management ‘numbers’ over a longer stretch of time.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, August 8th… Implementing Your PMP,  Exploring THE Careerpilot’s ‘wave theory.’


bob-maher-4587-editStart thinking about increasing productivity as a process of finding and cultivating your unique creative rhythm — your cadence, your implementation beat… your job search “PULSE.” Create a personal discipline for yourself, a way of being, where there’s a realistic goal (your next right employment opportunity) and recognize the need to maintain a consistency of fruitful activity to propel our 12-step process of career transition forward… all while allowing room for improvisation and job search/ LIFE balance!

If this sort of approach sounds appealing to you, here are some ideas based on my own anecdotal experiences with thousands of unemployed people over my 39 years of experience in consulting with job seekers around the U.S.of A.

Monthly Cadence

Job Seekers can typically get more done in a month when they plan for less. Most people have a natural rhythm where they can accomplish about one major professional project or one personal milestone in a month. As an example, think about developing your resume and related personal marketing materials.

1. Resume
2. “Tell me about yourself” or your ‘elevator pitch’ or even your qualification statement
3. Your digital footprint: Branding yourself in your LinkedIn Profile

If you tell yourself that you’ll do three items of this stature in a month, you’ll probably make little progress on any of them. If you commit to one specifically for the month, there’s a high probability that you’ll accomplish it or get close to finishing within the four weeks. Honor that monthly project cadence, and you’ll feel much more satisfied.

What’s more, it’s also essential that you honor your personal and emotional energy cadence over the course of the month. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a general rule, one or two distractions a month are the max that most individuals can take without getting thrown significantly off rhythm.

Also, consider pacing yourself in regard to events you host or visitors that you have in your home. All of these events add a nice sense of variety to life, but can make you lose the beat if the exceptions become the norm.

Weekly Cadence

I would never attempt to define a “normal” week of job search…there are simply too many variables! But, I do encourage those Candidates that I serve to commit to AVERAGING the numbers they select in the Personal Marketing Plan.  You can think about this in the same way you would a design template. It’s a format that you can then build and modify as necessary for any given project — in this case, your job search week.

1. Include ramp-up time on Monday morning, so that the first few hours of the week are blocked out for weekly planning and processing after the weekend.
2. Schedule focused practice or research time on Wednesday afternoons.
3. Get out of the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays… go to a coffee shop and get quality, uninterrupted work done. This turns moving a major initiative forward into something that feels like a nice mid-week mini-break from the normal day-to-day.
4. Wind down on Friday afternoons. I block out about three hours to wrap up anything that took longer than I anticipated or to work on non-urgent administrative tasks that are nice to get done before closing up for the weekend.
5. At least one weekday evening, accomplish personal to-do items and recharge. I’m very involved in my community and lifestyle, but even extroverts need a day off.

NORMAL? … Don’t hold your breath, but you can, of course, adapt, adjust, and amend all of this as necessary. But this rhythm is what I suggest, and I find it leads to a productive week with closure before the weekend… and plenty of time for those “normal” distractions!

Daily Cadence

There is no one right formula for having a productive day of job search activities. The trick is to be honest with yourself about what works best for you to get the most of your 24 hours.  Personally, I spend the first hour to hour and a half planning, answering e-mail, and completing small to-do items, and then I jump into more in-depth work and client calls by 8:30.

With some of my Candidates, the best daily rhythm is to check e-mail very quickly in the morning and then focus on in-depth work until lunch. After lunch they have meetings or respond to emergencies that have come up. No matter which you prefer, you want to have clarity on when you do your best focused work, when you prefer to have meetings, and when you’ll make space for the processing and planning that keeps everything moving in the right direction.

Back-to-Center Cadence

Finally, it’s important to know what pattern can help you to get back on track when there are major variations to your Personal Marketing Plan. Being honest with yourself and giving yourself permission to spend time reorganizing when you need it keeps you from feeling perpetually behind and guilty.

For example, you will experience the least pressure when you block out a few days before and after any significant time away from your job search so that no one can schedule meetings with you on those days. That gives you the flexibility you need for wrapping up work and getting your head back in the game after being away…maintaining your visibility in the job market.

Also, consider blocking out at least a half day after a conference or major networking event to tie up loose ends, follow up, and sort through your notes. This will give you the ability to extract the value from what just happened. The more disruptive the event, the more time you’ll want to allot to resettle in and get back on a rhythm.

Rhythm on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis can create the order, productivity, efficiency, and flexibility you need for the implementation of your Personal Marketing Plan to flow productively and efficiently… It’s time to “take your pulse.”

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So, WHY Plan?

Ready+aim+fire‘READY… Aim… fire’ is only as good as knowing what you have to offer (your positioning) and knowing which organizations could use a person like you (target organizations).  BOTH items are enhanced with a little PRO-Active PLANNING.  One of the most important skills a job-seeker can learn during a job-search is research skills. The quality of your research skills will dramatically impact both short term job search and longer range career continuity. Information is a critical commodity in job-hunting; the more you know and the easier it is for you to find information, the better your chances of success.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, August 1st… Your Personal Marketing PLAN


Pilot OnboardSo, make the commitment to improve your research skills. In fact, hold yourself accountable to research time each and every week. Employers value job-seekers who know key information about the company because that knowledge demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the company and for the job.

Finding information on a company’s competitors, company financial stresses and major lawsuits can counterbalance the positive information portrayed by the company’s own website, the most positive view of available information…

WHEN to Do Research

If attaining and maintaining career continuity is your realistic goal, you’ll find four specific times during which researched information will be important to you… First and foremost should be your commitment to knowing your marketplace for the rest of your career. This FIRST LEVEL RESEARCH implies setting aside a reasonable amount of time on an on-going basis, whether you’re employed or not. Often research leads to “spot media opportunities” that may lead you to your next right work.

Second, and another permutation of First Level Research, is when you are just starting a specific job-search and looking to identify attractive trends or key companies in your profession or industry, or even in a specific geographic location. I have always found this single factor to be the most under-utilized way to prepare for an effective job search. This is perhaps the most common use of first level research.

The third possibility is when you are applying to a specific employer; it’s always best to relate yourself to the company and tailor your cover letter and resume to each employer. This SECOND LEVEL RESEARCH probes deeper for specific info.

The fourth — and when most job-seekers finally do some research — is when you have been invited to a job interview; you’ll want to showcase your knowledge of the company and the people interviewing you.  This THIRD LEVEL RESEARCH probes still deeper and extends the breadth of your knowledge.

 WHAT Information Fits Your Offer Criteria…

You are usually seeking two sets of information. The first set of information deals with general company information. The types of information you might gather here include: products and services, history and corporate culture, organizational mission and goals, key financial statistics, organizational structure (divisions, subsidiaries, etc.), and locations.

Of course, you may also research the industry, key competitors, and countries where any specific, targeted, companies have offices.

The second set of information deals with personal and employment issues, and includes such things as career paths and advancement opportunities, benefits, diversity initiatives, and other human resources functions.

The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be.

Remember, both objective (factual) and subjective (word-of-mouth, opinions) information can be of value. The following “OFFER CRITERIA MATRIX” will help you keep this all straight…

Information Desired Location Industry Business Climate Company SIZE Mgt Philosophy
Researchable FACTS X X   X X
SUBJECTIVE Info     ??   ??

You can analyze as many columns of information as is important to your definition of next right work. The Matrix will serve you well in all three levels of research mentioned previously… and when completely “filled in” can put the objectivity back in to the emotional process of accepting your next position, or taking the next step.

Embracing Effective Tactics In The OTHER Job Market

roadsign-banner2The traditional job seeker spends most of their time on job boards…and trying to figure out the “right” KEYWORDS.  It starts by taking the path of least resistance… applying for those jobs that you feel ideally suited for.  After all, this approach  comes with a low risk of direct rejection.  In fact, it also comes with a low response ratio… The Internet’s ‘black hole.’   Instead of being told “no,” you’re told nothing.

Or you receive the automated “thanks but no thanks” emails that come seconds after you submit your application… not once touched by a human hand!


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, June 27th… A LinkedIn Primer: an overview of your push/pull choice and your three tasks within fully utilizing this GPS to networking.


Ready+aim+fireThat’s why it’s important to look for your next employment opportunity outside job boards… Don’t limit yourself to posted jobs, or even un-posted jobs in the ‘hidden job market.’ Learn to embrace the OTHER job market, the one where employers are seeking your ‘top talent.’.

Many real opportunities exist outside job boards … in abundance. So if you’re willing to do the work that almost no one else wants to do to unearth your ‘next right employment opportunity,’ here are the TOP TEN tactics to create connections within the OTHER job market:

  1. USE THE JOB BOARDS, but before you apply for a specific job…network your way to the opportunity presented you!

Often, this approach will identify individuals who request your resume, either for forwarding, or, best yet, for their endorsement.  A requested resume is read more frequently…your reward for embracing the OTHER job market.

  1. Take the word ‘JOB’ out of your vocabulary until scheduling actual interviews.

An appropriate replacement would be to consider the acronym ‘A.I.R.’  When networking your way to the interview process, seek Advice, Information and referral activity to interact with connections regarding the ‘next right opportunity’ you desire.

  1. Never prematurely create the chance for rejection that you want to avoid

It’s absolutely OK to be perceived as a qualified, motivated and available professional!  JOB seekers  command a yes-no-maybe choice.

  1. Reach out to the majority of your LinkedIn contacts.

Just remember to keep it professional yet personal. See if you can relate to something they’ve written or the job they do to increase your chances of building a solid relationship. You want to be professional in how you respond, but personal so it doesn’t feel so much of an inconvenience or sales pitch to them.

  1. Check with your college alumni network.

Everyone knows someone.  Often, this approach can lead to connections that bring forth new opportunities that lead to your next job. You already have something in common (your alma mater), so it can be easier to connect.

  1. Search for corporate alumni where you used to work and connect with those new individuals.

Again, since you have something in common (previous place of employment), this can work to your benefit. Make this a regular task of your job searching and you’ll be amazed at the new connections you can achieve.

  1. Explore business news stories.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If a company launches a new business, there’s often hiring happening to support it. If a company downsizes, believe it or not, that creates opportunities. Position yourself as a solution and reach out.

  1. Research industry conferences and conventions.

Whether you attend or not, conferences, trade shows, and conventions are nuggets of opportunities to capitalize on. Get familiar with the major ones in your industry and do your due diligence to make connections…a nice little sideline are the hospitality suites many Companies sponsor.

  1. Look up educational and career/professional development events.

Relish in your own personal development.  People who grow and stick together help each other. Do your research to find these but also reach out to others in your industry to get ideas. Simply ask them which events they plan on attending in the near future.

  1. Find professional association members.

Members normally take care of each other. So join these groups, but do more than just joining them; get active. That’s the best way to get noticed and build solid connections.

There are many other ways to secure the next right opportunity for employment and stay off job boards, but these are the most important. And all will require you to get your resume updated and in order.

In every marketplace, there are buyers and sellers.  In the traditional job market, the one that our Department of Labor measures for us, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is productive work and the competition is fierce.

Remember, in the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  Each plays an important role in the process.  When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.

Thus the employer can identify key candidates, sell their Company to new employees in the marketplace… in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select the ‘top talent’ and buy their services.

There’s An OTHER Job Market?

roadsign-banner2YES, there is… even in today’s digital world of recruitment.  You see, in every marketplace, there are buyers and sellers.  In the traditional job market, the one that our Department of Labor measures for us, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is productive work and the competition is fierce.  It doesn’t matter if you are an operations manager, an internal HR professional, senior finance executive, or a key player on the IT team—ANY experienced and valued professional job seeker—ALL should want to become a valued partner in the business of their next employer.


Next Week’s Session, Thursday, June 20th… Embracing The OTHER Job Market, our introductory and overview session where we’ll look at the basic philosophies of your Careerpilot.  A great place to start for “tire kickers and other first-timers!


bob-maher-4587-editIn the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.

Thus the employer must sell their Company to potential employees in the marketplace in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select their choice and buy their services.

On the other hand, if an individual is under-employed, seeking a change, or actually unemployed, they must be visible to potential employers who are seeking their services.  Creating this visibility is about strategic, personal market planning and execution—in can be marketability without rejection!

Personal Marketing is a contact sport.

The Evolution of a JOB…

NEED IDENTIFIED

 

Replacement jobs often redefined. No definition to a new need. No competition
WORK ANTICIPATED

 

Discussion leads to decisions  on JOB definition Often job parameters are set based on market feedback
JOB REQUISITION WRITTEN AND APPROVED

 

Job Requirements must be defined… expectations creep into the recruitment process Internal candidates often get priority in employment process
JOB is “open”

 

Job Requirements are often refined based on market feedback Internal AND external candidates compete for the same jobs
JOB is published

 

Job requirements and qualifications define the screening process MAX competition!!

Standing-out in the “sea of unwashed faces”

Create an expectation of who you are and what you can do for your next employer by clearly positioning and targeting your collateral materials, both written and verbal.  When stating your career objective, clearly state your appropriate work and make an offer of your services.

Here are some tips on becoming a valued partner…

Walk the talk.  Nothing speaks louder than results…. From the recruitment perspective, the best indicator of one’s potential for success is one’s prior experience and results gained.  A partner helps others within the organization achieve their goals. And results require actions, not just words. The better the results you get, the more likely you are to be invited on to ‘the team.’

Deep knowledge You must have a true understanding of every aspect of the business, how all the moving parts work together, the obstacles ahead, and intimate knowledge of the competition in the marketplace. In other words, you’ve done your homework and understand your potential employer’s need.  And you must be able to articulate your understanding to anyone involved in the decision-making process in a manner that demonstrates that you truly get it.

Two of the many ways of accomplishing this image are to…

  1. Keep a file of relevant articles to share with key decision-makers, take advantage of the approaches that email and social media have to offer… create and maintain top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Further, create a set of ‘white papers’ that express, from your knowledge and experience, your perspective on relevant issues to your Profession or industry of choice.

Listen well. ..Everyone loves to feel that they have been heard and understood. One attribute of leadership is being known as a good listener. And if you can reiterate and articulate what has been said, you will be valued as a partner in the decision-making process.

Remember, as a job seeker, NETWORKING is your way to share knowledge, ‘branding’ yourself as a valued resource.  It is also your best source of confirming the subjective information you seek to supplement your research of factual information about a potential employer.

Big picture thinkingHaving a strategic vision requires you to see all areas of the business, internal and external.   This is a valuable trait well beyond the C-suite.  If you only have a deep understanding of one area, you are more likely to be tactical in your decisions, rather than strategic. You must be able to foresee problems from the stakeholders’ perspective in order to offer the most highly valued and comprehensive solutions.

Tying all of this together, the best way to be treated like a valued partner is to act like one. The more you demonstrate your value, the more you will become recognized as the new go-to person in the organization.

***

The one thing you’ll need to know, and understand HOW to execute, for the rest of your career…

Never be a job-hunter again!!!  It’s OK to be an interested, available and highly marketable professional.  Always seek a good CAREER “FIT.”

Now, go find yourself an employer!

On-Board YOURSELF Better Than ANY Potential Employer Can

JigSaw-partnershipWhether you are an operations manager, an internal HR professional, senior finance executive, or a key player on the IT team—ANY experienced and valued professional job seeker—ALL and EVERYONE wants to become a valued partner in the business of their next employer. Everyone wants a voice in strategic decisions and to be included in ‘the conversation.’

To truly be included, you need to be invited. And you will only be invited if you are seen as absolutely essential to the TEAM.  Remember, team player and team leader CAN BE interchangeable terms.


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, June 13th Closing The Deal II: Interview TACTICS, including POST-Offer negotiation.


chalk1All too often, a job seeker finds themselves in the mode of seeking “tips and tricks” leading to greater job search success.  It’s NOT that simple.  Rather, it takes a commitment to “embracing the OTHER job market” and following the more systematic, methodical, predictable 12 Steps.  Each step interacts with the others to propel your successful search for the right next opportunity!

When you’ve followed all 12 Steps, you are in position to on-board yourself with your next employer… BETTER than they can do for themselves….

  1. ACCEPTING THE OFFER becomes a choice leading to satisfactory result
  2. LESS RAMP-UP time as you’ve already given yourself access to internal resources and contacts… your are READY to be viewed as a “rock star” in your new position
  3. You are prepared to truly partner with your employer’s future success
  4. And, best-of-show?  You are in a position to stay aware of next steps in your career for the rest of your working days of employment!

Here are some tips on becoming, and developing your position, as a valued partner…

Walk the talk.  Nothing speaks louder than results…. From the recruitment perspective, the best indicator of one’s potential for success is one’s prior experience and results gained.  A partner helps others within the organization achieve their goals. And results require actions, not just words. The better the results you get, the more likely you are to be invited on to ‘the team.’

Deep knowledge. You must have a true understanding of every aspect of the business, how all the moving parts work together, the obstacles ahead, and intimate knowledge of the competition in the marketplace. In other words, you’ve done your homework and understand your potential employer’s need.  And you must be able to articulate your understanding to anyone involved in the decision-making process in a manner that demonstrates that you truly get it.

Two of the many ways of accomplishing this image are to…

  1. Keep a file of relevant articles to share with key decision-makers, take advantage of the approaches that email and social media have to offer… create and maintain top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Further, create a set of ‘white papers’ that express, from your knowledge and experience, your perspective on relevant issues to your Profession or industry of choice.

 Listen well. Everyone loves to feel that they have been heard and understood. One attribute of leadership is being known as a good listener. And if you can reiterate and articulate what has been said, you will be valued as a partner in the decision-making process.

Remember, as a job seeker, NETWORKING is your way to share knowledge, ‘branding’ yourself as a valued resource.  It is also your best source of confirming the subjective information you seek to supplement your research of factual information about a potential employer.

Big picture thinking. Having a strategic vision requires you to see all areas of the business, internal and external.   This is a valuable trait well beyond the C-suite.  If you only have a deep understanding of one area, you are more likely to be tactical in your decisions, rather than strategic. You must be able to foresee problems from the stakeholders’ perspective in order to offer the most highly valued and comprehensive solutions.

Tying all of this together, the best way to be treated like a valued partner is to act like one. The more you demonstrate your value, the more you will become recognized as the go-to person in the organization and you will be included and have a voice in the big strategic decisions.

Wave #3: Turning OPPORTUNITIES Into INTERVIEWS

chalk1This topic represents what most people call ‘active job search, but, as you can learn, the HOW –TO is what creates your success in networking. It professes strategies and tactics that will generate more effective networking.

In your ‘first wave’ of networking you had the opportunity to reconnect with people you already know, in the ‘second wave,’ those you have cause to know… a nice by-product of your efforts is the identification of attractive opportunities, and targeted organizations!


NEXT WEEK’s Session, Thursday, May 30th… Turning Opportunities Into Interviews:  A closer look at networking your way IN to a targeted organization


Pilot OnboardYou’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 3’ of networking… which, simply put, is networking your way in to attractive opportunities.

You will focus your activity and time management to the business of creating INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION with employees, customers, and vendors–the “stakeholders”– within and surrounding any targeted organization.

 THE BASICS

So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship.

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

RESEARCHING TARGET Organizations

Step six in our 12-step Process, first level research, will help you to identify attractive trends and targeted companies.  But, in THIS context, I suggest digging a bit deeper in order to help secure an interview…

Learn as much as possible about the company, the potential opportunity, and the hiring authority–This is usually your next boss, but could be even higher in the chain of command.

Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate.

  • As part of your ‘second wave of networking,’ ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

Telephone and Networking Skills

On a scale of passive to assertive => to aggressive, let’s take a look at how we could communicate direct to contacts in and surrounding a targeted organization…

Email…safe, but too easy to be deleted before a relationship is established. Requires follow-up.

LETTER of introduction… also safe, but read more often. Paves the way for a first call to a referral… creates dialog. Requires phone follow-up.

Phone call…direct… often a cold call… requires risk. Establishes contact, interaction and, worst case, VISIBILITY.

There’s only two reasons to be on the phone during active job search…

  1. Reconnecting with valid contacts, seeking their advice and information, sharing your communication strategy, and seeking referral activity…
  2. Securing actual interviews

Cover NOTE and resume… Rather than mindlessly applying to countless jobs, playing the numbers game; develop your networking style to motivate a person to request your resume.  When requested, resume gets read more often. Establishes relationship. Requires follow-through. Face2face office visit!

Taking On The 500# Gorilla

Compass-seaLWhy is it that even though “networking” stacks the deck in the favor of a job seeker, there seems to be this 500# GORILLA that stands in the way?

If you don’t understand the interactive nature of networking, now’s the time to learn. To be an effective networker, you need to be willing to serve as a conduit, sharing information, building relationships based on trust and reciprocity, leveraging existing relationships to create new ones, and following through to create ways to stay in touch to continue giving.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, May 23rd… Implementing YOUR Personal Marketing PLAN: The creation of powerful, productive “waves” in your job search


bob-maher-4587-editThose who don’t fully understand the process, who use people for information and never build the relationship, or return the favor, give networking a bad name and lose credibility in the eyes of others. Networking is about building trust and respect, not tearing away at it!

So, what exactly IS this 500# gorilla that gets in the way of efficient, more productive job search activity?

  1. Lack of awareness regarding the effectiveness of networking. Most people in a job search spend too much time canvassing the open job market, the market everyone gets to see through job posting boards and recruiters.
  2. I don’t want to ask for a favor. Many people think that when you network you’re asking someone for a job… this is not the goal of networking.  You ask for information about an industry, company, or position.
  3. Not comfortable talking to people they don’t know. Sixty percent (60%) of the population consider themselves shy. This perception leads to less networking. If the prospect of speaking to someone you don’t know is overwhelming right now, start to build your network by talking with people you do know such as friends, family, neighbors, or your doctor or dentist.
  4. Fear of rejection. Many people fear that if they ask for information the other person might not be willing to talk to them.

While it is true that not everyone will agree to meet with you, many people will extend help to you and you have nothing to lose by asking.  If they can lead you to others who can help you gain necessary information for your search, your network will grow in a steady, comfortable way.  And at the same time, your confidence and comfort will be growing.  And as your confidence grows, “listen” for the anticipated jobs (PRE-requisition) and the opportunities for undefined roles…

Learn to embrace this OTHER Job Market… but the pathway to IT is through your comfort level in identifying and pursuing the unpublished, or hidden marketplace.

Far fewer explore the hidden market; the actual jobs that are never posted, but instead are filled through connections, internal endorsements, and post-interview placements into a better fitting role  The odds of finding a position through the smaller, hidden market are greater than those in the open market.