Some job hunting resources and advice

A brief list I compiled for a friend the other day, left here for future reference and such. All advice is based on my experience, comes with no warranty, and is not intended to be exhaustive or authoritative–your mileage may vary. The first section, on resumes, is pretty much applicable anywhere in the US while the second part, which discusses some specific physical and web-based groups, is somewhat more specific to Santa Clara County in the San Francisco/San Jose area.

But First: Network!

I’ve noticed that people are using LinkedIn successfully as way to connect with someone already working at companies to which they’d like to apply. If you decide to use it, feel free to send me a connection request assuming you have my email address. Depending on your geography and social group, one of the other social networking sites like Ryze and Tribe might be more suitable. Probably a good idea to join at least one and see if you can use it.

For sure see if any of the companies you used to work at have an alumni group. Two of my companies, Sun and NetDynamics, have good ones–the main activity is an email/web group, we use Yahoo! Groups for both–and they can be really helpful for keeping in contact with people who can give you references, refer you to friends at other companies or be the entry point to their current employer. Occasional cocktail parties or similar events offer opportunities to socialize, expand and solidify the relationships.

Resumes

Use one, preferably most/all of the big job posting sites (Monster, HotJobs, CareerBuilder and the like) plus Craig’s List. Here are a few tips:

  • Make your resume public/visible. Forgetting to do this seems to be a frequent mistake.
  • Use common job titles for your positions despite what name your previous employer used, otherwise you won’t be included in recruiter search results.
  • Don’t include more than the last 10 or so years of employment and similarly don’t include graduation dates if they’re more than 15 years in the past. Don’t lie, just remember the purpose of a resume is to get you past the first level screen.
  • Go over your resume three times to catch any typos, especially if you have to use a site’s own fill in the blank (after blank after blank) forms–then get a friend or two to doublecheck it.
  • Make a trivial change every few days (add or delete a period, for example) because the search results are ordered so the most reccently resumes are shown first and, as understood from your own experience with search engines, nobody looks that deep in the list. Be near the top or be invisible!

Additionally, put your resume online, on a website of your own. If you don’t have your own personal website you can use one of the free hosting services but my preference is to spend a few dollars and get one so you have better control as well as avoiding the inevitable advertising. Get a domain name that is, or includes, your name if possible because that improves the odds IMO that a recruiter will call you after Googling for some skill set.

Second choice for me, first if you don’t want to spend any money, is Google’s Blogger/Blog*Spot where you can post your resume as a blog entry. If you have more than one targeted type of job you should have a version of the resume for each and therefore a separate resume blog for each. Here are a few tips for setting up the blog if you choose to go this way:

  1. Use one of the simple, clean template designs like Snapshot Sable or Rounders; there may be other good templates available from other sources but those two are my preferences of the set available on Blogger.
  2. Use a very simple title, such as Your Name’s Resume, and use your elevator pitch as the description. On both of the recommended templates your description is shown just under the title.
  3. Use the Blogger profile. Enter your real name and location and post a good headshot photo of yourself (but get a friend to verify your choice).
  4. Make your first post a list of links to the job sites where your resume is posted–to the pages with your resume, not the home page of the other site. Google indexes almost all Blogger blogs, I think, and this way it will find the instances of your resume.
  5. Make your second post a very cleanly formatted version of your resume–while the Blogger editing tool, which I’ve written this post in, is very nice the developers still haven’t worked out all the small gotchas. Especially with lists, bulleted or numbered.
  6. Don’t make a third post. This will leave your resume at the top of the page.
  7. Just like with the job boards, come back every couple of days and make a tiny change because this will make the page fresh to Google and other search engines. By tiny I mean add or remove a period or comma but if you think of a better word now and then to describe one of your past responsibilities use it.

Networking and local support groups

Some groups can really help make your search faster and more effective. The ones I used were here in the Mountain View/Santa Clara County area but most places in the US will have similar versions. If not, start one!

ProMatch requires a sizable time commitment but I got more out than I put in. It’s the local (South Bay) chapter of CA EDD’s Experience Unlimited program. In this chapter (can’t speak for the others around the state) you join a team responsible for either one sequence of classes, such as interviewing, resume building, or networking, or for an operational aspect of the group; the instructional material is provided by ProMatch although teams occasionally decide to update it.

You also take classes, attend a couple of meetings and workshops, and network. In fact the group is a terrific networking resource because instead of just posting emails you get lots of face time with the other members. Joining a success team is a must!

CSIX is mostly an email channel, with good job postings and connection requests, though to join you need to attend one regular Tuesday lunch (always at a Chinese restaurant in Cupertino, $8 for the food). After that you can just get the email list, attend the occasional lunch if there’s a good speaker and you can be more active too as they have many domain-specific SIGs. the founder, Hamid Saadat, has done terrific work in building this to a large (I think more than 2,000 member as of August ’05), useful organization.

KIT-list: “The KIT (Keep In Touch) List is an email job posting service where employers and recruiters advertise permanent or consulting job opportunities to over 35,000 high-quality professionals.” Excellent source of job postings though I suggest setting up an inbox filter to put these automatically into a separate filter due to the volume–I just checked and so far the main (non-technical) list has 366 messages already in the first few days of August! There’s also a separate mailing list for technical jobs with similar activity levels.

C2kjobs is another email useful local list.

Appendix: A bit insight on job hunting on the net from Bill Vick giving a recruiter’s point of view:

If I’m looking at the right group (SanFranRecruiters on Yahoo) then the 211 members whom share HR/Recruiting job leads, best practices, and local recrui
ting information are skewed towards the middle market with an emphasis on IT, Technology and HR and a mix of consulting an contract placement. That being the case I can see why the poll results are a little different than what I am hearing from 3rd party recruiters who work with the middle and upper level jobs. Dice is a great place for technologist and both Monster and Career Builder are dominated by corporate recruiters and HR who are advertising, not recruting. For pro active Recruiters or HeadHunters sites like The Ladders, Execunet, Netshare and LinkedIn are the place to be if your into posting jobs.

Most of the executive jobs are not posted. Keep in mind that fully 60% of jobs are gained through networking or referrals the remaining 40% is split between the internet, publications and recruiters. Based on who you talk to, recruiters, search firms or agencies only place between 4% and 10% of all jobs last year. I keep hearing wonderful things about the results being made daily by Recruiters or HeadHunters using networks like Linkedin. I know it has made me money.

As with any such messages posted and passed around through the web, please take this with a grain of salt. Consider it one more bit of research to put into the mix.

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