Suggestions from Orville Pierson
Job Search Resources
There are four kinds of resources commonly used by job hunters: books, websites, resume writers, and career coaches. I’m here to give you some suggestions on using all four, including a list of recommended books I hope and expect that the information offered here will help you make the best choices in resources, at a price you can afford.
The reason I prefer starting with books is that Internet job search information tends to be a fragmented — and sometimes disjointed — collection of short articles on job hunting.
I recommend starting with books rather than the Internet. I’ve written—and read—material in both of those media, so I know the pros and cons of both. The reason I prefer stating with books is that Internet job search information tends to be a fragmented — and sometimes disjointed — collection of short articles on job hunting. It’s often written by a number of unconnected authors, with little or no bio attached, so you don’t know who’s advising you. It’s more like a collection of tips than a thoughtful overall approach.
But you can get books that zoom out for an overview of the whole project — or major parts of it — with a clearly identified author, one you can check out on LinkedIn.
I recommend using books to cover effective job hunting processes and related skills, then using the Internet for up-to-the-minute information on some smaller pieces. So, for example, you might read a book on how to do networking in job search, then attend a webinar overview of LinkedIn, followed by some postings on how to use some of the most recent LinkedIn features.
So I suggest that you start with books. A career coach will cost you something between $50 and $250 an hour. That money will buy a lot of books, so why not start by reading several? The other advantage of reading several books is that you’ll get some different points of view and you will have much smarter questions to ask if you later use a career coach. And you may find that you don’t need a coach.
Here are some additional thoughts on each of the four resources.
Choosing Job Hunting Books
With any “how-to” book, it’s smart to check out the author’s credentials. Writing a book or appearing on a TV show doesn’t make someone an expert. Read their bios. Check them out on LinkedIn. Google them. Where did they learn what they’re now teaching?
I favor authors with long experience as a career coach — people who have seen lots of job hunters go through the entire job search process, beginning to end.
Someone with a background as a recruiter, for example, is likely to be skilled at interviewing and know a great deal about resumes. But that experience doesn’t teach them other aspects of job hunting such as networking or how to manage the search. After all, recruiters work for employers, not for job hunters.
Personally, I favor authors with long experience as a career coach, whether that’s in a college career center, in the outplacement industry or in a public job search assistance program — people who have seen lots of job hunters go through the entire job search process, beginning to end.
I also prefer authors who teach the fundamentals, the best ways of doing the day-to-day work of job hunting, rather than those who focus on random tips or odd attention-getting stunts. I’ve suggested some authors like that in the book list.
There are over 100,000 career-related websites.
I have a book on my bookshelf that lists 10,000 of them and describes 100 that are allegedly the “best.” And of course, the Internet is full of lists of the “10 Best” or “25 Best” or “50 Best” career sites. But you’d have to ask, “Best for whom? Best for accomplishing what?”
It could take you years to look at all of the career-related websites and try to find the ones that are best for you right now in your current job search. And since they change rapidly, you’d need to start over as soon as you finished. But in the end, there are only two categories of career website that have proven generally useful and are recommended for most job hunters: job boards and social networking sites.
Beyond the big job boards, the ones that have advertised in Superbowl broadcasts, there are thousands of small niche job boards. And there are aggregators, like SimplyHired and Indeed, that search a number of job boards for you. You should use an aggregator, since they’re an easy way to check out a large number of job boards. And you should also look to see if there are any niche boards appropriate for you, since the aggregators do not pick up all of the small job boards.
Please don’t devote more than a few hours to this. And please don’t be discouraged if you find no appropriate job postings. There are many, many jobs that change hands without ever being posted anywhere. And having your information in some of those job-board databases could result in someone contacting you at any time in the future.
Experienced career coaches say that job hunters waste time on the Internet.
LinkedIn is the one social networking website that’s essential for job hunters right now, and it’s on its way to replacing job boards. You should post a LinkedIn profile that is consistent with your Project Plan and resume. You should connect on LinkedIn with as many people as you can honestly connect with – but including only those that you actually know and respect.
The most important use of LinkedIn is finding people you know who are current or former employees of organizations on your Target List, places where you now want to work. Or people you know who might know people who work at those organizations. And then talking with them, in real time. This is the basis of effective networking. You’ve read up on that, right?
You can search Facebook in a similar way if you’re a Facebook user, but for most job hunters, FB is not as rich a source as LinkedIn. You should read Twitter commentary about organizations on your Target List, but for most job hunters, tweeting is not the among the most effective job hunting methods.
The one most important use of the Internet — in addition to LinkedIn — is researching your Target List. You might profitably spend 10% of your job hunting time reading the websites of your targets and reading news and commentary about them. And reading about people you plan to speak with.
Please be careful about your Internet use. Since the advent of the Internet, nearly all experienced career coaches I’ve spoken with (and that’s hundreds of them) say that when job hunters waste time on less effective activities, it’s usually on the Internet.
As a general rule, I prefer resume writers who are also career coaches, because I think that the best resumes can be written only when the writer understands the larger picture of your career and your job search. They need to know who the readers will be, and have some clarity on the kind of work – and the kind of organization — you’re looking for.
You could write a number of different resumes for yourself — all honest. Which is the best? That depends entirely on which Decision Makers you want to influence, and what particular jobs and employers you’re pursuing. So you need use your Project Plan as the basis for writing a strong resume.
Some resume writers have extensive career coaching experience and always proceed this way. But others may have only recently completed an online resume-writing course — and have no career coaching experience at all.
Focusing on keywords is more useful than stringing adjectives together.
Sometimes resume writers want to use a lot of adjectives, words like ‘dynamic’, ‘talented’ or ‘visionary.’ While you might feel flattered to have someone describe you that way, your readers are more likely to be impressed by facts than by adjectives and opinions. Also, fancy language can be a tipoff that the resume was written by a resume writer. The reader might then be more cautious about accepting its claims.
Focusing on keywords is more useful than stringing adjectives together. When an employer or recruiter is looking for someone like you, what keywords will they use to search the resume database? Use those whenever you honestly can.
A good resume writer will help you be more objective, tell the story better and be more concise. They will interview you and possibly ask you to complete a written questionnaire.
If you decide to use a resume writer, ask to see some samples, ask what their procedure is and be sure you understand exactly what you’ll get and for what fee. Check their credentials and experience. And don’t be afraid to edit their work if there’s any doubt about the accuracy or if there’s anything at all that you’re uncomfortable with.
Remember, resume writing is an unregulated field. Some resume writers have a string of capital letters after their names, usually including the letters “RW” for resume writing. But those letters are usually attainable by taking an online course. They’re not based on legally accepted standards, like MD or CPA.
A good career coach can help you shorten your job search and get better results. But there are drawbacks too.
A good career coach can help you shorten your job search and get better results. Someone with a lot of job hunting experience has seen it all and can guide you through every step of the way. You’ll be more likely to avoid the pitfalls and to take advantages of your strengths. You may be able to negotiate a higher starting salary. But there are drawbacks too.
An experienced career coach will charge between $50 and $250 an hour, based on their experience and the level of the clientele they work with. Executives usually pay more; hourly workers, less. Please do not sign up with anyone who sells large expensive career assistance packages. Buy the service by the hour, so you can get what you want when you want it without paying for extras you may not need. Buying by the hour also lets you change coaches.
Career coaching is unregulated, so it’s important that you carefully check a coach’s experience and background. Read their LinkedIn page, Google them and interview them before hiring them. Look for someone with a lot of experience with a lot of job hunters. They should also be familiar with some or all of books on the book list. Career coaching is often done virtually, so the coach does not need to have an office near you – or have an office at all.
The best way to find one is to ask around and get a recommendation from a friend who has used one, just as you would with a doctor or lawyer. You can also try calling the nearest outplacement (career transition services) office. Or the career services office of your alma mater or another university. Ask if they know someone they can recommend.
You can also try the Five O’Clock Club. I have known Kate Wendleton, the Club’s founder and president for many years. While I don’t agree with everything she says and does, her work is generally quite good. She can refer you to one of her coaches. She has a lot of products and services, so please buy only what you need and can afford. I have no connection with Kate’s organization and get no fee for sending people over there. I mention her Club because it’s the only large, reputable organization I’m aware of that sells coaching services to the general public – and has a long list of pre-screened coaches.
Without a coach, reading books is even more important.
While an experienced coach can be a significant advantage, hiring one is certainly not necessary. Thousands of people find great jobs without hiring a coach, and you can too. Without a coach, reading books is even more important. And a Job Search Work Team can help as well.
This list of books is intentionally small, mentioning only a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of job hunting books out there.
This list concentrates on a few career authors who I know have been in the field long enough to really understand it — and have the right experience to give good advice. You may not agree with all of it, and I don’t agree with everything in all of the books below either. But this little collection is reasonably consistent in its advice, and certainly a good place to start.
Once again, I suggest reading several books, not just one or two. For the $100 to $200 that you might spend on a resume writer or career coach, you can buy a small reference library on all aspects of job hunting. And that might be a good idea, since job hunting is an essential part of career management these days, and you’ll probably do it repeatedly over the course of your career.
Increasing Your Effectiveness as a Job Hunter
I wrote these books to fill what looked to me like gaps in existing job hunting books. The first two books focus on the methods that have proven most effective over the years with over a million of job hunters. The third describes the teams that have been successful in reducing job hunting time by 20%.
The Job Search book covers the Project Plan as well as all other aspects of a systematic search project, including progress measurements — all things I could not find in any other books.
The Job Networking book is specifically about networking in job hunting, the one technique that virtually all experts agree is essential. Most other networking books focus on using networking in sales, in general business applications or in life. This one is all about networking in job hunting.
The Job Search Work Team book tells you how you can be more effective in job hunting by joining a job hunting team. This process has proven highly successful for over 20 years, and studies document its effectiveness.
Packaging Yourself: The Targeted Resume
The Resume.com Guide to
Knock ’em Dead Resumes: How to Write a Killer Resume That Gets You Job Interviews
These are all generally good resume writing advice. I like that Kate Wendleton sees the resume in the context of the whole job search, and she provides examples of dealing with some common resume issues. This is NOT a recommendation of a website called Resume.com, just of the book. If that website still exists, it’s not run by the same group that ran it when the book was published.
Martin Yate is a former recruiter, so he’s seen a lot of resumes – and he teaches resume writing well. His advice on resumes is useful. He publishes annual revisions of the book, but I don’t believe that you need to have this year’s version since the year-to-year changes are usually not very significant. Yate is also good at teaching interviewing (which recruiters also do a lot of), but in my opinion, he’s not so good at teaching job search networking (which recruiters don’t generally do or teach).
Job Seekers Guide to Working with Executive Recruiters
Rites of Passage at $100,000 to $1 Million+
Kennedy’s book is a must if you are in the executive category, earning $150,000 or more. It’s also useful for people below that salary level, especially if their careers are in business and their resumes show strong, recent experience in the kind of work they’re looking for. In addition to this book, Kennedy also offers directories and databases of recruiters, online and in print, searchable by industry and specialty. If you are an executive, these listings are very useful and you should get your resume to a large number of recruiters who specialize in what you do. Lucht’s book is a classic. He’s a former recruiter and understands that game well. And he also has a website and a database which I suspect is not as complete as Kennedy’s.
General Job Hunting
Report from the Front Lines:
Targeting a Great Career
by Kate Wendleton
Mastering the Job Interview
by Kate Wendleton
Kate Wendleton’s Five O’Clock Club offers a series of books that cover all aspects of job hunting. The three above are examples, but there are a number of others. All contain useful, practical information and advice. If you need advice on some aspect of job search, check Kate’s books on Amazon. Other Five O’Clock Club books include Shortcut Your Job Search, Targeting a Great Career, and For Executives Only. Kate’s original book, Through the Brick Wall is a pre-Internet classic that is still worth reading.
Career Change or Selecting a Career
What Color Is Your Parachute
Do What You Are
If you’re contemplating a major career change or just starting a career and not yet clear on what you want to do, these are useful books to help you make decisions on career direction.
Bolles’ “Flower” self-inventory exercise is a classic, and can be very useful for those who are undecided about what kind of work to pursue. His book also includes general job search advice that is useful, but a bit rambling and not always logical or systematic. He’s a very popular author, and it looks to me like people react strongly to him, some positively, some negatively. You don’t need to have his latest edition since the annual changes are usually minor.
The Tieger-Barron book is based on the same personality theories as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a widely used psychological instrument. The book is a guide for looking at the natural strengths of your personality and career directions those strengths might suggest.