On Your Side Report: Hire me

March 10, 2009 12:24:05 PM PDT
Job applicants find themselves in line with hundreds sometimes thousands of others. The time it takes to find work is now months instead of weeks. Successful job seekers need to stand out. Looking for work is like any skill. It takes knowledge and practice.

The frenzy of morning commute may be a dreaded routine until you're out of work.

Some are making the job search their new full-time job.

Hans Lim was laid off last year. Now his home office is where he works more than 40 hours a week tracking leads. Most are the leads he gets from networking.

"When you have that person that gives you a warm referral you just moved on top of the pile of other people who are just applying on line," said Lim.

At a networking seminar in the Barrington Career Center those looking for work get information about companies hiring, contacts and practice selling themselves - in thirty seconds.

It's called an elevator speech. In about the time of an elevator ride, you share with your fellow rider what position you're looking for, a bit about your experience and by the time you get to your floor the speech is over.

Armed with contacts from skillful networking, now the formal application process begins with cover letters and resumes. Experts recommend a different cover letter with each application; tailoring your qualifications to that opening; and a call to action, stating you will call or email at a certain time; and following through.

"Trying to be a little more proactive because if you are chances are you'll have a leg up on those that are not being as proactive," said Bill Zeplin, Barrington Career Center founder.

John Challenger heads the nationally renowned outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray and Christmas. He says employers sifting through piles of resumes often use computer programs to scan for key words, so applicants should load their resumes with key words specific to the field.

"If you were a marketing person, you might have brand management, graphics, software," said Challenger.

Challenger suggests the resume starts with an objective that states the job you'd like but not too specific.

"If you get too tight into your objective then you might think she couldn't into this company," said Challenger.

He also suggests text should be in a 12 point font or larger; short resume with bullet points for a quick look at qualifications; a separate longer resume with more details in case the employer would like more information; and focus on experience in the last ten years.

"Don't get caught up in making a big deal of what you did too long ago because companies will think you're no longer current," said Challenger.

"It's been so long since I've been out that I had to learn all these things new... things have changed in 23 years," said Will Hildebrandt who landed a job.

Will Hildebrandt was out of work for 11 months. After getting job search advice and practice selling himself, he made an artful cold call to one of the owners of Termax.

"He just casually mentioned... only area we need to make a change is our credit manager...You do? I have done that for 21 years at an executive level," said Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt was hired one week after his benefits ran out. That job was one of 175 for which he applied. He advises job seekers don't give up. All it takes is one offer.

Hildebrandt received job search help from the Barrington Career Center. He credits advice about resumes, cover letters and networking to helping him turn that cold call into a warm lead.

Hans Lim has a job interview which he got through contacts from networking seminars at the center.

For more information, visit:

- Barrington Career Center: http://www.barringtoncareercenter.com/mc/page.do
- Chicago Transition Center: http://www.ctcchicago.org
- National Able Network: http://www.nationalable.org