Searching for a job isn't about reading the want ads and mailing hundreds of resumes. And it isn't about asking your friends if they've heard anything about openings.

It's all of those things -- and much more. Remember -- looking for a job is a full-time job.


First things first. Don't start your job search until you're prepared for the task. Decide on your objective -- the kind of job you want. This may sound obvious, but many so-called job seekers start looking before they have an idea of what they want. Be honest with yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? What talents do you have? Qualifications? You want a job that fits in with your likes, talents and qualifications.

Perform an honest self-assessment -- seek professional help if you wish -- and you'll have a chance of understanding what kind of job you should be looking for. Next, prepare your resume. Consider using a professional resume-preparation service.


Now you're ready for the fun part -- networking, networking and more networking. Your objective at this stage is not to find a job. If you happen to stumble into a job offer, then good for you! But -- back to reality -- your mission is to develop your own personal network of helpers who will be assisting you as you look for a job. You want to grow your network as big as you can.


1.  Sit down and make a list of everyone you know -- everyone you can think of -- friends, family, classmates from high school and beyond, people you know slightly who are working in the industry you've decided on (see Preparation, above). Make the list as long as you can. Include acquaintances, friends of friends, practically everyone you can think of.

2.  Start contacting the people on your list. Remember -- you aren't asking anyone for a job at this stage. You're asking who might know about job opportunities in your chosen field. See them in person as much as possible. Hand out your resume. Each time you talk with someone, try to get at least three new names. And so on. This way, your networking list grows, you learn more and more about your chosen industry and you become a more savvy candidate. You'll learn about trends in your industry and which companies are doing better than others.

3.  Follow each networking meeting or conversation with a polite thank-you note, email or text message -- whichever is appropriate for the person you met with. Such small acts of courtesy mean a lot to the people who are going to the trouble of helping you. Believe me -- they'll remember.

4. Eventually -- if you're treating this effort as a full-time job -- you'll start to have networking meetings with industry people who are at a level to hire you or refer you to HR. Caution! Don't ask them for a job either. You're only asking for advice. This reduces the pressure on the other person -- but, still, he or she will be evaluating you and might turn the networking meeting into a job interview.

5.  When your networking produces some leads that fit your likes, talents and qualifications, go ahead and apply. Chances are, you'll be applying before the companies even advertise the openings!

One More Thing

As you go along in your networking, remember to keep your best helpers informed. If someone's referral turns out to be helpful, let your source know. The people in your network are all helping you -- some more, some less -- so it makes sense to keep them in the loop. When you get your job, let everyone know!