John Hadley's Career Accelerator Blog
Seek Answers to Your Career / Career Search Challenges

January 2022
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Pause Your Job Search For The Holidays?
Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 4:18 pm

Many candidates make the mistake of all but stopping their searches from Thanksgiving to New Years, thinking that the holidays are an unproductive time.  Nothing could be further from the truth!   Here’s my attempt to put a stake in the heart of that false assumption:

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How To Handle A Bad Reference
Filed under: General, Performance
Posted by: John Hadley @ 2:46 pm

I came across a good discussion of  how to handle a bad reference in a job-search-related blog.

It highlights a very key point when seeking critique in any situation - don’t get defensive.  As soon as you start to try to explain why something isn’t a problem, you shut down the input you might have received.  And in this case, where there is already (apparently) a relationship issue, you can actually make the situation worse.

The approach they describe shows you to be a mature professional, and even if it doesn’t change the negative perception of PAST performance, it can help that former boss to see you in a new light.

I wrote a related piece some time back on the more general issue of seeking critique:

And for the blog entry on handling a bad reference:

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What Is Your Biggest Obstacle To Career Growth?
Filed under: General, Career
Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:01 am

I invite you to submit your answers to this question:

“What Is Your Biggest Obstacle To Career Growth?”

Post your answers in a comment to this entry, and then I will write my suggestions for dealing with those issues.

In the meanwhile, here’s an article on Achieving Your Career Potential:

Subscribe to my RSS feed of this Career Accelerator Blog at:

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More Career / Career Search Resources
Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 4:35 pm

Here are just a few of the most recent articles in my free reference library …

In Career Search:

In Career Growth:

And in Business and Personal Development:

Find them all here:

Drop me a note on what other topics you would enjoy seeing, at

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10 Traps That Snare Job Seekers
Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:50 am

As I prepared for this tele-class (see for
details), even my ‘quick list’ of traps quickly grew to exceed 50!  The
class promises to be a content-rich hour…I’ve compressed as
many as I can down into 10 themes, and perhaps this will
need to lead to another “10 More Traps” tele-class in the near future!

One of the most critical traps that I
will get into in much more depth is the “If it ain’t broke,
don’t fix it”

In a search, there is so much
frustration and anxiety, and so many people share so many suggestions
(wanted or unwanted) about the search that there is a tendency to start
to screen out the negative comments.  For example, I was talking to a
new client one time and pointed out to her serious defects in her
résumé.  It was, frankly, an extremely poor résumé.  Even though I gave
her specific, concrete feedback on the flaws and what was needed to fix
it, she insisted it didn’t need any attention, and didn’t want to spend
any time working on it.  Her comment:

“I’ve had HR people tell me what a good résumé I have.”

I moved on to talking to her about
networking (which she REALLY wanted help on), and how we would go about
turning her into a master networker.  Again, she balked at the details
of what I was suggesting.  By the end of our first session together, I
simply handed her back her check, telling her that neither of us would
be happy with how things turned out if we continued to work together.

I don’t advise simply jumping at every
‘constructive’ criticism you receive, automatically changing everything
you are doing just because one person said so.  However, you need to
always be seeking to step out of your current comfort zone,
experimenting with new thinking, new strategies and approaches that
lead to an expanded comfort zone.  This is how true growth and success

Carefully probe the criticism or
suggestion being offered, and explore why that person is offering it,
their level of expertise with the issue at hand, what their context and
rationale are, and how that fits to your situation.  Go back and
compare to other, perhaps conflicting, advice you’ve received, and give
both some examination.  Find ways to experiment with either way in your
search, and see what seems to work.

The worst thing you can do is assume
“it ain’t broke,” particularly if you’ve been searching for several
months and aren’t building the steady stream of referrals and
interviews for the sort of position you want!

And by the way, as to that client who
didn’t want to change what she did…the friend who first referred her
ran into her a few weeks later, and asked her how things were going. 
She said she was very happy with her progress.  (She had admitted to me
that her ‘progress’ was 1 interview in 7 months!  And this was a few
years back, when the economy was booming.)  Over the next several
months, I happened to see her in various coffee shops in the middle of
the day, not dressed in business attire, so clearly she had not landed
in the interim.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 4:44 pm

You never know where inspiration is going to hit you … which is a good argument for opening yourself up to various experiences and moving out of your comfort zone.  I’ve always heard experts tout reading occasional publications outside your field, so that you would get perspectives.  My reaction often was, “I get it, but when am I going to find the time?”

In the last couple of years, though, I’ve seen it happen more and more.

I was on a plane, and decided to read the airline magazine, which I generally had never bothered with.  Right away I came across a quote from an entertainer that fit exactly with the sort of message I try to put out to my Career Tips readers.  Before I was done with that issue, I had torn out at least 4 items that could be relevant to my newsletter, that I wanted to send to specific clients, or that I simply found inspirational.  Since then, I’ve made a point of reading those magazines when I’m flying, and at least 50% of the time find something that made it worth the investment.

I started subscribing to Entrepreneur magazine, but tended to put them on the shelf right away.  Then one Saturday I was going out to the deck to relax in the hot tub, and took down an issue.  Within the first few pages I came across a short item that exactly fit an important message I wanted to communicate in Career Tips, with validation from leading businesspeople!  Again, I found a number of useful items throughout the issue.

My latest inspiration came from a newsletter in my specialty area, but one that I hadn’t read for awhile.  Frankly, I get so many emails, newsletters, etc. that unless something jumps out at me in a title, I will often move on quickly.  However, I was feeling uninspired about the next issue of my own newsletter that I felt obligated to put out that day, and started leafing through this job group’s newsletter while I procrastinated.

Then I came across a “PAR” story that they were promoting as a particularly good example.  My topic jumped right out at me - “The Problem With PAR’s.”  Here was a group with expertise in the area, promoting what they believed was a great story, and it was a glaring example of what’s missing from most PAR’s!  (If you’d like to see the article, just drop me a note at

So what do we learn from this?

Be open to inspiration from many sources.  Occasionally read items you would normally ignore, if only to validate that you can continue ignoring them.  And read or watch videos or review blogs or whatever on a regular basis, particularly those outside of your ‘normal’ area of expertise.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 8:57 pm

Serious illness in family…taking some time off from posting.

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On Vacation
Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:58 am

Headed off on vacation for a week…more posts when I return.


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Building Stronger LinkedIn Connections
Filed under: General, Networking, Career
Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:42 pm

Did you spend time building up a good set of LinkedIn connections?

Have you spent an equal amount of effort keeping those as strong connections?

It’s easy to forget to build on the relationships we have, particularly when we are busy at work, and allow them to slowly wither on the vine. 

What do you think might happen if instead you implemented a regular keep-in-touch strategy with all of your contacts, to keep them fresh and vital?  Do you think that might occasionally mean that one of them would approach you about an interesting opportunity?

Here a thought for how you might approach that…

1. Decide how often you want to stay in touch.  If it were, say, once a quarter, then divide your 1st level contacts by 12 (3 months x 4 weeks), and that’s how many you need to reach out to per week to accomplish that.  Divide up the list into those 12 segments.  (OK, if you want to get technical, there are actually 13 weeks in a quarter.  I was just trying to keep the math simple for you.)

2. If your 1st level contacts are filled with lots of people you don’t know, who just happened to reach out to you or you to them without any relationship, then you might want to first pare down your list into the ones you at least know, before creating the 12 segments.

3. Mark an appointment in your calendar for a half hour each week.  Use that half hour to drop notes to each of the contacts in that week’s segment.

4. Make periodic updates to your Status that remind people you are out there in interesting ways. For example, you could post something about a new blog entry you put up, a new resource you stumbled across, an interesting article you read, …

5. Read the periodic LinkedIn update summaries you receive to see if there is a change, status or other update to someone’s profile that create a good excuse to write to them.

If you just do this much, you will continue to foster stronger LinkedIn connections within a manageable time commitment.

What other thoughts do you have?

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Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
Filed under: General, Career
Posted by: John Hadley @ 1:40 pm

If you are interested in accelearting your career growth, I’ve written a number of articles on different aspects of this.  The latest is “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”, which I wrote for the Actuary of the Future magazine.  In it I share my own career journey, and key lessons learned others can apply to their own explorations.

I’ve posted over a dozen on my website, and you can download them there.  These include:

Don’t Be Just Like Everyone Else

The GROW Model for Coaching

How To Reinvigorate Your Career In Technology

Have You Found Your Niche?

Catch Yourself Doing a Good Job

Achieve Your Career Potential!

To find them, just scroll down to the Career Growth section on this page of my site:

I welcome any comments you might care to share on any of them.  And feel free to drop me a note at if you have any specific issues on which you would like advice.

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Always Show Value
Filed under: General, Networking, Career, Performance
Posted by: John Hadley @ 11:25 am

“You don’t have to be the first to be a success.  You don’t have to be unique.  You don’t have to be revolutionary.  What you do have to do, however, is give people value.  Give them a reason to buy from you instead of from somebody else.”

Tim Berry, author and founder of multiple companies, writing in the Blog Network, on “Startups:  Unique and Revolutionary, or Forget It?”

This statement is very apt for the job seeker, and for those already in a company, and seeking to accelerate their career growth.  The way to get noticed, and ultimately to get hired or awarded a new opportunity, is to give prospective employers value, and a reason to buy YOU instead of someone else.

The only reason I hire someone is because I firmly believe you will solve the problems I face, and achieve the results I need.  This is the ‘value’ I seek.

Expressing how many years you have been doing something, all of the credentials you have, and the various duties you have performed over the years doesn’t equate to value.  Those are what the unimaginative candidates fall back on, often because:

Unless you get very good at expressing your value in all venues, in a very natural, conversational way that isn’t ‘pushy’, you will always be left wondering why others get hired for the best jobs, or get awarded the most interesting opportunities for which you really wish you had been considered.

One key to doing this is to build a visibility campaign.  I wrote about 7 ways you could start to go about this in my most recent issue of Career Tips.  Write to me at if you would like a copy, or you can review the contents and selected articles from past issues and sign yourself up at

And don’t forget that you can subscribe to my RSS feed of this Career Accelerator Blog at:

Don’t Slow Your Search During The Holidays!
Filed under: General, Networking
Posted by: John Hadley @ 4:56 pm

Many job seekers make the mistake of thinking that the holiday season is a terrible time to be looking.  They assume that no one is going to hire during this season, and that they are wasting their time.  As a result, they put their search on hold from Thanksgiving until New Year’s.

That’s great news for those candidates who go ahead anyway…reduced competition!

This is actually one of the best times for networking.  While it may be a bit more difficult to get meetings with people because of vacation schedules, those that you do get are likely to be more productive than usual.  Networking contacts will tend to be in more of a holiday spirit, more relaxed and more open to helping you out.

While some hiring managers might put hiring decisions on hold until the new year, others may actually be anxious to fill that key position while they still can count it against 2009’s personnel budget!  If that head count I’ve been permitted to fill might evaporate in 2010, I guarantee you I am going to work hard to make an offer before the 31st!

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that I have less of a need to fill my critical openings.  In fact, I may have more incentive to fill it so that I’m not stuck doing all of the work myself when I could instead be enjoying the holidays with my own family.

And even if you are networking in to a situation where any hiring decision is going to be deferred until after year end, don’t you think it will help your case to be first in line because of your persistence now, rather than to wait to try to make your presence known when all the other candidates start looking again in January?

It’s OK to take some vacation time from your search, and to enjoy the holidays yourself.  Just be sure you are doing it because you want to enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation, and not through the misguided belief that this is a bad time to be looking!

And for more on how to make the most of those networking efforts, see these articles:



At a meeting of a local networking group, someone stated that while this may be a good time of the year for networking, no one makes offers.

As a matter of fact, one of my clients received the job offer she wanted this week, for a position she was only made aware of around Thanksgiving.

Another client was approached this week by his former boss about a job, and was basically told that if he wants it, it’s his.

So don’t let the holiday season pass you by!  Get out there and make the most of it…

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Looking While Contracting
Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 3:48 pm

A question I received

“I’ve got a pretty good job right now. As a Contractor working for a Recruiting company, I am “rented” to a new startup company. The work scope is pleasing; I like, and do well at what they want. Work is solid for at least another six months I believe.

Question: How much time and effort to I use towards another position? It would be difficult to find a better “Fit”; the pay is pretty good too.  I was unemployed for over a year prior to this engagement. That, I pray, never happens again. I want to have immediate options if this assignment goes south.”

My answer

You need to create a plan to conduct a search, while juggling the current job, so that you don’t find yourself starting over again in 6 months.

Possibilities that strike me:

  1. Explore the likelihood of turning the contract work into a permanent role at the startup
  2. Explore the likelihood of another immediate contract assignment through the recruiting company when this contract ends.
  3. Explore the likelihood of a permanent job at the recruiting company.
  4. Seek a new job at a new company.

The 1st option will be dependent on:

The 2nd option will depend on satisfying the client in such a way that the recruiting company sees you as offering great value to their ongoing clients.  It requires you to put energy into creating the visibility within the recruiting company that leads them to remember you’re out there and not want to lose you from their stable.

The 3rd option depends on networking within the recruiting company to create / unearth an opportunity there.

The 4th option requires that you:

What do other readers think?  Post comments with your own thoughts on this.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to my RSS feed at:

And you will find many useful articles on my website at:

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Be On The Ball In Your Search
Filed under: General, Networking
Posted by: John Hadley @ 4:29 pm

What would you do with this situation?

I spoke at a Career Campaign event in NYC last year.  A week or 2 afterwards I had a long conversation with one of the attendees.  He complained about how difficult it was to find interviews, and I asked what he had been doing to move his search forward.

“Going to events like this one.”

I then pointed out that he had heard me talk for 45 minutes on exactly what made a killer resume, yet the resume he had just sent me had clearly not been revised to take any of my points into account.

“I can’t remember everything you said.”

It turned out he had come to a 4 hour career event, with 6 guest speakers sharing a great deal of expertise, and hadn’t even taken any notes!  When I pointed that out, he agreed that it would be a good idea if he started bringing a pad and pen to future meetings.

Now only a small percentage of candidates are as clueless as this person, but a very high percentage have never learned how to market themselves all that well. 

A career search is a sales and marketing campaign, and your job as a candidate is to be the EVP of Sales and Marketing for You, Inc.  That is a mindset that many candidates have difficulty mastering, or sometimes even accepting.

So don’t worry so much about the competition, just focus on doing everything you can to market YOURSELF as effectively as you can.


Don’t forget that you can subscribe to my RSS feed at:

And you will find many useful articles on my website at:

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Uncovering Company Culture
Filed under: General, Networking, Interview, Career
Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:34 pm

This is the question that was posed:

“The more you know about a company’s culture, the easier it can be to tell what what you can offer to them if there is a match. I wanted to know how you would go about finding which company is the right fit in an industry:

My response

Face to face networking doesn’t require attending expensive events. It would be a good idea to get involved with a professional association or other networking group focused on your industry / job target, but that is only a piece of networking. True networking is 1-on-1 meetings with people outside of events, where you have their undivided attention for 30 minutes or more to equip them to understand your target, and why you would make an outstanding contribution there.

Attending selected events where you will meet the right sorts of people is a great way to make initial connections to some of the right people, so that you can then follow up and schedule those 1-on-1 meetings. You can also make connections through:

You can reach out through LinkedIn and other social / business media to find people of interest, and try reaching out to them to get a chance to chat and build them into your network. You can write directly to senior people at companies of interest expressing what you might bring to the table for their operations and asking to meet with them. You can read the trade press, and search for press releases and other stories on the industry and target companies.

And, of course, you can go on interviews and ask probing questions about the way the company operates to establish what sort of culture they have.

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Job Search After 65
Filed under: General
Posted by: John Hadley @ 10:48 pm

I’m often asked about how to overcome age-ism.  Here’s a representative question

“What is frustrating these days is that there many people (Over the age of 65) with excellent experience, knowledge, and backgrounds in their respective areas of expertise but cannot find a suitable position.

Employers, (who use younger recruiters) discreetly discriminate against older workers. Somehow or other they think that we will get up and quit after a short period of time.

Due to our current economy, many older people want to work well into their 70’s.  How do you overcome or convince these younger people that we the older worker) want to work and contribute to the over all success of the organization.”

My answer

One group you might want to look into is “Grey Hair Management.”  They specialize in outplacement & career coaching services for ‘older’ workers.

Looking for work over 65 is always more difficult for full time work at professional levels.  The issues employers are concerned about with every older candidate are that much more of a worry for them when you are past what most would consider a ‘normal’ retirement age.  The problem isn’t the age itself, it’s the characteristics that are assumed to come along with the age – employers are worried:

  • You won’t have the energy & passion for the job that a younger worker might
  • You won’t have the technology savvy – and won’t be as willing or able to learn
  • You will be too expensive
  • You won’t stay long, so they’ll be back in hiring mode shortly
  • The more you can counter those issues right up front in the way you present yourself, the more success you will have.  Come up with clear stories to deal with each of these issues.  Take a close look at your appearance:

  • When you network and interview, do you dress in quality, up-to-date clothes?
  • Do your clothes fit you extremely well?
  • Do you have a ‘modern’ haircut? 
  • Are your glasses ‘old style’ or modern?
  • Another option is to look into consulting / contracting, where the age and expertise you bring to the table may be considered an advantage.  I’ve been working with one older client to define and build an independent consulting practice, and he has quickly become quite well known in his niche, is frequently called on to speak at a variety of specialized conferences, and now has a thriving practice.

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    Young People Just Starting Out
    Filed under: General, Career, New Job
    Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:11 pm

    Shelley asked about tips for young people just starting out - a great topic!  I’ll start the ball rolling here, and then you can add your own thoughts to mine.

    First off, whether or not you admire your boss, you can learn a lot from him or her.  Observe what your boss does well, and what you think could be done better.  I learned a lot from my early bosses about management, often as reverse role models showing me things I resolved never to do myself when I was a manager.

    Watch carefully how different people operate at all different levels in the organization - your co-workers, peers in other departments, your superiors, senior people not in your chain of command, etc.  Watch for communication styles, how they conduct or participate in meetings, ways they write memos and emails, how they direct others, etc.  Look for the best (and the worst) of those, and examine in what ways those differ from your own style.  Figure out what you can do to emulate the best behaviors.

    Pay particularly close attention to the next level up in the chain of command - the level to which you would next aspire.  One of the best ways to position yourself for promotion is to model the behavior of those at that level.

    Get to know the people around you.  Don’t get sucked into the circles of those who are negative - you become negative by association.  Seek out mentors.

    Have deep conversations with your boss.  Find out what your boss is most concerned about, what keeps him up at night, what goals are most important to her.  People often forget that their boss has goals, just as they do.  You have a great opportunity to build influence with your boss if you get to know his priorities, and can then find ways to approach your own work to better align with those.

    Think about where you want to be in 5 years, and what skills and experience you need to develop to get there.  Then think about what projects you could take on to develop those.  Make your boss an ally in doing that.  Have career discussions regularly with her to focus on the long term, and options for how you can get the types of experience that will foster your development.

    And don’t forget to work on your own personal development.  Take courses.  Seek out opportunities to run meetings, and to make presentations.  Put special emphasis on communication skills, both written and oral.  Those are going to make a huge difference in your career.  Consider joining a Toastmasters club or similar organization.

    OK, I’ll stop there for now.  What suggestions do you have to add into the mix?


    Don’t forget that you can subscribe to my RSS feed at:

    And you will find many useful articles on my website at:

    What Do You Want To Hear About?
    Filed under: General
    Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:52 pm

    I’m interested in knowing what my readers would like to hear about in this Career Accelerator blog.  Either drop me a note at with your suggestions, or just post a comment to this entry.

    I’ve posted on a diverse range of issues around marketing yourself, including

    So tell me, what are your burning issues that you would like to know more about?

    And don’t forget that you can subscribe to my RSS feed at:

    And you will find many useful articles on my website at:

    Where’s The Beef?
    Filed under: General, Résumé
    Posted by: John Hadley @ 8:27 pm

    OK, I’m probably dating myself here…remember those Wendy’s commercials in the 1980’s, when a little old lady ordered competititors burgers, only to exclaim “Where’s the beef?”

    I’m reminded of those ads when I see resumes that say things like “results-oriented”, “highly motivated”, “outstanding communication skills”, and one of my favorites, “proven results in …”

    These are empty phrases that only detract from your message.  Your resume and the statements you make should demonstrate these things; if you have to specifically say them, then you aren’t doing your job in what you are presenting.

    Any time I see “Proven results in …”, my reaction is that I’ll believe it when I see the proof.  And if you are showing me the proof, then why do you need to tell me you have “proven results”?

    There is also a downside to adjectives.  Any time you have to tell me up front you have something, instead of just demonstrating it, you reduce your credibility.  When you tell me, for example, about your “outstanding” achievement, you risk coming across as a braggart, and the reader is inclined to be skeptical.  On the other hand, if you simply present an achievement that is truly outstanding, omiting the adjective, readers are led to conclude it really is outstanding, and then you get much more credit for it in their minds.

    So next time you are sitting down to compose your powerful description of the package you have to offer, delete all of the empty phrases and replace them with demonstrations. 

    Instead of saying you are “results-oriented”, show me results and let me decide you are results-oriented.

    In place of “proven results”, show the results themselves.

    Instead of “outstanding communication skills”, give an example of those skills you are so proud of.


    Did you like this article?  If so, subscribe to my RSS feed at:

    And be sure to check out the wide variety of articles on my website at

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    Better to Search While Employed?
    Filed under: General, Networking, Career
    Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:13 pm

    Comment from one of my readers:

    “I say “WOW” to the comment “have the courage to walk away from the position you don’t want”.  (From Career Tips, March 2009 - email me at for a copy.)

    I find it interesting that one wouldn’t know if they wanted the position prior to the interview. However, I have found that once you’re on the job you may find out the position isn’t what was described and therefore not what you want.  In the current economy it’s an employer’s market where they have hundreds of applicants, so one may feel lucky, blessed or otherwise gifted to have been selected for a position.

    I’ve heard it’s easier to find a job when one already has a job.  Do you subscribe to this philosophy and if so, wouldn’t it be better to take a not so perfect position and network in house to get to the position you want or continue to seek the desired position while you’re already in a position?”

    My Answer:

    No, I do not.  That was the thinking years ago when layoffs were much less common. 

    If you don’t have a job because you got fired, or if you have a history of short duration jobs, or if you have a long gap (at least 6 months), then it’s a different story.

    Generally, it is much easier to find a job when you aren’t employed, because then you have all of the prime working hours to devote to your search.  The most effective technique for job search is having lots of 1-on-1 networking meetings, mostly with people who are employed, and which therefore tend to take place during the working day.

    If your goal is to get into a particular company, then an effective technique can be to find a job that is more or less a lateral move to get in the door, prove yourself there, and then work to get into the job you want.  This can be done whether you are already employed or not.

    The challenge is that if the position isn’t one you are truly interested in, it will be harder to sell yourself for it.  Hiring managers want someone who is passionate about their work, and who are therefore more likely to put in the extra time and effort when needed.  If you don’t have that passion, it will be hard to fake it.  This is doubly hard if you are applying for a position beneath what you might qualify for, as then the hiring manager will be suspicious that you are just taking it to get in the door and make a move as soon as possible.

    I’ve worked with more than one client who had been out of work 2 years, and by showing them how to market themselves effectively (with a strong emphasis on networking), within a few months both had landed at jobs they were thrilled with, right back at the responsibility and compensation levels they had been at before their layoffs.

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