Access the Hidden Job Market: The hidden job market comprises 75% of the total jobs and perhaps 90% of the best jobs. Hiring decision makers will talk about the company’s problems, needs, changes or opportunities, long before they advertise an official job posting to the general public. You’ll learn about these opportunities from people you know, so focus on networking instead of just posting your resume on job boards and waiting for responses that may never come.

Build Your Networking Contact List: Since your best leads to the hidden job market will come from people, it’s time to build your contact list. Start with an “inner circle” of family, friends, and colleagues: people you already know and who are likely to give you referrals to others who may have additional advice, information and suggestions, or who may be in a position to hire you.

Clarify Your Ideal Job: Write about your ideal job or employment situation, whether it exists or not. Include details about the company (their products, services, location, sales volume, etc.), your boss, coworkers, team members, salary and benefits. When you’re clear about what you want, opportunities will magically appear.

Diversify Your Employment Options. Try temping, contracting or part-time positions, which may lead to a FT, permanent position. Otherwise, consider starting your own business or consulting practice. You never know where your business ideas may lead. For information on business start-up, contact the SBA or SCORE.

Eliminate the “Career Objective” from your Resume: Replace with a professional title that describes your industry and professional level, such as Sales Manager, Elementary School Teacher or Senior Marketing Executive. Hiring managers will be impressed with seeing something other than, “Seeking a challenging position in a progressive organization.”

Focus on Opportunities in Small Businesses and Privately-held Companies. Large corporations are usually the first to have massive layoffs in troubled economic times. Smaller companies will allow you to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Tap into the INC 5000 list, or look to lists available from your local library, e.g., ReferenceUSA or A to Z Databases to find companies where you might want to work.

Gratitude: Thank each person who introduced you to an important contact, passed on a job lead, provided you with a great reference, or convinced a hiring manager to interview you, even if the opportunity didn’t work out as you hoped. When people know you appreciate their efforts, they will keep on helping you! Hand-written thank you notes sent by postal mail will make you more memorable than email messages.

Handle Rejection Gracefully: Received a “thanks but no thanks letter” after an interview? Reach out to the hiring manager. Congratulate him or her on the new hire. Ask to be considered for another position in the company, which could be better match for your skills set and experience. Read more in: “You Didn’t Get The Job – Now What?”

Ignore Negative News about the Economy: The media stays in business by selling headlines and TV ratings. Nothing sells better than bad news! Even though bad news items may be factually correct, dwelling on them will only make you feel worse. According to Law of Attraction principles, focusing on unwanted situations will only attract more of them. Do your best to avoid TV news programs. Read happier sections of the newspaper, or don’t read it at all.

Join a Job Seeker’s Networking Group: In today’s economy, looking for a job can be a difficult, discouraging, and lonely journey. Consider joining a job seeker’s networking group, aka a job club, which is a facilitator-led group of job seekers that offer each other advice, support and camaraderie during the process. Check out to find a job seeker’s networking group in your area.

Know Your Value: Document how you’ve helped your employers save money, make money, save time, or solve a problem. Translate this into your return on investment (ROI) for prospective employers. Be able to confidently explain how they will get a 150% ROI for the salary they’ll be paying you.

Law of Attraction: Identify your “wants” and “don’t wants” in an ideal career position, feel like you already have it, and allow the universe to bring it to you. When you get into the feeling of having your ideal job and hold this feeling for 17 seconds it has the same impact as 10 hours of job searching activity.

Motivate Yourself: Motivation is an inside job. Jim Rohn says it best: “The best motivation is self-motivation. The guy says, ‘I wish someone would come by and turn me on.’ What if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan for your life.”

Networking Dos and Don’ts: Networking is a lifelong process of building mutually beneficial relationships with others; it is not handing out or collecting business cards and schmoozing; or something you do suddenly, as a reaction to being jobless. A timeless classic on networking is Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need by Harvey Mackay.

Outcome Detachment: Talane Miedaner, author of Coach Yourself to Success explains: “The easiest way to detach from the outcome is to have something in reserve, an ace up your sleeve…This reduces your neediness and automatically increases your ability to attract what you want…If you really want one particular job, it helps to have offers at [many] other places too, so that you can increase your bargaining power.”

Prepare a Job Proposal: Create your own position by identifying a company’s unmet need and proposing a solution. Prepare a brief business plan which shows exactly what you will do, for a specific salary, to solve the company’s problem. Read these two articles to learn more: “This Sample Proposal Letter Can Replace Your Resume” and “A Proposal May Get That Job”.

Quiet Your Inner Critic: Stop scolding yourself over what might have been if you had done things differently in your career. Replace your inner dialogue of “What if?” with “What I learned from this experience” and “What I can do better next time.”

Referral Meetings: Arrange informal meetings (by phone or in-person) with your contacts to get their help with your career transition. Never ask for a job! Preface your request for meeting with: “I don’t expect you to have or know of any positions in your company right now. All I’m asking for is advice, information, and referrals to others, to plan my next career move.” Read more in: “How to Tap The Hidden Job Market Through Your Network.”

Social Networking 101: Build a LinkedIn profile. Recruiters regularly search LinkedIn for qualified candidates. Use the content from your resume to fill in the employment sections. Be selective in asking others to join your network or accepting invitations. The quality of your connections — who you know and who knows you — is much more valuable than how many connections you have. Be sure to avoid these mistakes when building your profile.

Try Targeted Direct Mailings: Send targeted resumes and cover letters to 100+ companies where you’d like to work, whether or not they are hiring. Customize each letter with the decision maker’s name and title. Expect a 1% to 3% response rate. Your goal is to meet someone who will talk to you even when there is no open position at the moment. See “Focus on Opportunities in Small Businesses and Privately-held Companies” above for business directory resources; and check out this post: “Where Do You Want to Work? Make a List of Target Employers.”

Upgrade Your Skills and Credentials: Finish your bachelor degree, MBA, or certification program, if you know these qualifications will help you move forward in your career. Don’t rely on you employer to fund your educational programs; figure out a way to pay for them yourself. If you’re unemployed, you may be eligible for free or low-cost training through your local workforce development center.

Volunteer Your Way to Employment: Volunteering can expand your professional network and list of contacts. Many companies are involved in volunteering and encourage employees to participate. You might even meet hiring managers from large, local companies through volunteering. When you work in a volunteer program you’re passionate about, you’ll create the best impression on anyone you meet. Check out volunteer opportunities on these websites:,, or

Wait to Discuss Salary until you have a job offer on the table. The first person to mention a salary figure is at a disadvantage in the negotiation process. Don’t let this happen to you! Ask for a salary range before stating your requirements. Research the market rate for your salary on, or, so you’ll be in a better position to negotiate the best package for yourself.

X‘s and O’s: Go through your career history and create a list of all the job tasks you’ve ever done. Put an “X” through your least enjoyable activities and put a circle (O) around the tasks you love to do. Congratulations! You’ve identified some key elements of your dream job or ideal career position.

Your Name, Inc.: Treat your career as though you are self-employed, whether you file a 1099 or 1040 tax form. If you work in a salaried position, think of your employer as your client. Here’s how Brian Tracy, motivational guru, summarizes this concept: “The biggest mistake we could ever make in our lives is to think we work for anybody but ourselves.”

Zigzag Your Way to Career Success: The path of a successful job search or career transition is rarely a straight line; it’s a series of setbacks, followed by giant steps forward. Think of a job search as a numbers game, like sales: the more no’s you get, the closer you are to hearing “Yes, you’re hired!”

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, 2014. All Rights Reserved