SURROUNDING THE POSTING – Making the Low-Odds Technique Work More Effectively

As mentioned in many of my books, articles, and blogs, and in those of many others
in my profession, answering postings is not a very successful technique for career
transition - less than 10% market penetration. This statistic is even lower when
minor or major career changes are involved. I hope most job seekers learn this
quickly, and use their search time more efficiently.

There is, however, a method of making a job posting lead to improved opportunities
for interviews.

I was reminded of this the other day, when a client was discussing his search, which
had largely consisted of answering postings. Yet, something was different with his
approach. I was all set to go into my rant about not depending on online postings as
a primary source for job opportunities, when it became clear that he instinctively
understood that just answering wasn’t enough; he wanted to “surround” the

In other words, he should fully investigate the possibility of knowing, or getting to
know, someone in the organization. If he could find someone, he would contact that
person the same way one would contact anyone for an informational interview. A
method of finding that person (or persons!) could be research instruments that
would disclose personnel information (websites, data collections like Hoover’s or
Factiva) or investigating on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn, of course, is a valuable tool for finding the right people. Try to find
someone whose role is connected, in some way, to the role posted. Write a
personalized invitation, even if you have Premium service, saying that you see that
the two of you have things in common, like ________ and ________, and you’d welcome
the opportunity to be part of her network. Chances are good that you’ll get a
positive response, which is your opportunity to write a standard approach email for
an informational/due diligence/market research meeting. As usual, you’d prefer in
person, but if not possible, Skype or phone will do.

At the meeting, treat it as a standard networking meeting, without, of course, ever
saying the word “networking.” Mention towards the end that you have applied for a
position posted at that organization, and are curious if she knows anything about
the area. She’ll get the point. Don’t ask for a direct introduction; if you’ve made
your credential apparent through your excellent opening pitch, she’ll possibly offer
some advice or information, or maybe, if you’re lucky, even an introduction for an
exploratory conversation. The very least you’d hope for is some insight into the
organization and/or position. The best? The direct introduction.

That’s “surrounding” the posting. Answering the posting is only an initial step.
Doing more than that might help a low-odds job search approach become a more
successful one.

4 Ways to Improve Your Success in a Long Distance Job Search

I often hear from people who want to relocate--some want to stay in the same field, others are looking for a career change--but can’t figure out how to expedite a long distance job search. 

Their questions are usually along the lines of:

  • How can I keep my current job and still search somewhere else?
  • Is an out-of-area address an immediate rejection?  
  • How do I network in a place where I don’t yet know anyone?

Conducting a job search long distance isn’t easy. But often clients go about it in some low probability ways--sending out resumes before they're requested, asking for leads before laying the ground work. When they don't get immediate results, their frustration can create a problem all by itself. They lose perspective. They want this whole thing to end fast, and end NOW. But like any job search, it's still going to be a process, when you do it right. And it’s a lot of work.  

The following four points can help improve your odds at landing a job in a new location.  

1. The Out-of-State Address
First, let's get rid of that address problem. It’s true that adding the possible relocation expense might be a problem for a prospective employer – although you will try to negotiate that when you get an offer.  

Many of the people I've worked with have, as a matter of course, dropped addresses from resumes. It seems to be a trend among younger members of the job force. An email address seems to be enough. A telephone number with an out-of-state area code doesn't seem to be a problem anymore; people take their cell numbers with them everywhere they move. So . . . no home address necessary.

2. Understand Networking
Second, you need to fully understand what networking is. It is not just asking everyone you know if they know of openings or jobs. That's a sure-fire way of scaring them off, because people feel guilty when they have to say, "No, not at this moment." And that means you've burned through a contact, making it difficult to stay in touch. 

Networking is all about maintaining relationships over a period of time, a form of indirect marketing-–not cornering your valuable connections and pressuring them into a yes/no answer (usually no).

The point is to build business relationships, maintain them by staying in touch, so that when your contacts hear of appropriate situations, you’re on their mind. That's how the vast majority of people find jobs, either by circumstance or by design.  

3. Set Up Phone Meetings
Since you can't be constantly traveling to your intended destination, you set up phone meetings instead of in-person meetings. They may be a little less effective than personally meeting others, but if you cultivate the relationships through following up regularly, you can make that relationship work. 

In addition, if you find some of your targeted people are amenable, you might say to several that you will be in the area during the week of ____________, and hope that you could meet them in person. Believe it or not, this works better, most of the time, than asking someone in your home area for a more open-ended time slot.  

4. Use LinkedIn
For building networks in an area where you don't know many in your profession -- try LinkedIn groups. Assuming your profile is up-to-date and promotes your skill set well, look under "Interests" on the top of the home page. There is a subset called "Groups." Then, look for affinity groups. Punch in your field and see what comes up. Maybe a professional group you’ve already joined. Maybe 10 others that are related. Maybe one in your intended geographical area. Join. Get involved in the online conversations. If someone sounds interesting and knowledgeable, try to link in (with a personal invitation, not the LinkedIn template). If he/she responds, then perhaps you write a skillful introductory (brief) email requesting a short conversation because you're researching the market in their area and want to learn more about it.  

It always comes back to: Technique, Discipline and Consistency
This is just a beginning. Clearly, there's much more you can do. I can think of a recently published book (mine!) you might read which will thoroughly take you through the process -- In Search of the Fun-Forever Job: Career Strategies That Work, on Amazon

Looking for work long distance is eminently doable, even with the tough market conditions. Great search technique, coupled with discipline and consistency, will usually trump the difficult market

Or pick up a copy of Networking: How to Make the Connections You Need to get the short course on how to make the contacts that lead to the job you want. 

Photo: wojciech_gajda