Lately I've been hearing from recent college grads who find themselves looking for their first "real" job in a market where they feel like a stranger - their own hometowns. Their last hometown employment was five years ago and didn't provide them with the kind of professional networking opportunities they need now. It's hard to grip and grin down at the Rotary club breakfast when you're the one cooking or serving the Rotary club breakfast.
When it comes to job search, there's nothing worse than being a stranger.
Hometown strangers need to get out of the stranger category and into the friend-of-a-friend or introduced-by-a-friend category. This is going to involve doing a lot of interviewing but not the kind where you send a resume to a stranger and hope the stranger invites you in for an interview. No, the interviewing I'm talking about is the kind where you talk to every active working professional you know - people whose professional networks are current - and ask them who they know who might be in a position to hire you.
Start with your old college town. Perhaps you did an internship or some part-time work in college. Who did you meet? Get out a legal pad and make a list of the professionals you met in your college town and then start calling them asking who they know in your hometown. Those professionals belong to associations or sit on boards or do business with people in your current market. Start calling them and asking them who they know in your current market.
You can waste time playing the low-percentage game of sending resumes to strangers or you can play the high percentage game of moving out of the stranger category and into the recommended-by-a-friend or friend-of-a-friend category. It's a fact of human nature that people will not hire or do business with a stranger if a satisfactory non-stranger is available. You don't have to be the hiring manager's best buddy to get the job but you do have to move from the stranger category into the non-stranger category. Your college town contacts can do that for you. Make that list of your college town contacts, tell them where you are now, and ask them who they know in your current town.
And don't just ask them if you can "use their name". Using the name of a friend or professional contact is good but what's even better is to ask your professional contacts to send an email or make a call to someone they know in your current town.
People won't hire or do business with strangers if there is a satisfactory non-stranger available. The fact that you've sent hundreds of resumes and still don't have a job confirms my assertion that you're playing a low-percentage game. Increase your odds. Don't be a stranger. Become a non-stranger by getting somebody you already know to intervene on your behalf.
And don't assume that your hometown friends and relatives have already done all they can to help you. Interview each of them. Tell them what you did in college - both academics and employment - and ask them who they know that they'd be willing to introduce you to. Ask them to arrange a lunch meeting or coffee at Starbucks. This conversation will jog their memories and make them think of people they wouldn't have thought of as important contacts until you show up with a legal pad and started asking them who they know.
What you've been doing isn't working. Try my way.
I'd rather spend one day networking with friends of friends than a month sending resumes to strangers.
Don't be a stranger. Make the list. Conduct the interviews. Get your professional contacts from your old college town involved in your job search. Get your hometown friends and relatives to introduce you to people they know who may be able to hire you.
I'd rather spend one day interviewing friends and relatives than spend a week sending resumes to strangers. The odds of success are far greater.
Older job seekers with years of work experience should look at my February 28 thru March 5 posts about working with headhunters, getting a "social co-signer" and more.