You Don’t Really Want that New Job, Do You?

Posted on 08 March 2012

No, this isn’t a reverse-psychology article.  It’s a wake up call, as well as truly sound advice, for any and all seeking gainful employment in this miserable economy.

You Don’t Really Want that New Job, Do You?

After reading this title, you’re no doubt unleashing a string of invectives at me.  How dare I assume that you’ve done less than 100% in trying to nail down a job?  Well, I dare to, because the ugly truth is, you must put in 200% of a concentrated effort in this economy, and odds are, you haven’t done that.

Sure, you’ve spruced up your resume and tailored your cover letters.  You’ve posted your career documents online, on the mega-boards and the niche boards, as well as,, and similar sites.  You’ve accessed the “hidden job market” and pounded the pavement until your shoe leather was about as thin as your wallet.  You’ve researched your target companies peripherally (usually via perusal of their official websites); you’ve secured interviews that seemed to have gone very well.   And yet, you have received no feasible job offers.  Every night, as you crawl into bed and fear yet another bout of watching the clock in the cold, pre-dawn hours, your mind churns with one single question, “What am I doing wrong?”

As Sherlock Holmes said to Dr. Watson during a particularly puzzling case, “If we exhaust the probable, what must remain is the improbable.”   That is sound advice to any serious job seeker.  If you have exhausted all the plausible (read: usual) tactics, consider what you may have judged to be implausible — or what you have never considered at all!

Any company, any organization is comprised primarily of its hierarchy: C-level leaders, directors, middle management, and salaried, hourly-wage, and/or commissioned employees.  It may also consist of distributors and an external sales force.  But at heart, a company is its people.   Therefore, you must determine the answers to these questions:

  • Someone started the firm; who was this person?  What was his or her vision?  How has that vision changed over the years?
  • How has the company grown — and more importantly, why did it grow?
  • Who is its competition?
  • Who are its employees?
  • Where is the company going?
  • How has it suffered in the economy?
  • What steps has it taken to stay afloat and competitive?  Has it launched new initiatives, new product-service offerings, or has it simply reduced its staff and closed locations? (Hint: those who have simply tightened their belts do not represent your best interests as potential employers, even if their nearest location saves you $100 a week in gas!)

If you truly apply yourself and get your hands on some company literature, if you conduct in-depth research, incorporating Business Week and industry-specific journals into your exploration, you’ll emerge with some of the answers, but not all of them.  And you need these answers in order to present yourself to the hiring authorities as a highly desirable employee!

So … how do you get these answers?   

Our answer: emulate Sherlock Holmes!  In arriving at the resolutions to his cases, the greatest detective who never lived knew exactly who to question, as well as when and how.  As we’re dealing with companies and not a corpus delecti, you’ll need to do a bit of pre-research in order to communicate with those in the know.

We don’t suggest that you stalk anyone, but do be observant.  Note where the employees of your target firms hang out.  Note the establishments that they patronize, particularly the places where they eat and knock back a cold one after a long hard day at work.   When the whistle blows at 5, 5:30, or 6 PM, where do the majority of workers head if they are not headed home?  Inquiries at local restaurants and bars, sweetened with tips, can point you in the right direction.

Once you’re there, strike up conversations with people (the workers).  You don’t need to tell them you’re looking for a job; you can say that you have something temporary and feel you’re in line for a better offer.   If the employees don’t view you as a threat, chances are, they’ll open up to you — especially if you can meet them in sports bars, local pubs, or informal dining establishments with at least one big-screen TV.

You might also meet them in those storefront type gyms where parents gather to take their children for some quality interaction.  Weekends are usually most conducive for these types of meetings.

Like Sherlock, use discretion in your questioning.  Don’t make all of the questions about you; engage the people you meet in genuine conversation, leading the talk toward their jobs: their companies, their employers, their product development, marketing, and operational tactics.  Share information about what you have learned via your own work experience (again, use discretion!)  You’ll come away with a wealth of information that you will not find elsewhere: information that will help you tremendously on interviews. 

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- who has written 225 posts on Write On New Jersey.

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