JOB SEARCH TIPS
(Suggested by Phil Varona)
Resume & Business Card Tips:
- Put your strongest qualifications toward the top of your resume. A “Highlights of
Achievements” section with 4-5 bullet points specifically mentioning your top
achievements can be used for this.
- Whenever I tweak my resume for a specific company/position, I usually change
the “Highlights of Achievements” section, and put as many job
specifications/requirements as I can in that section.
- Make your resume as easy to read as possible. This means avoiding fancy fonts,
not having more than 2 different font sizes, and using bullet-points instead of long
sentences and paragraphs.
- Do NOT use automatic templates for your resume. They make it very hard to
- Put all your relevant contact info on your business card, as well as your targeted
position and 2-3 of your strongest qualifications.
- Leave ample space on the back side of your card for other people to take notes.
Debbie Rodkin recommends putting at least a quarter’s worth of blank space on
- If you are ordering on VistaPrint, do not pay extra to have a blank back side.
Having the VistaPrint ad on the back is not a big deal, and if somebody asks you
where you ordered the cards, you can always tell them to look on the back.
Skill Assessments & Training Resources:
- Some of the more prominent alumni associations have these resources available.
- Links to online skills assessments can be found on
http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/, which is the accompanying website to Richard
Nelson Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute?
- The Department of Labor also has skill assessments available. Some of their
locations include Cobb County, Toco Hills and Gwinnett County.
Job Search Strategies:
- Focus in your job search is very important. People tend to be a lot more helpful to
you if you are very clear in stating what you are seeking. Additionally, focus
makes you look a lot more impressive in an interview.
- It has been repeated ad nauseum that a majority of the jobs are found through
networking. Focus most of your time in that general area, both attending events
and more importantly, following-up with the people you meet.
- I recommend attending at least 3-5 Networking Events per week, and mixing them
between Job Seekers’ events, and professional organizations. Job Seekers’ events
are good for support, especially given that the focus is for the job seekers.
However, it is advised to network with employed people because they know where
the jobs are, and are more likely to be in a position to do something directly
beneficial for you. You also want to be networking enough to generate a fair
amount of fresh leads every week, but at the same time you want to give yourself
enough time to digest the leads and follow-up.
- Spend some time every day looking for jobs online, but obviously don’t make that
the focus of your day. I try not to spend more than 2 hours a day on online
postings, but still attempt to apply to at least one job online every day. Sometimes
you can get a callback from responding online, although this technique tends to
work better for companies that don’t advertise a lot.
- The Atlanta Business Chronicle is a good source to see which businesses are
making headlines, and can give tips as to which companies are growing.
- One useful tool to find people at your target companies/in your industry is
LinkedIn. As a general rule of thumb, I typically invite people I’ve met at meetings
with whom I’ve felt I’ve made enough of a connection to join my network. Also, if
somebody asks me to invite them to join my network, I almost always take them up
on their offer. Sometimes I get people asking me to join their networks, and I
usually accept if I know the person. I normally do not accept random invites,
although I’ve heard some people do.
- It is very helpful to go into meetings not only thinking what you’re trying to get
out of it, but also keeping in mind what you can give to other people there. People
tend to be more helpful to you if you show you are willing to give something
occasionally, and not just take all the time. Also, if you help someone else, chances
are they are more willing to try harder in helping you.
Consulting / Contracting / Entrepreneurial Job Search Tips:
(Note: I haven’t really focused in this area too much.)
- A fair amount of speakers at the various Job Networking groups in Atlanta have
spoken about entrepreneurship. Many of these groups will advertise such speakers
on their Yahoo group, so you can check there to see when and where they will be
speaking, and come to that meeting. Note that you do need a Yahoo e-mail account
to join a Yahoo group, but fortunately such accounts are free.
Job Posting Sites:
- I’ve found the job boards to be more useful for recruiters to have access to your
resume, than they are for the job postings.
- Monster and CareerBuilder are the most popular job boards among recruiters.
- Dice is a good job board for those in the Technical fields.
- Refresh your online resumes at least once a week.
- Most job boards will refresh a resume if you either hit the “Renew” or “Update”
button, or if you hit “Edit” and then “OK.” In CareerBuilder you actually have to
make a change in order to refresh your resume, but this can be done by adding
spaces, adding commas, changing a word, changing the form of number (e.g. from
“2” to “two”), etc.
Recommended Networking Meetings:
- re: Focus on Careers: Debbie Rodkin’s group. Meets on the first Monday of every
month at 6 PM at the Holiday Inn Select on Chamblee Dunwoody Road. You do
have to pay attend - $10 in advance; $15 at the door. One plus is that lots of
employed people attend these meetings. I seem to get good leads every time I go to
- Parkway Business Network: Roger Blackstock’s group; Martin Whitfill –
assistant. Meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday at Parkway Presbyterian Church (just
off GA 400 Exit 13) in Cumming at 7 AM. Speakers are typically C-level
executives. Additionally, this group (possibly due to its location) attracts a lot of
people who don’t attend the “usual” networking groups.
- Roswell United Methodist Church: Jay Litton’s group. Meets every 1st and 3rd
Monday in Building D. (There will be signs pointing you in the right direction.)
This is a very-well known group that a lot of people attend. Speakers are usually
pretty good too. Additionally, this group has an industry guide program that can
potentially help to give you additional ideas for networking.
- Atlanta Job Seekers: Meets every Friday at 7:30 AM at Fuddruckers in the
Perimeter Mall area. This is another well-known group that is typically well-
attended. The first hour is a “spiritual” hour with a speaker followed by a
“breakout session”, where other relevant spiritual topics are discussed. Networking
occurs during the 2nd hour, so if you don’t really care for the spiritual topics, you
can just show up at around 8:30 AM. The group does keep a database with 400+
alumni, and you may ask for contact information if you’ve applied for a specific
position within a company.
- St. Catherine’s of Siena: Caroline McCoy-Hansen’s group. Meets every Thursday
at 7 PM in Kennesaw. The big draw about this group is that the guest speakers
have to bring jobs. (Caroline is very well connected with employers.)
- Norcross Fellowship Luncheon: Meets every Wednesday at 11:45 AM at the back
room of the Golden Corral on Satellite Boulevard in Duluth. There is a speaker
every week that focuses on a faith-based topic. Most of the people who attend this
group are employed. One note is that the group originally started as a men’s group,
and even though women are now invited to the group, still over 90% of the
attendees are male.
- TechLinks Mix & Mingle: Meet every month – location rotates. A lot of people
in the IT/high tech industry attend these. Even if you aren’t exactly in these areas, I
have found many of the people I’ve met at these events to be very helpful, so they
still may be worth attending.
Networking & Informational Meeting Tips:
- Show up early and stay late!
- Make sure you bring more business cards than you think you will hand out.
- Reasonable arrival times: Association meetings – at least 30 minutes early; For
meetings where they designate “networking” time, make sure you are there for as
much of the time as possible – certainly arrive before the program/speaker starts;
For socials, arriving on time may suffice. (In some instances, the organizers might
not even be there if you show up too early.)
- If you have a professionally printed name badge, bring it with you and wear it.
(Note: Refocus on Careers provides professional name badges to participants who
RSVP at least 2-3 days in advance.) Professional name badges look more
impressive, and can also be used as conversation starters.
- At meetings, I generally try to look for people who are by themselves and
introduce myself to them. Usually, if there are 2-3 people who are always together,
chances are they are friends and may not be as open to new people jumping in to
- If I want to talk to someone, I will try to make eye contact with them. If they
return the eye contact for more than 2 seconds, I start talking to them.
- As for the amount of time I spend with someone, it’s a balance between spending
long enough to get to know something meaningful about them, yet short enough to
give yourself a chance to meet as many people as possible.
- Do ask for a card, but wait until both of you have at least introduced yourselves
before doing so. You do want to make sure you both of you have each others’
contact info, but at the same time shoving cards in people’s face will make you look
- An ideal opportunity to hand out a card would be if someone says something
along the lines of “I’m trying to think of someone in your area, but nothing’s
coming to me right now.” I usually respond with, “Here’s my card in case you
remember later.” Definitely follow-up with this person too!
- It is okay to write on the back of people’s business cards in front of them. I know
it looks “dorky”, but if that’s what it’s going to take for you to remember the other
person, most people won’t mind.
- One very good way to leave a good impression on other people is to play “host.”
This would include letting people into the conversation who look like they are
trying to get in, and also if you are in the middle of a conversation and someone
you know passes by – introduce both of them to each other.
- Always keep in mind what you can do for other people; not just what other people
can do for you.
- Make sure you follow-up! Whether you do it by phone or e-mail is up to you.
For me, I take it on a case-by-case basis. I tend to follow-up on hot leads by phone
(unless the person tells me otherwise), and in all other cases I e-mail.
- If you are going to send a form letter/e-mail to a bunch of people you’ve met at a
networking meeting, at least put the recipient’s name on the message! Not doing so
makes it look painfully obvious that you sent a form letter. It’s also a good idea to
add personal information, and/or a little bit about what you talked about, if
- If somebody promises you something at a Networking meeting, and they don’t
follow-up with you in a reasonable amount of time, it’s okay to send them a
message to remind them. If they still don’t get back to you after awhile, send them
another message. (Make sure it’s polite in tone, though.) People do tend to get
busy/forget things, so a second message usually is a good reminder. The odds of
someone returning my call/e-mail go up considerably if I’ve sent a second message.
- Patience is a key when it comes to networking. Most people are a little reluctant
to give out all their contacts the first time they meet someone. I’ve noticed that
people tend to be more helpful to me after they’ve seen me a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. time.
- If you’ve heard Ricky Steele’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective Networkers”, they
can come into play here. Here they are, briefly: (1) Have a Contact Management
System; (2) Know your Target Audience; (3) Communicate on a meaningful level
and communicate often; (4) Never burn bridges; (5) Do your homework; (6) Never
discount anyone; (7) Make a multi-pronged approach.
Research into Industries/Companies:
- Hoover’s (available through most library systems) gives a pretty good overview of
a company, and also tells you who are the key officers.
- The Vault also provides snapshots for selected companies.
- Yahoo Financials provides data for publicly traded companies.
- If you can access a company’s annual report, I’d at least skim through them to get
a gist of the company’s financial situation, any significant strategic plans, etc.
- Industry-specific publications/websites for your targeted industry are good to
check out. If you’re not sure which ones are the good ones, ask someone in the
Cold Calling (Phone & Face-Face, etc.):
- For Phone Cold Calling, always have a script and stick to it. (Mike Iamele has
good examples of scripts.)
- NEVER close with a “yes or no” question.
- If the person you are calling does not have a job for you, you can ask if he/she is
willing to take you in for an informational interview. If not, ask for other
companies in their field that may be able to hire someone with your skills.
- For “face to face” cold calls, whenever I get to the “gatekeeper”, I usually tell
them I’m interested in their company and ask them who I should talk to, so I at least
try to get a name. I also ask if they have a few minutes. If not, I at least have a
name/number to call later.
- Tip from Jim Cichanski for Phone cold-calls: Ask for the Accounts Payable
department. When you get them, say “Whoops. I was trying to reach xxxxx. How
can I reach them?” The Accounts Payable department is suggested, because usually
people don’t talk to them unless they’re complaining/angry with them, so they will
probably be happy somebody isn’t chewing them out for once.
- Tip from Martin Whitfill for face-to-face cold-calls: Go to the company either
while the smokers are out on break (usually at 10 AM and 2 PM) or while people
are getting back for lunch. Such people tend to be more helpful than usual.
- TechLinks: (website: http://www.techlinks.net.) This is a central site for the
Atlanta Technology community. Their website advertise not only their events, but
also events for TAG (Technology Association of Georgia), PMI (Project
Management Institute), MIT Forum-Atlanta and Georgia Tech Business Network,
just to name a few. They also hold Mix & Mingles every month, which are
especially beneficial for those in the IT/high tech areas, although still worthwhile
for those who aren’t exactly in those areas.
- If your college alma mater has an alumni association in the area, I would strongly
recommend looking into it. It is fairly common for alumni associations to provide
many career services, including career counseling, alumni databases and
networking events. Georgia Tech’s Alumni Association is particularly good.
- Industry-specific organizations are very good ways to meet people in your
targeted industry, and get to know some of the key figures there. One example of a
good group is IoPP (Institute of Packaging Professionals), which services the
packaging industry, and to a lesser extent, plastics.
- If you know where the people who hire your type meet, it is a good idea to attend
- If there’s a group meeting for a specific side-interest/passionate area of yours, it
may not be a bad idea to attend that group at least occasionally to do some “out of
the box” networking.
- Martin Whitfill: Assistant at Parkway Business Network. He sells packaging, and
has a lot of contacts in plastics and packaging. He’s also good for advice for cold-
calling, both phone and face-to-face.
- Mike Iamele: St. Brigid’s. Recommended for cold-calling tips, phone techniques,
and if you need to “get pumped” for your job search.
- Bobbie Rogers: Recruiter for 4T Technologies – occasional guest speaker. Very
good speaker and has plenty of contacts, especially in the IT field.
- Ricky Steele: Thompson Technologies – occasional guest speaker and networking
expert. Usually appears at TechLinks Mix & Mingles. Wrote a list of the “7 Habits
of Highly Effective Networkers.”
- Chris Barnes: SCAN Atlanta. He has a lot of contacts in the Supply
- Vida Rahn: Cobb County Department of Labor. She is very help for resume
writing and interviewing tips.
Recommended Recruiters / Temp Agencies:
- Best bet for recruiters would be to find those who specialize in your field. You
can find out who they are by either attending meetings of a professional
organization in your field, checking GAPS’s website
(http://www.jobconnection.com), or looking them up in Atlanta’s “Book of Lists.”
- Your odds of a recruiter answering your call go up considerably if somebody
referred you to them.
- Tip for Technical temp agency: Chase Technical – Engineering Division. (Office
is in Sandy Springs.)
Personal Tips (Time management, Organization, Attitude, etc.):
- Always create a To-do list for every day – do it either the night before or first
thing in the morning.
- Create a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts and companies you’ve contacted.
This becomes useful in determining when to follow-up.
- A positive attitude is a must! If possible, surround yourself with positive people.
- For tax write-off purposes, I recommend also keeping a spreadsheet of expenses
incurred and mileage traveled that is directly related to your job search.
- Feel free to call any other JAWS group member if you need support, advice,
someone with whom you can vent, etc. We are here for each other.
Interview Types, Trends, & Tips:
- If a company’s recruiter calls you unannounced for a phone screening, you don’t
have to take the call then and there. It is okay to tell them, “Now is not a good
time. When can I call you back?” It would also be a good idea to ask for a copy
the job description, if you do not have one already.
- For phone interviews, make sure you are standing up because you generally sound
more confident that way. It’s also a good idea to smile while you’re talking,
because that tends to come through over the phone. It may help to either talk in
front of a mirror or other reflective surface. It is also a good idea to make sure your
resume, the job description, your questions, and other pertinent material about the
company are in front of you during the interview.
- During phone interviews, it is okay to ask, “Is that what you are looking for?” at
the end of a question to make sure you have covered everything the interviewer
- Behavior Based Interviews have been fairly common lately. These types of
questions typically consist of “Tell me about a time when ….” It is recommended
that you answer such questions with a STAR technique, meaning ST=situation/task
(describe the situation and task you needed to complete), A=action (what did you
do?) and R=result (what was the result.)
- It’s not a bad idea to answer all questions using the STAR technique, not just
Behavior Based questions.
- The 30:10 Rule for Interviews: Show up to the place where you will be
interviewed (or near it) 30 minutes early. Come in 10 minutes early.
- In general, it’s not a bad idea to ask the person setting up your interview if you
will need to bring anything special, and also what appropriate attire is.
- I’ve had some interviews where I was asked to provide a college transcript.
- Roger Blackstock suggests repeating “I like myself” multiple times just before the
interview. This ensures that you will be smiling by the time you start the interview.
- Tom Darrow suggested at the beginning of a face-to-face interview, asking “What
about my resume interested you?”
- Jay Litton recommends a technique called the “wwWOW Interview”, which
basically is researching the company’s needs and position in the marketing, and
making a hard copy of a power point presentation stating how you will fill those
needs. This technique is most effective for interviews with the hiring manager.
- Following-up: Send an e-mail “Thank You” messages the same day, and also
send handwritten “Thank You” notes to be mailed by the next day at the latest.
Financial Support Tips:
- RUMC’s Job Networking meetings have a Financial Expert that comes in at the
same time as the resume reviewers (6:45 PM.)
- Refocus on Careers has a program called “Mastering Executive Job Change”,
which I’ve heard includes a section on managing finances. I’ve never gone myself,
although I’ve heard other people highly recommend it. These workshops are Free,
although you have to RSVP in advance.
Salary Resources & Negotiation Tips:
- http://www.salary.com is a good resource for determining a ballpark figure for
what type of salary to expect. It is broken down by job title and location. Even if
you can not find an exact match for your target position, you can try to find a
similar position, and adjust the value from there.
- Common saying: In salary negotiation, the first person to name a figure usually
- If possible, do not mention an expected salary during your initial interview with a
company. That question is typically used to screen people out.
- If I’m asked about salary during a first interview, I usually say “a fair offer.” If
they ask me to elaborate, I usually say something along the lines of “It’s premature
for me to talk about salary at this point. I still need to learn more about the
company/position and do some due diligence before I can truly tell you my worth to
this company.” If they still insist, I give them a wide range (spanning at least
$10,000 - $15,000.)
- If asked about salary on an online application, sometimes you will be able to pass
through by typing in “0.” However, if it is not required, I do not say anything.
Recommended Books & Websites:
- What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles: Gives an excellent
overview on the job search.
- http://www.godel.com/html/atlanta_meetings.htm : Extensive list of Job
Networking meetings and other resources for job seekers.
- Battlefield of Mind by Joyce Meyer (Was used a lot by Jim Garvin at the Atlanta
Seekers’ group at Fuddruckers during his breakout session): Uses Biblical teachings
to help you keep a positive mindset.
- http://www.linkedin.com/ : LinkedIn – an online networking service. This is a
good source for finding targets at your target companies and in your industry.
Other Tips To Help Candidates:
- Whenever you give your Elevator Speech, the sooner you get to what you are
looking for, the more effective it is. Roger Blackstock recommends saying what
you are seeking up front. Also, “less is more”, as you want to say who you are and
what you can do as concisely as possible. While most people will say have it
around 30 seconds, in reality if you can get it down to 10-15 seconds that is even
- Whenever you make a “referred” call, say who referred you up front, because this
helps to “break the ice” and also gives the two of you something in common. If
leaving a message, do not forget to state your purpose for calling in addition to the
- Typically your safest best when making a phone call (whether it be referred or
“cold”) is to close by asking for more information, rather than asking for a job.