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How do I find a job?
February 1, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm finally actively looking for a new job, but I don't have any idea how people do that these days. Help?

After several years of being disenchanted with my employer (and now that some stock I was given as a bonus has finally vested), I'm finally looking for a new job. I've been at my current place of employment for 14 years and in the same position (database administrator) for the past 11. I was hired through on-campus recruiting, so there wasn't really any grown-up job searching at the time. In other words, this is the first time I'm looking for a real job without someone else doing all the work for me.

Here are my questions:

1. I know about sites like Dice, Monster, Indeed and CareerBuilder. Dice seems to be the only one of those sites specifically targeted toward IT people. Are there any sites equivalent to Dice in that respect?

2. In addition to looking at those sites, do people use recruiters? If so, how do I find a decent one?

3. I found one opening on Dice that I think is perfect for me and I went through the online application process. I feel like my application has gone into a black hole. What's the correct way to reach out to human resources at the company with the perfect job given that they didn't post a hiring manager's name and I'm sure they have a bajillion online applicants? I am planning to call to express my interest in the position, but I'm almost certainly going to end up on the phone with some low-level HR person who probably gets a hundred such phone calls a day. How do I make myself stand out?

4. What else do I need to know about finding openings and making connections with companies that have them?

I really feel at sea with all of this and I appreciate any help or suggestions or whatever you have to offer.
posted by Maisie to Work & Money (18 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
Indeed is also geared towards IT folks.
posted by RedShrek at 9:15 AM on February 1, 2012


I found an excellent recruiter by searching "staffing agency" + "(my city)" (you could also try "employment agency"). I sent resumes out to several of the results, and then met the recruiters in person. You can tell who is really interested in you as an applicant and a person (as opposed to who is just looking to push you into any ol' position to get their cut), and I selected accordingly.

It helped to feel like there was someone on my side, actively selling me to employers, and you can still keep looking on your own as well.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Job postings on the internet are, statistically, a terrible way get a job.

If there's a discreet way for you to let your professional network know that you are on the market, that's a good start. Personal connections are still the best way to get a job.

You don't say whether you want to change fields so I'll assume you don't. That's good because it makes it easier for you to make a move. You've also waited for some options to vest, which suggests that you don't need a job next week. This is also good because it means you can put the necessary time into getting the job search right.

If you already have a particular company in mind, great! Get in touch with someone who is doing or supervising your job now at that company. Ask them if you can pick their brain over coffee or lunch (you'll buy, of course) about working for their company. For tips on informational interviewing, pick up a recent edition of What Color is Your Parachute, which describes this process in detail. Your goal is to find out whether you're a good fit and, if you are, to ultimately get in touch with the ultimate decision-maker on hiring, whoever that person may be. The first person you talk to may not be much immediate help, but may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.

If you don't already have a particular company in mind, that's the first question you want to answer: what are (let's say) five good places to work that might need someone who does what I do? So you ask around your professional network -- discreetly and without alerting your boss. Then you reach out to someone at each of those places as described above.

Good luck!
posted by gauche at 9:21 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


One answer (some would probably say the only answer) is networking. A way to start doing this is to assemble a list of personal and business contacts who might plausibly be connected to a firm looking to hire someone who does what you do. (That is, say you have a personal friend who works for a publishing firm. It is possible that the publishing firm could be seeking a database administrator. So the friend goes on your list.)

Then you contact each person on that list individually, most likely via email, saying you have just left a position as a database administrator at X after 14 years and you're now starting to look for employment in the broad field of Y ("Information Technology" or however you would describe the broadest field to which you might plausibly apply). Does your contact know of any positions in his firm, and if so, would he please let you know.

No form letter, no bcc, nothing long, say two short paragraphs including a bit of small talk. ("It's been a long time since we've been to the theater and I hope we can get together soon.")

Almost all of the emails you send out will get either no response or a negative response, but you may get two or three leads this way.

You can follow a parallel procedure in casual conversation ("What's new?" "Well, I just left my database administrator position after 14 years and I'm looking for work in that field. Also, I'm planning a trip to Quebec later this spring.")
posted by La Cieca at 9:27 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Make sure you check out Craigslist as well. A lot of people discount craigslist, but there are leads there to be had.

There is also http://www.reddit.com/r/jobbit/ (I found one of our devs there for what's it's worth). Just make sure you follow the posting rules. You may also want to crosspost to a relevant state subreddit (such as /r/NJ)
posted by pyro979 at 9:38 AM on February 1, 2012


My blog post analyzing what worked, and what didn't, in my job search last year my be relevant to your interests.
posted by COD at 9:38 AM on February 1, 2012


Based on watching my wife do this recently, I'm inclined to say that locating possible jobs is secondary to knowing what you have to offer and what you want to do with your skills and time. She (my wife) took a serious chunk of time (weeks+) and worked her way through a workbook (can't immediately identify it but it's been recommended on MeFi before) that helped her identify her skills and accomplishments so that she could build a really excellent resume and state in clear terms what sort of job she was looking for. She did all this before applying for any jobs, and the difference between the results she got and the typical nightmarish job search you might read about was night and day. She filled out about 4 applications, got 3 interviews and was a finalist for at least 2 of the positions.
posted by jon1270 at 9:40 AM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Careers at StackExchange might help you find some leads. Beyond.com and Indeed.com also aggregate from multiple sources.

I found my current position by discovering a company I was interested in working for and submitting to them directly even though they had no available positions listed.
posted by Jacob G at 9:42 AM on February 1, 2012


I found my current position by discovering a company I was interested in working for and submitting to them directly even though they had no available positions listed.

This has worked for me several times in my career. However, you have to really understand yourself, and the opportunity you present to the target company, to have a chance. If you send in a blind resume with a blah blah blah cover email, nothing will happen. If you send in a resume, tell them you know they are utilizing mySQL on Amazon EC2, and oh by the way, you just completed a massive migration to EC2 that resulted in the company saving $150,000 a year while improving uptime from 99.9 to 99.99 percent....that email will get you a meeting.
posted by COD at 9:48 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Post an abbreviated and anonymized resume to Craigslist Resumes. You don't even have to include particular companies, just your "Objective" type couple-of-sentences and a list of all the software and languages you know. You will probably at least get inquiries about whether you'd like to become a web developer.

Post the same thing to Craigslist's "Computer Services" as if you were attempting to freelance.

Create an account on LinkedIn. They have lots of jobs on there from the kinds of companies that use DBAs (et al).
posted by rhizome at 9:50 AM on February 1, 2012


Put your resume on Dice. You will immediately begin getting emails from "recruiters" who read job postings all day and will read one to you in hopes that you'll be fooled into thinking they actually work for the hiring company and they will get a finder's fee for you. 90% of them do not have any existing agreement with the hiring company, so when they email you you can go ahead and search the job listings and probably find the one they are reading to you.

You will also get legitimate contacts from hiring managers and a few actual contracted recruiters. Try not to lose them among the form emails from the "recruiters".

If you're a DBA, there's probably a forum or website or community where you could get tips on real recruiters or good places to send/post your resume. LinkedIn is a good place to look and to join groups for DBA jobs (there's probably some city/regional groups you should look for).

As for calling HR departments... Because of electronic postings/responses, and because a lot of companies don't have HR departments, replies to online ads tend to get pointed to the hiring managers. They've probably seen it. They probably don't want to talk to you about it until the time they've set aside to talk to people about it (hiring, especially if you're also doing the vacant job on top of your own job, is a massive timesuck).
posted by Lyn Never at 10:03 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Recruiter (not your field) responding here.

met the recruiters in person

If you can do this, do it. Face-to-face impressions can be invaluable.

you have to really understand yourself, and the opportunity you present to the target company

If you have done this and can tell the recruiter, you will be much further ahead. Also, a good recruiter can help you craft it.

Other tips:

- When talking to others (at your company and elsewhere) who do similar work, ask them who are the quality recruiters they hear from and/or do business with.

- The National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) has a code of ethics. Ask your recruiter whether he/she is a member and/or has earned the CPC credential. It's a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval".
posted by John Borrowman at 10:17 AM on February 1, 2012


nthing Linked-In. It can get you a connection into a big company that isn't a black hole.

http://careers.joelonsoftware.com is a site I've looked at. It's never gotten me a job, but it looks promising.
posted by Mad_Carew at 10:37 AM on February 1, 2012


Hi!

If you are interested in doing IT work for financial service firms, e.g., hedge funds, banks, trading companies, I highly recommend Landover Associates.

I have worked with them in the past and I really like them.

Ask for Mark Porter or Robin Reiss.
posted by jchaw at 10:45 AM on February 1, 2012


You need to network. Do you know anyone in the industry that you can have lunch with? Or can you go to events and meet people? Have lunch with those people, and ask them for advice about what to do and who to talk to. Ask them if they know of anyone hiring. Then, call the people they talk to and say, "Hi, I'm Maisie, and I just had lunch with Pants! yesterday. He said I should give you a call to talk about X..."

Those people won't have any jobs for you, maybe. But you can ask those people if they know anyone you can talk to.

Keep a spreadsheet of all of these people, and have regular followups with them. Did they mention at lunch or on the phone that they're working on a big project? Follow up in a few weeks or a month or so and ask how that project is going. Is a contact's wife pregnant? Sent a congratulatory note when the baby is born.

Once you make contact with people, you will eventually meet a hiring manger, or a friend of a hiring manager. Your cordial conversations and followups with people in the industry will have built goodwill.
posted by Pants! at 11:15 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hi!

If you are interested in doing IT work for financial service firms, e.g., hedge funds, banks, trading companies, I highly recommend Landover Associates.

I have worked with them in the past and I really like them.

Ask for Mark Porter or Robin Reiss.


Excellent, thank you! I work at a Fortune 100 financial services firm now. This is really helpful.


To answer some of the questions that came up in the answers:

1. I am currently employed. I have no reason to think that I won't remain employed (I've gotten good [not great] reviews the last couple of years and I've been asked to lead some high-profile, enterprise-wide projects). So, I'm not in a desperate situation, but I would still like to move on.

2. I am not looking to change fields. I am one of those dorks that I didn't believe existed at the beginning of my career who is actually passionate about database technology. I sort of can't believe it myself, but here I am. It's the technical aspects of databases that interest me and more and more, it seems like that work is moving offshore. I don't really mean the "create this table and make sure there's a backup job" part of it, but as that grunt work has moved offshore, it seems to me that the hands-on work with the customer that involves really understanding their application and business requirements has gone with the people doing the day-to-day work.

3. I'm already on LinkedIn and I'm in the several database administrator and financial services groups. LinkedIn strikes me as Facebook for work and given that I'm pretty introverted, it's not really my way to put myself out there publicly. That might be the wrong approach.

4. With respect to the one job I've already applied for (online), how do I identify the folks actually involved in the hiring process? I don't know anyone at this company and I don't have any idea about how I would find a real hiring person to talk to about this. I would be totally down for taking such a person out for coffee or lunch to have a non-specific talk about career opportunities, but I have no idea who this person is.

5. I should mention that the job is at a well-known sports television network, so I think there will be people applying who are dazzled by what the employer does. I'm dazzled by the job they posted (and I hear they're a good employer, but their core business is not the main event for me). I think it's likely that my application is lost among the masses. How do I make myself stand out? I'm planning to call HR, but what do I say?

Thank you again to everyone who answered.
posted by Maisie at 12:50 PM on February 1, 2012


With respect to the one job I've already applied for (online), how do I identify the folks actually involved in the hiring process? I don't know anyone at this company and I don't have any idea about how I would find a real hiring person to talk to about this. I would be totally down for taking such a person out for coffee or lunch to have a non-specific talk about career opportunities, but I have no idea who this person is.

That's when you put on your detectivatin' hat and see who you know that knows somebody that knows somebody. If the old proverb is true, you only have to meet six people before you're shaking hands with George Clooney, Barack Obama, or a tribesman in sub-Saharan Africa, as long as it's the right six people.

You have the job posting, so you know the job location and possibly the name of the department that the job is in. So you call their offices in that location and ask the name of the person who supervises that department. Then you use LinkedIn to see how you might be connected to them, or to anybody that knows them. Or you ask all your friends if any of them knows anybody who works at [Company] who could talk to you about what it's like to work there. Or you make a point of going to professional conferences in [Location] in the hopes of meeting someone who works there. Or you shake the alumni association tree and see who falls out that works there.
posted by gauche at 1:50 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just piping up as the wife mentioned above to say that the resume development course was from Blue Sky Resumes. Though they offer lots of free tips and suggestions, it was well worth the $50 I spent (I feel like putting that in ALL CAPS) because a. it had tons of real examples so I could see resume improvements in action, b. the prep work you do is comprehensive, so building the resume *for the kind of job you want, not just another job* is relatively easy, and c. it more than paid for itself because my new job came with a nice salary bump.
posted by deliriouscool at 6:35 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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