Career Center Blog

July 3, 2013

Are you looking for a job backward?


Too many people run their job hunts backward. Meaning they spend vast amounts of time and energy on the activities that are least likely to get them a job, leaving little or nothing left over for activities most likely to get them a job.

For example, are you spending days (or weeks) scouring job listings, fine-tuning your resume and shotgunning said resume all over the Internet?

Those activities sure feel like looking for a job. And you probably should put a little effort into them, because you never know.

But guess what? Chasing down posted job offers and sending out resumes are the least likely ways to get hired. Yes, the employment situation is improving (especially in Seattle). But you can still read newspaper articles about the position that 200 people applied for.

Go to job fairs and you will still see long lines. It can be discouraging. Worse, it makes getting a job seem like a matter of luck -- and it's not luck. (Rather, it's not only luck.)

Why not devote your efforts to far more productive pursuits? Identify the best potential employers, and then grow a network to gain personal entrees into those employers. Forget the job fairs; make your own luck by directly pitching yourself to the companies where you want to work.

You will need to do the research (here is where your networking comes in most handy) to know something about the challenges of those companies. Spend some time figuring out how to show that you and your skills are the answer to their challenges.

Here's a not-so-secret tip: Employers are always looking for ways to reduce the time, money and risk associated with the hiring process. Making it easy for them by catching them at that point where they've identified a need but not yet moved to fill it is the very best way to get a job.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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