Norwalk Hour

Norwalk (Connecticut) Hour

Career guru
dispels major
myths about
job hunting

By RYAN FLINN
Hour Staff Writer

     Job seekers should avoid 10 things in their quest for employment including circulating a resume, seeking out the classified ads, and extensive networking, said Michael Goodman, local publisher with Dialogue Marketing Group, Inc. in Westport.
     Goodman has just released a brochure titled “10 Stupid Things Job Seekers Do that Guarantee They’ll Be Looking for Work Again Soon.” The brochure is a summary of his book: “The Potato Chip Difference: How to apply leading edge marketing strategies to landing the job you want.”
     “I’m not against networking, head-hunters or classifieds,” Goodman said, “It’s just that most people get jobs by presenting themselves to the right company at the right time. It’s serendipity.”
     He told the story of a prospective employee he interviewed several years ago for a product management position. The person came into the interview with photos of the company’s product at 15 store locations and had suggestions to improve the product’s placement, as part of a project he put together to get the job.
     “There’s no way you can ignore something like that,” Goodman said. The candidate got the job, he said.
     “That person didn’t walk in the door saying, ‘I want a job.’ He said, ‘I want to work for you,’” Goodman said. The difference is distinct, and noticeable by employers. A job seeker who researches a prospective company’s values, culture and business, and can relate to the interviewer how she is a good fit with the organization, will have an advantage over other job candidates.
     “Blanketing the world with resumes,” might make a person feel as if they are accomplishing something, Goodman said, but in reality it is a waste of paper and might be detrimental in the end.
     Networking is not a good system to rely on either, Goodman said, especially if a job seeker believes others will act as an advocate for him.
     “Networks are good for industry information, but you are wasting your time if you make yourself look like a user” or a person who uses contacts as personal human resource salesman, asking for a job, Goodman said.
     Goodman’s brochure comes at a time when many companies have had lay offs and other cut backs.
         According to the Connecticut Department of Labor there was a 0.4 percent decrease in jobs in June 2001 from June 2000 in the Stamford Metro area, although unemployment in that area is at 1.9 percent, a historically low rate. The state of Connecticut saw a 0.2 percent decrease in jobs during the same period, and the United States as a whole saw a 0.5 percent decrease in jobs.

Hour photo/JENNIFER MANNA

Michael Goodman, author of “The Potato Chip Difference,” runs a small publishing company that has published a brochure on how not to get a job.


     Local outplacement firms have noticed an increase of business.
      “We are running as high a level as we have ever run,” said Fred Feuerhake, senior vice president of Goodrich & Sherwood Associates, a full-service human resources firm with an office in Norwalk, about the increase of terminated employees that his firm is helping. “We are receiving a larger number of contacts from companies and higher level of busi­nesses than we did in 1991 and 1992.”
     Feuerhake, who writes a bi-monthly article on employment issues for trade magazines, said that people who are laid off should spend time researching the next company they want to work for before applying.
     He said that 70-85 percent of employment decisions are based on the candi­date’s fit with the organization. The chances of sending out a resume to a random company or replying to a want ad and getting a job are extremely slim, he said.
     “The most you can hope for is to be added to their database,” Feuerhake said.
     Concise, qualitative resumes that use active words such as “directed,” or “managed” are the most effective, he said. Also important, job seekers should add a summary paragraph at the top of the resume, briefly describing their accomplishments.
     Job seekers should he prepared to answer questions about why they left their last job. Be truthful and concise, he said, but do not volunteer more information than asked.
   As for networking, Feuerhake said a person does not want to come across as “Taking, taking, taking.” Instead, the goal should be to ask for advice on who is the appropriate person to contact at a company. Also, follow up notes are a must, he said, in place of a follow up e-mail.
     “We provide an important service because of the many lay­offs,” said Joan Learn, senior vice president of the Ayers Group in Norwalk, which is a also a human resource consulting Firm. “What people have to realize is that when companies let them go, it’s not because of performance.”

       She has worked in the out­placement business since 1979, and said that the Connecticut office works with more than 30 medium and large companies in Connecticut, and usually handles between 25 and 55 laid off employees at one time.
     With many large. public companies downsizing, Learn said that job seekers might have more luck looking at smaller, less known firms. But finding out about these firms and con­tacting them requires a lot of time.
     “It’s a job to look for a job,” Learn said. Job seekers shouldn’t “take a vacation” if they get laid off.
     Outplacement services can work as a type of public relations for a company cutting back on workers, said Leslie Bonagura, a managing consultant for Drake Beam Morin, a global workplace consulting firm in Stamford. Her company worked with 6,000 organizations worldwide last year, providing an assortment of worker benefit services, the bulk of which being outplacement.
     She said that laid off employees are less likely to make negative comments about their former company if that company helped them get their next job.
     “Outplacement is an extra expense,  Bonagura said.  “But it’s well worth it if a company cares about their employees and about their image.
     She said that the service has become popular in part because the people who are doing the lay offs have been laid off themselves in the past.
     Year to date American businesses have announced 600,000 layoffs, Bonagura said, which is four times the  number announced last year at this time.

 Ryan Flinn is the business editor.  He can be reached at 354-1047.

© 2001-2005, Dialogue Press. All rights reserved.
Last updated: Monday, November 03, 2008