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The best way to find real job openings and get hired

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Question: Given the flaws you revealed regarding the top job-posting websites, what can I rely upon to actually have a chance at finding a bona fide job opening?

Nick Corcodilos: You can rely on yourself and on people who do the work you want to do – after you invest time to find and get to know them.

If there were a paid service you could rely upon to find a job, you’d be using it and be very happy. But that doesn’t exist — hence the frustration of millions of job seekers. Job boards like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and their ilk sell what people wish for, and people are gullible enough to pay for it.

Please, go out into the professional community you want to work in, circulate, participate, and make friends with people you’d like to work with. That’s the only way to do it that works consistently.

The trouble is, this method is hard work—often as hard as the great job you want. So start doing it now. Start hanging out with the people you’d like to work with.

You cannot pay a “jobs service” for the kind of help others in your chosen field can give you. You must earn it by getting close to them. There’s no other way I can put it more honestly or clearly.

These are the basic steps:

1. Participate

The best way to find a good job opportunity is to go hang out with people who do the work you want to do — people who are very good at it. Insiders are the first to know about good opportunities, but they only tell other insiders.

To get into an “inside circle” of people, you must earn your way. It takes time. You can’t fake it, and that’s good, because who wants to promote (or hire) the unknown? So start participating in your professional community. For example, attend relevant events and educational programs.

2. Get referred

The best way to get a job interview is to get referred by someone the manager trusts. Between 40 percent to 70 percent of jobs are filled that way. Yet people and employers fail to capitalize on this simple employment channel.

They pretend there’s some better system — like massive databases and job boards. That’s bunk. There is nothing more powerful than respected peers putting their good name on the line to recommend you.

3. Prove you can do the work

The best way to do well in an interview is to walk in and demonstrate to the manager how you will do the job profitably. Everything else is nonsense and a bureaucratic waste of time.

Don’t believe me? Ask any good manager, “Would you rather ask 10 job applicants what their greatest weakness is, or meet just one person who explains how they will boost your company’s profitability?” I have no doubt what the answer is.

4. Work with only the best recruiters

The best way to get a recruiter’s or headhunter’s help is to manage your interaction for mutual profit from the start. You don’t need a recruiter to find a job, but since recruiters probably solicit you several times a week, choose to work only with the best.

Hang up on the unsavory charlatans who clearly don’t know you. Work only with recruiters and headhunters who treat you with respect from the start.

They’re the ones who can tell you exactly why they think you’re a fit for the job they’re calling about. They won’t ask you to fill out job application forms first.

You’ll find real job openings by talking with real people who do the work! You can explore these steps in more detail here: “Ask The Headhunter in A Nutshell: The short course.”

Dear Readers: What steps do you use that work reliably to find bona fide job openings? What methods seem to fail you again and again?

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