Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ask the Career Coach: Which Search Options Are Best For Me?


Hi Cheryl,

Found your site via a search, and it's just a tremendous source of information - thank you!

I am a sales professional in the computer/technology area with over 20 years of experience. I have worked for several major firms, having spent most of the last 10 years as a Sales Rep. with IBM (city omitted). I'm currently with a small company and I am looking for a better fit - I don't currently have any connections in the recruiting arena.

You have listed several resources in both the "fee" arrangement in terms of boards as well as recruiting resources - both of which I'd be interested in. Do you have any recommendations for someone with my background/experience in terms of which might best in terms of working to land a new position prior to year's end?


R., Ohio


Dear R.,

First, thank you for your question and for your kind words about my website. From the content of your email, I suspect you are referring to my blog, the Reporter.

For someone of your experience and in your career field, I usually recommend implementing these primary job search methods:

  • Direct Contact with Targeted Employers
  • Recruiters
  • Referral-Building (also known as networking)
  • Select use of some online job boards (1-2 meta search boards, 1-2 regional boards, and 2-3 niche boards; I only recommend using generic boards like CareerBuilder or Monster if you cannot source the kinds of boards just mentioned)

The first three of these strategies are hands-down the best to use in a job search. The last is a mixed-blessing strategy, in that if you use it wisely it will help your search, while if you use job boards indiscriminately they will unnecessarily lengthen your search.

That said, let me get to your specific questions. Of the online job boards that are likely to help you, I would recommend you try and/or The Ladders has a series of specialized sub-sites that really help funnel job leads to the right kinds of candidates, while Execunet offers a wide range of online and offline networking supports that can significantly boost your access to emerging job leads. Neither of these boards is very expensive.

However, you should know that how much either of these sites can help you depends largely on the level of position you are seeking. If you are looking for a sales leadership position in your industry, for example, then I suspect these two boards would definitely be worth joining. If you still want a sales position – particularly one at the $100K level or beyond – then these sites are less likely to have tons of jobs to meet your needs.

In that case, you might be better off to check into sales and industry-specific job boards rather than executive job boards. Executive job boards specialize in serving the needs of $100K+ professionals who are looking for positions at the Director level and up. If your salary is in that range, yet your sought-after position type is not (and vice versa), these sites aren’t likely to be worth the investment.

As for sourcing recruiters, I do not recommend paying for access unless and until you have implemented some other simple strategies. If you did find me via my blog, then look in the Categories section for some of the posts I’ve written on Working with Recruiters. There are all kinds of tips and suggestions in there for sourcing recruiters without spending a dime. Try those strategies first. If they don’t work, then try utilizing recruiter online sourcing tools such as

As a sales pro, networking is probably one of your greatest strengths, so make sure you use your personal and professional networks to help you expand your list of recruiters to contact.

An even wiser investment in my opinion is your resume and cover letter. Let a pro evaluate them for you and provide feedback. If necessary, pay for professional resume writing services. That’s an investment that pays off in the form of interviews once you also leverage the right kinds of job search strategies. I recommend looking for a resume writer who is also a career coach because these professionals have a more comprehensive view of the whole process, know more about how to brand/position you, and can make sure that your resume/cover letter are part of a comprehensive career management process. Naturally I’m biased because I am both, but I believe it’s easy to document the benefits of this dual approach.

Finding a job by the end of the year need not be a problem so long as you have launched your varied strategies by early November. The right resume + the right job search strategies = multiple interviews within a short period of time, which in turn leads to the right offer at the right company. If any piece of this formula isn’t implemented, your search will fall short of your expectations. I’m making it sound simple, which it is really, though it certainly isn’t always easy to execute while working full-time and having a life … which is why it is sometimes helpful to have a virtual job search assistant or take advantage of recruiter blasting services.

Hope these thoughts and recommendations help. If I can assist you further, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Good luck with your search!

No comments: