Take Aways

  • Many jobs are not posted online.  Strategic networking know-how is essential
  • Your search will take longer than you want it to take
  • Recruiters are terrible with followup
  • Your job search is NOT about you.  Focus on the needs of the prospective employer
  • Jobs are won or lost in the interview phase
  • Leverage the information you obtain from your references

Looking for a job can be a painful, frustrating experience.  It is hard work and, done right, is almost like having another full-time job just with a lot of rejection.  

If you are about to enter the job market because you have been terminated or you are ready for a new challenge, there are a few realities of which you should be aware.

  • 80 percent of the jobs are not listed online.  If you are not adept at strategic networking, and if your existing professional network is anemic, then your challenge just got a lot tougher.  You may want to consider hiring a career transition coach to help you master this important, essential skill.  
  • The recruitment process will not go as fast as you would like it to.  There are a lot of reasons for the time it takes most of which you cannot control.  
  • Recruiters, particularly those who work for external firms, are notoriously terrible at returning telephone calls, especially if it is unsolicited, that is say you are calling them about  a job.  You have a better chance of connecting with a recruiter if you have an existing relationship, but even that is no guarantee.  Do not make the mistake of beginning your networking with recruiters on the day you are laid off or terminated. 
  • Understand that although you may have initiated a search to advance your career, do not think that the process is about you.  It is about a prospective employer looking for someone who can solve a problem.  Job applicants who customize their messaging to the needs of the prospective employer stand a better chance of succeeding than those who do not. Focus on the needs of the prospective employer. That is the essential mindset. 
  • The interview is critical.  Job applicants typically lose the job at the interview table. One reason, recruiters say, is that candidates show up unprepared.  They may know a little bit about the employer but they have not taken the time to practice answering challenging behavior and values interview questions.  Without this level of preparation, candidates  frequently miss opportunities to score valuable points with the interviewer.  In the end their answers sound like everyone who has interviewed for the job.  Differentiation is a key to success in interviews.  If you struggle with telling your story — selling yourself, your value — then consider hiring a career coach who specializes in job interviews.  
  • Most candidates do not leverage their references.  In fact, many do not have a clue what a particular reference might say. They can be a source of important information that can help you prepare for tough questions about your weaknesses, your needs for improvement or your leadership style.  When you ask them to be a reference, ask them about your weaknesses, strengths and your value to an organization.


In addition to his executive search practice, John coaches executives on career management and job transition.  His is a recognized thought leader on the art of the job interview.  He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress faculty where he will be teaching a course on interviewing skills on March 6 in Chicago.