Most of us work hard at the start of a job hunt. As time goes by, we begin to spend more time with Jerry Springer and less time hitting the pavement. Which reminds me of a fascinating study that found that the best job leads don't come from your best friends, but from your more distant contacts. Mark Granovetter reports that job hunters got a job only 17 percent of the time because of people they saw often. Most got jobs through people they only saw occasionally or rarely. It's commonly known as the "Law of Weak Ties."
That's the value of making your job hunt a full-time focus: It will force you to pursue those weak ties, the very ones that have a higher chance of helping you out. I've included three Do's and one Don't for creating a more comprehensive job hunt. For more about Granovetter's findings, check out "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 2002).
-- DO go deeper. Job hunting is difficult; it's tough on your ego and energy. Most people find a million excuses to avoid it. We do one long day of calling people and then do less and less as each day passes. There is nothing that can replace spending at least six hours a day looking for work. It forces you to pursue new avenues and to generally go deeper into your contacts and the process.
-- DO contact everyone. You need to contact anyone who knows what you can contribute, including old bosses, co-workers, vendors and customers. You never know who has landed a really cool job, who has more work than they can handle or who could use someone just like you. One thing I've found is that when you contact a lot of people from your past, more than you'd like will let you down, but most of them will come through like champs. And with LinkedIn and Facebook, people from your past are much easier to track down.
-- DO try long shots. Most of us are very logical when we think of trying to find work. We gather the usual suspects in our minds, but you need to be more creative than that. I like to play at least one long shot a day. Follow up on an article that you read in the paper, contact someone you only met once, approach someone who seems out of your league. I'm not saying that you should put all your efforts into long shots, but a regular dose can pay off for you. It has for me.
-- DON'T limit your options. The beauty of being a human is that we can surprise ourselves -- regularly. Yet in a job hunt, most people tend to take the narrowest of views of themselves and their opportunities. Be open-minded about your skills and what you can do.
And you thought weak ties were just something that a dad received on Father's Day. No, they are often the key to getting a great job.
GOING DEEPER IN YOUR JOB HUNT, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
-- DO go deeper.
-- DO contact everyone.
-- DO try long shots.
-- DON'T limit your options.
STATS OF THE WEEK
Color Your Job Hunt: Best and Worst Colors to Wear to an Interview, According to Employers
-- 23 percent of employers liked blue, 15 percent favored black clothing.
-- 25 percent associated orange with being unprofessional.
"The rate of unemployment is 100 percent if it's you who is unemployed." -- David Kurtz
(Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best-seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.)