Good Advice for California Job Seekers

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

Recently, as research for my newest book on the emerging job market, I had the opportunity to explore job placement strategies with Ms. Alyssa Gruber, Executive Director at Green Key Resources, LLC, a New York City headquartered full service professional recruitment and temporary staffing firm.

Ms. Gruber heads the executive support/office support division of the company. She deals primarily in the very rarified world of hiring for hedge funds/venture capital funds and high level corporate offices–the executive assistant who earns over $100,000 a year, the administrative assistant with college degree who starts at $50,000 or the receptionist paid over $40,000. Though her niche is office support, the job advice she gives is relevant to job placement at nearly all levels.

1. Internet Job
Boards
: Job seekers should register with major job boards (Monster, Career
Builder, craigslist), and make job applications through them. There is no cost
to the job seeker, and the job seeker  is
able to identify a large number of job openings in a short period of time. However,
the flip side is that the job seeker rarely knows the review process.
Additionally, as application is so easy, the board listings usually attract a large
number of applicants.

2. Social network
sites
: Ms. Gruber highly recommends professional networking sites, like LinkedIn,
as a means of both identifying job openings and presenting oneself in a
professional light. Through LinkedIn the job seeker can network in the
professional groups, as well as personal contacts, and can learn about companies,
and potential hiring therein. As a placement agent, Ms. Gruber uses LinkedIn to
identify potential candidates. Ms. Gruber sees less value in Facebook as a job
search vehicle, due to its multiple non-employment uses.

3. Resumes:
This is Ms. Gruber’s hot bottom issue.  The resume is an extension of the candidate, a
proxy for live presentation, the brand.  It should be impeccable and follow the classic
clean form (personal info, education, relevant work experience), with attention
to content, clarity and format. Cover letters are moot if the resume is
sub-par, and flowery cover letters are to be avoided. "The resume can be
likened to an audition," Ms. Gruber counsels, "you get one shot." She adds, "I’m
often surprised how little time and energy is spent by the job seeker on the
resume, as it can be the most important chance to make an impression. A well
crafted resume, with succinct and clear articulation of skills and experience
can distinguish one candidate from the pool."

4. Interviews: Ms.
Gruber also has strong views on the interviewing process, as she explains: "So
many job seekers don’t take the time to learn about a company, or think about
how they add value, prior to an interview. For any job, you need to go in and
be able to explain how, with tens or hundreds of applicants, you stand out, how
you can add value to the company. You need to be able to say ‘Let me tell you
how I’ve been able to finish this project on a short deadline, or the time I
worked over the weekend to make a deadline, or the project that was a big
success for my company."

5. Register with a
placement agent
: Perhaps the biggest no-brainer is registering with a
placement agent.  The placement agent is
paid for by the employer, not the job seeker. Agencies provide candidates with
access to jobs which are not publically posted and facilitate introduction and
help candidates navigate the whole interview process. The private sector
staffing industry has exploded in size over the past two decades, with offices
of the major national firms as well as boutique placement agencies in most
California cities.

Job market effectiveness over the long run requires
several levels of knowledge, including knowledge of the operations and main
storylines of the job world, and knowledge of the stages of a worklife.
However, knowledge of job search skills, as set out by Ms. Gruber, is certainly
the first level of knowledge, needed by all job seekers.

 

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