No. of Recommendations: 34
Hallelujah!

I am so thrilled about this that I just spent several minutes dancing around the house. As partial repayment for the advice I got from this board, I'd like to describe my job search in the hopes that someone else will be able to benefit from my experience. Y'all have to thank millerpim for starting a new trend with her 'I scored the job!!' post.

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18568729

My job search was unusual in several respects. First, because I am changing careers. I graduated from an Ivy with a liberal arts degree and no sense of direction in 97. I wandered over to California and drifted into various administrative positions, one of which, at an M&A company, evolved into a research position. Good job, not really what I wanted to be doing. After the morale at that company went south in December of 2001, I started doing research into other careers. I read a lot of books about money and a lot of books about job hunting and a lot of books about deciding what to do with your life. Ultimately the book 'What Color is Your Parachute?' was most helpful, as it had a lot of exercises designed to help you assess your skills and interests. Caveat: the book didn't hand me any easy answers. But after a lot of thought and soul searching, my subsconscious did hand me one. I was lying in bed half-asleep when a thought swam up from the recesses of my brain: "I should be a literary agent". Hey, it worked for Watson and Crick! I did more research into the field and decided it would indeed be a great career for me. I had a goal.

Problem #1:

I lived in California. The publishing industry is centered in Manhattan. While there were literary agents operating in CA, there were many more of them located in NY.

Solution: I searched long-distance for about a year, and finally moved to New York. This was easier for me than it could have been, for a lot of reasons. My husband and I had always thought we'd move to the NY area eventually, because of family obligations. About six months into my job search, DH's job situation deteriorated significantly, leading him to ultimately leave. We had a long time to prepare for the move and save up money, and we had a place to stay in the NY area. My in-laws have a large house and they were eager to see us come back, so they offered to let us stay with them. Even with our preparations, the move was quite an effort. I advice anyone else contemplating a cross-country move to give themselves as much time as possible to do so.

Problem #2: I was going to have to start from the bottom. I had worked my way up to a nice, cushy salary doing M&A research. It became clear to me that the way to become an agent was to get publishing experience or work as an agent's assistant. Competition for these positions was fierce, and the pay was low, $20,000 to $25,000 at the most. This was going to be a 30-50% pay cut. Ouch! And to make matters worse, I could probably find work for twice that as an executive assistant in New York City with my degree and administrative experience.

Solution: Negotiate my heart out, but bite the bullet. Given that I would be competing with recent college grads for these positions, I hoped to parley my experience into a premium salary, but it was still going to be a big cut. Oh well! I am trading a paycut for experience and education that I plan to parley into greater financial rewards later on.

How I found the job: I answered a listing on monster.com. Cross my heart and hope to die, it's the truth. I worked my personal contacts as much as I could, but as my job search only lasted three weeks I didn't have a lot of time to develop them (I would have had my first informational interview on Friday). I had more success answering 2 online ads that I found at monster.com and hotjobs.com. I had a natural advantage over the rest of the 'resume flood' because of my degree from a name-brand school and five years of experience in the work place. I am overqualified for the position, and it's obvious. Also, I emphasized the fact that I had moved from California because of my job search and that I was interested in the job as a career move. I wasn't looking for a job to pay the bills - I was looking for this job.

Caveat: when I was looking from California I had ZERO success responsing to ads. I suspect people looked at my address and chucked the resume.

I used several techniques to differentiate myself and maximize my visibility. These should be duplicatable by anyone else in the job market. When I saw an ad listing, most of the time they did not list the company name and phone number or address, just a fax number and an email address. I made it my business to figure out which company the listing came from and everything else about them that I could, including not just the phone number but their clients and names of staff members. The easiest way to do this was to 'google' the fax number - that way, any client websites which listed contact information for their representatives would be returned in the search results. I then used that information to write a killer (if I say so myself) cover letter. First, I called the company and found out who to address the letter to. It's always better to have a name. Second, I used the names of their clients in the cover letter and other research as specific reasons why I wanted to work for them. Third, I went over the job listing and showed how I fit their requirements using examples about my job experience and specific job responsibilities I had performed.

After writing the cover letter, letting it 'sit' overnight, rewriting it, and proof-reading it, I sent it to the company using multiple methods. I didn't just fax them - I faxed them AND mailed them a hard copy, using the company name, contact name, and address that were not listed in the original job ad. To top things off, I bought special edition stamps for the envelopes - anything colorful and unusual. For this last round of job hunting I was using the new 'Fifty States' stamps. I figure anything that catches the eye is going to increase my chances of getting through.

After sending the resume, I waited. That was the hard part. I usually waited five days, to make sure that the snail-mailed copy had arrived. Then I called and asked for an interview.

How I got this job specifically:

Last year I had seen a job ad on monster.com for the same position, and done all the research I list above, with no results (from California). I did manage to speak to the owner, and boy was he surprised that I had the office number! But that was good - I stuck in his mind. When I started my job hunt in February, I saw almost the exact same ad, almost a year later. I responded immediately, even though the ad was almost a month old, and referred to our previous contact.
When I called to ask for an interview, he said he had filled the original, administrative position, but wanted to talk to me about a sales position he was thinking of adding to the company.
It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I figured I was very interested i the company, and I would give the interview everything I had. I didn't have the guts for a full-bore 'Do the job' interview. But I knew that I could make a good impression by taking the intiative. So what I did was look at his current clients and bring some suggestions for prospective clients for the company. I printed out some web pages and wrote down my thoughts on prospective markets for each one. He was impressed.

I called him back a week after the initial interview, and he said that he had decided not to create the new position. But unfortunately, the person he had just hired for the adminsitrative position was not working out! We had a second interview and it became clear that we were on the same page. I gave him my references at that time and he called them that night. My ex-boss and I had a very good relationship and he apparently sand my praises, because I got the call with the job offer the very next day.

The offer was for $3000 higher than the original salary in the ad, because we had started out talking about the more higher-earning position. I had been nervous about asking for a lot in that initial interview, but I figured 'what the heck'? and asked for more than I thought he was willing to pay. I didn't get it, but I did get more than I expected.

I called the second ad I had responded to that morning to let them know that I had a job offer and if they wanted to speak to me, it had to be right away! I honestly wasn't expecting a call back, because the receptionist had told me that they weren't planning on scheduling interviews until next week, but I got one. The hiring manager told me she was interested in my resume, but as I had an offer on the table, I might as well tell her my salary requirements.

I did, and she said 'You may be surprised to learn this, but that's actually on the higher end!' I said that I knew what a typical salary was for that kind of position, but due to my previous administrative experience, that's what I felt I was worth. She wished me the greatest of luck.

I accepted the job this afternoon. I'm thrilled. Best of luck to everyone else in their searches.




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