How to Look for A Job

Author: Dick Bolles

When you're looking for a job, there are two basic ways you can go about the task: pick a company just because you like it, or wait for some organization to announce they have a vacancy. Explain.

1.  You Choose Where, and then You Approach Them, Now.  Choose the places where you'd like to work and whether they have an advertised vacancy or not,  approach them through people who know you but also know them  (commonly called "your referrals" or "your contacts" though you may also think of them as "bridge people",  as they form a bridge between you and that place.)
2.  You Wait for A Vacancy.  Wait for places to announce they have a vacancy and then either
 a. Approach them through a person who knows you but also knows them (commonly called "your contacts"), or 
 b. Approach them by sending them your resume. 

The virtue of the first approach above, is that you have few if any competitors, because they haven't announced they have a vacancy.  On the other hand, if you follow the second approach, and wait until a vacancy is announced, well, you can have hundreds competing with you for that one job.   Let's look at each of these two approaches, in more detail. 

First Approach: You Choose Where, and then You Approach Them, Now.  You figure out the names of some places within your chosen geographical district where you'd really like to work,  and then approach them through people who know you and also know them.   
Hint: It is truly essential that you first do a self-inventory and figure out which vocations, jobs, skills, knowledges you are most drawn to use. Suggested resources:  
The Self Inventory exercise, at  It works much more accurately than other instruments. For example, it recommended to a web specialist, who was testing this, that she should consider "graphic design."   A different test she took elsewhere,  recommended she be an accountant!!    (Introductory offer:  twelve month subscription for $4.99)  
The Flower Exercise (paperback preferred)  found in What Color Is Your Parachute  here  ($12.01)  or in The Job-Hunters' Workbook, paperback here  ($9.28)

Beware:  finding a job at large well-known in-demand organizations is often exquisitely difficult (e.g., Google, Facebook, Apple,  etc.) (If you don't know who these large organizations are, LinkedIn has a complete list of organizations most in-demand here) . So, your job-search is much more likely to pay off,  if you choose "small" places—those that have 100 or less employees,  and/or are relatively new (formed in the last seven years)  and now expanding. A resource that may help you here, is:
Job Crank,  the original job-board dedicated to small businesses, found here.  It's primary intent is to list vacancies, but you can use it to find the names of lots of small businesses which obviously had vacancies, hence were expanding, even if you don't know if vacancies are immediately available right now. 

Additional instructions on how to choose places, regardless of whether or not they have a known vacancy,  is found in chapter 8 of the current (2015) edition of What Color Is Your Parachute?  

So now let's look at the second approach to job-finding, much more common, but alas!  less effective:

The Second Approach.  The Vacancy Approach.  You wait for places to announce they have a vacancy and then either
   a. Approach them through a person who knows you but also knows them (commonly called "your contacts"), or
  b. Approach them by sending them your resume.
Ah, where to find vacancies?  Well, if we're talking online, the answer is:  everywhere.  The best sites (IMHO) are listed in the accompanying article in this section called Job Openings, ( You can search through vacancies for hours, if you want to. You will find lots of listings.  You will find lots of duplicates. You will find lots of outdated ads, floating out there in digital space like flotsam and jetsam. You may be astonished at how many listings there are, and yet not a one of them is of any interest to you. 

Contacts. No matter which of these two approaches you choose, you will be wise beyond your years if you seriously consider approaching them not through resumes, but through people who know you and also know them, as mentioned above. How do you find such people?

The traditional answer was smooze. Go to conventions, board meetings, parties, or whatever.  Shake a lot of hands, chat up a lot of people, collect a lot of business cards,  then when you come across a place that interests you,  sort through all those business cards to see if there is someone who could be helpful to getting you in, there..  

More up-to-date:  use LinkedIn. This is the currently popular way to do this.  Join LinkedIn, then link to as many friends and business associates as you possibly can, in preparation for that day when it comes time to job-hunt.  At that time when you find a place you'd like to work at, you perform a search through all of your links. Instructions on how to do such a search can be found at

And, the latest twist: 

Jobs with Friends is an unusual resource that begins with all your Friends on Facebook and all your Links on LinkedIn,  then lists them automatically (once you give permission)  and tells you where they work.   According to a post-2008 survey, 65% of small business owners said that referrals are their #1 source of hires.  The virtue of this site is that if you see a place you are attracted to,  you already have a referral, or contact, or bridge person there, since the list began with those. You'll find Jobs with Friends here.  It's free.