Dear Dr. Civitelli,
My husband is looking for an executive level job in Houston for a multinational company, either in Finance or Consulting. He has been in touch with several headhunters, but also with a Career Placement Services Office (that wanted to charge $10K). The former have not been as helpful as when we used them in Chicago, the latter insisted that no one gets jobs by just applying off websites. How would a finance guy with 11 years of experience go about looking for a job? Is it necessary to pay a Career Placement Office, is it better to do a ton of networking, or is it possible to search company websites and apply directly?
Dear Concerned Wife,
First of all, RUN rather than walk from any company that claims to be a “Career Placement Office” and wants to charge you $10K. Before you do anything else, please read the “Executive Marketing/Employment Services” section of the Riley Guide (scroll down to find the section with this name). You’ll learn from other people’s experiences that it is a ripoff to pay $10K for career advice that you can easily purchase from much more credible career experts at a fraction of that cost.
Second, contact the career services office of any university from which he has earned degrees and find out what services are available to alumni. Often, universities subsidize the services to alumni so your total cost will be less than if you hired a private practice career counselor. After exploring the university-based services, if your husband wants additional assistance through a private practice career counselor or coach, do some research via Google or asking friends for names of referrals. One way to see if the style of a particular career expert fits with what your husband is seeking is to read a career expert’s blog, follow them on social media (especially LinkedIn as that is the most work-focused social media platform), or go hear them speak.
To answer your last question, job seekers can be successful either via networking or through direct contact. People land jobs through both of these approaches and since you can’t know in advance which one will work for your husband, he should do both.
Before launching a networking or direct contact job search campaign, your husband should ask some trusted colleagues to critique his resume for him. It is fine if the colleagues live in a different city (like Chicago). He just needs to find out if his resume is competitive and if it isn’t, what needs to be changed.
Next, your husband needs to become more of an insider in the Houston business community. By looking at the bios or LinkedIn profiles of professionals who have jobs like the ones he wants, he can determine which professional associations and trade conferences are the ones where top executives from his field can be found. Then he needs to find a way to get involved and become known. He can serve on a leadership committee, speak, write articles for the newsletter, whatever it takes to increase his visibility and become a colleague rather than a job-hunting stranger.
Speaking of LinkedIn, recruiters are telling me that they are increasingly using LinkedIn and reducing their reliance on job boards where they have to pay an average of $500 per ad. They recommend that job seekers complete their LinkedIn profile 100%, get 70+ connections, and 3+ recommendations.
Direct contact to CEOs is another way to meet prospective employers, although your husband’s traction will be better if he can get third-party introductions via networking rather than cold calling. Recruiters, too, are usually more interested in candidates when they are introduced to them through trusted colleagues rather than through cold calls.
If your husband isn’t comfortable with describing his career goal and the ways in which he can contribute to a company’s success, that’s one area where a few hours of practice with a career coach can make a tremendous difference. That’s the type of investment that can really pay off. A career coach can also provide emotional support through the frustration of a job search that might take longer than expected.
If your husband’s skills are up-to-date, he develops and implements a strategic job search plan, and he persists until he finds the right match between what he offers and what a company needs, he can definitely land in the best job for him.
Hope this helps!