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01/24/2005: "gearing up"

I've been pretty quiet about the job search lately, simply because there isn't much to report. There was that small flurry of post-New-Year's activity that gave me the confidence boost to turn down Calgary, but it's pretty much died out. However, I'm actually busier than ever looking for work. Just not the way I normally would be.

I had another career advisor appointment earlier this week, and we covered a lot of ground. It was an excellent meeting, and has given me lots to do to get my jobsearch really humming.

There were five items I wanted to cover in this second appointment, and we got through them all and then some:

Resume: Last time she wanted me to tweak my resume, which I did. There are now only very small changes that still need to be done, but otherwise I am quite confident that my resume is in tip top shape.

Cover letter: I wanted to bring in a sample cover letter to make sure that what I'm doing is along the right lines, especially as I'm going to start developing broadcast letters as well. The one example I showed her was not only good enough, but she was so impressed with it that she wanted a copy to use in an upcoming cover letter workshop she's doing. Wow. Colour me happy!

Networking: The first meeting with her left me feeling like I had informational indigestion. I had packed a lot of information into my head, and hadn't processed a lot of it. I wanted to go over her recommended networking plan again, just to make sure I got it right. I think I'm ready to give it a try with a few broadcast letters next week.

Salary: I was worried that I may have been asking too much. Turns out I'm not, which is a relief. In fact, I told her what Tillsonburg offered me, and she was rather taken aback by it. However, we also figure out why they lowballed me...

Recruiters: In all her dealings with engineers looking for work, she's been getting a lot that have been lowballed, like myself. The one common thread between us all is that we're using recruiters. This whole story is actually an upcoming article here, so I won't go into it much further, but needless to say, using a recruiter isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm certainly changing focus.

At this point I think I've taken I all I can from a career advisor. Anything more would just be hand-holding. Thus, I'm gearing up to launch myself into networking, and that starts with broadcast letters. In case you're not familliar with a broadcast letter (I wasn't until only a few weeks ago), it's essentially a cover letter for a position that isn't advertised, or doesn't exist. It tells a company (more specifically, the hiring manager of the department you would want to work in) that you're interested in working specifically for them, the reasons why, and how you would benefit the organization.

Before I start sending those out, however, I'm following up on a hot lead I got last week. During the last few minutes of my session with the career advisor, she showed me a timetable of seminars and workshops that I can attend, should I wish to. Most of them were for things like writing a resume, how to write a cover letter, interview preparation, that sort of thing. However, there was one that caught my eye: entrepreneurship. It happened to be that evening, so I decided to go.

The seminar itself was interesting, and somewhat useful. However, I got a lot more out of actually talking to the two guest speakers than anything. One guest speaker works for the National Research Council's IRAP program, which essentially means small companies in the local area that want government funding to commercialize new technology come to him. This makes him a great person to know. It also helps that he already has a client that might need my services.

While that contact was good, the other guest speaker was even better. He previously worked for a local company that makes barbeques. He was there for seven years before opening his own business, and spoke very highly of the organization. I looked up their corporate history, and it tells an even more interesting picture, one of a company that will grow to meet whatever needs arise, and do so successfully. I got the name of the president from him, and permission to mention his name, and will be sending in a broadcast letter today. I'd be quite stoked if something came of that lead.

Once that's done, I have a list of a dozen or so local companies that I'm going to be broadcasting to. When that's complete (that's a lot of letter writing to do) I'll expand my search area a bit more and keep writing. I'll still check the classifieds and select job search engines, but I think broadcasting and networking is the way to go. We'll see what happens.

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