How to prospect the hidden job market

Okay, let’s get this blog post going with a simple multiple-choice question.

When picking up a newspaper, you search for jobs in:

A) The Classifieds Section (Want-ads)
B) The Business Section
C) The Front Page
D) The Entire Paper

The correct answer is… E, all of the above.
Okay, so maybe I did not list an “E” as a selection, but that was because I wanted you to think about it. The first answer was probably the most obvious answer to most of us, but was it the only answer? Was there another way of judging the question? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would anyone even care? Probably not, but I digress…

Everyone goes to the classifieds when looking for a job.
It is a necessary step (didn’t I already say that in chapter one?), but only the beginning. Keep in mind that these are the jobs EVERYONE else is looking at as well. I suggest that you put your major focus on every other section of the paper that reports real news (failed celebrity marriages obviously would not apply), and in particular business news; primarily because that is where the real jobs are!

Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I pick up a paper and I flip through the business section of The Atlanta Journal & Constitution. I notice an article about some company in Alpharetta that just closed a deal on a new facility, where construction will begin in one month. One person may look at that and say, yeah, whatever… but I would look at that in several ways;

“New facility” implies:

  • some construction workers will be needed
  • electricians
  • eventually some LAN/WAN networking will need to be done
  • interior design so the office would look nice
  • expensive pictures on the wall to impress perspective clients
  • lots of computers will be needed for the workers to do their work on
  • phones would be needed
  • who is going to manage those people?
  • who will manage the managers of those people?
  • and of course the obvious for me, a new facility means new workers will be needed, so I better hit them up early before the other recruiters catch wind of this as well!

So, from that one article, there are at least 10 jobs
that have not been announced or even written up yet.

So by acting early, I could call and find out who is in charge of that facility, who is in charge of hiring for that facility and proactively send my resume in. This way, I could be the first-in-line for a position, before a job description is even conceived or written. And why would a company even write a job description if your resume is already there and you are a perfect fit for their need?

Here’s another example:
I read an article about a charity function where the purpose is to promote technology to high school students. (For those who feel charity begins and stays in the home, a big “I gave at the office” expression may appear on your face). But you could be missing out on an opportunity. Reading deeper into the article, it is discovered that Earthlink is one of the major sponsors and so is Coca-Cola. Hmm… those are some big companies that hire in big numbers, when they do hire.  Hmm… might be worth a visit to their kick-off party. It might also be worth it to volunteer a few hours here and there as it may get you closer to an executive with pull within the corporation, or at the least another name that you can call on. What’s the worse that could happen in volunteering for a charity? You help somebody in need, besides yourself. (Ahhhh… I just want to hug myself for that one.)

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

I really wish I could take full credit for this, but truth be told, this strategy is a knock-off of an idea I picked up from Eric Jaquith. (If you were among the fortunate few who attented SourceCon 2007, then you know what a whiz he is.) The idea is from the viewpoint of Recruiters, but I think jobseekers can see the potential in this strategy as well.  In a nutshell, one can add an audio clip to a resume as a way of promoting a candidate to a potential employer.

To demonstrate this, I have addded an audio clip to an outdated version of my resume and am availing it to you (again) for demonstration purposes only.  So without further adieu, click here to download my resume and see this trick in action.  (Be sure to double-click on the speaker icon and turn your speakers up.) But I digress…

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

Let’s imagine that you are a TPR (Third Party Recruiter) or a Corporate Recruiter or a Retained Searchfirm, or whatever and you are SOOOO excited about a particular candidate that you will just bust if the hiring manager does not review the resume. However, the Hiring Manager is very, very busy and does not have the luxury of time to look at the resumes he asked you to produce, much less listen to all of the reasons why they should interview your candidate right away. So what do you do? Well, you might want to try embedding a voice message into the resume you send in; that way they can hear your excitement and pay closer attention to the document that were planning to quickly scan over.

“So Jim,” you say, “That sounds interesting, but I don’t know how to do that.”

“No worries, all you need is a copy of Microsoft Word and a microphone,” I reply, “Let me show you how to do it.”


1. Make sure you have a microphone that works with your computer. No biggie, as you can pick one up at Wallmart for $10.00 (more or less).

2. Open up a new Word document

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

3. Pull down the Insert Menu and click on: “Object”

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

4. From the Object window scroll down to “Wave Sound.”

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

5. Highlight “Wave Sound” and click “Okay.”

6. A little window that looks like a tape recorder pops up.

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

7. Click on the red dot button and begin recording your message. By default you get sixty seconds, but if you stop the recording before it gets to the very end and start recording again, you get sixty more seconds.

8. Once you’re done recording, close out that window.

9. Like magic, a speaker icon appears in your Word document.

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

10. To play back the sound file, simply double-click on the speaker icon.

11. Add a message next to the speaker to remind the reader that an audio message is embedded. (You might also want to mention that they should be sure to have their speakers on.)

How to embed your voice inside of a resume

And that’s it! Pretty cool huh? *(Now I started this demo with a blank document and then I cut and pasted my resume in, but that does not matter as the resume could have been there the whole time.) I would very much like to hear your comments on this and (even better) solicit your testimonials on how this strategy has worked for you. If you would, simply leave a comment below. And again, to see a working demo of this: Click here to download my resume, double-click on the speaker icon and turn your speakers up.

Good luck!

-Jim Stroud

Jobseekers! Seek smoke! Not fire!

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always received,” said some wise person.
This is certainly true when it comes to job-hunting, especially during a “sucky” economy. How many times have you applied to a job on Now ask yourself, “How many other people have applied for the same position?” The numbers are discouraging I assure you.

Should this keep you from applying to jobs online? By no means!
Job boards are a necessary part of the process. However, if you limit your job search to seeking only those jobs that you are qualified for then you are making a mistake. Am I suggesting that you do a “shotgun” effect with your resume and apply to as many jobs as you can hoping that by some miraculous twist of fate you catch a recruiter’s eye?

No… and yes, in a way…

Let’s put on our imagination cap for a minute and think of a horrific fire in a subdivision at the peak of rush-hour traffic. What is your immediate focus? The fire blazing bright? Sure… Are you concerned for the people in the subdivision? I hope so…

“Now breathe deeply and concentrate,” I say in my Yoda voice. “See more, you will, young Jedi.”

Could it be that you see smoke? Could it be that you hear a fire engine? Then, perhaps a helicopter with a reporter giving the TV viewers a scoop on what is happening? Perhaps there is another chopper for radio listeners? Perhaps in the distance are people who don’t know about the fire yet and are honking their horns and cursing the 5 o’clock commute? Perhaps all of this and more? Now, why are they all there? Well, duh… they are all there because of a fire.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What does all that have to do with my getting a job?”

“Everything,” I say smugly.

Let’s say that you are looking for a job as a network engineer.
So what do you do? You look for Network Engineer jobs, which is a good start but not the finish. Consider the events and surroundings concerning your job and imagine what surrounds that job. Let’s see… to network computers, there must be a group of unconnected computers somewhere. For a group of unconnected computers to be sitting somewhere, that would mean that some salesperson had to sell them to somebody else.

So, who sells the computers that I am qualified to connect? Why “Computer Company A” sells the kind of computers I am qualified to connect. Why don’t I call Computer Company A and ask for a friendly sales person? Perhaps with my powers of persuasion (and a little bribery of lunch), I can get him to tell me who his best customers are. I bet his best customers could use a network engineer to hook up all the machines they just bought!

You like that? Let’s go deeper…

New computers being connected suggest new office space.
If I was going to buy new office space, who would I go to?

  • Maybe I can call the leasing office of some business complexes and ask who handles their leasing.
  • Maybe they can refer me to someone?
  • Maybe they lease their own space and will give me a tip on companies looking to move into their space, a possibility…
  • Better yet, I could pick up a copy of “The Atlanta Business Chronicle” (assuming you are in Atlanta) and review their real estate announcements to see who bought what.

Whoever is buying lots of office space is someone I would want to talk to.

Do I have your wheels rotating yet?

The trick is not to look only for the fire (in this case, a network engineering job), but the smoke. (those people who operate on the periphery of that job).

Let me go a step even further. What happens after a fire has been put out?
There is water damage, smoke damage, and medical issues on occasion and so on. There has to be someone or some group of some ones to clean up the mess left behind. All that to say, as soon as one person gets hired somewhere, there is a possibility of an opening behind them. So, when you read in the paper about Company X has just signed on a new CIO formerly of Company Z, my advice is to call Company Z for a job.

This is an especially good technique if you are an Executive, because many senior management types foster a “cult following” and bring other execs with them. (Happens all the time…)

Does this go for executives only? No, this would be a good heads up for techies and marketing types as well.


New leadership means new processes and new processes often demand people to adapt or stand aside for new personnel who can.

“Now let’s go deeper into the force,” I say in a bad Darth Vader accent.
And imagine that you cannot imagine other positions that are connected to the job you are qualified for. Imagine that you are just clueless on how to think along these lines. (Anybody can draw a blank…)

For these folks I say, look for the recruiter jobs. If you see a company looking to hire Recruiters, Staffing Consultants, Internet Researchers (people who support recruiters by finding resumes online) or Online Sourcers (same thing as Internet Researcher), then that should sound like a cowbell at dinner time.

If you are thinking to yourself, “Why should I care about HR jobs? That’s not my background.”
I suggest that you slap yourself.

Why would a company hire recruiters?
They hire recruiters because they are about to load up on new employees! What kind of employees? Well, look at the kind of recruiter they want! Are they hiring Technical Recruiters? Sales Recruiters? Executive Recruiters? Ahh… I see the light bulb has just flashed over your head, you’re with me now. (Glad to meet you-wink).

There is an old joke by a comedian named Robin Harris that says,

“If you cannot get to the man, get next to the man that is next to the man, and if you can’t get him, Get next to the man that is next to the man that is next to the man and so on…”

If you are feeling frustrated in your job-search, look beyond finding jobs that fit you, but rather seek out people connected to what you do. If you cannot connect with them, then connect with the person next to them and so on and so on and so on…

The Linked In Manifesto

Unless you are new to the internet – or are a novice to its mysteries,
you are no doubt familiar with social networks. For the uninitiated, social networks are online communities where people meet and exchange business information with one another. In the most perfect of scenarios, someone you meet in a social network will connect you to one of their trusted contacts and business will be consummated. There are several such networks in operation (among them Twitter, Facebook and MySpace), but the most popular is Linked In of which I am an avid subscriber. To be fair, I have met quite a few people with Linked In and can sing some of its praises.

However, there is a downside to using social networks of any kind.
I suspect that it is this singular reason why many forsake social networks and dismiss them as a fad of the age. What is the leading detriment of social networks? Ironically, the issue is that many people do not know how to network offline and those habits are simply transferred to the online arenas of social networks.

As a member of Linked In, my profile is open for public review.

As I have been fortunate enough to work with certain companies,
I am often approached for leads into organizations I have been affiliated with. This results in a near avalanche of emails of which I offer no complaint. As I use Linked In as a recruiting vehicle (in addition to expanding my network), it is simply par for the course.

My concern is the tone of the inquiries
of which I will paraphrase, “Gimme, gimme, gimme and give it to me now.”

Initially, I thought such encounters would prove only a minor annoyance. Unfortunately, I find myself battling a growing disdain for those who do not grasp the concept of quid pro quo nor, the fleeting art of courtship. If you are a fairly connected person with a “golden rolodex” of leads, why should I expect you to introduce your more coveted contacts to me upon request? Furthermore, how much assistance should I expect you to give a perfect stranger that you have only met virtually? Would it be illogical to assume that you are not so willing to risk your reputation with a trusted ally, by recommending an introduction to someone you barely know? I would not think it illogical, but such seems to be the faith of several who have reached out via social networks. The end result? Hundreds (or is it thousands?) of requests go unanswered or flatly refused, leaving the disillusioned to claim the ineffectiveness of social networks. This also has a rebounding effect on those proficient in networking who wonder how much longer they will continue to suffer countless requests made by virtual hands outstretched for whatever they can glean from their solicitations.

“The most annoying requests are those made by people who have not read my profile,
but want to connect only for the sake of making a connection to their list, or selling a product,” said Steve Eisenberg, an E-Business professional and a faithful user of Linked In.

It is my good fortune however, to report that there is a solution that benefits all concerned.
I have crafted a guideline of conduct for social networks and would share it with you now, dear reader. I call it “The Linked In Manifesto” after my favorite social networking service. (Despite the actions of some, Linked In still remains on my short list of necessary web sites.) Please consider the following suggestions mandatory when you next decide to engage someone via a social network.

1. When approaching someone for the first time, do not ask for anything!
Instead, offer a gift to encourage them to correspond with you. I would suggest that your offering be presented in one of three ways.

OFFER AN IDEA: Consider the profile of the person you want to connect to and imagine a way to make their business life easier; then share it with them. For example, “I notice from your profile that you are a veterinarian with a focus on Cats. I checked and the domains and are not taken. Just a thought, but maybe you should consider snapping these up. If you would like to discuss Veterinarian Science or Cats in general, drop me an email.”

OFFER INFORMATION: Perhaps you could visit an online news source, browse stories and share insight into an event that would prove of interest to your intended connection. For example, “I read in the paper that Company X is moving into VOIP and opening a center in Tacoma. Isn’t that in your backyard? As a Telecom professional, I hear about such things all the time and have no problem sharing the more interesting gossip. If interested, drop me an email.”

OFFER INTRODUCTIONS: Exclusivity is always an attention grabber. For example, “I noticed from your profile that you own a firm that designs video games. My son works for Atari and when he is not developing games, he and his co-workers barricade my basement and play games until the beer runs out. My son is happily employed, but I can not speak for his pals. If you like, I could introduce you to them. Just let me know…”

2. Do not attempt to connect with someone unless you plan on getting to know them.
In other words, maintain honorable intentions by inviting them to call you or meet with you for coffee at Starbucks. All too often, social networkers seek out what they can achieve at the moment and this is counter-intuitive to the nature of networking. Try as you might to put a face with the name, learn their hobbies and future endeavors and give them a chance to learn you and find commonality. If at all possible, ferret out a non-business activity that you can bond over (Sports, TV Shows, Et Cetera.) Successful, long-term business comes from trust and trust takes time to develop, yet it is always worth it.

3. Stay in touch with online contacts and advise them of your preferences
should other social networkers approach them about contacting you. (For example, “my department is not hiring. However, if you come across someone out of Company X, I will gladly chat with them.”) In the virtual world, it is easy to lose tracks of those you were once so close to. Set a day on your calendar to speak to or visit with, those connected to you and reacquaint yourself with them. Find new reasons to stay in touch and seek out ways that you can help enrich their lives professionally and socially. (It goes without saying that you should take note of your contacts preferences as well.)

4. Jealously guard your connected list by being very selective of the invitations you accept.
After all, we are all measured by the company we keep and our associations testify of our character more loudly than our denials.

When refusing a connection however, attempt to offer help in some way.
For example, “Thank you for requesting a connection to me on Linked In. May I ask why you chose to connect with me? In the event that I am unable to assist you, I am more than happy to refer you to another or offer any advice I can muster. Please advise…”

In conclusion, the best advice I can give has already been given.
In the book “The Heart Of Networking” by Ricky Steele, the consummate networker Ricky Steele said that “Networking is a thinking person’s game.” Strategy plays a huge part in networking offline and the rules apply online as well. A social network is not a machine where you insert a quarter and instant business rolls out like a gumball. Rather, it is an opportunity, a chance to present yourself to those you may one day recruit. It is also a chance to be ignored. Social networks work well for those who know how to come bearing gifts, pursue long term relationships and value the contacts they already developed. If you have considered joining a social network but do not have the time to cultivate the encounters that come from it, save your time, talent and energy. Social networks don’t work.

Gameshow Prospecting

Now this idea has the scent of genius on it.

I wish I could take total credit on making this one up, but the honor goes to Peggy Duncan. Once a year, Peggy sponsors “The Messiest Office Contest” and has been doing it for the past 5 years. How does it work? People send in pictures of their messy office and the winner receives six hours of Peggy Duncan’s time, two of her books and a host of products related to her business. Do you want to know who the BIG winner is? Why, its Peggy Duncan!

While there can be only 1 winner, everybody who joins in on this contest obviously needs the help of a Professional Organizer and Peggy happens to be an excellent choice! Do you see the beauty in this? She starts a contest and business comes looking for her.

Check her out!

Now consider your expertise!
What kind of contest can you pitch to potential employers that will have them knocking on your door to give you their business?

Drawing a blank? Not a problem, you can go about this from another angle.
How about a free training session? I received in my email the other day a sales letter announcing a free seminar on Supply-Logistics. I immediately hit “delete” because I had no interest in that. However, if this person sent news of their seminar to UPS, Airborne or Federal Express then curiosity may bring them out to the meeting. Now, arranging a free seminar could be expensive. I mean renting out a meeting hall and supplying snacks could eat at your pocketbook. Of course, there is always a cheaper alternative! (Smile)

Why not approach a restaurant and convince them to give you some space for free.
After all, you are bringing potential repeat customers into their establishment. If you don’t like the idea of a restaurant; how about the local library? A lot of people do not realize how useful a library can be. The larger libraries have meeting rooms for free and all you have to do is book them in time. This is something to think about, yes?

Here is another idea!
Go to and sign up for a free phone number. empowers you to hold a conference call with up to 300 people at a time. Why not create a presentation that you can give over the phone, send emails to 300 companies and invite them to dial-in and listen to you? Of course, ask them to RSVP so you know who is going to show up. During the call, dazzle them with your expertise and then afterwards follow-up with each one. Ask them if they enjoyed the presentation or had any questions; this is where you begin to network for opportunities.

Get it? Got it? Good.