Referral a key in hourly wage search

March 18, 1992|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,Staff Writer

Are you an hourly worker in desperate need of a job? Then remember that many of the same networking techniques widely used by professional workers will also help you in your quest, says Charles R. White, president of White Ridgely Associates and Success Management, the Baltimore-based career and outplacement firm.

"The fact of the matter is that companies would much rather hire someone who has been referred in rather than someone who comes in cold," Mr. White says. The referral system is just as as relevant for construction workers and truck drivers as it is for lawyers and marketing executives, he says.

For hourly workers in search of employment, he offers these pointers:

*Start your networking campaign with a long list of names.

To a large degree, getting a job is a numbers game. While many feel embarrassed at the prospect of telling others they're unemployed, it's essential that you convey your need for a job to those who may know of opportunities, Mr. White says.

To illustrate, he suggests you imagine an unemployed person standing in the middle of a stadium during half-time and announcing, via a loudspeaker, that he needed a job. "There's almost 100 percent certainty that someone who had a job for you would stand up," Mr. White says.

When you think about it, you probably know a large number of people who could provide information for your job search or could refer you to people who could help.

"The average person knows 250 people who, in turn, each know 250 people. And if you multiply that out, you get 6,250 people," Mr. White says.

Take out a piece of paper and start compiling a list of names from all categories of your life: friends, relatives, people from your church or synagogue, fellow club members, former colleagues, neighbors, your accountant, your barber or beautician etc. Then jot down phone numbers next to their names and give them all a call.

Note down where each person works and ask who does the hiring there. Then ask the individual in your network whether he or she would be willing to convey to the decision maker that you will be calling regarding employment.

Before you hang up, also remember to ask your associate for the names of several others with whom he is acquainted who could have names for you.

Many of your friends and acquaintances will undoubtedly be willing to provide this assistance, and their referrals could also be valuable. Pursue their leads promptly and be sure to get back to your associate for a "thank you" call and follow up on how the introductions worked out for you, Mr. White says.

Having a referral can be even more important to an hourly worker than a professional employee, according to Mr. White. Some companies are so keen on hiring through referrals that they will actually pay bounties to those already working for them in exchange for the names of prospects who could be hired through personal reference. The assumption is that employees will be careful whom they recommend for jobs.

*Seriously consider getting involved in a re-employment support group.

Many churchs and synagogues have established support groups for the unemployed, Mr. White notes. Such support groups provide triple benefits to those prospecting for jobs. They offer .. emotional support, job leads and job search techniques, he says.

*Don't try to use a resume as a marketing tool until after you've had an interview if you can hold off the employer's request for a resume.

Many job-seekers make the mistake of mailing out resumes to prospective employers before they know virtually anything about the company or the position they're seeking. It's far smarter for a job seeker to go to an interview first and then prepare a resume to be mailed or delivered to the prospective employer, Mr. White says.

Going for the interview before delivering the resume allows the job seeker the chance to learn more about the requirements of the particular job in question and what skills it demands before presenting himself on paper to the company.

Of course, as Mr. White says, it would be folly to lie on a resume or pretend you had any educational or occupational background that you're actually lacking. Nevertheless, it's perfectly honorable to present your background in a fashion which emphasizes those areas that the would-be employer stresses. This is known as a "tailored resume" and it can be an effective tool, Mr. White says.

*Don't rely solely on newspaper advertisements for job leads.

The "hidden job market" is often the most fruitful area for focus for an hourly worker looking for a job, says Mr. White. Hidden jobs are more often found through a tenacious working of your resource list than through any amount of scanning of formal announcements of openings.

One part of the problem is that advertised job openings have many contenders and, in a bad economy, the competition can get especially rough. Another problem is that relatively few openings ever make it into the newspaper.

"Right now, less than 10 percent of jobs are advertised. The other 90 percent of the jobs you can discover by knowing someone in the company," he says.

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