News stories can point to openings

WORKING LIFE

July 21, 1996|By Deborah L. Jacobs | Deborah L. Jacobs,CHRONICLE FEATURES

Most people searching for work focus on the want ads. In the process, they overlook a valuable job-hunting tool: newspaper and magazine articles -- especially ones about specific companies.

Behind those reports of winning products, personnel upheavals and new marketing strategies may be jobs for people who are willing to do some digging.

Learning to read between the lines of such stories gives you a number of advantages when you approach potential employers. You get away from the competition you face in the rush to answer a newspaper ad. You start out with some information about the latest corporate news. And you show initiative.

To look for jobs behind the headlines, it's best to read widely: all sections of the local paper; a national daily newspaper like the Wall Street Journal; trade publications in your field; and business magazines like Forbes, Business Week and Fortune.

Don't assume that just because a company is laying off workers, it isn't hiring. Even when a business makes cuts, it still needs to get the work done. Maybe it will use free-lancers or independent contractors.

In fact, it's a law of the workplace that when somebody is out, someone else is in. This applies not only to layoffs due to downsizing, but also to reorganizations.

Watch for stories about company relocations. To save money, many businesses are moving all or part of their operations -- from the city to the suburbs, or to smaller towns and cities where rents and salaries are lower.

Inevitably, some employees will be left behind or will decline to follow. That could mean jobs coming soon to a place near you, or to a place where you'd like to live.

Guest editorials by members of the business community give you reasons to contact the authors. Maybe something they've written suggests that their companies could use your skills. The biographical blurb at the foot of the article usually tells you where to find the person.

Don't forget about upbeat stories flagging companies that are good places to work, or describing new uses for old products.

A recent article in the food section of the Philadelphia Inquirer described how to use Celestial Seasonings tea bags to flavor various recipes. It seems that Jennifer Siegel, whose husband, Mo, is president of the company, has written a cookbook on this subject. A job hunter reading this tidbit might think, "Maybe Celestial Seasonings is trying to promote other ways to use its product." That could create opportunities for marketing experts and recipe testers.

Once you've made a list of avenues to pursue, start calling people cited in the articles.

This strategy isn't quick or easy, but it's worth the effort. Instead of limiting yourself to advertised openings, you'll tap into a much broader, "hidden" job market.

Pub Date: 7/21/96

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