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Posted: July 31, 2013

Best of CoBiz: Nine innovative job-search tactics

Start an accountability group -- no Debbie Downers allowed!

John Heckers

Here are a few innovative job search and networking tactics for you to revitalize your job search.

1). Use ColoradoBiz magazine. ColoradoBiz is a treasure-trove of information. Not only are there great columnists (ahem) on here, but there are a ton of resources. Reading through the many columns on your career can really help your job search. Utilizing the many lists and resources of ColoradoBiz can help you find the best companies to apply to. An in-depth article on how to use its resources is here.

2). Get aggressive with building your network. Few people network enough, especially at the executive level. The most effective and sometimes the ONLY way of getting a top level job in Colorado is to build and work your network. Ignore most of the huge networking events and concentrate on the smaller, exclusive networking venues. Find out about these from your industry publications, events calendars, word of mouth and associations. Register for them and go. Don't give up on this! It is essential!

3). Network with more people. I have my clients do 12 - 15 networking coffees a week. This may seem excessive, but networking for a job is absolutely a numbers game in this economy. Always have advice or a lead to give at these networking meetings. Begin the meeting by telling your networking partner how you can help him or her, not by begging for leads. Network with the unemployed that are in a different field than you. You can help one another look out for jobs in your respective fields.

4). Check out startups and very small businesses. Get the "big company mentality" out of your head. Look to startups and very small businesses. These folks may not have an actual opening but might be amenable to hiring you if you talk to the owner and show him or her how you are able to make the company money. Forget huge salaries and massive benefits, however. Those belong to a previous time. You must be flexible on hours, salary, benefits and title to work at a smaller company.

5). Make a list. Make a list of everything you are capable of doing. Good. Now look at that list and ask if there is anything on there that can be turned into an innovative business on a shoestring. Try to think of something else other than "consulting." Everyone and their sibling is a "consultant."

6). Start an accountability group with others. Meet weekly for breakfast or lunch and keep one another accountable. Don't commiserate! If someone is "Debbie Downer," out they go. And keep the group pretty small: five to seven is an ideal size. Don't go to groups where everyone is moaning about how bad things are. Keep it positive!

7). Let a business "try before they buy." Ideally, you would come on as a paid consultant doing the job you want to do for the business. That may not work with a startup that is pre-funding, however. If you are able, work for deferred compensation and equity share. Don't work for a business for free for more than a few weeks, however. Get everything in writing and have your attorney look it over carefully. Deferred compensation and equity share gives everyone a share in both the risk and the rewards of entrepreneurship.

8). Speak. You, theoretically at least, have some very unique experience and skills. Get on the speaking circuit. Who is the best guy to help you with that in Colorado? The venerable and affable Joe Sabah. I highly recommend his classes and workshops.

9). Take anything, but keep looking. It is no secret that many employers are discriminating against the unemployed. Work at anything (even if it is not paid) that will let you show that you're currently employed. But don't work at the "consulting" firm you started with your name in the company name or anything else that makes it obvious that the company is "You, Inc." This is the kiss of death on your résumé.

I know it isn't easy to find employment in today's market. You must think out of the box, be flexible and be creative.

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Alan, Steve...thank you for the kind words. are so right. Serving on non-profit boards and doing service work, I've met some of the greatest people and have had the extreme privilege of giving back to the community that gives me so much. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 11 01
Somehow you must be able to convey the idea that you will actually work. I must admit that most small business people don't think much of the "corporate" types that work 8-5, get a big salary and a big 401k. You may be able to do all of the things that John H. suggests, but you won't find many small business people there. They are working By John Wray on 2011 10 26
Another great article, John. I especially liked the "make a list of everything you can do" suggestion. There's a lot of things we can all do and sometimes we have to remind ourselves of everything we're capable of doing. By Alan Case on 2011 10 26
Terrific tactics, John! Here's one more. Volunteering can help you find a job too! I can think of at least 10 people at the nonprofit where I work who have their jobs here because they were great volunteers first. I can also think of several retired executives who come here to volunteer regularly. It's good-karma networking that not only helps the charity, but also gives you an opportunity to meet new people who care about the same cause. By Janie Gianotsos on 2011 10 26
Great article. Your advice resonates. By Steve Mahoney on 2011 10 26
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