College graduation is over and I've yet to find a job. With student loans hanging over my head, I'm highly motivated. My mom sent me an article quoting an adviser who tells new grads to become more aggressive in their search activities. For example, when you can't get an interview through normal channels, the adviser says to just show up at the target person's office, sit outside and don't leave until you get a meeting -- that you are demonstrating persistence. Do you think this strategy will work? -- R.R.
I don't know -- I've never tried an interview "sit-in" and have only seen it done in old movies.
CALLING IN TOP EXPERT. But I did pass along your question to the right guy to answer it: Jeffrey G. Allen.
Respected as the nation's best-known placement lawyer, Allen virtually invented this legal specialty after a decade working as a recruiter and human resources executive. A certified placement counselor and search specialist, Allen has written a shelf of best-selling books that help people of all ages get jobs. His newest is the year's most original job search guide, "Instant Interviews: 101 Ways to Get the Best Job of Your Life" (Wiley).
Allen's new book rocks.
It's exactly right for these uphill times as the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveal that less than one job opening exists for every five seekers. (The number of seekers for every available position was already stiff in March at 4.8, and became even stiffer in April at 5.4.)
Clearly, the time has come to pull out all the stops in your search and begin thinking outside the box.
Hope and how-to is everywhere in Allen's amazing bazaar of uncommon and creative ideas for connecting with attractive employment. His premise is that getting hired is interview-centric (no interview, no job), and he shows how to make yourself interview-ready on the spot (any spot of your choosing).
As the book's title discloses, the author discusses 101 ways to do that, including one distantly related to the "sit-in" advice from your question.
USING YOUR SAVVY.
In a four-page chapter titled "Slipping in the Back Door This Saturday," Allen lays out one of his many new strategies (this one for seasoned seekers), which I summarize:
Avoid the human resources department and call a hiring manager directly: "Hi, Ron. This is Stuart Norcross. I have a background in finance with Competition Corporation and wanted to discuss how it can benefit your department."
If Ron shows interest, you've gone from getting to giving -- you are meeting a need. Hiring is all about needs. Bingo, instant interview!
But if Ron says, "Well, I have no open requisition," you say, "How could you? My experience is unique. And if you did, we'd have to go through all the red tape. I'd probably never even meet with you!"
Your next step is an offer to do something for free that the manager wants done -- and to meet about it on Saturday when time is leisurely (and gatekeepers aren't watching your every move). Saturday is a good time for happy talk about family, friends, food, fun, future. This is primitive, basic connecting -- the only thing that gets people hired. Saturday for sure!
SIT-IN VS. FILLING NEED.
As for whether a seeker should plant a flag and refuse to leave the employment lobby, it's a mistake, Allen says:
"There are big differences between being annoying, as in camping out, and being assertive, as in appearing like a genie ready to help."
Allen says a sit-in indicates that you are not in demand, that you don't value your time, and that you don't mind interrupting the interviewer.
It all adds up, Allen believes, to a negative conclusion about the sit-in, whether you're younger or older:
"The marginal message that you are tenacious is overwhelmed by the louder message that you don't play by the rules. When I was visited by walk-ins, yes, I hired them regularly. When I was visited by sit-ins, no, I called security!"
If you've lost your job, you need to act fast to maintain adequate health insurance. You have to decide, within 60 days of your separation, whether you want to stay on your former employer's plan through COBRA.
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Nowadays it seems that about 90 percent of the initial job interview is done via phone -- questions asked to see if you make the cut for the in-person interview. I hardly ever get any further than the phone interview
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