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Human Collateral: The Same Old Search Tactics Just Aren't Working. Here's What Does

Vicki Brackett is the founder of Make It Happen for Women, a career coaching and placement firm. While she focuses on helping women land jobs, her advice is golden for both genders. She spoke with Emma Johnson.

We know men and women are wired differently. Women tend to be the nurturers and they're also more optimistic. Women believe they'll get hired because they're a great person and they help people.

While men tend to blame everyone else for their unemployment - the first thing guys talk to me about when they come in is the marketplace - women blame themselves. When they can't find work they complain to their girlfriend about it, they change their resume 14 times, and then it becomes a self-worth issue. They crash and burn and don't know what to do. And why should they? The market is crazy right now.

Yet, every week I get calls from recruiters looking for finance people. They just can't find what they are looking for. You and I know the right people are there, they just don't know how to market themselves.

'Same Old' Isn't Good Enough

The biggest mistake everyone makes is using the same job-search strategies they have for the past 20 or 30 years: They use networking and recruiters. That's not working any more. Typically people write their resume, pull up their address book, send it out to everyone they know. All those people read the resume, open their address book, pass it on to a few more people, and so on. The power of the connection diminishes and diminishes, and ultimately doesn't have much impact.

Recruiters are a great channel but the market just changed. Hiring managers feel it's a buyer's market, so they can't justify paying a recruiter. All of a sudden their two resources dried up, so people run out to the book store for the latest interview title, and Google the latest resume format. So now everyone is saying the same thing in interviews and looks the same on paper. How can you stand out?

In a resume, there are three things companies look for: How you can make them money, how you can save them money, and how you can minimize risk. No one cares that you are honest, a team player, a person who can make it happen. But if you can articulate on paper actual dollar figures and how you made it happen, that's another story. People will pay attention. For those in finance, it's a lot easier to quantify those figures than in other industries.

Then you need to do your market research to find out where your skills are in demand, and do everything you can to bypass Human Resources. These people are overworked trying to help hiring managers find the perfect person in a sea of resumes. Instead, do your research through the internet and find the person above the hiring manager. Then you can send an e-mail, a piece of direct mail, or make a phone call to introduce yourself. The key is to tell a compelling story.

Emma Johnson is a New York based journalist who writes about money, business and finance for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, MSN Money and others. Reach her at

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