The Unwritten rules of the highly effective job search

1. Your book, 'The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search' seems to be a very different approach to job search. Could you give our members an overview.

The book is about taking a planned, professional, project-management approach to the job search project. Which is something you don't always see people do in job hunting.

Ask a job hunter about their plans for the job search, and you usually get answers like, 'My plan is to find a job,' or 'My plan is to use the Internet.' Of course, neither of those is a plan. The first is a goal, the second is a tool.

That same person would probably be very clear on plans, goals and tools in any other work project. But many people don't see job hunting as either work or a project.

Most books on the topic don't see it that way either. Most books simply teach one or more of the tools and techniques of job hunting: resume writing, interviewing, networking, use of recruiters, and the like. But they usually do not provide a sound context within which to use those skills and techniques.

My book is about that context. It's an overview of this particular project, how it works and why. Like any other work project, job hunting will go better and faster when you have a clear understanding of how the entire endeavor works and how to best handle all phases of it.

It's particularly important in the job search project to have a way of measuring your progress before you get your first interview. You might work for weeks before you get an interview. During that time, is your progress better than average or worse?

If it's better, you should continue doing exactly what you have been doing. But if your progress is not so good, you should change what you're doing immediately. If you don't know whether you're doing well or not, that's a serious problem in project management. Which is why I also provide some simple numerical progress measurements.

So that's what my book is about: planning and managing the job-search project. Taking a professional and highly effective approach to it, just as you do in other work projects. And getting the best possible results, so your career moves in the direction you want to go.

2. You've written several books, one of which is 'What's Next? A Road Map for Exploring the Rest of Your Life', for baby boomers, which is a huge demographic. Many of our members are in that demographic, and even a local street directory would be a big help. Can you provide an overview of this book for them?

I am a baby boomer myself.

That particular book is available only to private clients of the large career consulting firm that I work for. But I'm happy to tell you what it says. And I'll also suggest a book that is generally available.

In the last 80 years, life expectancy has increased by about 15 years. This has opened up an entirely new phase of life. People now might have 10, 20 or even 30 years of healthy living after the end of 'middle age' and before 'old age' begins.

A leisure-only retirement lifestyle has not proven viable for the majority of people in this new phase of life. Most cannot afford such an extended period with no income. Even those that can often don't find it entirely satisfying.

Most so-called 'retired people' are actually working. But they have usually found ways of redefining work and creating a new and more desirable balance between work and the rest of their lives.

A common solution is the portfolio career. This is usually some combination of part-time work, volunteer work, self-employment and avocational activities.

In this phase of life, you have the opportunity to have a higher level of work satisfaction and happiness in your life than ever. Creating this re-invented life uses some of the same career management and job hunting skills that ordinary career management requires. And it requires some soul-searching to determine what's the best mix for you.

I think a good starting point for people in this category is a book like Don't Retire, Re-wire, by Sedlar and Miners.

3. Your website, Highly Effective Job, says that your firm, Pierson Consulting Associates, LLC, operates in 68 countries. We have members from all over the world, in all fields of employment. Can they just hit the links on your site, and contact you?

I am currently the Director of Program Design for Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), a career services and leadership consulting company with 240 offices around the world. LHH is wholly owned by Adecco SA, an employment services firm operating in 68 countries.

I lead a team that creates programs, books and websites for the private clients of LHH. The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search is the first book that I have written that is available to the general public. I am really enjoying working with the broader audience that uses that book.

So far I have been able to respond to e-mail from readers. I will continue to do that as long as the volume is manageable. People who have read the book and have a question can e-mail me

4.'Forward planning' for job hunters is sometimes a tough call, with life getting in the way. The inability to plan is a serious disadvantage. How do job seekers balance looking where they're going, while dealing with being where they are?

People who manage their careers effectively are always thinking about what their next job is. For those who are employed, the first question is: What's my next move inside of this organization? And the second question is: When the day comes that I leave, what kind of work I do and where?

These two questions don't require a great deal of time and work, just some thought, the kind you can do while waiting for a train or taking a walk. The clearer you all are on where you're going next, the more likely it is that you will talk about yourself in ways that will help you get there and make an effort to meet the right people. Then, when the day comes, your next career move might just be easy.

5. We're asking experts where they think the job market is going. How do you think people should approach the shifts in employment culture, and types of work?

I think you should always focus primarily on what kind of work interests you, what kind of work attracts you. Once you're clear on that, look to see what the best and most practical possibilities are. Then examine that particular job market.

What's happening in your personal job market is the critical factor, not what's happening in the larger global job market.

6. What are your thoughts on the New Economy, and the employment and career possibilities it's producing?

The number of job and career possibilities is going from huge to enormous. The rate of change is increasing. Turnover is increasing. People now experience more job and career changes in a decade than their parents did in a lifetime.

Career management is more complex and more important than ever. Job hunting skills are increasingly an essential part of career management. If you are reasonably flexible and able to manage change, you can get what you want in your work life.

7. Being an international site, we get a lot of exposure to the international job market. People are country-hopping, working on contracts all over the world. The amount of dislocation is sometimes huge, but they really do have to work their careers this way. What's their best approach to a career plan?

Country hopping is one of those things that makes career management more complex.

Career planning is exactly the same. But implementing that career plan is more complicated. On the positive side, the Internet is making it much easier to manage global personal and professional networks.

People who are multilingual and multicultural often have more opportunities -- and better compensation -- even when they return to their home country and settle down.

8. The Pierson Method career counselor and joining 'free' career networking groups such as starts with a Project Plan as setting up a range of realistic guides to defining one's personal job market. This is a bit of a departure from the 'normal' approach of assembling CV and skills and trying to make your career pegs fit the job holes. How does your method improve the job search?

'The Pierson Method' is another name for the core curriculum of the LHH job search assistance program that's been used around the world for over a decade. It's a down-to-earth professional project-management approach to job search that increases your odds of being more successful more quickly.

One central feature of the method is a Target List of specific employers. I've come to believe that having a written Target List is just as important to job search success as having a CV. The Target List allows you to proactively manage the job search and helps you prioritize what you do with your time.

People conducting unplanned searches are usually more reactive than proactive. They submit applications to those positions they happen to see advertised, then they wait. With a Target List, you can also be proactive, working upstream of the openings.

9. We need as much information as we can get for first job seekers. What parts of your program would be best for them? (We have a lot of kids whose understanding of the job market is either zero or less. Any orientation concept, and how to take that first step, will be a big help).

My book is currently being used by students in the Master of Engineering Management program at Duke University, and undergraduates at Mount Holyoke College. I've also given talks at the University of Massachusetts and DePaul University. My book's central principles are currently being used by LHH with thousands of job hunters around the world, ranging from entry level to senior executives.

The book is designed to be an orientation to effective management of the job hunting project. It is an overview of the process, covering the things that apply to everyone. This kind of overview is particularly important for those at the beginning of their career.

I have found that students just like Baby Boomers moving to re-invent their lives and careers -- often have the most work to do on the very first step, deciding what kind of work they want to do.

But the book is an orientation, an overview of the entire thing. So if you want to be unusually effective in job search, it's a great place to get started.

10. What are the big 'Don'ts' in job searching? Most job seekers waste a lot of time and effort making mistakes and learning as they go.

  • Don't start your search until you have a plan and have conducted a reality check on your personal job market to make sure that it is large enough.
  • Don't just jump in and muddle through it. Think about what you're doing and get the best advice you can just like you would do with any other important project that you had limited experience with.
  • Don't go it alone. Have at least three people that you talk to regularly so you can stay objective and keep yourself motivated.
  • Don't give up. You will succeed. At LHH we see up to 100,000 people a year in career transition. They find jobs. You will too.