Off the curb

Feeding the Meter



Career experts estimate that 80% of available jobs are never advertised. 80%! In a world of Monster, Indeed, and Craigslist (and the millions of jobs they post each year) that fact seems hard to accept. True, many people get positions through these and other very reputable online sources. However, when you are trying to change career lanes, using online resources exclusively can often impede your career shift rather than boost it.

Early in my career I was in charge of college recruiting for an international technology company. I traveled across the country visiting college campuses looking for the right graduates to come join our business. Hundreds of resumes found their way to me each day. When we had a job opening, however, the first place I went to fill the position wasn’t my “resume bank” it was my “memory bank.” I’d ask myself; “ have I met someone who would be a good fit for this position?” The potential candidates might be students I’d met in person at a career fair or who had come to a lecture I’d done. Or perhaps he or she was working at the university coffee shop and I was left impressed by their warm greeting and great customer service. Maybe a student had signed up for a campus interview and had followed up with a rare hand-written personal thank you note stating why he or she would be an excellent match for us.


I also always posted positions internally so colleagues could pass it on to people they knew. Only after exhausting the “memory bank” and internal referral approach would I move on to the “resume bank” and advertise the position.

Think about how this plays out in your personal life. Despite the number of online service brokers available, you are still more likely to find a painter, stylist, car mechanic etc. by first hitting your memory bank and then by asking someone you know. Need a math tutor for your son? You’ll ask your neighbor whose daughter had a great tutor. Need your haircut? You’ll ask your friend with a stylish new look. Need a car mechanic? You’ll ask your running buddy whose car just got repaired. I’m not arguing against online resources in helping you get off the curb, but I’m strongly suggesting that it helps to get in front of people too. Here’s some first hand examples of this:


Example 1: A friend of mine was interested in a job change and I referred her to a technical manager at a local company. Her first response was to send him her resume on LinkedIn but I suggested inviting him for a quick cup of coffee as well. It turned out he didn’t have any positions available. However, two months later he did. And, where did he go first when he was looking? His memory bank! He remembered my friend from the coffee and and she got the position.

Example 2: Three recent college graduates all living together in San Francisco, were on the job hunt. All three hit online job posting resources regularly. One took it a step further. He identified 15 companies in the city he wanted to work for and hand delivered his resumes to the lobbies of those 15 companies. Next, he followed up with a personal note to the hiring managers at those companies saying in essence, “Today I met Susan Sullivan in your front lobby and passed on my resume to her….” and then went on to say what he liked about the company or noticed about the vibe while he was there and what appealed to him. He got a great job offer in 7 weeks in sales. The position was never posted online but the hiring manager saw someone who had taken an extra step to sell himself. (PS Neither of his roommates ever changed their approach. It took them five months each to get hired.)


When your curb moment includes making a career change, by all means Google away! Using the internet to find out what’s out there and to apply for positions is great but challenge yourself to get in front of people too!

Lynne Cage