Relying on Want Ads in Your Job Search

How much should you use want ads in your job search? Some career guidebooks give everyone the same advice: Use want ads sparingly. But when it comes to finding a job, one-size-fits-all advice rarely does fit all. Some people should devote no time to scanning the want ads; others should devote more than half of their job-search time.

To tell what's right for you, check out the following questions. The more you answer yes, the more you should use want ads:

  • Are you better at writing resumes and letters than at networking?
  • Are you more likely to answer ads than to network?
  • Do you know only a few people in your field?
  • Are you new in town?
  • Are you expecting a salary of less than $70,000?
  • Is your target job in demand?
  • Are you currently employed in or near your target field?

Despite the advantages of want ads, few job seekers should devote all their job-search time to answering ads. More than half the jobs, in all fields and at all levels, are never advertised. So spend some time contacting target employers even if they have no listed openings, and tell people in your personal network what sort of job you're looking for — especially if you're trying to break into a new field. Employers don't have to advertise to find someone without experience. They can get candidates by asking their current employees, friends, or cousin Gomer.

Not sure whether the want ads will work for you? Craft good responses to perhaps 20 carefully selected ads. If you get no positive responses, you have your answer.

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