The best and the worst ways to find a job

Craigslist, the newspapers, company Web sites, door to door, bulletin boards, employment agencies, job fairs — there are so many places job openings can be listed that it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start.

It would help to know the success rates of some of these options, so let me give you some statistics. Let's start with the least successful options: Using the Internet as your sole job search has only a 4- to 10-percent success rate. Sending out resumes to places you would like to work has only a 7-percent success rate. Answering local newspaper ads has a 5- to 24-percent success rate, but going to private employment agencies or search firms isn't much better at only a 5- to 28-percent success rate.

This is probably very discouraging news, since these options are all the things most people who are looking for a job do in hopes of finding one. But don't despair; the successful ways to find a job aren't hard to do at all.

Here are the job hunting options that do work:

  • Asking for job leads from friends, family, neighbors, casual contacts, etc. has a 33-percent success rate.
  • Talking to any employer that interests you, whether they have a known vacancy or not, has a success rate of 47 to 69 percent

So instead of spending most of your time looking for job openings that might be something you want to do, you should be spending your time describing to everyone who will listen what you definitely want to do.

You should also approach places where you want to work directly and describe what type of work you would like to be doing there.

The key to making this type of networking successful is to be very clear on what type of work you are looking for and what your skills are. Take some time to write down the type of job you want, and what skills you have for this type of job — then practice talking about it.

If this sounds similar to preparing for an interview, it is very similar, and you should be similarly prepared. This includes deciding what to wear and sending follow up, (handwritten) thank-you cards. Good luck!

Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Visit her Web site at or contact her at Karen's workbook "Ace the Interview" is now available for purchase at

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