Job Search Basics: Step One, Find Something To Apply To

In these troubling times there is a lot of job hunting going on and I would like to offer some basic pointers that might help expedite the process a little for you. There’s a ton of stuff of to talk about on this subject so let’s take this a step at a time and go over some very basic ideas on how to get things going.

The first lesson in the series is how to find something to apply to. I can almost guaranty that most of what I am about to say you have heard before and I am not trying to be repetitive. However, I would like to make the point that none of these things are the end all be all of finding opportunities. Each offers a separate path to the same point on the map. You can think of them of different types of tools, and just as you don’t use one type of tool to complete any given complex task, neither will you use just one of these suggestions to find a place to talk to.

For the sake of this post I am going to assume that you are already working in the power generation industry and maybe you got laid off, or the company closed, or whatever. So where do you start? Well, duh! With all of the people you know, and the people they know, and so on. In twenty years of recruiting I can honestly tell you that well over half of the positions I have filled were not advertised jobs. That is not to say that the company wasn’t looking for someone. Just that they hadn’t bothered to tell anyone about it. So how did I find out about them? I called them up and said something to the effect that “I know a guy that has these skills, is looking for this reason and I’d like to talk with you for a minute to see if he might fit in around there”.  How do you know who to talk to? You ask those people you know; especially the ones that still have a job who can refer you to a specific person in their company. I prefer the hiring managers, but if the HR guy or gal is all that I can get to, so be it, though I suggest getting to the head of HR instead of a junior team member. The seasoned HR pro knows what his managers are looking for. Open req or not. And finding someone without being told to do so can be a feather in their cap.

While you’re doing that look over the job boards. Things like Career Builder and Monster are the ones that most people think of, but there are a lot of others out there as well. More importantly a lot of them that are specifically set up for folks in power gen. For example a buddy of mine, Mo Palmowski, started one called dedicated to guess what? However, in making use of these boards keep in mind that they can play both a passive and an active role for you. What I mean is that in addition to just looking up jobs and applying to them (I’ll come back to that point in a minute) most of these sites also give you the ability to post your resume and a cover letter for employers (and us headhunters) to peruse. Bear in mind though that when we are out there rooting through resumes we are doing that on a key word basis. So, when you write your resume and cover letter make really sure that you are using specific terms. For example, if you are a substation design engineer don’t just put in the fact that you’re an EE and that you have “done extensive design work on a several projects in electrical transmission and distribution”. Instead you would need to say something about the fact that you have designed cable trays, done line diagram, and worked on projects from 350Kv to 500Kv, and etc. Do you see where I am going here? Most people are looking for a specific person. So if you don’t list out specific information you get passed by.

Now let me go back to that actively searching jobs thing. Feel free to go ahead and send in your application through the job posting. Though realize that a lot of times companies and recruiting firms are putting up blind ads meant to gather resumes rather than to actually fill a specific job. And quite often ads on Career Builder and Monster actually redirect you in the application process to their site where you will be filling out more forms than you would if you joined the Army. Moreover, as we all know many of those resumes/applications are immediately lost in the ether never to be seen again. So, instead of thinking about these ads as a place to respond think about them as the basis of a phone list of places to call. Filling out forms sucks and you’ll find out if you’re a contender for the position a lot faster talking to someone than if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to reply to you, which more often than not, they don’t bother to do.

To wrap up lesson one the point is, don’t just use one avenue to find potential jobs. There are lots of ways to find things and you’ll need to use them all.  Also it’s going to be hard work and don’t be discouraged if you don’t start getting hits right away. It takes time, and you’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a handsome prince. Job hunting is often heavy on the math and you just have to make a lot of contacts before things start happening.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment to let me know if this was helpful or a question if I need to clarify or elaborate on anything



  1. What you have said sounds correct. How can you help me fined a position? Do I e-mail you back my resume and cover letter? Do you have a jobs list to apply to? Thanks. Armond

    • Go ahead and drop me an e-mai at either
      or doug.mueller

  2. do you really know mo

    • Yes, I do. I tried to help him to find a new assignment last year and we have talked on and off since then.

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