In the April 3, 2018 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, I steal an idea from a couple of readers about where we find our jobs.

Question (from me to you)

jobsIn a recent column, The worst job hunting advice ever, an HR manager beat me up for giving out bad advice. Then a reader — Kevin — took off on a really interesting tangent in the comments section about how he finds work.

Mo’ betta than that, Kevin listed how he got every job he’s had.

Not to be outdone, reader VP Sales posted a list, too — and suggested I should do a column where we take a deep dive into this question. (Here ya go, VP!)

How’d you find your jobs? All your jobs.

Where Kevin’s jobs came from

One frustration that I have is that it is much easier to get ahead in one’s career by taking new jobs rather than doing different things for the same company for a long time. Having that sense of history and solid experience is priceless.

So in response the this article I thought about the different ways I have found jobs. You will see references to newspaper classified ads – that was one way to find a job when I graduated from college in 1989. The list for my job search is as follows.

Kevin’s List

  • Job Fair (first job out of college with move)
  • Company transfer
  • Classified ad
  • Classified ad
  • Professional journal ad
  • Golfing buddy of a friend
  • Placement firm (a very good headhunter)
  • Internet ad
  • Internet ad (contract work)
  • Contract work at job where placed with placement firm previously
  • Internet ad
  • Placement firm (same one as before)
  • Former girlfriend (with wife’s approval and huge raise)
  • Corporate Application Tracking System (current job)
  • LinkedIn search (possible new job)


My whole point is that some of these jobs have been absolutely great, and some were bad – it did not matter how I found the job. If this looks like a lot of employers, remember that I am 52.

Where VP Sales’ jobs came from

Well, Nick needs to make a new thread on this. Here’s how I got all my jobs starting in high school in the 1970s.

VP Sales’ List

  • Teacher referral
  • Newspaper ad
  • Pushed my way into news photography with a daily newspaper
  • Graduate student referral to another department
  • Graduate student hire into industry
  • (Break for grad school)
  • Return to chemical industry job above for temp work
  • Hustled my way into first sales job by calling hiring manager in area for product demo
  • (Insert 20 year career in sales and sales management)


Got fired. No, wait, I fired them. Went off on my own in 2008 charging them 6x more than they paid me for telling them how not to make the same mistakes.

Where Nick’s jobs came from

Okay, I’m gonna play, too… Like VP Sales, I’ll start in high school, also in the 70s.

Nick’s List

  • My uncle hired me to work in his diner
  • Buddy recommended me when another guy quit (grounds work)
  • College career center job posting (assembling Barbie campers, Mattel factory)
  • Newspaper ad (factory, making Head tennis racquets)
  • Professor recommendation (monkey lab at college)
  • Professor’s next recommendation (Bell Labs)
  • A newspaper ad (first headhunting job)
  • Manager who quit that job invited me to start our own business
  • Called president of a company, told him I was starting a competing business, so he hired me (didn’t tell him til years later I set him up)
  • A sales rep told his customer if she didn’t hire me, I’d go work for her competitor
  • Chucked it all and started my own business again


Note that nobody named any job boards. (Hah — what’s that mean?)

Where did your jobs come from?

What’s your list? How’d you find all your jobs, in order please! You don’t have to list your jobs by name, unless you really want to, or any other details — just tell us how you really got them!

(It occurred to me that this could be a poll attached to a database so we can analyze the results, but there are so many interesting vectors that lead people to their jobs that I doubt it would work. If anyone has a good idea about how to analyze the data, let’s hear it!)

Are there any trends here? Do some sources of jobs (I like to think of them as vectors) stand out? Is there a meaningful shift in where your jobs came from over time, as you developed your career?

: :

  1. So, to be fair, when I see “classified ad” or “Internet ad” and “professional journal ad” those all sound like job boards to me. Maybe I’m misinterpreting?

    Anyway, here’s mine:

    Got job at same fast food place my older sister used to work at
    Work-study at college
    Applied and got job at same fast food chain as #1, different location
    Applied for and got student job in school cafeteria
    Friend worked there and referred me
    Location was super close to home so applied directly and got
    Saw a sign indicating they were hiring while driving by, applied and got (post-college fast food job)
    Applied for a totally different job, but hiring consultant knew me from the blogosphere and got me an unrelated internship
    Promoted from internship
    Picked up weekend job at a flower stand after seeing a “we’re hiring” sign while walking by
    Same hiring consultant from 2 ago likes me for a job, I apply and get it
    Saw ad on Indeed, but company was on my radar cause a friend worked there
    Started my own business

    • “So, to be fair, when I see “classified ad” or “Internet ad” and “professional journal ad” those all sound like job boards to me. Maybe I’m misinterpreting?”

      Classified ad is likely from a newspaper and the quality is likely better as companies had to pay by word/space so they really had to drill down to the specifics. On the flip side, candidates usually had to type/print and mail each resume. This usually cut down the applicant pool.

      When I think of Internet ads, it’s usually some long laundry list of requirements/preferences and any dope can easily apply.

      Professional journals are usually more targeted.

      • @Dave: A lot of people today don’t understand the diff between newspaper job ads and online. As you note, cost is the key factor. When a newspaper ad costs more to run, the employer is far more judicious about what’s in it, how long it runs, and of course about ending the run when the job is filled.

        That means an advantage to the job seeker. How many online job posts are never removed? They’re essentially free. That results in a huge backlog of garbage. A problem for the job seeker and the employer.

        When it costs more to recruit, the process is more robust and the results are better. Online job boards have turned job ads into the world’s biggest digital dumpster. Dive, anyone?

    • Hey, Kimberlee — Congrats on having to use a new screen name! :-) Tickled to see you’ve started your own biz. Best to you!

    • Exactly what they are. The job board replaced newspaper ads. But the real problem is hiring practices. Agencies have normalised the provision of overly targeted product and government has protected business and pandered to their unwillingness to employ widely. Its not the job board that has to go it is the hiring practices of business and agencies.

    • You have a or the point, however so-called job boards may not have been as prevalent “back whenever”. Not privately I am thrilled cattle-call job boards did not officially show up. Zip Recruiter is particularly candidate unfriendly even though the owner is a Seth Godin advocate as I am. Seth’s quote, “You are your resume!” Hallmark Cards has the best program. They network for potential openings vacancies months, even years in advance, last time I checked. That’s what candidates should do too IMHO. Always have your next job identified so you are never, ever jobless.

  2. – Directly spoke with floor manager
    (Moved to new area)
    – Internal transfer (three times)
    – Introduced by career services dept at grad school
    (Moved to new area)
    – Temp agency (two times)
    (Moved to new area)
    – Recruitment agency
    – Introduced by professional acquaintance

    Not sure what this says, but also don’t have a clear link between how I found the job and the quality of the job itself. Worst experience was from the temp agency who were just trying to fill bodies.

  3. I also believe that things like classified ad, internet ad, paper posting, etc. are all forms of job boards. The newspaper ads were the original job boards before the internet.

    With that said here is my list.

    1. Family business (forced to work from the age of 10)
    2. Walk in and apply – restaurant
    3. Job board
    4. Job board At college – postings just for college students at that university
    5. Same job board at school – new role
    6. Head hunter found my resume on Monster
    7. Head Hunter found my Resume on Internet Job Board
    8. Referral from family member
    10. Applied to posting from a recruiter found on Indeed

    So for me, while I have pulled down roles from referrals, Job postings have been my way to find new work. Referrals have very rarely resulted in new opportunities but that may be because of my previous career path. I continue to believe that if I want to switch companies posting for jobs will be the way. The key is finding roles where you can get your info in front of a decision maker (like a recruiter) and where you have a skill set (not necessarily direct experience) aligned to the role. Internal referrals do help but only get someone to look at your resume – lots of times they have biases where they won’t want to move forward – he jet is finding he right fit with the right manager in the right role at the right time – and that may take some volume of applications to find what you want.

  4. • High school summer jobs: dad’s company (living overseas — actually worked illegally)
    • College summer job: dad’s employer again (back in the States — all hired for those jobs were nepotism hires)
    • College part-time: referred a friend to a local radio station for part-time DJ job, and he referred me for news reporter job 3 weeks later
    • Post-college: racing school — I had the time, they needed office support, and the boss liked my work
    • Car dealer parts manager: referred by a friend (left after 2 weeks when I realized the owner was a crook; my buddy left a week later, and 2 mechanics followed over next 2 weeks)
    • Major bank: “2nd chance” after being rejected 2 yrs earlier
    • Big 3 auto company: grad school interview
    • Bigger Big 3 auto company: wrote to Personnel VP, plus support/referral from friend there
    • Mega-conglomerate: newspaper ad
    • Re-hired at Bigger Big 3 auto company: manager who’d wanted me years before wanted me and called me back
    • Import auto company: trade paper ad generated an interview, but hiring manager had reqs rescinded — he referred me to another position 3 months later
    • Book store: newspaper ad
    • Major international auto parts supplier: placement firm (not a real headhunter) rememebered my resume & cover letter from 8 months earlier

    Yes, another vintage worker here — the high school jobs were more than 50 yrs ago

  5. Various typical teenage High School part time jobs. Classified Ads.
    US Navy (26 years) General electronics training with high Government clearances.
    Classified ad. (FTE)
    Local (State-centric) job board. (First contract job).
    Same job board as above. Contract.
    Friend/former colleague hired me. Contract.
    Different friend referral. Contract.
    Company recruiter cold call. Contract.
    Company recruiter cold call. Contract.
    Company recruiter cold call. Contract.
    Company recruiter cold call. Contract.

    Bear in mind that I keep a current resume on several sites that specialize in technical Government clearance jobs and explains the cold calls.

    The only job that sucked was one I found on a job board and involved working in a city 300 miles away, which was probably why it sucked to me.

    Will be 70 this year and plan to pull the ripcord, so we can probably draw the line right here and call my list done.

  6. – For my first job ever (I was 17 and had to pay for windows I broke at home :-P) I placed an ad in a local paper asking for odd jobs. One of the jobs kept me busy in school holidays for the next 4 years.
    – Second job started as tempting until I quit after 6 years moving around in the business.
    – Had a short break where I did a state sponsored course which landed me an internship for six months at a Uni where I stayed for a further 3 years.
    – A work buddy referred a job at a company which we both applied for, but I spend 6 months with the company. Quit because of the shocking environment.
    – An uncle referred my next job where I stayed for 3 years.
    – Another work buddy referred me to a contracting company where I spend another 3 years whilst driving a sweet BMW Z3 company car. I worked hard for the company and they appreciated it.
    – Left for Australia.
    – After months of sending applications and getting frustrated with recruiters finally landed a job in my new home land. Ad was placed by the company themselves, no recruiter. Spend almost 3 years there.
    – A work buddy personally knew a recruiter who landed me my next 6 year job.
    – Seek (job board) brought me to the next employer where I stayed another 3 years or so. They run their own ad, no recruiter.
    – Seek was again helpful in landing my next job though I knew the owner. Run his own ad, no recruiter.
    – Unfortunately a short gig, but I ended up doing casual contract work for my previous employer at a better rate, and working from home a lot. Still don’t like management here but the job is more fun at the moment.

    I’m in my 50’s (gasp) and not finished working yet. Only one recruiter ever got me a job, and even then there was someone I knew involved.
    I found that any job on a board offered by a recruiter has a very small chance of success. My best luck with job boards (in my case Seek) has been with companies that advertised jobs themselves.

  7. – Word of mouth (high school).
    – Walked into establishment and said I wanted to work for them (college).
    – Recruited by friend (picked up second job while working at the one above).
    – Guidance by relative and friend in field (moved to different state).
    – Newspaper ad.
    – Contract, hired at end, promoted 3 times from within (moved to different state).
    – Worked for myself.

    ~~At around this time (mid 90s), companies showed less interest in training good candidates with excellent potential~~

    – Newspaper ad, company paid 80% of my graduate degree (moved to different state/final move).
    – Called by hiring manager while I was working at above job, convinced me to switch to new industry.
    – Placed by recruiter (solid relationship with hiring agency) contract to perm, promoted 3 times from within.
    – Recruited by former colleague (who would now be my manager).
    – Recruited by former colleague.
    – Applied to job via very small, localized mail list, but knew someone at the company who helped shepherd me through hiring process.
    – Recruited by former colleague.

    The pattern that emerges these last 10 years is that new jobs are much easier when I know someone on the inside. I have been extremely fortunate, but I know how fickle this industry can be and how few organizations make long-term investments in their employees. In fact, it’s pretty much expected that employees will job hop every 3 years.

  8. Here’s mine, starting in 1985 when I was a senior in high school:

    Co-Op program thru high school (fall 1985) Admin Asst – HR
    Newspaper ad (fall 1986) (after graduation) Legal Secretary
    Newspaper ad (1987) (moved to different city) Typesetter at small newspaper
    Temp agency (1988) (company hired me in direct after working there a month) Sales Service Secretary
    Newspaper ad (1999) Mechanical Engineering Dept. Admin
    Company website posting (2008) (friend who already worked there gave me a heads-up about the posting) started as Admin Asst III, now am Admin Specialist II after two promotions

    I am an administrative assistant. I’ve always wanted to work in office settings. I do not have a college degree, although I did attend night classes and earned a 1-year certificate thru a business college.

    If I had to find a new job today, newspaper ads would be my last hope, as the classified section of the local papers have next to nothing anymore. Most companies of any size have Careers sections on their websites, or they use temp agencies around me. So my first step would be to register with a couple different agencies, plus look at and apply to specific companies I’d want to work at, whether they have job postings listed on them or not.

    When I was looking back in early 2008, I registered with 2 local temp agencies and had numerous interviews and a few job offers, but the $$ being offered was a lot less than I’d been making (anywhere from $3 to $6/hour less), so I turned them down. I don’t think my friend had anything to do with me getting the job I’m in now, but the fact that she told me about it made the difference, as this company RARELY has admin positions open in our area, so I had never even thought of even bothering to look at their website. In the 10 years I’ve been here my salary has almost doubled, mostly due to the fact that my employer is a union employer, and even though I am not in the union myself, the union benefits me. As an administrative assistant, I know for a fact that I would not be making anywhere near what I am if I went anywhere else in my area that is non-union (which is the majority of employers around me). Most places unfortunately do not value their “admins” or “secretaries” who are “just doing office work and answering the phone.”

  9. This is a fantastic topic and I look forward to seeing what shakes out.

    High school food service job: saw sign and applied in person
    College work study: recommended by friend
    College internship: came from internship coordinator office
    College internship: recommended by friend
    Summer job at F500 company: recommended by family member
    Permanent job at same company: applied for job posting (an actual piece of paper hung up in a glass case)
    Next job with an company affiliated with the old company: applied more than two dozen times until they let me in
    Next job: Tap on shoulder and told that a mutual friend was looking for people
    Current job: recruiter

    • @Cochrane: Man, how’d you wind up going so low as to become a recruiter??? :-) (Kidding — I love your trajectory!) And like you I’m looking forward to reading all the lists! Wish you the best in recruiting!

    • Hello, fellow recruiter! What industry?

  10. – Referral from former internship
    – Referral from client at their company
    – Newspaper ad
    – Referral from client
    – Referral from friend-of-a-friend
    – Referral from former co-worker
    – Referral from sales rep to one of her accounts
    – Referral from former co-worker
    – Referral from industry acquaintance after seeing job on LinkedIn
    – Referral from former co-worker after seeing job on LinkedIn
    – Former manager hired me at his own company

    • @Jenniferw: You didn’t say what the trend is… :-)

  11. Wow. Too many and too much time gone by to remember them all but I’ll tax my memory a bit…

    Middle School work experience program (late 70s) bagging groceries.
    High school: Referral from friend into fast food joint.
    Several other fast food jobs: all by walking in the front door and asking if they were hiring.
    Still high school age but post-dropout: Walked into a car stereo shop and kept pestering the owner over a period of a couple weeks until he agreed to allow me to work for a week (no pay) to see if I’d work out.
    20 years in automotive electronics, a few different employers… got the second job by cold calling then a few more by invitation from contacts.
    I got a GED and graduated from an Electronics Technician course the first time I got out of the car stereo business “forever”.
    I worked for a few months as a contractor on an assembly line at IBM kitting PCs in 1984 but got bored and went back into car stereo.
    The biggest change was when I wanted to move out of state. I chose a target area and cold called various shops asking them “How badly do you need the greatest installer in the Southeast?” until one of them bit.
    Changed careers to IT because I didn’t want to still be crawling around under dashboards once I turned 50. (Having now passed that milepost, I can definitely say that was a good idea.) Started out in IT with a temp agency by a referral from a friend.
    Next came 2 years of temp agency stuff, all found via Internet searches and job boards. Finally landed a renewable contract that the employer bought out by hiring me directly. That lasted 10 years then they laid me off and outsourced their IT entirely.
    Found current position via LinkedIn.

    I’m doing okay, considering that I have no schooling or training. Pulling in $90K+. Looking at an opportunity to move into DevOps internally within the next year.

    I’ve been reading Nick’s stuff for about 10 years. I just haven’t followed his advice exactly to the letter. I certainly am a much better interviewer by following a lot of his advice.

    – Eric

  12. -Referral fromtrade school classmate (summer job on oil exploration vessel)
    – Add on LSU Engineering dept bulletin board (part-time Broadcast Engineer)
    – Campus recruiter (First full-time RF Design Engineer)
    – Trade journal Add
    – Referral by supervisor
    – Referral by a sales rep
    -Referral by a sales rep
    – Trade journal Add
    – Trade Journal Add
    – Request by sponsor
    – job board
    – job board
    – job board
    – Free Lance job requested by contact of a friend
    Note: I turned 77 this January. This represents a work history of 56 years.

    • @DaveP: I love stories of people who work into their 70s. Are you still working?

  13. – Newspaper delivery, swim instructor/lifeguard, camp counsellor, and other odd jobs throughout high school
    – University co-op program (the university had/has a great matching program)
    – First job offer out of University came through university recruitment. (Owner was deceitful on salary and benefits, I ‘resigned’ before starting.)
    – Referral from father to someone he met at the fitness club
    – Started my own consulting business
    – Hired by prospective client
    – Promoted internally (no pay increase)
    – promoted internally
    – Recruited
    – Recruited
    – Promoted internally (no pay increase)
    – Referral from friend to business colleague
    – Hired by client
    – Hired by client
    – Recruited
    – Started my own business

    This has been an interesting exercise and I’m glad to share. On reflection here’s what I have learned first hand:
    – I agree 100% with Kevin’s comment that the bigger career advancements come from job changes rather than staying loyal (sadly). There is a flip-side to this of course in the sense of stress, job insecurity, retirement savings, etc.
    – Referrals have been source of my career advancement. Referrals are predicated on reputation and integrity.
    – Job boards have played 0 role in my career – and I have not been shy to use them extensively at various times.
    – As an employer I look first to internal referrals, then recruiters, and I simply don’t have the time for job boards – although I’m sure recruiters I have worked with use job boards

    • @ABC: Great list of lessons!

  14. – Newspaper classified ad (first job out of college)
    – Trade magazine classified ad
    – Trade magazine classified ad
    – Personal connection/referral*
    – Self-employment

    * This is how I know for certain that Nick’s ATH techniques for job hunting really *do* work. Even before I graduated from college, I had pursued this particular company because I knew someone who already worked there. Over the next eight years and three different jobs, I stayed in periodic touch with that company, and got several disappointing “Sorry, but we don’t have anything for you right now” responses along the way. One day, the phone rang (pre-Internet), and the company asked if I could meet with them to discuss a newly-created opportunity. I took a “sick day” from my job at the time to interview with them, and I received an offer within 24 hours. I learned later that the job had never been advertised to the public, which proved to me for the first time that the so-called “hidden job market” is very real.

  15. Gee, this is so simple and probably dull.

    Classified ads in New York Times (first 5 jobs, from 1968 to 1978)

    Personal recommendations (next 5 jobs, from 1978 through retirement in 2010)

    Back in the late sixties and 1970’s, the Sunday Times’ Help Wanted section had more pages than it has jobs today. I jumped around a lot, sometimes for more money, sometimes for more experience, not always wisely.

    After I developed a reputation, former co-workers would contact me, or if I were an “involuntary free agent”, I would contact them.

    The sweetest words in job hunting “Jim? Charlie said I should talk to you about working for us”

    • @Astoria Jim: You might have noticed my list has one like yours. I got a call from a VP of Sales who said one of the vendor reps she dealt with told her she had to hire me. She did. Worked like a charm. The rest of the story is that I had asked the vendor rep about that company and he told me it would be perfect for me. He was one of the best salesmen I’ve ever known. He did the rest.

      But alas, the punchline was that we were both in error. It was a toxic place and I got out after a year — and went back to running my own business. No regrets. That vendor rep is still one of my best friends.

  16. I’m 60 – and still actively working. Here’s how I got my jobs:
    – Referral from friend in high school (at a grocery store)
    – Referral from a friend in college (at the university cafeteria)
    – Walked in and asked to speak with manager (at a local hotel/restaurant)
    – Responded to a newspaper ad (for Public Relations agency)
    – Walked into IBM office in Manhattan and asked to speak with Branch Manager (at IBM)
    – Referral from a friend/work colleague (at consulting firm)
    – Referral from a previous client (at Wells Fargo bank)
    – Previous Manager recruited me to a new company (a recruiting/consulting firm)
    – Management found me on LinkedIn (at a consulting/coaching upstart)

    The best methods for me have always been through some form of networking and knowing of the right people!

  17. Networking is held out as this magical way to get a job, but the two people you asked only got a couple of jobs using what could be defined as networking.

    • I probably define networking a bit broader than most. For me… it’s about being visible, being remembered (fondly!), getting found and paying it forward! All the time – not just when I need a job. With that definition, I got 6 of my 9 jobs that way!

    • @Robert: I think most people misunderstand networking. The term is over-used and meaningless. I think Debbie has it right. This article goes in the same direction:

  18. Starting with my first job in the early 80s in high school.

    High School Jobs
    McDonald’s – applied in person, they were basically always hiring!
    Pizza place – my dad was a manager there, he hired me until I got another job
    Luggage store at the local mall – they had signs in the window, I applied in person

    College jobs
    school cafeteria – applied in person, they posted signs on a commons bulletin board
    school bowling alley – applied in person, they posted signs on a commons bulletin board
    local grocery store – applied in person, they were basically always hiring!
    Summers – worked as a backfill bank teller (for people on vacation, etc.). Found in newspaper listings

    Full-time Jobs
    EDS (Electronic Data Systems) – attended a job fair; they were hiring science majors for computer programming jobs (they actively rejected computer science majors out of college)
    Kellwood Company – I had been supporting them as an HP employee (HP had bought EDS a year or so prior), and they brought IT in house. I was offered a job to come in house

    I was laid off in 2016!

    Griffith Foods – a recruiting company that works with GF called me up; they had interviewed me a few months prior for a different job that I didn’t get. I’m not sure how they got my resume, I had it scattered to the four winds by that point. However, they remembered me from the previous interview and had two different jobs for me to interview for. I took this one (and I am now full time, not contract, which is my preference).

    I was out of work for 9 months, but I didn’t discover this website until after I was hired. I didn’t know any better since I’ve basically been employed since I was 16, so I haven’t had to job search since right out of college.
    The only job interviews that I got (phone or otherwise) were because of recruiting companies calling me – I can’t tell you the countless jobs I applied for via all the job boards. I took the postings seriously, applying only to those I was qualified to do – and nothing ever came of it.
    In Illinois you have to sign up for the state job board to get unemployment, so I did a lot of searching through there – but I hit all the big ones too. What a waste of time!

  19. My career (list is below) is a long string of referrals, with a few placement agencies or recruiters thrown in the mix. Not ONCE did I ever get a job through a job board- despite my best efforts back in the day (that was before I truly understood how to network and how valuable referrals really were!).

    In fact, I used to feel like no one would ever give me a chance unless I was referred to them by someone they trusted – because that’s what my experience had taught me. And since I had no clue how to network, that made me feel like I didn’t have any agency in furthering my career – It was all about whether I was “lucky enough” to know the right person. If not, I was “stuck”.

    Once I filled in the missing puzzle piece – networking (it IS about knowing the right people, but I could actually go out and meet them myself!) – my career took off.

    Now that I have more marketable skills, know the value I have to offer, and know how to network, I could easily get a job through networking or a job board if I wanted to – but I would much rather network my way there (or work with a good recruiter). It leads to more success for me and is a MUCH more enjoyable process than running the “HR gauntlet” and being treated poorly in the process.

    High school: (late 90’s)
    – Referral (I participated in a sport-related class, and the organizer invited me to attend training to become the new teacher for the children’s class)
    – Sort-of-Referral (I walked in to a business to ask about open jobs; turned out the business owner was neighbors with one of my high school teachers and hired me based on the fact that I knew his neighbor, without even asking the teacher about me!)

    – Referral (work study job- knew a professor there already)
    – Referral (nanny job – knew a friend of the family)
    – Referral (another nanny job- knew friend of the family)
    – Job placement service (yet another nanny job)
    – Referral from one of my professors (another work study job)

    Post college:
    – Referral (hiring manager was my former high school teacher)
    – Job placement agency with Referral-ish twist (It turned out that the woman answering the phone was a new friend/acquaintance whose party I had attended 2 weeks before! I’m sure that helped me a bit)
    – Networked and was offered an introduction to a good recruiter
    – Networking (had previously networked with sales person, who i asked to introduce me to internal recruiter)
    – Referrals (Consulting gigs on the side)

  20. 1) From an internship/class in high school (summer job with company)
    2) ROTC to military after college
    3) Recruiter (who specialized in people transitioning from military to civilian)
    4) Job ad in newspaper
    5) Recruiter
    6) Recruiter
    7) Former coworker (return to previous job)
    8) Recruiter
    9) Former coworker (return to previous job)

    Most recruiters have found me from resumes on job boards or my profile on LinkedIn. I’ve had some interviews based on responding to job ads on places like Monster, etc., but no job ever resulted from those. I seem to remember #6 to be one where I applied to the staffing agency because of a job board search, but it was still directly through them. All recruiters were retained (i.e., not corporate recruiters who were employees of hiring company).

  21. High school jobs (lifeguard, concession stand at the movie theater). Worked on family’s weekly newspaper.
    Daily newspaper: Used father’s connections and went in person to apply for a summer internship at Thanksgiving break the year before
    Newspaper asked me back full-time during my senior year in college. Worked full-time and went to school full-time to receive degree.
    Friend told me about a reporting job in her department at a wire service in another city. Interviewed, took a barrage of tests, and got the position.
    Recruited by the hiring manager for a marketing job at a nonprofit.
    Job wasn’t a fit, so I left to freelance (writing, editing.)
    Recruited to work at a news wire service. It filed for bankruptcy; one of my editors then recommended me for a job at a larger, stable organization.
    Decided it was time to have some sort of work-life balance (ha!) and to transition out of journalism. Decision was influenced by heavy recruiting from a big PR firm, which I joined a few months before turning 40.
    Big PR wasn’t a fit, so I joined a small and fun PR agency run by a family member.
    Next moved to a larger firm with a bit more structure to improve my skills.
    Moved up again to an even-bigger firm after being recruited by a former colleague.
    Left for part-time PR/marketing work when my elderly mother began to experience health issues. Laid off from this position in December 2008. Freelanced and looked for steady work for three years.
    Recruiter placed me in a new job in 2012. Worked remotely and lived in a hotel once or twice/month for just over 3 1/2 years before getting laid off.
    Applied for a position on a company website; got the job and worked for almost 18 months before a layoff.

    Nick was right. No help from the job boards!

  22. It’s hard to remember the order for some of these… the early jobs were mostly low paying food/customer service type jobs.

    Referral from parent
    Referral from friend
    Referral from friend
    Walked in and applied
    Temp job through classified which led to internal referral for additional work
    Referral from former manager
    Online ad
    Referral from former manager

    Of my last four jobs, three were directly related to a connection I made almost 20 years ago.

  23. I’m In my 60’s now and run an HR Department in the retail industry. I’ve never really added up all the jobs so I’m curious what it looks like now…..

    1) Scout leader (Gas jockey during energy crisis)
    2) Scout leader (manufacturing plant)
    3) Friend referral (landscaping crew)
    4) Sailing buddy/future boss (marine sales)
    graduate from college here
    5) Boss/sailing buddy heard an ad on the radio (oilfield service engineering 15 years)
    6) Contract recruiter cold call (technology/HR Consulting 10 years)
    7) Newspaper ad (HR manager public sector)
    8) Professional organization contact (HR Director 14 years and counting)

    So 6 of 8 jobs, and all 4 in HS/College were based on networking. And I always thought I was very introverted. I hope this helps the research efforts!

  24. Classified ad, but I had a very powerful person inside selling me, and I was told I would get the job because of him. I would have to take a couple of courses, which I was happy to do. Loved the work. (Support group coordinator at major hospital chain) I was there two years, but had to leave when I was seriously ill.

    Call from a friend telling me I should not to take the job I was applying for (from a classified ad), but should wait a bit and he would arrange something better. He had an inside pipeline to the president, who hired me on my friend’s recommendation. (Vice president of marketing for small hospital system) Two years.

    Started my own company and have run it since 1990.

    Looked for corporate work when the economy started south. I answered a classified ad, but I happened to know the person who was hiring very well. We were old friends from an organization we both belonged to. I never went through an interview with anyone but her and her VP and a panel interview that went very well and was a lot of fun. (Writer/director university communications office.) Continued to also work my at my own company and actually held up the university hire because I was working on a book that had a deadline. I worked 30 hours per week and ramped up to 40 when the book was at the publishers. Worked there for seven years until the job description was greatly altered.

    Back to my own company where I do corporate writing, editorial services and write books. Sometimes I ghost, which I really enjoy.

    So while I did job search from ads, it was never without inside networking and people boosting my candidacy. I’ve looked on job boards since, but then I go to the website of the company and usually find there’s no position, so it’s either been filled or never existed.

  25. 1) college recruiter-I took this interview as practice for interviews with firms I really wanted to work for;
    2) print ad in Chicago Tribune [well, it was 1986];
    3) a friend told his dad to hire me;
    4) retained search recruiter I had met 2 years earlier and re-engaged;
    5) staffing agency for a 90 day gig which started as contract and ended up direct hire months later;
    6) internet ad;
    7) met someone at networking event, she told me about a firm which was looking;
    8) firm found me on LinkedIn and recruited me away;
    9) internet ad
    10) …TBD

  26. OK, here’s mine. I’ll start from when I was in college:
    1. Local newspaper classifieds;
    2. Local newspaper classifieds;
    3. Community College recruitment;
    4. Local newspaper classifieds;
    5. Local newspaper classifieds;
    6. Local newspaper classifieds (first job post-4year, 1990s);
    7. Local newspaper classifieds;
    8. National newspaper classifieds;
    9. Employee referral (compensated, 2000s);
    10. National newspaper classifieds;
    11. Family member referral (uncompensated);
    12. Employer website posting;
    13. Company internal posting.

  27. 1) Newspaper Ad
    2) Referred by friend of parents.
    3) (was the sole applicant)
    4) TBD – Will be the trailing spouse in a move in a couple months.

    For Reference, I’m 22, and the first job was a summer job in high school.

  28. -High school job – neighbor was district manager – great job
    -High school job – friend of that same neighbor – great job
    -Job during college – news paper ads, help wanted signs – terrible job
    -Job during college – news paper ads, help wanted signs – terrible job
    -First professional job – Bulletin board campus career center – great 5 year job
    -New job – Changed companies and location – hired by guy who sat in the next cubicle – 17 years of great experience
    -17 years of internal promotions and career changes
    -Changed companies and location after sending out hundreds of resumes to recruiters (snail mail) one found me a job – terrible job
    -Changed company – found it via recruiter who found the prior job for me – very good job and great boss
    -Emailed CEO via LinkedIn – which led to a referral from a colleague who worked there

    Summary – found most new jobs through people I knew and recruiters – no job boards. LinkedIn did help a bit

  29. I’m only including “professional” jobs (what, you wanted to know how I got a job at an apple orchard?).

    * Temp job after grad school turned into 5 years and 3 roles
    * Left that company on threat of promotion to go study in China; interviewed a bunch in China but nothing panned out
    * Came back to the heat of the dot-com in San Francisco; spent three months trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Picked HR. Saw two jobs on job boards, applied, got one of them (with no real HR experience).
    * That company was bought out and I was let go…with plenty of c u l8r money; took a summer staycation in SF, then picked up a temp job working at various firms (real estate, consulting).
    * Temp job turned into full time work as a campus recruiting manager (they lost both of their recruiters two weeks into the season); hadn’t ever done that before. Nailed it.
    * Company went through 2 mergers and grew from 250 people to 10,000 people. I was offered my choice: stay in SF, move to Chicago, or help start up Hong Kong/Greater China. Off to HK I went.
    * A year later, the dot-com was the dot-bust, I was out of a job, the company was bankrupt.
    * A friend flew over to HK; as we sat on the beach, pondering all the imponderables, she said, “Hey, you like flying. Why don’t you try that?” Aviation was booming.
    * Returned to the U.S., did some investigation, discovered I wasn’t too old to become an airline or corporate pilot, so I went to flight school. 2 weeks after I received my private pilot’s license: 9/11.
    * Ugh.
    * Completed my training and worked as a flight instructor to build hours. “How do you make a small fortune in aviation? Start with a large one!”
    * Got out of flying (it wasn’t happening for me or for the industry; N.B. it has returned with a vengeance…of course, too late for me).
    * Applied (on a job board) to a management trainee program; helped to have a friend in the company who walked my resume over to HR. Got the job. Spent 2 years in the rotation, and was offered a not-very-enticing role in SE Asia.
    * Got recruited by a headhunter for a couple roles, one in NYC and one in NJ (where I was living). Took the Jersey job (and later moved into NYC). Spent 5 years in that role. Director-level. Totally hadn’t done any of the work at that level before. Then the Great Recession hit, one of my peers was let go, and I got left with doing his work, too.
    * Finally was let go in a restructure with a massive pile of cash and other trinkets and decided to move back to the left coast.
    * Got to Seattle, moved in with a friend, did a job search (via job boards and staffing agencies), got a job, where I spent 4 years…in lots of confusion. It never gelled. Eventually, they restructured and I was let go.
    * Now I’m back to job-hunting and have been for nearly a year. It’s a weird market. I’ve come close several times, but no banana.

    • Two patterns I see:

      1. Early jobs were *fairly* easy to come by. Later jobs…not so much.
      2. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems most folks have remained in one geographic location. I’ve moved around — a lot. That takes a toll on one’s ability to network and get noticed by serendipity.

      Any thoughts on how to deal with #2?

      • @Rick: I think the geo question is a personal choice. Some people move around a lot, but I think most “stay,” though where they are may have involved a move. The Internet makes networking easier across the country, but I find face time counts for a lot. When it comes to job hunting, I know distant jobs are tougher, so sometimes it just pays to fly out on your own dime to meet companies — even if you don’t have interviews lined up.

        • Indeed. To wit, I have interviews lined up in San Diego (flying down Sunday); Columbus, OH (just got done with the phone interview and will be scheduled to fly there in the next couple weeks); Portland, OR (phone first); and at least one in Seattle. Weird market, weird times. :-)

  30. In short, from High School (late 60’s) to the 2008 financial meltdown, 99% were from personal/professional referrals. 1% from reputable headhunters (you remember them?) in the 80’s. Says a lot.

  31. Not bragging, just been hustling for work since I was 10 years old.
    Middle School – Went around my neighborhood looking for odd jobs (made deliveries, cut lawns, washed cars, etc.).

    High School and College – painted houses, and various jobs where I walked into the establishment and applied in-person.
    Gas Station at Vo-Tech school – referred by brother.

    Post College-
    Management Training – referred by Grandfather to VP.
    Programming – Referred by agency and company contacts.
    Management – Referred by contacts at a vendor meeting. The whole process took less than 2 weeks.

  32. • Worked for father
    • Classified ad
    • Friend got me a job where he worked
    • Classified ad
    • Friend got me a job at the business he owned
    • Brother helped get me on
    • Worked for father-in-law
    • Classified ad
    • Classified ad
    • Made a nuisance of myself until they hired me
    • Applied online (gov’t job)
    • Monster (sorry)
    • Acquaintance dropped my name
    • Went to work for myself

    • No need to apologize for job boards. If they work for you, go for it!

  33. I have not read all of the lists, but I see a trend here. People who read Nick’s column tend to be more proactive in finding work. Here my list starting in college

    Girlfriend’s cousin (summer internship)
    Walked into engineering firm and gave the receptionist my resume (summer after college)
    Graduate teaching assistant
    Went to a store to buy stereo equipment and got hired as a salesperson (part-time while TA)
    Referral from regional sales manager who sold to the store I work in (first engineering job)
    Classified ad (Only time this ever worked for me)
    Referral from former co-worker
    Phone call to a former customer
    Referral from former co-worker
    Referral from a customer
    Recruited by former co-workers for a start up

    • @Jim: “People who read Nick’s column tend to be more proactive in finding work.”

      That’s one of the nicest compliments anyone could give me! Thanks!

  34. Early/Mid 80’s was my first job, my mother was a manager for a catering and party supplies store. Doing odd jobs and helping out on the weekends from around 10 or 11 until we moved when I was 15.
    Newspaper Ad – KFC – 1 promotion to Shift Supervisor
    Newspaper Ad – Toys R Us – Ticket Dept Manager
    Newspaper Ad – PC Warehouse (local PC builder)
    Cousin – Walmart – Various Department Manager positions (4 years)
    HS Friend Referral – Another PC Builder
    Same HS Friend – JJA CAC Manufacturer
    Friend Referral – Cookin’ Audio Visual – AV Sales
    Friend Referral/Also knew owner – Tech Support/IT Dept/ Sales (5 Years)
    Contracting Company – IBM GS – Systems Admin (5 Years)
    Ad on Job board / Contracting Company – Fairpoint Communications – VMware Admin/Sys Admin
    Contracting Company – Century Bank – Converted to FTE 2 promotions later, Network Manager going on 9 years

    I also have a side gig doing photography since 2004.

  35. Father’s business – summer job
    Sunday school teacher – summer job
    High School Principal – temporary job right after college
    Professor – temporary part-time job
    Newspaper ad – first permanent full-time job after college (worked there 9 years – 3 promotions)
    Former co-worker – part-time job (allowed me to take a break from full-time work while caring for my mother)
    Newspaper ad – career change (worked there 5 years – 2 promotions)
    Employment agency
    Temporary Placement Agency – ended up being hired (worked there 6 years – 1 promotion)

    Currently on a break trying to decide what I want to do next.

  36. Note that the first 6 were before job boards were a thing.

    -Brother-in-law’s brother-in-law hired me (retail/warehouse)
    -Manager from former job hired me when store closed and we were both laid off (retail)
    -Newspaper ad (retail commission sales)
    -Customer of hiring company, heard about vacancy and applied (store manager)
    -Newspaper ad (schoolteacher at private school)
    -Newspaper ad (manufacturing company)
    -Monster (government contractor)
    -Monster (defense contractor)
    -Craig’s List (software company, career change)
    -Monster (utility)

    In there also is some freelance writing outside of my 9-5 job.

  37. – Walked into shop and talked to the owner (High school job)
    – Mom worked there (High school job)
    – Referral by a friend (First job out of school)
    – Walked into shop and talked to the owner (An extra weekend job)
    – Introduction through an acquaintance to the hiring manager (Turned out to be my dream job and current job)

  38. Going way back
    1. Junior high – paperboy. Ad in the local paper, I went down to the distribution point and applied.
    2. Summer pre-college job 1 – Neighbor
    3. Summer college job 2 – Temp mail carrier, took the government test
    4. Summer college job 3 – Another neighbor
    5. Summer college job 4 – Worked in the office where my mother worked
    5. Post college summer job – got paid for work following up on my bachelor’s thesis.
    6. Grad school – jobs came with the territory. Only except was one term where I was a full time instructor. They told me I had to teach which was not part of the deal so I proposed I teach full time at a higher level, and they accepted it,
    7. Real job 1 – went to a conference with a hiring fair for new PhDs and made a good connection.
    8. Real job 2 – a headhunter called – a real one and a good one.
    9. Real job 3 – a neighbor knew an HR person who worked with a director who was looking for someone just like me.

    Networking works.

  39. What an interesting Q&A this week!

    -My father signed me up to pick cucumbers the summer I turned 10, and same for the next four summers (hey, it was the mid-1970’s, and farmers did hire kids as young as 8 to do seasonal farmwork–I was a migrant farm worker, like many of grade school classmates)
    -I signed up to work on tobacco (yes, tobacco is grown in MA) when I was 14; there were sign up sheets in my junior high school/bulletin boards
    -Went back to picking cukes after one summer on tobacco, and did that until I turned 16
    -Good friend of my grandmother was looking to hire older teenagers to work on her farm (onions, spinach, broccoli)
    -Filled out application and was hired (age 16) at Dunkin Donuts
    -First post-high school job (early 1980’s) at McDonald’s (filled out application and talked to manager)
    -English and French tutor in college (academic advisor told me to check out a resource center on campus as they were looking for tutors; walked in, spoke with the coordinator, listed my professors, got hired)
    -Saw help wanted sign in the window of a local shoe and clothing store, went in, filled out application, spoke with manager, was hired on the spot (did this job full time while tutoring part-time and while in college)
    -Store closed; got next retail job the same way (bookstore)
    -Transferred from community college to four year college; cousin of my father managed the college’s mailroom and was looking for a student worker. Stopped in to see him, introduced myself, and he hired me
    -Found various “spot jobs” at college by regularly visiting the bulletin board on which they were posted (put up fliers, walked professors’ dogs, subbed for other student workers who were away for games, vacations, spending time with boyfriends, etc.–library monitor, science center monitor, making name tags for every tree, shrub, plant on campus)
    -Hired to work in the college’s main library when another student worker couldn’t work for the summer, and was kept on for remainder of my college career (Referred by Financial Aid Office employee)
    -First post-college job–answered ad in local newspaper (telephoned the office manager, she asked me to come in for interview, and I was hired–it was 1988–no other screening was done)
    -Answered ad in local newspaper for a town library job (sent in résumé, received phone call requesting me to set up time for an interview; was hired within one week)
    -Answered ad in local Sunday newspaper for AP–the Iron Curtain was falling and the AP was looking for people who could read and speak German to translate what was going on in Berlin. I had taken German in college, and was hired.
    -Signed up with a temp agency; placed me with an insurance company, and when a position opened there, my boss encouraged me to apply (I was hired).
    -Job fair (when the insurance company was moving jobs and closing)–talked with a manager and was hired
    -Acquaintance at the gym was looking for help (she hired me)
    -Friend from the gym recommended me to my current boss

    The common thread is personal connections and referrals have been more effective in getting hired, as is getting in front of the hiring manager (much easier years ago when there were no computers doing the thinking and screening).

  40. I’ll join! Starting with summer after high school in mid-90s:

    1) Posting on my high school bulletin board
    2) Walked into college library and asked
    3) Dad’s referral at his old company
    4) Job posting at college career services office
    5) Online nonprofit job and career site (Idealist)
    6) Internship program through grad school
    7) Referral from former supervisor
    8) Referral from former course instructor
    9) Online job site (Monster)
    10)Online nonprofit job and career site (Idealist)

    Interesting — more opportunities through existing connections than I initially thought.

  41. New Jersey
    1) friend & I started lawn mowing enterprise
    2) same friend, took me along and sold restaurant owner into hiring us both. curb service & soda jerk
    3) walk in application to tannery with encouragement & reference to apply
    a. Shipping clerk
    b. Assistant to Industrial Engineer
    c. Assistant to Production VP
    SC, Iwakuni Japan, South China Sea,
    4. Draft notice motivated me to enlist in Marines
    a. Combat Intelligence clerk/analyst
    b. Photo Interpreter
    New Jersey
    5 Back to tannery after discharge. re-apply Computer Operator
    6 Respond to ad – Newspaper want ad company change – Computer Operator
    7. Response to trade paper ad – Software QA Programmer (self taught)
    a internal transfer Software QA Manager
    b.internal transfer (new Division) SQA Manager
    North Carolian
    8 recruited per internal referral program to another company SQA Manager
    a. plus, Tech Writer Mgr, Facility Manager, S/w Dev Mgr,
    Singapore expatriate
    Software Development Lab Manager
    9. North Carolina
    Int’l Sales Product/Program Manager (staff job)
    10 North Carolina – Consulting Software Program Manager
    a. SQA Manager
    b. Operations Manager Internal startup
    12.Texas. Part time Cashier retail
    13.IT Full desk recruiter (find clients for recruiting, then recruit)
    14.IT Recruiter
    15 Part Time Internal Recruiter Family Owned Mfg in Oil/Gas Industry

  42. oops
    North Carolina
    8 recruited per internal referral program to another company SQA Manager
    a. plus, Tech Writer Mgr, Facility Manager, S/w Dev Mgr,
    Singapore expatriate
    recruited internally Software Development Lab Manager
    9. North Carolina
    recruited internally Int’l Sales Product/Program Manager (staff job)
    10 North Carolina –
    referral from Outplacement counselor Consulting Software Program Manager
    11. networking/referral via peer who landed after lay off
    a. SQA Manager
    b. Internally recruited/transferred Operations Manager Internal startup
    12.Texas. Answered print ad Part time Cashier retail
    13.networking 2 steps removed, stranger friend of a friend -IT Full desk recruiter (find clients for recruiting, then recruit)
    14.networking via connection of an Outplacement peer IT Recruiter
    15 networking via laid off friend Part Time Internal Recruiter Family Owned Mfg in Oil/Gas Industry

  43. Can I play too?

    1- College placement office.
    2- Buddy who recommended me.
    3- Newspaper ad
    4- Mail campaign (mailed resumes to dozens of potential employers)
    5- Hired by a former manager from job #4
    6- Conversation at a trade show
    7- Sent my resume to hiring manager accompanied by a killer cover letter.

    These jobs cover almost 30 years and job hunting techniques have changed a lot over that time, obviously.

  44. Professional jobs (previous were all word of mouth):
    1. University recruitment
    2. Word of mouth
    3. Word of mouth
    4. Newspaper classified ad
    5. Consulting work via Internet ads
    6. CareerBuilder (to find the job) + professional reputation by word of mouth (to get the job)
    7. Internet ad + professional reputation (the Perl programming community is outstanding)
    8. Internet ad + professional reputation
    9. Internet ad + professional reputation
    10. Internet ad + professional reputation
    11. Internet ad + professional reputation

    Once I get the time, I will blog about how to (ab)use Internet job boards (in the “You don’t know a tool into you know at least 3 ways to abuse it” sense).

  45. 1. babysitter – I was the oldest child, automatic qualifications, parents on street called me, word of mouth to other parents. Client list passed down to my sister when I went to college
    2. summer intern at dad’s work, two summers – job reserved for college aged kids of employees
    3. Employment agency for 1st job after college, new city
    4. Temp agency to permanent
    5. Contract work offered because better qualified husband unavailable
    6. Temp agency
    7. Contract at husband’s office – new city
    8. Referred by university contacts in husband’s office
    9. Referred by contractor in my office
    10. Newspaper ad
    11. Newspaper ad in new city- contract work
    12. Newspaper ad – permanent position
    13. Back to #11 for 5 years
    14. Temporary agency in new city (3 positions in 5 years)
    15. Referred by university professor

    #1 began in 1970, #15 in 2010.

  46. 1. Networked during summer program to get work study position during college
    2. Internal college posting
    3. Referred by friend
    4. Government job board
    5. Industry specific job board
    6. Recruited
    7. Industry specific job board

  47. 1. Neighbor – high school job
    2. Friend of parents – 1st college summer job
    3. Friend of parents – 2nd college summer job
    4. College friend referral to hiring manager – 1st full time job after college
    5. Grad school friend referral to hiring manager
    6. Recruiting firm
    7. Recruiting firm (found me on LinkedIn)
    8. Recruiting firm (found me on LinkedIn)

  48. 1. Customer – recruited directly by owner (high school job)
    2. Friend of parent
    3. Friend of parent – similar pattern as Jacob above :-)
    4. Connection through family lawyer (helping his friend hire someone)
    5. Friends at a start-up recruiting
    6. Professor lab contact
    7. Professor lab contact

    Bottom line: all about connections for me.

  49. Signed up for the Army
    Classified add
    Looked up an electrical company in the phone book, sent them a resume, became an apprentice
    Staffing Agency
    Family Friend (networking)
    College staff member (networking)
    Staffing Agency
    Former college classmate (Networking)

  50. Fun! Starting from high school:

    Various jobs every summer at the YMCA teaching kids how to swim, membership desk, life guard at summer camp, youth rec center. My dad was the Exec Director so I had some help but also developed a reputation as a reliable employee and hard worker so even after he retired I was hired back, I’d like to believe, on my own merits.

    In college, which included a hiatus and switching majors and universities when I returned: waitress, responding to a newspaper ad; video store clerk, saw the job posted on the door of the video store when I went in as a customer and I submitted a resume; bookstore clerk, responded to posting on the company website; bank teller, a friend told me about the job. Her mom was a branch manager at a different branch location; transferred to another branch in a different city and when I met with the manager I said “hello, how are you?” To which she replied “I’m feeling just capital.” I responded “I’m your huckleberry.” She offered me the job at the end of the interview. We’re still great friends.

    Post-college career: department administrator at the corporate HQ of a fruit processing company; an acquaintance I had from my time at the YMCA asked me to apply. The position reported to her, she was the department manager; started as a student recruiter then promoted to career services manager at a non-profit post secondary technical school, a friend working there told me about the job and said I’d be perfect for it, and talked me up to the president of the school. I originally met this friend when we worked together at the YMCA. Now in my current position as a corporate recruiter for a regional healthcare system. I made a lot of connections with various employers during my time as a career services manager. At the time I was looking for a job in HR, a recruiter from that healthcare organization emailed me to let me know she was resigning. So I applied for her job via the company website. Our connection was not one where she knew me well enough to recommend me and actually didn’t know I applied. I did well during the interview, my skills were highly transferable, I had very good professional references, and I got the job.

  51. What an interesting and helpful exercise (and what a challenge to those of us who are, ahem, a little more “mature”):

    Starting around 1958
    Shoe salesman – friend worked in shoe store
    Swedish bakery helper – sign in window
    Drug Store helper – sign in window
    Grocery store helper – through a friend
    Graduated high school – 1960
    Graduated proprietary drafting school – 1961
    Draftsman – school placement office
    Attended Ohio State University – 1962 – due to friend who said they had great parties
    Factory Worker (summer) – found through friend
    Waiter in bar – through a friend (lasted one nght)
    Draftsman (summer) – newspaper ad
    Draftsman (summer) – newspaper ad
    Army – through ROTC program
    Attended Kent State University – 1976 – based on casual comment from peer at last duty assignment
    Red Cross internship – school placement office
    Customer Service Manager – networking / informational interviewing
    Freelance Writer – cold calling
    Salesman – newspaper ad
    Salesman – newspaper ad
    Salesman – newspaper ad
    Salesman – newspaper ad
    (Care to guess if I was a successful salesman?)
    Training Consultant – networking / informational interviewing
    Recruiter – through a friend (absolutely bombed)
    Data Manager – placement agency (I paid the agency out of desperation)
    Configuration Manager – promotion
    Technical Writer – through a friend
    Configuration Manager – called back by previous employer
    Configuration Manager – newspaper ad (new employer / city)
    University Career Counselor – networking / informational interviewing
    Staff Support (non-profit employment service) – networking / informational interviewing
    Job Developer – networking / informational interviewing
    Youth Employment program – networking / informational interviewing
    Employment Counselor / Teacher – networking / informational interviewing
    Job Developer – ad on
    Employment Counselor / Teacher – called back by previous employer (current position)

    Nick, I really appreciate this exercise, because I have worked in the “employment” field since 2001, and there is so much “do this, don’t do that, this works, that doesn’t” information and opinion floating around that it’s nice (and certainly helpful) to see how your readers actually got jobs.

  52. Amazing how many jobs you’ve had when you look back –

    1. Family auto repair business (all 6 kids had to do this as we aged in/out)
    2. Friend of family – PT deli job
    3. HS Career Center – summer job at Disney World
    4. College Career Center w/professor recommendation – @ local weekly entertainment newspaper
    5. Recommendation through supervisor at job #4 – @ local daily newspaper (big step up!)
    6. Internal promotion to shift manager – same daily newspaper
    7. Internal promotion to department manager – same daily newspaper
    8. Ex-manager recruitment (to IT service vendor of above newspaper)
    9. Recruited by customer site (from IT service vendor #8)
    10. Internal promotion (IT Director)
    11. Internal promotion (Production Director – folded previous position in)
    12. Internal promotion (Operations Director – folded previous position in)
    13. Internal promotion (VP Operations – folded previous position in)
    14. A consultant who had worked as a vendor for me in jobs 12 & 13 recommended me for my current position.

    So really, except for the high school and college jobs, it’s been all through networking, especially when moving companies. It’s all about building relationships and keeping them going.

  53. How did I find my jobs?
    Born in a cow-town (literally–dairy, corn, grains, pickles, berries), my dad hauled me around town when I was 10 or 12 years old, indenturing me to anyone within biking (one speed) range.
    In the middle of all this, dad bought a berry-box operation, and I was collared into semi-slave labor along with my brother. (Listening to Chicken Man on the radio while we worked helped alleviate our plight.)
    So until I was 16, I picked raspberries, strawberries, and pickles, and assembled and packed boxes.
    When I became “legal” at 16, my dad hauled me into his place of work, where I worked part time as a “test observer” for the new automatic scoring system for bowling. For those of you who don’t think of bowling as “work”, try it sometime for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. It wasn’t long until all the test observers were sporting band-aids on their thumbs and two bowling fingers. (I can’t remember if they had bowling gloves in 1965.)
    The engineers constructed a bowling machine, and my job really was to observe. I manually recorded the score to match with the machine’s score.
    After graduating high school, dad kept up his recruiting efforts, landing me a job in the metal plant. I was making big union wages: $3.65 an hour.
    I did this for a couple of years, starting college while I was working. I took a voluntary layoff, and landed a part time job at McDonald’s to keep financing my education. (Walked in, and signed up.)
    I was called back to work a year later, which was timed right because just about that time my bride-to-be returned from overseas. Having survived my dad’s recruiting for almost ten years, I thought that I was pretty well situated, but soon discovered that I had married a recruiter.
    My new recruiter didn’t actually recruit for me so much as strongly suggest that I look at the great wide world of opportunity in my specific geographical area and carve out a career.
    I found something through the want ads, and latched onto an institution that kept me off the streets for six years. Two promotions within that period gave me the confidence to self-recruit, being that the recruiter I married was going to be too busy taking care of our baby to help me out in that regard. (Or, at least, that’s the story she gave me.)
    Motivated by new-found confidence and impending fatherhood, I began answering ads in the paper, some of which were recruiters.
    I scored on my own, sans recruiter, via a help-wanted ad for a Warehouse Manager.
    Stayed with that opportunity for thirty years.
    The company got bought out, and I got bumped out, just as the Great Recession was heading into full swing. The number of jobs literally dipped below the zero line (Manpower graph, 2010), and my confidence got totally sucked up by The Dark.
    Unemployment insurance, severance, a short gig (found by a real recruiter), more unemployment insurance and food stamps kept me going while I was unsuccessfully navigating all of the new, and some of the old, methods of applying for a job.
    After six months of out-patient treatment for Major Depressive Disorder, concurrent with a year-and-a-half of unemployment, a help-wanted ad in The Sunday Paper landed me a survival job that I had actually survived for six years, if you include the last year that I spent in semi-retirement.
    I’ve always felt that more attention should be spent on ads in the Sunday paper, both by hunters and seekers. If I do go back to work, which many people do after retirement, my method of work search will be knocking on doors and checking out the Sunday paper.

    • Love your description of the “recruiters” in your life. Sad to hear about the darkness you’ve experienced the last few years. Hope you’re doing much better now!

      Finally, I’m intrigued at the idea of looking in the Sunday paper. There was a previous discussion in this thread saying the same thing. I’m going to consider that as just one tactic in The Search. At 61, it seems important to be open to many approaches.

      Best of luck to you, X.

  54. A little late but I’ll add mine

    – friend’s recommendation – part-time janitor
    – government employment office – hotel housekeeping
    – professor’s referral – community college security
    – same professor’s referral – drafting job at a local sweatshop
    – same professor’t referral – another drafting job with major employer
    – internal job board – IT
    – outsourced by company – IT
    – college recruitment – intern engineer
    – internal hire – promoted to engineer after spending 18 months as intern
    – Contract – engineer
    – Contract – CNC Tech
    – Contract – Mechanical Designer

  55. My first job was doing piecework for my brother. From that job my dad, who started off in tool & die way back when and rose to the rank of industrial engineer, taught me the importance of efficiency and handling things as few times as necessary.

    After I graduated high school, I needed a summer job to earn money for college. I went to a local factory and applied for a job in light assembly (DIP switches). Technically not piecework, but similar in that it was a very repetitive, boring job. However, it paid above minimum, and so in that regard was better than working in fast food as many of my friends were doing. This was my summer job throughout my college years in the 80s.

    Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I did not have a job lined up. The career center at school was worthless, so I searched the newspaper ads and wound up getting a job in the Loop as a commission agent for an insurance broker. That was not my cup of tea, so after 15 months I ended up going back to school to work on my master’s.

    After finishing that, I didn’t have a job. (Schools are great for getting you through their degree program, but after that they drop you like a hot potato – I wish there had been more emphasis on helping students become gainfully employed. You’d think it’d be in their best interests, if for no other reason than employed alumni are more likely to make financial contributions compared to unemployed alumni.) But my mother was terminally ill at this time, so I stayed at home to help with her care. I didn’t actively pursue employment until after she passed.

    Next, I saw an ad in the local paper advertising a temporary position at the junior college, covering for a faculty who was going on maternity leave. I didn’t get that position, but they did take me on as an adjunct for a few semesters.

    After that, I worked in various positions via a local temp agency. This was in the mid 90s. I took some time off to go on a missions trip and then later studied abroad for a year, and when I came back I resumed working through the temp agency. It was via this temping stint that I wound up getting a full-time position in A/R at the local newspaper. I stayed there about two years, resigning to pursue more study abroad, which didn’t pan out.

    When I came back, I needed another job. I found out about a local department store needing holiday help. One of my former colleagues from the newspaper was working there as a store manager, so I applied and got a part-time job which ended up extending well past the holidays.

    PT was better than nothing, but I needed a FT job. I recalled that at one of the places where I had done temp work, the boss was impressed with my performance and had actually given me a $100 cash bonus for the week (not through the temp agency ;) ), so I figured I would drop in at his factory and see if he had any openings. So that is how I got my next job, and I stayed there for about 18 months.

    After that, I got a job working in a church office doing DTP, updating records, and the like. I had found out about this job through the local paper. I stayed there about a couple of years, and resigned to work on my own business (tutoring / ESL).

    The tutoring business was always a struggle (we eventually dissolved, as the economy killed what opportunities were available), so I ended up applying at the community college, where I have been an adjunct faculty for the past 10+ years. This teaching position is really a dead-end job and I’m so ready to move on, but for financial reasons I can’t quit right now. So I’ve been looking for the past couple of years and haven’t gotten anything yet, apart from a “survival job” that I started just after Thanksgiving last year. I got that job as a walk-in – was literally driving down the road and saw they had a “HELP WANTED” sign posted on the side of the road.

    What I’ve noticed in my experience:

    1) If I get a chance to make personal contact with someone, then I have a fairly decent chance of actually getting the job. But applying online is like spitting into the wind.

    2) Smaller / local companies are easier to break into than larger / national companies. There is generally less bureaucracy to deal with, which I think improves my chances.

  56. OK, interesting topic this. So heres my 2 bits worth.
    1. Applied to a classified ad (good role and pay)
    2. Referred (best job I’ve had. Great culture, people and learning)
    3. Headhunted (lasted all of 2 months. Neither the company nor the role was anything like that informed)
    4. Headhunted (bad company, unclear role, great pay hikes)
    5. Ex boss looked for me (Great pay, OK company, bad colleagues. Lasted 2 years, turned out to be the worst job I held)
    6. Alumni was hiring manager (so-so company but a great role that I really enjoyed)
    7. Classifieds and job boards not working, network is small because of going enterpreneurial for past 4 years. Stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

    In my experience, colleagues referral worked far better than other methods of recruitment. Probably because there is enough human int going in on the candidates as well as the company’s behalf.

  57. I found my first job through job fair that is conducted in our school a few years ago. In my experience in job hunting, online job searching is where I always get a job and other than that I’m also seeking a help from recruitment firms in the Philippines to help me in finding a job that is suitable for me.

  58. I will start in elementary school, but will include job offers I turned down (includes an “impossible” offer}:
    1. best friend sold me his weekly paper route when he got a daily route
    2. answered ad in college physics dept. for self=paced class tutor.
    3. brother got me job at apartment complex as janitor (summers and Christmas breaks, overlaps with next job).
    4. answered ad in physics dept. for undergraduate teaching asst., continued on into grad school, part of the time as research asst.
    5. College over recruited, so several of the advanced grad students were shipped out to look for visiting Asst. Professorships for one year (learned I wasn’t that good at interviews, but got one).
    6. Mailed resumes to ~eighty companies listed as offering jobs to physicists, got a job offer (but they would not wait a month till I could exit the professorship, so I turned the job down).
    7, Actually before starting the professorship, I got a job offer through interview at college placement center for the next year at a military lab in remote California (close to Death Valley). Would have taken my new bride out there, but my girlfriend didn’t want to be my wife, and I wasn’t going there single.
    8. Did some additional quarter time graduate asst. work
    9. Offered job with government agency through college placement center(35 years now)
    10. A couple of months later offered job at company (interviewed though college placement center. (turned down)

  59. 1. Father’s friend (summer)
    2. Mother’s friend (summer)
    3. School internship (summer)
    4. School job board
    5. School job board
    6. Internet newsgroup
    7. Friend recommendation
    8. Hired self – own startup
    9. Networking & The Working Resume <- Starting reading ATH, 2002!
    10. Hired self – own startup
    11. Hustled for promotion
    12. Hired self – own startup
    13. Contract became Hire (where I am now)