The October 19, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter is a special edition. A reader shares his story, about how he talked shop to meet the people who led him to the manager who hired him:


I got the job! Finally, I will be moving to [new city] for a great job. I still don’t believe what I was able to accomplish with your guidance.

I got a job:

  • In my target industry,
  • In my target city,
  • In my target role,
  • At a high level and not an entry level.

All of that despite the fact that I was unemployed for 10 months, was moving to a city where I didn’t know anyone, and had little experience in that industry.

In this economy, I have found that submitting my resume to HR yielded no results in a year of trying. The only way I had any success was networking my way to the hiring manager and talking shop. And all my skills in that area came from you.

Ordinarily, the newsletter is not archived online. You can read the whole thing only if you subscribe. But this week’s edition is so important that I’ve archived it, and you can find it here: How I got the job: Talking shop.

Please read the full column online. Then join in the discussion:

Can you really ignore job postings, toss out your resume, and go have fun meeting people to win the job you want? I think yes. So does the reader who submitted this week’s success story.

What do you think? Have you ever talked shop… all the way into a new job?


  1. I practiced this with a company singled out two years ago. Still don’t work there, but would like to. However I am friends with an HR guy in the company and in fact he moonlights for me at my store part time! Perhaps he was working me at the same time I was working him and he won? Matters not since we get along very well and share much in common.

  2. ‘Can you really ignore job postings, toss out your resume, and go have fun meeting people to win the job you want?’ If the Sources of Hire survey from tells us anything, it is that there is not one dominant source that we can use to the exclusion of all others. My advice to our job seeker clients is to do everything, use every resource available, but prioritize your time based on the likelyhood of success.

  3. @Chris Walker: Good point. Prioritize based on the likelihood of success. So if you’re using CareerBuilder, that means about 3% of your time (according to CareerXroads). That’s the % of hires that companies polled said they made from Monster last year. If you’re devoting 10 hours per week to job hunting, that means about 20 minutes on Monster. And 31 seconds for TheLadders. Sounds about right.

  4. Nick, Thank you again for all your great work and encouragement through the years.

  5. Great story; also a story about the application of persistence. Focus and persist.
    It seems to validate this quote

    Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying. Persistence is having the same goal over and over Seth Godin

  6. @Nick: I should add that we also advise never to use any sites that charge job seekers for the privilege. So devote another 31 seconds to making friends. It’s fun.

  7. In the link below, a college prof laments the inability of other college profs to effectively “sell themselves” when applying for a teaching job at his college.

    He also scratches his head about how people react negatively to his comment that we all are selling something.

  8. Almost – I talked with one of the partners about his paper, which lead to me asking about the qualifications of the people he hires (degrees, soft skill stuff, etc), and the problems he’s facing (and the entire industry as a whole).

    He thought the starting salary for a person of my experience was low (I’m changing careers from 1 field to another; he’s looking for a master’s degree, I’m going in with a BA) but he’s got me thinking now and I’m definitely going to figure out a way to work in his company.

    All this information from talking about the job and his field for 30 minutes…amazing…

  9. @Thomas Bell: Pretty cool, eh? ;-) Just keep doing it. These “offline” conversations allow managers to open up. If you’re there to listen, you become a buddy. And that means you can later ask for advice. Advice leads to introductions, and that leads to jobs. If your new buddy doesn’t grab you up first!

  10. @ Nick – very cool indeed! I did the same thing with another director and she pointed me to the government departments that are hiring. It can’t get any better than this.

  11. Oops…I forgot to write that these departments haven’t posted anything on their public job sites -> an even better bonus. I gotta love how all your tips are working and thanks for this – I hope I can repay the favor by telling people about your website and techniques.

  12. @Thomas Bell: Just tell ’em to buy a PDF book or two… ;-) Thanks for the kind words. I love it when someone tries these methods and a light bulb goes off! This is simple stuff, folks, and it’s lost in the overwrought “process” that employers and job hunters get so lost in.