How to Look For a Job Without Saying So

February 10, 2010 | job searching,networking | Tags: , , , | Written by: admin

Here is part 3 in my series on networking. This week’s article is by Kevin Kermes of Build the Career You Deserve. Follow along with his client’s networking experience so you can model her at your next event!

How to Look For a Job Without Saying So

A coaching client came to me with an opportunity that appeared to be wrapped in a problem. Christine was a financial services executive who had been downsized as a result of crashing markets.  Her opportunity: to attend a tradeshow where the top companies for whom she would like to work would be attending. Her problem: As she put it, “Kevin, if I go around just handing out resumes, I am

First, there are more problems with attending an event like this with a ream of resumes in hand besides feeling like a loser. While mindset is of the utmost of importance, even if you felt good about handing out your paper, the technique is littered with landmines in this instance. Primarily because the people working those booths at tradeshows aren’t initially motivated to help find you a job (but, as you will see, you can get them there). Frankly, they are probably just happy to still have their job (definitely the case in financial services). So the approach needs to be much more strategic.

We started by talking about the companies who would be there that she wanted to approach. This was pretty easy, since there was a list. Next, we determined which of the product lines or specialties in those companies suited her best (annuities, mutual funds, etc.). Then, we identified who the keynote speakers were at the tradeshow for each of these product types and what the focus of their presentation was going to be. Finally, armed with all this information, she researched some interesting articles that paralleled these topics – some agreeing, some disagreeing, some that were one-offs.  With all this homework done, we then formulated a plan. One that involved networking this trade show without ever saying “Are you hiring?”

Knowing which companies she was interested in, Christine’s plan was to approach each using this technique:

Christine: Hi there – Christine X. You know, every time I see you guys in the press your Morningstar rating just keeps climbing.

Company Rep: Yeah, it’s been a tough year but our managers keep doing well in spite of it. I’m John by the way. Who are you with Christine?

Christine: I was with Citi, but was RIFed a few months back. I decided to come down here and check out what’s going on in the industry.

Company Rep: I see. (starting to retract…expecting the “are you hiring?”)

Christine: John, are you planning on going to the talk being put on by Dave Y about Mutual Funds?

Company Rep: (surprised he didn’t get hit up about hiring) I am going to try, but I am not sure if I have to man the booth or not. It looks pretty interesting.

Christine: It does. If you don’t get a chance to go, I’d be happy to share my notes. But I was also reading a recent article in Barrons by James Z about Mutual Fund Regulation. I’m not sure if Dave Y is going to get into that. He raised some great points. Did you read James Z’s article?

Company Rep: No, I didn’t but it sounds interesting.

Christine: It was. I’d be glad to email it to you. Here is my business card. Let’s trade and I will be sure to send it off once I get back home.

Company Rep: Great. I’d appreciate that.

Christine: Sure thing. I’ll let you get back to things. I know you are busy. It was great meeting you and I’ll get that article to you sometime next week.

Company Rep: Thanks.

Christine’s approach is all about networking. Establishing rapport and beginning to work through the cycle of “know, like, trust.” She will follow up with John via email and, if he is open to networking, begin seeing who he knows and how he can help her. After all, in the spirit of “give to get,” she has begun the process by sharing information with him that he found valuable.

What this also does is position her better to understand what John’s company needs and how she does (or doesn’t) fit into the picture. She can more effectively navigate towards the best opportunities for her knowing where her skills fit and are needed versus giving some blanket “elevator pitch” that isn’t targeted towards the ideal job she is seeking.

Kevin Kermes publishes the ‘Build the Career Your Deserve’ e-zine with over 21,000+ subscribers. If you are ready to empower yourself with the vital tools and information necessary to find the job you want and build the successful career you deserve, visit him now


  1. Great article. It’s so more subtle than the obvious, “I’m looking for a job. Please help.”

    In engineering, people use “Consulting” to fill in employment gaps. “So you got downsized. So now you’re consulting?”

    Comment by Raj Sodhi — February 11, 2010 @ 1:28 am

  2. Thanks Raj!

    It definitely is. It’s also more of a long-term strategy. You keep the relationship going and it’s give and take.

    Yes, consulting is often used to fill gaps! Then again, people often are indeed consulting. Do you see a lot of “fake consulting” in the engineering field going on?

    Comment by Ilona Vanderwoude — February 11, 2010 @ 6:31 am

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