Newspapers, Job Fairs Least Effective for Job Searching

Once again, networking, the Internet and social networks like LinkedIn rank higher than responding to old-school newspaper ads or attending job fairs. If you're on the job hunt, get your social skills in order because it's all about whom you know and who knows about it.

In "Kramer Vs. Kramer," the Oscar-winning Best Movie in the late 1970s that highlighted divorce in America, we watch Dustin Hoffman's character desperately search for a job over coffee while going through the paper in a diner and circling jobs he's interested in with a pen. Hoffman's Kramer was let go from his most recent art director job at one advertising firm and needs a new job so as not to lose custody of his son. He goes so far with one potential job that he busts in on a Christmas party and, with intense chutzpah, wills himself into a new position by telling his potential employers something like: "I need to know today. My offer to work for you is for today only."
After a few minutes, the bosses return and give him a job. It's nice in the movies, but does it ever really work that way?
It can, though I imagine you might rub some the wrong way if you are overly aggressive and pushy. But having some confident social nerve-confidently balanced social nerve-without the desperation tactics is probably better advice.
The memory of that movie stands out for one reason: watching Kramer circle newspaper ads and then visiting the different places by foot, portfolio in tote, rejection not a problem at all. Who circles newspaper ads anymore with the large volume of Web-based job boards, social networks, and specialized IT and user group organizations that hold their own conferences?
It seems so long ago that people actually looked at newspaper ads for jobs, but with the range of unemployment going on in the United States, companies still advertise in newspapers, though they are struggling to keep up classified revenues that once buoyed many a newspaper to profit. You don't have to look much further than the Boston Globe or countless others in the country to see the changes.
A recent poll of human resources executives by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas confirms what most of us could have guessed: Newspaper ads and job fairs are fairly ineffective job search tools, according to a press release.
"[J]ob fairs ranked as the least effective job-search method, scoring an average rating of 1.6 [out of 5]. It was followed closely by responding to newspaper classified ads and sending resumes to employers, which each averaged 1.7 on the rating scale."
But John Challenger, vice president and spokesperson for Challenger, Gray & Christmas, doesn't think you should abandon those methods completely, as he said in a press release.

"This is not to say that the Internet has not revolutionized job searching. It has certainly made it easier for someone in San Francisco, for example, to search for job openings in Miami. In addition, the ability to conduct keyword searches has reduced the amount of time it takes to target the type of position a person is seeking," said Challenger. "Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal, including networking, the Internet, newspapers, job fairs and even cold-calling employers."

Although he doesn't really explain why, he does intimate that you should never limit yourself in one area. If you only network in person and don't widen your network online, you could be limiting your options. For Challenger, the broadest view that allows for the most opportunities is the best one. Put that in your pipe.

It's hard to imagine for technology jobs, though, that newspaper classifieds would be something worth your time. Hopefully, companies looking for strong technical skills would be using Internet job postings, social networks and other efficiency and reference-based technologies at our disposal. The real question is, are you? Not sure how to leverage LinkedIn?

As detailed in an earlier blog post on LinkedIn:

"Both increasing visibility and connectability are key to ranking well in LinkedIn. The more connections you make, the more visibility you will have. That's important because you want to make it easy for people to find you. As Guy Kawasaki [a prolific Internet VC VP in Silicon Valley] writes: 'People with more than 20 connections are 34 times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five.'"