Phone Books are Still Useful for Your Job Search


A few years after high school I moved to a small town in Texas. Since my boyfriend made pretty good money, I really didn’t need to work, but I was going crazy stuck in the house, and I really did not know anyone. And without a driver’s license, my employment options were limited.

One Thursday, on a whim, I broke out the local phone book. I opened it up to the white pages and decided to call the first business I came across. Not worried if I sounded ridiculous, I asked them if they had any positions open and I couldn’t believe it when they actually had a position open. Talk about pure luck!

I interviewed the next day and was hired to work in their warehouse. I ended up working part-time there (the town’s local newspaper) for almost four years before they were bought out. Best of all, the office was around the corner from the street I lived on; no driver’s license needed!

Although that was almost eight years ago, it did teach me that sometimes the first step in job hunting is just taking an actual step and following it through. I have suggested that idea to several friends and even a few family members in "desperate times". A couple of them were hired by the companies they found in the good old phone book.

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It's all who you know

by Julie Martin
(Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

In August of 2001, I was a receptionist at a local datacom company who had just been told I was about to get laid off. I called my insurance agent, with whom I had a friendly relationship, because she had handled my car insurance for several years.

I asked her if she was hiring and she said no, but she gave me the phone number for her district sales manager, and I called him.

He called some of his agents, who worked for Allstate, and I was placed within an agency by the time I was laid off. I also had a new career path, due to this networking strategy.

It didn't work out at that office, but I earned my customer service license in insurance for the State of Florida, and the next office I worked at was a perfect fit, and I stayed there for almost three years.

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Temporary Employment - Your Foot in the Door...not somewhere else!!

by R.L. Smith
(Quincy, MA)

There was a time when being a temp was dimly viewed-by those hiring temps and even by those who were temps. The joke used to be that the only qualification to be a temp was to have a pulse, but temporary employment can lead to some good opportunities.

It is amazing how far being on time to work, showing up, and actually doing the job gets you. Both temp jobs I had turned into full time jobs. This was in terrible economies and in one case, I was hired in the midst of layoffs, at a good salary.

There is a saying there is always a shortage of good people.

I realize the temp market has changed a lot. However, once you get your foot in the door, you will make a valuable contact - one that might turn into that next full time job.

Go beyond temp agencies. Check out craigslist, online bulletin boards, and even bulletin boards at the supermarket. Ask people in your social circle if they have a need for temporary office workers.

The informal network works! For example, I got a freelance training job while I was volunteering at the local computer center.

Sometimes we think of job hunting as a straight line. It's more like a maze. Be aware that you are in control of making up your own maze, hopefully leading to a direct job route!

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Creative Job Search Strategies

Readers share creative job search strategies they have used to find great job leads.

The Thirty Second Spot
Washington, DC

I volunteer one night a week teaching computer classes at a community agency. Between classes, the volunteers all congregate in a lounge together. Most of us only know each other by name, and I only know where a few people work.

When I began looking for a new position, I memorized a thirty-second speech about my background and what I hoped to be able to bring to an employer in the future. I practiced it every day on the way to work and with my family.

The next time I went to the Community Center, I asked some of the other volunteers to critique my speech during our break. I gave the speech to as many people as would listen under the guise of having them critique it. I was actively pursuing my job strategy, but not actively pursuing a particular job. The second week I practiced my speech on the other volunteers, one of the volunteers said he had a contact for me! He gave me the name of a high-ranking friend in a company in our city. I called the next day and had an interview the next week. I did not accept that position, but I will use this strategy the next time I search.

This strategy worked for me because it forced me to become very clear about how my backround had prepared me for the kind of job I wanted. It also forced me to become comfortable talking about myself to strangers. The more I practiced my speech, the more I believed I was the right person for the next job I wanted! And because people often make judgements about you within the first thirty seconds of meeting you, and I was making a great impression in that amount of time.

Believe in yourself and tell them why they should believe in you too!

Lisa's Response

What a great job search strategy!

Barbara, your tip is fantastic. Asking people to help you practice your 30 second summary is a great, subtle way to let people know you are job searching and tell them about your qualifications. So often people don't network effectively because they are nervous about asking acquaintances to pass along job leads; your strategy is a fantastic, low stress way to let people know you are looking for job leads.

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