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Hiring appears to be on the upswing here and in other metropolitan areas. Donlin shares tips for your job search this Spring.
By Kevin Donlin

Whether you’re a new college grad or a seasoned executive, if you’re hitting the pavement in search of work this spring, here’s good news …

After more than a year in the dumpster, hiring appears to be on the upswing with employers in the Twin Cities and other metropolitan areas.

“Things are ramping up exponentially. This year, we’ve seen a lot of upper managers and directors being hired,” says Linda Forseth, President of recruiting firm IQ Staffing Solutions, in Spring Park, Minn. (www.iqstaffingsolutions.com).

Forseth reports about a 90% increase in job placement requests from corporate clients since September 2009, and expects hiring needs to trickle down in the coming months. “As companies get their top-end needs filled, they look at bringing in the troops behind them.”

What does this mean for you and your job search?

“Networking is still first and foremost,” advises Forseth. “Talk to people who know people in the companies you want to work for.”

Tip: Networking is a numbers game. But don’t think of the 200 phone calls you have to make. That’s a discouraging figure. Instead, break large networking goals into smaller tasks.

Let’s say you have a list of 20 target employers and you need to meet someone at each company. You can do that in just one week, if you talk to one person at four employers per day, for 5 days.

It may require 5, 10, 20, or more phone calls a day to connect with people at four employers. That’s about two to three hours of research, smiling and dialing, and record keeping.

Yes, this is work. And you may feel uneasy calling people you don’t know. So, try this mind shift: Instead of calling to network, which can seem selfish, try being helpful when calling others.

Tip: People won’t take your call more than once if you appear desperate or selfish. But they will talk if you offer helpful news, or connect them with someone in your network, or put them in touch with potential clients/vendors for their business.

Why all this emphasis on networking by phone? Can’t email suffice?

Not according to Amy Langer, Co-Founder of Minneapolis, Minn.-based SALO, a placement firm for accounting and finance professionals (salollc.com).

“To exchange facts and data, send an email,” she advises. “To show interest in someone and convey your personality, make a phone call.”

The personal touch is especially important in today’s job market.

“Your network is critical. Employers are looking to people they worked with in the past and bringing them back. They think: ‘We know this is a good person and they won’t mess us up,’” says Langer, who cites a client company that recently hired five people, three of whom were prior employees.

Tip: Networking works both ways: forwards and backwards. Never neglect the people you’ve met on the job — every job — dating back to high school. Because your next employer may be your last employer, or the one before that.

Don’t forget past customers, vendors, and competitors, all of whom are rich sources of employment opportunity for the person who looks back with an open mind.

And, going forward, don’t overlook contract or interim positions as a way to get your foot in the door with employers.

“You might have to accept a position with less salary than you’re used to, but we’re seeing an increase in permanent hiring after contract assignments,” says Cory Lynch, CEO of staffing firm Team Personnel, in St. Paul, Minn. (www.teampersonnel.com).

Lynch reports a sharp increase in requests for contact and temporary labor. “We were up 43% in February 2010 versus last year’s figures, and we’re up 55-60% in March.”

Tip: If you take a temporary or contract assignment, make the most of it. Once inside an employer, do three things:

1. Learn all you can about how they make and save money. How can you contribute?
2. Learn about their clients, vendors, and competitors. How can you contribute?
3. Learn about their problems and opportunities. How can you contribute?

See the commonality? People who contribute in any capacity — full-time or part-time — get noticed. And contributors too valuable to do without, get hired.

Now, go out and make your own luck.

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.” Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit www.MyNewJobHunt.com