Job-hunting advice for professionals from a pro

March 25, 2010 at 11:47 am 1 comment

There’s plenty of places online (this blog included!) where job seekers can get advice and tips. Yet especially when one is just starting a job search and perhaps hasn’t had to look for a professional job in many years, there are few (low-cost) groups where one can turn for support and networking to kick off a search. Tom Dezell, a workforce expert, works for such a program, the Professional Outplacement Assistance Center (POAC), which is a service of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Workforce Development.

This program was started in the early 1990s in response to white-collar layoffs and provides assistance to individuals who have lost their jobs in professional, executive, technical, manager and scientific jobs. You can learn more about POAC at

Dezell, who has been with POAC since 1991, is a very nice, helpful guy who in addition to  working with this program has become a common-sense networking expert. He has written a book with a fun title — “Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naive Job Seeker.” (His Web site is

Dezell says his program will accept laid-off professionals from areas near Maryland (though state residents have first priority, obviously). On a sobering note, though there have been several recessions affecting professionals since he joined POAC in 1991, he says these past few years have been the toughest on professionals. “No doubt about that, we’re the busiest we’ve ever been,” he says, with the program noticing a spike in the number of attendees in mortgage lending, banking and financial services in 2008, to be followed by those losing their jobs in a number of professions, including journalism.
His main advice (like that given by other professionals, see Oct. 29 post “Networking tips from a pro”) is for job seekers to become consummate networkers — he says that more than 80 percent of the jobs that those in his program land are through networking, not advertised jobs. Here are some of his tips for not only finding a job but developing skills that will aid your career in the long term:
*Build and maintain your network because you’re likely to need it again. Dezell says that people often end up constructing a good network while they’re job searching and then abandon it as soon as they find something. Yet professionals are quite likely to need to look for a job again relatively soon, so it only makes sense to maintain a strong network. “What gets the biggest groans in my seminar is that the average tenure of a job now is four years,” he says. “So decide how many more years you want to work and divide that by four, and you’ll see how many times you’ll have to do this again.”
*Avoid the assumed no. Dezell says that professionals, who sometimes think it “unseemly” to ask for help, worry too much about the possibility that someone will tell them no, so they don’t ask. He says that cuts down on your potential contact list — and job leads — by a great deal. Practice asking; start small and ask folks you already know to introduce you to others. A piece of specific advice: Twice a day make a contact a “little bit beyond your comfort range,” Dezell says. “In three weeks or so a call that will make you uncomfortable today won’t be a problem.” He says informational interviews are a great way to start as well — as there is relatively little pressure on both sides.
*Use your already established network as a good starting point while job hunting. People tend to think of colleagues and former colleagues as a part of their network but sometimes ignore other really good contacts — parents of kids on your kids’ sports teams, for instance, or members of groups you may connect with on a regular basis, or neighbors, etc. He tells the story of a woman who was job hunting and had a son in a tennis club. One day he had a double’s match “that went on forever,” Dezell says. So this woman spent some time talking to the mother of another boy in the match. She asks the job hunter what she does and she responds conversationally that she was a human resources director but recently lost her job. The other mother was with a finance company whose HR director happened to be retiring — she asked for the woman’s resume and the rest is history; a too-long double’s match led to her next job!
*A few Dezell don’ts — Don’t ask for jobs right away. When making initial contact, say that you’re in a search and doing “career exploration.”  “Trust me,” Dezell says, “if you make a good impression and you have a good introduction, you’ll find out whether they have openings. So you don’t need to ask at first.” Don’t make it all about you, that’s a turnoff — make sure to appear interested in the contact and what they’re all about. Don’t assume people can’t help you.

*One good final tip — Dezell says that membership organizations often will waive fees, or at least for sessions or seminars, for the jobless. Just ask. Another even better tip: Volunteer to help set up or take registrations for an event in exchange for attending for free — that way you’ll not only be able to benefit from the event but you’ll meet others while working it who may be in a position to help you.

*Two notes of congratulation today to journalists who have landed well:

*Jessica Coomes, one of the CQ “Gang of 45” who left there in September, has accepted a reporting position at BNA in D.C. covering defense contracting policy.  She starts Monday, March 29. Jessica took a temporary reporting assignment at BNA in December and it led to a full-time job!

*Alex Wayne, who has done a terrific job covering health care at CQ for the past several years, will leave there April 5 to join the as-yet-to-launch BGov project team at Bloomberg News in D.C.

Congratulations and much success to both Jessica and Alex! And for those reading-between-the-lines, a few job-hunting takeaways: a temporary assignment can lead to a regular, full-time position….and a specialty (like health care) can serve you well careerwise!

*Some job leads to consider on this spring day:

*First, while I usually stick to D.C. area leads, I have recently been told of several quite good, management/editing openings (and one reporting position) in the New York metro area…those who have been business reporters or editors would be especially well-qualified for these positions. If interested (or if you know of someone who would be interested) please contact me here, on Facebook or LinkedIn, or at, and I will make connections.

*Fleishman-Hillard has an opening in D.C. for a senior public affairs specialist:

Public Affairs, Senior Level, Washington, D.C.
Fleishman-Hillard – Washington, DC
situations, internal communications, and legislative… mid-sized companies, and advancing corporate communications strategies that embrace the client’s strategy…
From Fleishman-Hillard

*Information Experts in D.C. is looking for a senior communications strategist:

Senior Communications Strategist
Information Experts – Washington, DC
Communications or related field; masters preferred 5+ years of demonstrated, in-depth communications… integrated communications. Integrated communications
From Monster

*With a hat tip to (for these next three listings) the Advisory Board in D.C. has an opening for an associate editor for its California Healthline and iHealthBeat:

Company: The Advisory Board Company
Associate Editor, California Healthline and
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 27, 2010
Job ID: 1158652

Associate Editor California Healthline and iHealthBeat The Advisory Board Company (NASDAQ: ABCO)

Forbes: Ranked one of the 200 Best Small Companies, 2009 Listed among Top 50 Consulting Firms, 2009 Modern Healthcare: 2009 “Best Places to Work” Finalist, Washington Business Journal’s Business Philanthropy Awards, 2009 Modern Healthcare: Listed among the Largest Healthcare Management Consultants, 2009

The Advisory Board Company The Advisory Board Company (NASDAQ: ABCO) is a leading health care services firm providing best practices insight, leadership development, implementation and technology solutions. The company currently serves over 2,800 of the country’s preeminent hospitals and health care systems as well as pharmaceutical and medical device companies and insurers. Our continually expanding business portfolio provides employees with significant opportunities for career development at an accelerated pace, while an employee-focused internal environment places emphasis on service ethic, spirit of generosity, team engagement, and continuous learning.

Associate Editor, California Healthline and iHealthBeat We are seeking an Associate Editor to support California Healthline and iHealthBeat, daily news digests covering California health care issues and the health information technology landscape. The Associate Editor will work in the Advisory Board Company’s news division, which includes American Health Line, the Daily Briefing, the Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, the Greater Cincinnati Health Watch and the Trauma Watch — news publications covering a broad range of health policy issues that are read by thousands of people in government, advocacy and business groups. The Associate Editor will:

• Participate in news gathering process, as well as select and assign stories for publication; • Write, edit and enter content into the publishing system; • Manage staff writers; • Interact with clients and readers; • Collaborate with other editors within the department; • Think creatively about our content and generate new ideas; and • Develop relationships with industry, policy and academic news sources.

California Healthline and iHealthBeat are produced by the Advisory Board on behalf of the California HealthCare Foundation.

California Healthline


Basic Qualifications: • Bachelor’s Degree • Demonstrated writing and editing experience

Ideal Qualifications: • Degree in Journalism, Communications, or Online Media • Demonstrated expertise in health policy • Online publishing experience • Demonstrated ability to create, adapt, and unify content specifically for Web • Proven to be organized, task-oriented, proactive, and deadline-driven • Ability to work independently • Ability to build relationships while negotiating, prioritizing, and managing concurrent projects

To apply, please click the following link:

Benefits: Consistent with our belief that our employees are our most valuable resource, The Advisory Board Company offers a competitive benefits package, including a comprehensive health plan, a 401(k) plan, an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, a daytime leave policy for community service, a medical flexible spending account, and additional attractive benefits.

*The Washington Independent in D.C. is looking for an immigration reporter:

Company: The Washington Independent
Immigration Reporter, The Washington
Washington, DC, District of Columbia
Job Status: Not Specified
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 27, 2010
Job ID: 1158599

The Washington Independent (TWI), an award-winning national news site that covers policy and politics in Washington, D.C. is seeking an experienced political reporter to cover immigration, including current policy and the politics surrounding potential reform. The ideal candidate should be able to shape and take ownership of his or her beat, and to lead the rest of the pack, through blogging and enterprise news stories.

The role’s key criteria for success is generating “impact journalism,” achieved through a combination of aggressive reporting and tenacious, insightful blogging. The goal is to produce high-quality breaking news covering Congress, elections, state and federal politics, national security, and other key issues of the day.

The ideal candidate will have at least 3-4 years experience in reporting political news online and will be intimately familiar with national politics. Salary commensurate with experience.

About the American Independent News Network

TWI is part of the American Independent News Network (AINN). Our reporting emphasizes the positive role of democratically elected government in securing the common good and social welfare, and the continuing benefits of our founding culture of egalitarian government by the people, for the people. For more about the American Independent News Network, please visit

To Apply

Applicants should email a resume, statement of interest, and three samples of their work to with “Immigration Reporter” in the subject line. No phone calls, please.

*And last but not least today, Arabella Advisors in D.C. has an opening for an associate director of content:

Company: Arabella Advisors
Associate Director of Content, Publishing
& New Media
Washington, DC, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
April 26, 2010
Job ID: 1158237

Salary: Commensurate with experience Education: Graduate degree preferred; Bachelor’s required Experience: At least 5 to 7 years of work experience Location: Washington, DC Job Category: Content and Publishing Language(s): English Type: Full time

Organization Description Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors is a consulting firm dedicated to helping individuals, families, institutions, and corporations make better philanthropic decisions. We believe that philanthropic investments (i.e., contributions to nonprofit organizations) should involve the same strategic analysis and due diligence as financial investments. We offer our clients research into and analysis of issues and nonprofit organizations as well as general project management and evaluation to enable them to give with confidence.

Arabella Advisors assists families and high-net-worth individuals by bringing strategic focus to their philanthropy to enhance its impact. Arabella Advisors also services institutional clients including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Kresge Foundation and corporate clients such as Microsoft, Novartis, and Hyatt.

Position Description Arabella Advisors seeks a highly motivated self-starter to coordinate its existing content and publishing efforts and to help build out the publishing arm of its business. Responsibilities

Writing and Content Development • Coordinate development of new content • Conduct interviews with staff members and others to capture knowledge and convert it into material suitable for publication • Work with graphic designers and others to continuously improve content vehicles • Draft articles, issue briefs, blog posts and white papers • Coordinate development of funded-research publishing projects • Help develop collateral, web, and social media content highlighting the firm’s expertise • Assist with editorial tasks as needed • Help research and draft proposals for prospective clients as needed

New Media Distribution • Utilize and manage online tools and social media to establish and maintain the firm’s internet presence • Develop and maintain relationships with online news sources to advance the firm’s content • Develop and implement strategy around the utilization of

Publishing and Content Distribution • Identify distribution opportunities for new and existing content • Manage firm-wide content calendar and relationships with existing content partners • Develop relationships with new content and distribution partners • Help develop content revenue strategy and related execution plans

Events Coordination • Coordinate teleconferences • Coordinate external workshops and training sessions


Education • Graduate degree preferred, Bachelor’s degree required • Degree in English, Journalism, Communications or Marketing a plus

Experience • Maintaining publication calendars • Creating content distribution plans • Developing content partnerships • Writing articles for publication • Coordinating online and in-person events

Skills • Excellent organization and communication skills • Ability to draft high quality written materials and correspondence • Ability to accurately proofread and edit • Great attention to detail • Experience handling multiple tasks • Ability to work independently, and to function effectively as part of a team • Ability to complete projects in a timely fashion • Research skills and ability to use the Internet effectively • Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite software

Characteristics • Entrepreneurial spirit • Desire to work in a small and growing office • Professional • Analytical • Detail-oriented • Interest in Philanthropy • Flexible • Sense of humor

Please apply by submitting your resume and cover letter via our website at by April 9, 2010.

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Tips for staying in touch with a prospective employer What to do when you’ve been rejected

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. MC  |  March 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I’ve been through this program. It really turned around my job search approach for the better. Tom Dezell and his workshop co-leader, Nancy Fink, are wonderful! And I highly recommend Dezell’s book.


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