The Howard Group


Candidate Advice

Employed but Thinking


But be prepared to spend several hours a week in the evenings and weekends for at least a few months doing these things:

  1. Write out and memorize a 20 second “elevator speech” answering the question, “What do you do?” Not your job title—what do you do?
  2. Now, open your mind and figure out what you really enjoy about your job. What are the parts of your job that naturally pull you in during the day? Will somebody hire you for that? Can you make money doing that? Do you do it better than your peers? What types of companies need somebody who does that? (Get familiar with SIC codes and the newer NAICS codes, as well as S&P’s Industry Reports at the library).
  3. Build a deep, thorough, Rolodex of everybody you know--professionally and personally. This is a big list of contacts from which you’ll develop your true network.
  4. Identify and develop “champions” within your business/industry and outside of it. These people are the top level of your network. They’ll go to bat for you. You’ll find champions outside of your industry through social situations, mutual acquaintances, etc. A couple of good headhunters should be part of this group.
  5. Create a spreadsheet with which you can track all potential networking activities, intentional or unintentional. Who, what, when, where—context is crucial! Take stock at the end of each week—whom did you come into contact with? Add them to the spreadsheet. Contact them periodically, try to move them up in terms of intimacy from just another name to a champion. Make a note on the spreadsheet regarding why you felt connected with that person. That will give you a hint regarding grounds for the development of the relationship. Set yourself up as a resource for these professional contacts in advance of your job-search needs. For example, send an email attaching something pertinent: “Hey, thought you might be interested in this…”
  6. Construct a really good resume and cover letter before you need them. See the “Advice” section on our website for tips. MS Word comes with a resume template you can use as a starting point. The stuff described in 9 and 10, below, can be a good start for the cover letter.
  7. Get published in a trade rag or speak at a symposium. Put the guys who speak and write about stuff in your industry into your Rolodex!
  8. Identify five professional traits you possess that have contributed to your success. Write down two anecdotes as examples of each trait.
  9. Identify a half dozen key projects in which you played a primary or lead role- write up a short paragraph describing it, attach quantitative figures to it.
  10. Check the Internet regularly so you get a feel for what’s out there—monster,, and careerbuilder are the big generic sites. A good website to find industry-specific job sites is For upper level stuff, look at,, and
  11. Nobody likes a whiner. Suppress the urge to vent to the people you network with. It wears them out and brings them down, and they’ll stop talking to you. Similarly, NEVER ASK A MEMBER OF YOUR NETWORK FOR A JOB! Instead, just send them a copy of your resume and tell them they can distribute it when they think it’s appropriate.