Monday, June 6, 2011

My personal job searching techniques

Now that I am in the midst of job hunting, maybe I should sum up all the different approaches I used trying to land a cool sexy MBA type of a job and analyze what really worked for me and what was a total waste of time.

Sending out my CV
Most time consuming and least effective. It's like cold calling: you think that it's gonna work just because you are so amazing and everyone will be taken by your accomplishments, but it practically never works: the success rate is one in a zillion or something.

Applying on companies' websites
Slightly better and I did get a few interviews out of that. Among the best career portals that I have been to are the ones of BP, GE, Philips, and Shell. Sometimes they are horrible - if you want to spend an hour of your time and arrive nowhere, try applying for a job at Investec or ABSA.

MBA programs
The finance maxim applies: high risk - high return. Applications to these take hours to write and the recruitment processes are stringent. However, once you are in, you will be taken care of and from the career development perspective, this might be the best choice, as normally  those are rotational programs, giving you a chance to move around a few countries and change a couple of positions within 3-5 years and providing senior leadership exposure. You might want to read about my personal experiences with the Prudential Momentum Program or DHL Inhouse Consulting.

Overall, such experiences are quite unnerving, so here are some personal lessons on dealing with assessment centers:

Job portals
I am registered on a couple of those and I do not find them effective at all. To the best of my knowledge, none of the opportunities came from that avenue. The ones that I am using (maybe they are the wrong ones!) are:
Proved to be very effective and easy to use. There are at least two different ways how it can be used in job hunting. The first one is straightforward and it is applying for jobs openly published on LinkedIn. I do get e-mails and phone calls back regarding those applications. The second is joining various LinkedIn groups that are of interest to you (function, industry or affiliation). In the group space you will see numerous publications from headhunters and managers looking for candidates. What I do is sending them a LinkedIn message (something like below) and I can tell you, it is a very effective way to get noticed...
Hi xxx, I came across your profile in the xxx group on LinkedIn.
I am an HR professional with 10 years of experience including 5 years of international experience in the oil&gas industry (Shell). I am now finishing my MBA at IE Business School in Madrid and looking for further career opportunities. Please take a look at my CV ( and hopefully my candidacy will be of interest to you.
Kind regards, 
Head Hunters
Difficult to get to, but if you are in, your life is a breeze. Since most head hunters work on assignment, often you are only of interest to them if they have a "burning" vacancy. However, sometimes (particularly if you are very interesting candidate possessing a rare skill, like petroleum economist) they would want to have a chat with you "for future reference". Such relationships need to be nurtured and those head hunters need to be kept in the loop of your career development. We all know the names of the best ones:

Leveraging Networks
In Spain it's a must do, but it equally applies to all other countries: best jobs are found through personal connections. Think about it... People recommending you to their employers or their personal contacts take risks so if they do that, they do it for a reason - because they are sure that you are a good candidate. Hence, personal recommendations are most trusted. Shamelessly use your networks! Contact former colleagues and bosses, people you did business with, your professors, strangers you met at conferences and business lunches... Yet, be suave. Don't ask for a job, but ask for information or being introduced to someone. That was you are not putting your network under pressure but rather leveraging its potential. In my experience - super effective!

IE Career Center
I know that half of my fellow-MBAs are going to hate me for what I am about to say, but IE Career Center has helped me greatly in the job search process. As they say, the best helping hand is a good kick in the butt, and that's what they help you to do: get off yours! I noticed that the Career Center specialists help those who help themselves. In other words, they won't find a job for you, but if you are active in your job hunting and making progress, they will direct, provide advice, polish your resume and cover letter and will open door, within IE and externally, be it with head hunters or directly with companies. I got a few interviews directly with the hiring managers merely because a Career Center officer recommended me to an employer. It's all about relationships!


  1. Just found this bit of info at

    The Top 3 Mistakes Job Seekers Make On LinkedIn

    By Joshua Waldman

    Everyone is on LinkedIn these days. Let’s face it. Almost every CEO from every Fortune 500. Last count was over 77 million users.

    In contrast, job boards have only about 3.5 percent of available jobs. This is common knowledge in the career industry, but then why do so many people spend so much time on job boards?

    The answer is because it feels safer. LinkedIn is really all about networking. And socializing in an unfamiliar environment can be frightening.

    ...keep reading @

  2. Sergey, buen recorrido por algunas de las técnicas que existen a la hora de buscar empleo. Yo pondría el acento en los contactos (tanto los conseguidos por Internet como personalmente) ya que, aunque en teoría las empresas valoran la experiencia, el conocimiento, el compromiso y las competencias que alguien pueda ofrecer, muchas veces esas mismas empresas no publican los puestos disponibles, directamente preguntan entre sus empleados y amigos si conocen a alguien que pueda encajar con el puesto. Y no hablo de tener un enchufe (aunque también vale, claro), si no de conocer a alguien que nos diga que existe una vacante.
    Un saludo y es un verdadero placer leerte.


  3. Gracias, Javi, tienes toda la razón. When I read Facebook comments to this post, everyone is stressing the importance of relationships and "knowing someone who knows someone". The truth is that the best jobs are never on the open market and it is tapping into the hidden job market that will yield the best results. Y eso tiene nada que ver con ser un enchufe.
    Good luck!



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