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Career Corner
The one-week job search

Marty Nemko -- You want a new job, so you call a few friends and answer a few ads. Nothing comes of it, so you give up.

That's the typical job seeker. There's a better way to land a job. I call it the One-Week Job Search. Yes, it's a demanding week, but afterwards, you may be able to sit back and watch the interview requests roll in.


1. Prepare three PAR stories.
PAR stands for "Problem--Approach--Resolution." Rehearse a brief story in which you briefly describe a problem you faced at work, how you approached it, and its positive resolution.

Example: We were having trouble meeting our fundraising goal. I decided that we should try an auction with a local celebrity as the auctioneer. I led the entire effort, and we raised $27,000 in one night.

Rehearse your PAR stories with a friend or by talking into a tape recorder.

2. Create your resume
Creating a resume is a few-hour not a few-week activity. ResumeMaker 10.0 ($39.95) software makes it easy. It has hundreds of model resumes. Pick one that's most like the one you'd like to create. Plug in your information, inspired by what you saw in the model resume(s). Focus on accomplishments, not just duties. Show a draft to a respected person or two.


Make a list of 50 potential employers. Can't find 50? Your Yellow Pages or a reference librarian may help. For a list of government employers, see the local White Pages.

To get the name of the specific person to contact, call the organization's switchboard and say, "I need to email a senior marketing (or whatever's appropriate) person. Can I get the correct spelling of his or her name and e-mail address?"


1. Make a list of every person in your extended personal network. That means everyone from your former co-workers to your haircutter to your parent's best friend, to that person in your study group at college 20 years ago. Put at least 50, ideally 100 people on that list. And yes, you do know 50 people! And yes, even if you haven't spoken to them for years and didn't know them well back then, if they know someone who might hire you, they will usually tell you about him or her.

2. Write a human, brief letter to be emailed to prospective employers and to people in your personal network. Example:

Dear (insert prospective employer's name),

I'm interested in working for your company because recent newspaper articles have discussed the ethnic strife in your workforce. I am a human resources manager with special expertise in diversity management. Also, your office is just ten minutes from my home.

Until last week, I was working for ABC Corp. I am one of 50 people who was downsized. They really liked me, so it was quite a shock. In any event, I'm looking for a job.

Some recent accomplishments: (Insert three one-line bullets).

If you think I might be of help to you, I'd welcome a call. My number is (insert number) and the best times to reach me are (insert times). I know how busy you likely are, so if I haven't heard from you in a week, I'll take the liberty of phoning to follow up.




E-mail your resume and semi-personalized cover letter to the people you identified on Days 2 and 3.

If your background is superior to most applicants for your target position, it's worth taking the time to post your resume on job sites like and niche sites in your industry. Many of those sites will allow you to sign up for electronic "agents" that notify you whenever a new job opening is posted that matches your qualifications. Sign up for those. For a master list of career-specific employment sites, go to or consult the book, Career Xroads.


Respond to at least five online job ads for which you are well qualified.

Here's a model letter:

Dear XXX,

I was excited to see your posting for Job #365778 on because I believe I'm a good fit.

Insert the requirements as stated in the ad. Insert how you meet the requirement.

I hope to have the opportunity to interview.



DAY 6+

Phone any people who responded to your email. Be prepared to tell your PAR stories.

If it feels appropriate, ask questions about the employer's needs to see if a case could be made for creating a position for you. If so, say something like, "Having listened carefully to what you were saying, it sounds like I could be of most help to you if I did X. Might that be a possibility?"

If the person says he has no job for you, ask if he would mind if you contacted him again in a month to see if the situation has changed. Or ask if she would suggest other potential employers you should speak with.


You now have plenty of irons in the fire. Have fun!

Career coach Dr. Marty Nemko is the careers columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and author of Cool Careers for Dummies.

© 2003

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