Employment Experts Share Critical Advice
Finding a Job In Atlanta
By Laura Raines
So you’ve decided to live in Atlanta. Good choice! In addition to itstemperate climate, world-class airport, friendly neighborhoods and other amenities, metro Atlanta boasts an excellent business environment. The area is home to 150,000 businesses, and the headquarters of 16 Fortune 500 companies.
Whether you’re the spouse of someone whose business relocated here, or you’ve simply decided to try a fresh start in a new market, one thing’s for certain: you won’t find a job sitting in front of your computer. You’ll need to sharpen your job search materials, do some research—and meet a lot of new people.
Where to Start
“The first step in any job search is to understand your value to an employer,” says Jane Horowitz, a college-to-career expert and founder of More Than a Resume. “Look at your past work experiences to find your accomplishments and the skills that made them possible. Know your strengths and what you like to do, so you’ll be ready for the ‘Tell me about yourself’ interview question.”
Horowitz recommends having business cards printed with your name and contact information on the front and a short value statement on the back. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is current, complete and has a photo. “Hiring managers will use LinkedIn to fact-check and learn more about you,” she says.
Whether you’re proofing business cards, updating an online profile or putting together a resume, make sure you have an Atlanta address and phone number, says Tom Darrow, founder and principal of Talent Connections, an Atlanta recruiting and professional services firm, and Career Spa, a career transition company.
“Having a non-local phone number can be a yellow flag that gets you bumped to the ‘no’ stack,” he says. “You want the hiring manager to know that he won’t have to fly you in for an interview or pay to relocate you.”
Get the Lay of the Land
Many job-seekers patrol sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, which can be helpful, but experts advise diving deeper to broaden your search. Darrow recommends such resources as the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Book of Lists, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and local job sites like MetroAtlantaJobs (www.metroatlantajobs.com). County chambers of commerce, local business associations, and the Georgia Department of Labor’s career centers and Twitter feed (www. twitter.com/GeorgiaDOL) are also useful resources.
When searching for a position, “your target list of employers should include only those who would be a good fit for your skills and interests,” says Horowitz.
“In this market, companies who ask for 20 qualifications will probably find candidates with all 20.” says Darrow. “But the person who gets hired will most likely have the 21st thing, which is a recommendation from someone who works there. If a friend has a contact in a target company, ask her to email the employee to tell her about you and to send on a copy of your resume. Having an employee refer you will help you bypass the electronic applications pile, but having a personal recommendation is even better.”
Of course, you can’t get a recommendation if you don’t know anyone. That’s one reason why meeting people is so important. “Networking is a core competency in business these days,” says Darrow.
Hallie Crawford, certified career coach and founder of Create Your Career Path, agrees.
“Even though Atlanta is an urban city, it has a small-town, friendly way of doing things,” she says. “Networking and connections are very important here.”
One way to make those connections, she says, is to “ask friends and family who they know in Atlanta, and take those contacts to coffee, even if they work in a different industry. You could make a friend or an important connection.”
Another way to make professional connections is by attending networking meetings. Start with chambers, business councils, an industry or professional association, or the local alumni club of your college. “In Atlanta, churches have strong career and job-seeking outreach programs that are open to anyone,” Crawford says. “Since professional recruiters often lead the programs, it’s a good place to network and to hear useful tips,” says Darrow.
Volunteering for a cause you believe in can also help, he says. “You’ll connect with people who share your interests, and they’ll be able to recommend you as someone who gives back.”
Lastly, Darrow recommends forming “your own personal board of advisors, mentors or friends. Ask them to breakfast. Tell them what you are looking for and can do, and then listen to their suggestions and ideas. Discuss offers with them so that you don’t panic and take the wrong job. Job seeking is an emotional business, and you shouldn’t do it alone. Advisors can help you think clearly.”
As you go about the job-seeking process, create a spreadsheet or log to keep track of potential employers, calls and interviews. Because of the city’s size and traffic, you’ll want to target employers who are within a reasonable commute to your house. And always take traffic into consideration.
“Map out your route ahead of time and double your expected travel time to make sure you arrive on time,” says Crawford.
And while you’re interviewing, Darrow also recommends pursuing contract, consulting or part-time work. “It will look good on your resume and improve your budget,” he says. Temporary work through staffing agencies such as Manpower or Randstad can also lead to permanent employment.
By staying focused, organized and active, you’re sure to increase your chances of finding the right job and ending up in the perfect position. Good luck!
When you have a target list of about 15 employers, research those companies on Google and LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook.
Atlanta Business Chronicle
Georgia Department of Labor
Metro Atlanta Chamber
Metro Atlanta Jobs