Guest Blogger Series: In your job search as in life, it’s nice to have a group of people in your corner, cheering you on to success. At VACareers, we’ve partnered with industry experts to bring you new perspectives, tips, and advice as you navigate the job search and hiring process.

By Steven Rothberg of

Those of us who live our lives helping to connect quality employers with quality job seekers often fail to remember that what we know to be true isn’t so obvious to those who rarely look for work or who haven’t looked for a new job for years. One of those truths is that it is far easier to be hired by a company and specifically a person within that company if they either know you or at least can identify with you.

As the president of niche job board, the bulk of job seekers who use our site are post-secondary students and recent graduates from technical schools, vocational schools, two-year colleges, four-year universities, and graduate schools. One piece of advice that I give is to identify your preferred industries and, within those industries, your preferred organizations. Then find people who graduated from your school who are doing the kind of work you want to do within those organizations. Tools such as your career service office, Alumni Relations office, and LinkedIn are great for identifying these people. As a military Veteran, substitute your school for military experience in general or your branch or even unit if you want to get really specific.

Your research has now allowed you to identify people who will understand who you are, what experiences you’ve had, and what you can bring to their organizations. But wait—don’t reach out to them quite yet. You still don’t know if those organizations have an opportunity that is a good fit for your competencies (what you’re good at), interests (what you like to do), and values (what you care about). Grab a pad of paper and write down all of your competencies, interests, and values even if you don’t think they’re job related. Put those three lists side-by-side to look for common themes. Maybe you’re really good at tinkering with motors, like restoring old vehicles, and care about being reliable and efficient with your time when asked by those of us who aren’t mechanically inclined for help when our cars need servicing. If so, working as an auto mechanic would be a common theme.

Now go to five to ten job boards to search for advertised job openings that match your common themes. Why five to ten? Because most employers will advertise their openings only on a limited number of sites and so the board with the most job openings on it won’t have nearly all of the job openings out there. Look at two or three of the big general boards like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder as they have the most jobs. Look at some sites that are specific to geographic regions, as they’ll have lots of jobs in the cities you want to live in. And look at some industry specific sites, as they’ll have lots of jobs in the industries you want to work in. If you’re a college student or recent graduate, check out some of the college job boards. Apply on-line to all of the jobs that interest you and for which you’re qualified and set up job match alerts (some sites call them agents) so the sites will email you when new jobs are posted which match your interests.

Now circle back to that list of people you created. Let’s say that you applied to a job with XYZ Corporation. Email AND call the person you identified within XYZ Corporation to tell them that you just applied and ask them if they could reach out to their recruiter or human resource office to let them know. It is pretty unlikely the person you identified will get you a job or even be able to secure for you an interview, but getting a long, second look by that recruiter will greatly increase your odds of getting past the initial screening stage and into the interview stage. And that will greatly increase your chances of finding a rewarding career position as you transition from your service.

— Steven Rothberg is the President and Founder of, the leading niche job board for college students searching for internships and recent graduates hunting for entry-level jobs and other career opportunities. features 25,000+ employment-related articles and 100,000+ internship and entry-level job postings and is free to job seekers. 

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Published on Aug. 22, 2013

Estimated reading time is 4 min.

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