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Posted on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 6 a.m.

10 ways to crack Michigan's 'hidden job market'

By Nathan Bomey

For the 600,000 Michigan workers seeking employment, finding a job can seem like panning for gold. The search is laborious and it can feel altogether fruitless.

That’s why human resources executives from a few of the Ann Arbor region’s top employers gathered Monday night to offer advice for jobseekers in a panel dubbed “How to Get Hired in 2010.”

The panel - coalesced by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan - attracted a capacity crowd of about 250 jobseekers at Eastern Michigan University.

“Finding a job is a full-time job,” said Walter Kraft, EMU’s vice president for communications. “It is far more than making a phone call and sending out a resume.”

Here's's list, culled from 90 minutes of advice from the HR executives, of the top 10 tips for landing a job in 2010.

1. Network and tap any potential contacts you might have, even if you haven’t talked with them in years. Some job openings aren’t even posted online because employers fear being overwhelmed with interest. “There’s a hidden job market out there,” said J. Paul Conway, senior vice president of human resources for the Oakwood Health System.

2. On your resume, use targeted keywords and certain phrases about your skill set that will improve the chances that specialized resume-searching software will encounter your resume.

Many HR executives have to wade through thousands of job applications. As a result, some recruiters are using specialized software to crawl giant resume databases, creating lists of job candidates who submitted resumes that include specific keywords or phrases detailing their skills.

For tips on the types of words and phrases to include, “Look at the online job description that’s given,” said Kim Bankston, HR director for General Electric’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center in Van Buren Township.

3. Alter your resume and cover letter based on the specific positions you’re seeking. “Make sure your resume is reflecting all your skill-sets and is tailored for the jobs you’re seeking,” Bankston said.

4. Conduct an exhaustive analysis of your skills and don’t underestimate their relevance. “There are jobs out there, but you’ve got to do a skills inventory,” Bankston said.

5. Attend networking events, connect with employment contacts online and leverage your alma mater’s career services office. “A lot of jobs filter through career services offices,” said Toni Knechtges, an EMU lecturer and representative for the Society for Human Resource Management.

6. Create and rehearse a short speech that spells out your background, qualifications and vision. “Learn what we call an elevator speech - that is, two to three minutes, very crisp, detailed (description of) what I’ve done in my life,” Knechtges said. “Make sure it’s practiced.”

7. Pick the right references. “I often ask people - what is this reference going to say about you?” said Jan Mulcrone, director of human resources for the University of Michigan Health System. “Don’t use a reference and not be sure what they’re going to say.”

8. Consider internships and more education. “Surprisingly, there are jobs available,” Dingell said. “And surprisingly it is sometimes hard to get people into those jobs.”

9. Anticipate interview questions. One example: Provide an “example of a time you had to solve a problem,” Mulcrone said. “You have to be able to think on your feet.”

10. Dress professionally, record a professional voicemail message and don’t get creative or funny with your e-mail address. “Think about how are you going to present yourself,” Malcrone said. “Put your best foot forward.”

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 9:34 p.m.

I would broaden your job search and skill set. You may have to move. Many other states have more opportunities than Michigan.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

I'm out of the house more than I'm home, so a land-line wouldn't be very useful. I don't really get the point of having one in this day and age; my cell phone works at home, but a land-line won't help me when I'm at my girlfriend's apartment or the grocery store. I don't think you can really expect people to have access to a land-line, especially if they're out of work and have to cut down their budget.

Westside Patty

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 7:48 p.m.

@ Adam J: I don't think d_dilary cares if the people he contacts have a land line. He'll just move on to the next person, like many employers will. Ages ago, I lived with my parents straight out of school. They did not want an answering machine in the house. That made things fun. I still wonder if I missed out on jobs simply because no one was home!

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

d_dilary: By "check your messages", I'm assuming you're leaving a voicemail. I don't dial back "missed calls" that don't have corresponding voicemails, because more than half the time it's wrong numbers and butt-dials. And I don't have a land line.


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

Also a few other pointers: Read the posting - if it says cover letter do one (UM), I will not even look at the application if you cannot follow directions from the start how are you going to do at the job? Know where you are bidding - I am on central campus not the hospital. I am glad you want to work at the hospital, however I have nothing to do with them. Today I have six bids all saying how you can help me at the hospital - sorry you cannot. Check your facts - the first thing that goes through an employers mind when facts (dates) are wrong "what are you hiding?" If your main line is a cell phone be sure when you take the call that you check messages; I have a lot of calls to get through and if you don't call back in a timely fashion you may not get the job. Also if the call is dropped for goodness sake find a land line and call back right away. Just a few thoughts

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

How is the "top 10 tips for landing a job in 2010" related to a 'hidden job market'? Only the first tip seems to have anything to do with 'hidden' jobs; the rest is the standard list of job-seeking tips we all got from our high-school teachers and councilors, our college career center, and the scores of blog posts and self-help books we've read over the years.


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

Top tip- leave the state. 25 other states have surpassed this one in average income over the past ten years.


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

If you go for more education, even if you take a class or two (or 3) at night, you have to promise unemployment that you will drop your classes if offered a job at that time of day...even for a 3 day evening temp job I was expected to drop my drop a whole 16 week semester for a 3 day job that paid $10/hr? Yeah, get more education... Oh and No Worker Left Behind (another part of "get more education"). I jumped through their hoops for several months, got to my "intake" appointment, got told that I was eligible followed by these words "but we are out of money". That was in August...they still don't have funds, and yet NWLB is still pushed...


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

If you want great information on the hidden job market, you'll have to look way past the superficial how tos of this article. Read Richard Bolles books or the new one on job hunting by Harvey Mackay. And if age discrimination may be involved, start by finding some "age friendly" employers - the AARP has a good list and Fortune magazine's best companies list is useful too. Good luck all!


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

From a job seeker, Thanks for this information. The problem I run into looking for a job in Ann Arbor is age discrimination. It used to be subtle, but now it is so blatantly open to do this to someone my age.

Nathan Bomey

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

Unfortunately, I think we may be overestimating how common this job-seeking knowledge is. Michigan's labor market is flooded with workers who have not applied for a job in decades. Human resources experts say that they are regularly getting applications from workers who haven't had to piece together a resume or sit through a job interview in many years. So, for them, these tips are probably helpful!

Robert Bethune

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 9 a.m.

It would have been nice if the story had had something--anything--to do with what the teaser headline promises. This article is nothing but an empty rehash of the standard wisdom. It could have been cribbed from any of hundreds of sources. It certainly doesn't say anything about any "hidden job market," if indeed there is such a thing.

Janelle Baranowski

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 8:53 a.m.

Job tip #1: Don't forget to spell check! If an employer receives a hundred applications, the fastest way to narrow down the pile is to throw out the ones with spelling errors. I've been able to eliminate 50-75% that way.

Tammy Mayrend

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

All good information, just not sure any of it is "new information".