by Mark Cummuta

Week 10: Advice for Keeping Your Job Search Pipeline Full

Oct 25, 200711 mins

A job search is a sales job, and keeping your “pipeline” full is a critical success factor in both endeavors.

Both sales and job searches have a life cycle or a flow of events from start to finish for each prospect. At any given time, all of your opportunities across all these steps are called your”pipeline.”

These steps are roughly:

  • Product & Target Definitions
    • You, via your resume, are the Product. Take the time to re-evaluate what you have learned, and what your new “value proposition” is in your desired industry. Then, review and update both your public resume and your private resume(also referred to as your Career Diaryor a Job Journal / Job Diary ).
    • Defining your Target Market is knowing what industries, firms, and positions you are going focus on. I defined my initial targets Day 1 and during the course of this “sales campaign” known as my job search I have refined them .
  • Multi-Channel Target Marketing
    • Applied to a job search, this refers to all the means you are using to get the word out about what types of positions you are interested in, and gathering in leads to as many relevant opportunities as possible. These include:
      • Networking
        • Including networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn), attending conferences, following up with prior executives and contacts in your desired industry, researching articles about your targeted employers, volunteering, etc.
      • Job Boards (e.g.,, CareerBuilder, Monster,,, etc.)
        • Including full utilization of their auto search and e-mail notification features
      • Executive Recruiters
      • Job Fairs
      • Targeted employers’ websites
      • Branding
        • Including writing articles in your field, speaking engagements, blogging, and leaving thoughtful comments on industry articles.
  • Leads Screening to Identify and Contact Valid Prospects
    • Once you’ve created all the sources for leads, you need to evaluate each lead against your desired criteria to identify those few relevant potential opportunities that you are interested in learning more about.
      • I recommend you create as many automated means as possible to filter out the irrelevant, random and spammed leads, using and refining the various websites’ search features, your e-mail spam filters, and plain self-discipline.
    • These results are still not true prospects. Next step is to apply your personal and business fundamentals criteria to this narrowed list of job leads.
      • If a lead is not from one of your specific targeted employers, go to their website, research their financials, look for public evaluations and awards for the company, ask your mentors and network contacts about them.
      • If they can meet your target market, your business fundamentals criteria, and your personality/culture fit tests, they can now be considered qualified job prospects.
    • Next step is to turn those prospects into opportunities by taking action.
      • Apply for each qualified position.
        • Ideally, use one of your networking contacts to give you a warm introduction to the hiring manager or the HR manager.
        • Next best is to have a network contact submit your name; as a company insider most companies put insider recommendations to the top of the evaluation pile.
  • Prospect Cultivation
    • For a job search, this is the interview, thank you card, and phone call follow up stage.
    • Keeping track of what positions you have applied for, who your contacts are (by correct name and title), interview dates and hiring timelines are vital.
  • Contract Negotiations and Closing
    • Nothing’s final until all the paperwork is signed on your first day of hire.
    • During negotiations you need to have already researched the position’s responsibilities, flexibility for title changes, career growth, salary range (and company policy on exceptions), bonus ability, benefits (and options for creativity), etc., so you know what and when to ask for more, when to not push, and just as important, when to walk away.

Moving through these steps with each opportunity is a linear process that takes time. In most cases, our efforts toward specific opportunities end without a sale or job offer. While there are potential future benefits to be gained from each opportunity pursued, such as networking for potential new clients or even future job opportunities, our primary goal is still that career-progressing job offer.

Therefore, it is vital that we keep our pipeline continually full with new leads and driving existing opportunities through our “sales cycle” each and every day, all the way until we actually sign all the paperwork on the first day of a new job. I was reminded of this lesson this week in my own job search.

As I’ve written these past few weeks (Week 7,Week 8, Week 9), I have been working on a short-term project with a Midwest defense contractor as a means to demonstrate how my experience and abilities can help them achieve their strategic goals. Throughout the project as I worked closely with the founders, program managers and other key executives, nearly all their feedback was positive. In fact, they immediately implemented many of the ideas I had proposed during our initial analysis meetings, and have already realized beneficial cost and time savings. I presented my final report last Friday and again received very positive responses from both founders regarding my efforts, the thoroughness of the report, and the recommendations I presented.

Since I had several other job prospects progressing at the same time, I was beginning to feel comfortable that one of these positions would soon culminate in a job offer.

Unfortunately, I have personally experienced coming in second, and have had final stage opportunities re-scoped, postponed,and even cancelled. Therefore, I need to continue filling my pipeline and working all my leads channels. The reality is, I have a family to support.

As Advice & Opinion participant Mahesh Haryu noted last week (Getting Sidelined), it’s too easy to drift away from connections and a plan.

So, it’s back to basics for me.

Using the sales cycle steps I defined above,

  • I’ve defined my target industries,and refined them. I’m also going to have to further refine my product definition, that is, my resume. Based on some feedback I’ve received on my resume, I am researching professional resume writers.
  • I am marketing to my target industries across multiple channels, but frankly this is a key effort that I have let slip. So I will be updating my resume on all of the sites where I’ve posted it, and I will be following up with key executive recruiters this week.
  • I have been reviewing and screening leads from all of my sources daily and applying my lessons learned, to identify valid prospects. But again, I have let slip acting on most of those new opportunities. I have already corrected this situation by responding to several opportunities this week and will return to my job search project plan goals.
    • Global Defense & Aerospace Firm (5th largest in US) – Identified several opportunities, and will apply to these this week, ideally through one of my network contacts.
    • Global Optical Technologies Firm (top defense contractor in this field) – An unexpected networking lead from someone proactively contacting this firm’s executives on my behalf. I followed up with their CTO today, and he was already prepared for my call. We scheduled a face-to-face interview for next week.
    • New Opportunities – A friend contacted me with two new opportunities. He and I have partnered together several times in the past to create and build a number of successful organizations.
      • Regional Logistics Firm – A three-six month project to develop and implement a strategic plan to take them national. This would include a business growth strategy, a technology strategy, and a business process re-engineering effort. We are scheduling a meeting on this for next week.
      • Restaurant Partnership – He has owned and run restaurants most of his life. He has asked me to join him in a partnership to start a new restaurant together. We have been working on his business plan, site plan,finances, marketing, website, etc. We are scheduling a meeting for this week
  • Cultivating my current prospects is one step I am following in earnest.
    • Midwest Defense Contractor – completed short term project; need to send thank you. They anticipate reviewing their strategic corporate goals in light of my project recommendations over the next two weeks, so I want to stay in contact.
    • Midwest Defense Contractor – completed short term project; need to send thank you. They anticipate reviewing their strategic corporate goals in light of my project recommendations over the next two weeks, so I want to stay in contact.
    • Top Pharmaceutical Firm – I need to follow up with my network contact for a status on the IT leadership positions I applied to three weeks ago.
    • Competing Pharmaceutical Firm – I need to follow up with HR about the positions they contacted me for three weeks ago.
    • ComputerWorld IT Summit – I dropped the ball on this. I had two new network contacts that wanted me to contact them. It’s been a couple weeks, but I will reach out to them this week.
    • Global Strategic Consulting Firm – I have interviewed with two of the four partners I am scheduled to meet and have followed up with handwritten thank you cards to each. I just finalized scheduling interviews with the remaining two partners, as well as a second interview with the hiring partner again for next week. There may be interviews with the HR executive recruiter and potentially with the managing partner. I need to compile examples and details highlighting key skills and responsibilities in preparation for these interviews.
    • Major Homeland Security Contractor – I completed a second phone interview and have followed up with voice-mails to both interviewers. I’m working to schedule a face-to-face interview next.
    • Marketing Software and Services Firm – I requested feedback today to see if I am still being considered.
    • Georgia-based Defense Sub-Contractor – While a COO position filled, we discussed a long-term contract in Chicago. I need to review and respond to that opportunity.
    • Global Defense, Aerospace, Naval & IT Firm (3rd largest in US) – Networking led me to a recruiter with senior contacts within this firm’s Homeland Security division. At his request, I listed all the positions I would be interested in from their website and e-mailed my updated defense-specific resume today. I will follow up tomorrow.
      • I was submitted to this same firm two months ago through another network contact, and I will follow up with that lead again this week.
    • Global Engineering & Defense Firm (8th largest in US) – Completed first interview after they contacted me last week for senior IT opportunity. I followed up with a phone call today for status, and the HR recruiter is trying to schedule an interview with the hiring manager for this week or next.

To you, readers, I want to say thank you very much for all of your comments and ideas!

In writing this blog I have decided to be very forthright with my personal information, while prudently using pseudonyms for specific prospective companies. I am describing my ideas, issues, plans and results in some detail, and so far, your e-mails have commented positively and/or provided great leads.

I would like to ask you: Is there different information or additional information you would like me to address in this blog that you would benefit from? Do you have any questions or specific job search challenges that you would like me to address for all of us to discuss? If you have applied some of the ideas I’ve shared in your own job search, tell us about your experience and what happened.

[Note there was an earlier technical problem when trying to Reply to one or more of my prior blog entries. If you experience any problems like that still, please either contact CIO’s Webmaster or let me know via my contact page.]

Finally, with my job search nearing its three-month mark, and a deadline, I want to return to my proposed approach of using Project Planning methodologies in this job search “project” in my next blog entry. I hope to cover how I have adjusted my tasks and priorities, what lessons I have learned so far, and if I still feel using our Project Planning skills is appropriate for a job search.


Mark Cummuta

CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle