by Meridith Levinson

Why You Need a Job Search Champion

Sep 03, 2009

Job search champions aggressively market job seekers to prospective employers, helping job seekers land new jobs more quickly.

Job search experts and hiring managers agree that networking is the most effective way to land a new job. But more important than an extensive network is a network that includes one or more job search champions.

Job search champions are people in your network who know you well and whose names would appear on your list of professional references were it not for the fact that they don’t wait for prospective employers to call them to endorse you; they proactively and aggressively help you find work by drawing on their networks and marketing you to prospective employers, says Howard Seidel, a partner with Essex Partners, which provides career management and job transition services.

“The champions are real advocates for you,” says Seidel. “They grease the skids and say, ‘This guy is fantastic. You have to talk to this person. He did a great job here and would be terrific for you.’ They get prospective employers really excited.”

Having a job search champion can make all the difference in the length of your job search. Seidel, a career and executive coach, believes job seekers with champions land jobs faster because champions give job seekers entrée into potential job opportunities.

“Getting in the door is the biggest obstacle today for job seekers,” notes Seidel. “There are hundreds of résumés for a role and so many screeners. A champion can get you through the screeners to the people hiring. If you can get in that way, the hiring process tends to go faster and you come in with a lot of good will.”

Moreover, adds Seidel, by championing the job seeker, champions predispose hiring managers to liking the candidate. This is particularly helpful in a recession, when hiring managers are inundated with applicants for opens positions, asking gotcha questions during job interviews, and looking for any reason to screen out candidates.

“If you’re being introduced [to a prospective employer] by a champion, you’re going in there with a leg up because the hiring manager is [now] excited about what you can do for them,” says Seidel. “If you’re not going in there with a champion, you’ve got to do all the work yourself.”

In a market where job searches for CIO positions are lasting an average of a year, having a champion gives a job seeker a clear advantage over the competition. The more champions you have, the more effective and powerful your search is going to be.