Gather information, build your network of contacts, be curious and patient, and eventually that job will come, says career coach Elatia Abate, AB’99, MBA’08. (

Below: Portrait of Abate. (Courtesy Elatia Abate)

How the job search has changed since 2008
If you want a job now, says Elatia Abate, AB’99, MBA’08, learn the new rules.
When the economy was booming, says career coach Elatia Abate, AB’99, MBA’08, it was relatively easy to get a job. You put together a good résumé. You found a promising job online and applied for it. And you got hired pretty quickly. “Most people who are looking for a job now are still playing by those pre-2008 rules,” Abate says. But after 2008, the hiring dynamic changed. “Companies are preoccupied with mitigating risk. They don’t want to hire the wrong candidate. They’ve got all the time in the world to wait for the perfect person.” Abate worked in recruitment both before and after the market crash, most recently at Anheuser-Busch and Dow Jones. In 2014 she left the corporate world to start her own business as a career coach. She meets a lot of job seekers who haven’t updated their approach and feel really frustrated, she says: “Why does HR never get back to me? Why does it feel like I’m sending stuff into a black hole?” In the current market, the least successful way to look for a job is to apply online. The most successful is to try to “get into conversation with people,” Abate says. Once you’re past the denial phase (“It shouldn’t be this way. I shouldn’t have to do that.”), here are the three steps to finding a job.

Step one

Figure out exactly what you’re looking for and start telling people. “That doesn’t necessarily mean Graphic Designer 2 at Company X, making this much money. It doesn’t have to be that specific,” Abate says. But you do have to give yourself some parameters—say, you’re seeking a marketing position in consumer goods. That’s specific enough that it will help your network to help you.

Step two

Craft your online presence. “Google is the new résumé,” says Abate. If you’re looking to make a move to that marketing job in consumer goods, but your LinkedIn profile is all about your past industry in music, “there’s a big gap there.” Your online presence should reflect some semblance of the position you’re looking for.

Step three

Start doing those informational interviews. Figure out who you know in the industry or company you’re looking to join—or find these people online—and ask for informational interviews. “Not for a job, to be clear,” says Abate. “You are gathering information.” For middle-aged job seekers in particular, the idea of informational interviews can be daunting. “You might think, I’m embarrassed to ask for help, or I should have had it all figured out by now.” The important thing to remember is you’re just looking for information to “create your next opportunity,” Abate says. You’re not seeking a job from the person you’re talking to. Once you make that shift in attitude, “it completely changes the game. You have the power back.” Gather information, build your network of contacts, be curious and patient, and eventually that job will come.