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College » BA » News Archive » Feature

Finding a Job in a Tough Economy

02/02/2010

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Having spent nine months job hunting and several hours interviewing on the phone with a promising company, Rajkumar Sithavan was not about to wait 20 days for a callback. The company representatives, who he had never met in person, told him to wait, while they deliberated for a few weeks.

Instead, Sithavan, a recent graduate of the MS-Tech Management program in the College of Business at ILLINOIS, followed his interviewers’ Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and learned that the company was about to re-launch its Web site. Since one of the job responsibilities of the business analyst position he applied for was to ensure Web site visitors had a great surfing experience, he took it upon himself to write a report identifying the many bugs he found after the new Web site launched.

The small Internet-based finance company’s decision-makers must have been blown away, because they gave him the job.

“Within twenty minutes of sending my report I got an e-mail telling me I had the job,” exclaimed Sithavan. “They were so impressed with my initiative. Even without meeting me in person, I got the job.”

Sithavan’s is an unusual success story. Though he had tried the usual avenues to find a job by sending hundreds of resumes to company postings on search sites like Monster.com and careerbuilder.com, the real traction dug in when he started working the listings found on Craigslist.com.

The nationally-known local-bargain source for household goods and apartment rentals did not seem like a goldmine at first. At least not until Sithavan applied his own brand of genius. 

He knew from experience that the small to mid-sized companies posting jobs on Craigslist typically do not reveal themselves, opting to communicate through an anonymous remailer function provided by Craigslist. It is basically a dummy address that forwards applications to the company without revealing the company’s real address. Like a temporary post office box, the sender cannot know who is receiving his mail.

Sithavan realized that a common e-mail function, the read receipt, could get him what he wanted so desperately—the receiver’s real address. Reasoning that most people don’t mind letting a sender know they have received an e-mail, he sent his resume with the receipt option. From there it was easy.

The nature of the receipt option is that it circumvents the anonymous remailer, going straight from the senders e-mail address to the receiver and presto! Sithavan not only had a path to figuring out what company is posting the job, but he had a direct address with which he could follow up.

Having solved the immediate problem, another equally daunting one surfaced soon thereafter.

The vast majority of employers were using Craigslist to find local applicants. To this challenge, Sithavan relied on his extensive contacts around the U.S. to borrow local addresses he could add to several versions of his resume. To inquiring employers he then appeared to be the perfect local candidate.

By the time Sithavan finally landed a job, just days after graduation, he had been through the ringer with challenges that impede most people. But instead of giving up, Sithavan persisted, overcoming each new hurdle and pressing on until his goal was in hand, with true Illini spirit and an urgency made clear in a tough economy.

From the comfort of his new life in Washington, D.C., Sithavan emailed me his advice to those who follow in his footsteps: Be Confident. Think positive. Go the distance.

Sage words for tough times.