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  • Writer's pictureDavid Still, CEO

The Job Search - It is a Chess Game

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

By David Still - Back in the mid 1970s, while still serving in the US Navy, I knew once I served my time in the military and completed my college degree, I was going to work for IBM.

Plan your job search like a chess match

At the time, the IBM Corporation was the country club of employers. White shirts, three-piece suits and exceptional technical and sales training. If you made the IBM list and became an IBM employee, you were on your way.

In 1977, I completed my US Navy tour of duty after six years in missile computer systems. I began college toward a business degree in Marketing. I knew after graduation I wanted to become employed with IBM.

As a trained tennis instructor, I worked my summer teaching tennis at a local neighborhood tennis club. Two of my tennis students just happened to work at IBM. Wow, I was already building my IBM contact network.

Thinking through the process, I thought I better begin a relationship with the local IBM office prior to my anticipated graduation in three years. Here was my plan and execution:

1) Since I already had computer experience from the US Navy, I needed to show IBM I had leadership qualities. So, I launched a new computer club, which I became President. Then, when contacting the IBM office, I would introduce myself as President of the Columbus Computer Club.

2) I contacted the IBM marketing manager requesting he select an IBM representative to present to my computer club on a subject relating to computer utilization in small businesses. Since my computer club was very small, I invited the college's computer club to join our club for the IBM presentation.

3) An IBM sales representative spoke to our joint computer clubs and as a reciprocal gesture, I visited the IBM office to personally thank the presenters for their time and excellent presentation to the club membership.

4) I closed by stating that I was very impressed with IBM and when I graduate, I plan to apply for IBM employment.

To my surprise, the IBM manager responded to my comment in pursuing future IBM employment after graduation. He stated, "David, why wait until you graduate college in three years? Come join IBM now as a Co-op student."

I was not expecting my "chess move" plan to render immediate IBM employment. My thoughts were to at least let them know who I was, keeping in touch during my three remaining college years. I accepted the IBM Student Co-op position serving one working quarter and one student quarter until my graduation in 1980.

So, just like a chess game, you plan your moves in advance. In my IBM approach plan, I started with only four chess moves, enjoying IBM's fifth move resulting in an expected Co-op employment offer.

Be sure to develop a well planned employment approach for every potential employer you are targeting. Have a plan set in place, rather than simply replying to a job posting with a resume submission.

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