Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Finding the hidden job market

Q. I wasn't ever a great student, but I worked hard and sometimes got Bs and finally graduated from college this year with a Liberal Arts degree. I took a lot of courses but liked business, and feel I would be an asset in any office. I'd like to start as an administrative assistant and work my way up. I think I can do that. The problem is that the companies I send resumes to say they aren't hiring and if they are, they aren't hiring me. What can I do?

Ans. Ten years ago you probably would have found the job you want in a week or two. This economy has changed everything and you must target a "hidden job market" by searching in different ways, with a different attitude in very different places. Keys to opening that door are shown in "Unlock the Hidden Job Market:6 Steps to a Successful job Search" (FT Press $16.99) by Duncan Mathison and Martha I Finney. The great jobs still are there, they say, but they don't always go to great people. They go to great job searchers--those who know how to navigate that hidden market. One of their suggestions is that during the interview, instead of focusing on your enthusiasm and your qualifications, focus on the needs of that manager for filling that opening.

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