Thanksgiving is next week. Job seekers and career changers – Where’s your next job? If you can’t answer that question definitively right now, there’s slim chance that you’ll have that answer before year end.
If you can’t answer that question, what can you do to help your job search during the holidays?
In November – December, executives and managers often create headcount budgets for the next year, and ask finance departments to approve positions. Most job seekers wait until this process is over, when positions are approved and advertised (see Have You Been Affected by The Holiday Effect?).
Savvy job seekers know that the best time to be considered for a job is before it’s advertised. It’s an industry statistic that 80% of the job market is unadvertised, and there’s very little competition for unadvertised positions.
Unfortunately, most job seekers have a poor strategy for learning about unadvertised positions. Most spam their network with their resume, or worse, spam thousands with resumes, letters, sell sheets, and other poorly designed push marketing communications that end up being forwarded to an HR database, deleted, or ignored. It’s not their fault…most job seekers don’t search for a job very often, so it’s not surprising that most job seekers employ less effective methods.
How can you learn about unadvertised positions?
First, realize that candidates rarely hear about unadvertised positions by sending a resume, or spamming their network. Letting your network know that you’re in the market, may have worked in 2005, but it’s ineffective during the toughest job market in your lifetime.
Spamming your network drastically underutilizes your network’s effectiveness. It risks alienating the people who want to help you, and rarely provides the information you need to help yourself.
Most candidates will tell me their networking goal is to find a job, which is why few candidates network effectively. It’s the wrong goal (See Will You Stop Looking for a Job Already?). A more effective goal is to find problems and information.
Use networking to start conversations. You’ll find more success in learning about unadvertised positions if you have answers to problems the company or hiring manager currently has…by branding yourself as someone who’s providing help, rather than asking for help. Yet, most candidates will tell me they always bring a resume to these conversations. Bring a resume to this meeting and you brand yourself as someone who wants something (a job) and your resume will usually be sent to HR.
Answers and solutions are how unadvertised positions are created and filled. Find pain and solve it before it becomes an approved position, and suddenly you have little competition. Wait until it’s advertised, and you’re joined by thousands.
Discovering problems isn’t as easy as it sounds, because people you’ve just met seldom will open up to a stranger quickly. Ask someone you just met…what are your biggest problems and you’re not likely to get much meaningful information.
Before your meeting, gain an understanding of the company’s goals and problems from its Quarterly reports, analyst reports, industry reports, and articles. These can lead to great discussion starters such as:
- ”I notice that your company is focused on cutting costs next year to increase profitability…how does this affect the marketing department’s goals?”
- “You can only slash headcount so much, what other ways are you’re implementing technology to creatively cut costs?”
- “I see that XYZ company is turning itself around through international expansion….how do global customers affect your finance department?”
- “The Business Week article on your competitor describes how it’s revamping products, marketing, and sales to take market share away from you…How does that affect your sales force at ABC Inc?”
The holidays are a great time for these types of meetings. Hiring managers typically travel a little less (esp if travel budgets have been cut) and are often more available. The day before and after (if the hiring manager is working) a holiday can be the best days to get a hiring manager’s time – they’re often light days with room for appointments.
The holidays are a great time to look for problems that you are uniquely qualified to solve. Hiring managers are making plans on how to attack next year’s problems, and meet next year’s goals. What a perfect time to find out about next year’s challenges and goals…when hiring managers are concentrating on them.
What are your plans to advance your job search over the holidays?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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