Today’s successful job search is a time management exercise. As employment markets are more competitive, successful candidates realize they have to approach their search differently.
You can increase your success rate by concentrating on successful job search activities, letting go the activities that take a great deal of time with little to show for it.
These are difficult skills to learn – many of the “tried and true” methods of job search have been ingrained in us, becoming habits. When the job markets were stronger, candidates were able to find jobs despite job search inefficiencies and mistakes. Since the market is still dried up, these mistakes and inefficiencies become noticeable as job searches take much longer than pre-2007.
The game has changed in a big way – it’s many times more competitive. In an average job market, there’s about 1 advertised job per unemployed worker. Today, the US average is 3 unemployed workers for each advertised job – these numbers are highly understated because they don’t include those who have exhausted unemployment and passive job seekers.
Careerbuilder reported that 77% of currently employed workers were searching for jobs and when you add in unemployment, 80-85% of US workers are looking for a new job. For lack of more precise statistics, it’s much more competitive than a good year like 1999 (your dog could find a job in 1999).
The Game Has Changed:
- Low hanging fruit breeds spoiled habits: In an average job market, candidates don’t have to be good at job search. In average job markets, there are so many jobs that candidates can use enough of just about any activity and still stumble across job offers in a short time.
- Most candidate networking efforts are random activities: The majority of candidates describe networking is calling/emailing their contacts and letting each know they are looking for work. This is a random activity – when labor demands are strong enough, this random activity can provide results. During the worst job market of our lifetime, this random activity seldom delivers acceptable results – but it’s how candidates have been taught to job hunt.
- There is no low hanging fruit today: When there are job shortages, random search approaches deliver poor results.
- Win by increasing your odds: When the job market is 6 times more competitive than an average market, the winners do so by increasing their odds. Frustrated job seekers seldom structure their job search to maximize their odds.
One of the best ways to increase your odds is to manage your job search time, so you concentrate on high gain activities. This type of job search approach is foreign to many candidates. Let’s examine some job search time management steps to increase your odds:
Steps To Increase Your Odds:
- Plan: Very very very few candidates plan their job search effectively. Planning involves more than just tracking, building target lists, and creating marketing materials. Planning involves project management – building a timeline, planning activities, and tracking feedback to keep your plan on track. I talk to hundreds of project managers each year in job search – if I’m lucky, I’ll find one who has built a written project plan for their own job search. Have you? (See “Are You Planning To Fail In Your Job Search Or Failing To Plan?” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/02/23/are-you-planning-to-fail-in-your-job-search-or-failing-to-plan/).
- Identify high return activities: Some examples of activities that most often have high returns are included below.
- Identify low gain activities: Examples of low gain activities that should be eliminated are also below.
- Increase the high return activities; Decrease the low gain activities: Does this need more explanation?
- Identify additional opportunity channels to diversify your search: What did you learn about all your eggs in one basket? Even more so with job search. Invest time in building opportunity channels including boards, recruiters, networking, social networking and social branding.
- Focus, Focus, Focus: Scattershot approaches are ineffective during job shortages. Scattershot works when you are stumbling across abundant low hanging fruit.
- Track activities and results: How else can you tell what’s working and where you should concentrate more time? See How Effective Is Your Resume? Here’s How To Measure” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/01/30/how-effective-is-your-resume-heres-how-to-measure-best-of-recareered/
- Track Opportunities: DIY’ers – Use a simple Excel spreadsheet. For a packaged approach try www.JibberJobber.com.
Sure it’s obvious to decrease low gain activities, and increase high return opportunities. But what are they?
Low Gain Activities:
- Scattershot approaches: This is obvious – right?
- Sending too many resumes: If you don’t have enough time to heavily research targets and customize resumes, you are sending too many resumes.
- Cover letters: Only 3% of your audience actually reads them. Focus on the 97% for better odds (See: “Is Your Cover Letter An Ineffective And Obsolete Tradition?” at http://recareered.com/blog/2009/12/02/is-your-cover-letter-an-ineffective-and-obsolete-tradition/).
- Spamming your network: Poor response rate with the added benefit of disenfranchising your contacts make it not worth your time.
- Asking contacts to pass along your resume: Thanks to employee referral programs, passing along your resume gets you no more recognition than if you just applied online, a high percentage of the time (See: “How Employee Referral Bonus Programs Can Work For You … Or Against You” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/05/18/how-employee-referral-bonus-programs-can-work-for-you-or-against-you/).
- Spending more time talking: Talking in job search is much lower gain than listening (See: “Does Your Job Search Strategy Include More Listening … Or Talking? at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/04/08/does-your-job-search-strategy-include-more-listening-or-talking/).
- WIFM: If you don’t understand WIFT (What’s In it For Them) and only talk about WIFM (What’s In it For Me) your odds are low that you’ll attract employer interest (See: “Job Seekers – Tell your readers WIFT (What’s In it For Them)” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/03/17/job-seekers-tell-your-readers-wift-whats-in-it-for-them/).
Concentrating your job search on high return activities gives you the biggest bang for your buck and makes your job search go faster. These activities have the highest odds of leading you to an interview, and making the best initial impression to make you a high ranking candidate.
High Return Job Search Activities:
- Customized Resumes: “Differentiate Your Resume With a Winning Strategy: Fishing and Response Resumes” at http://recareered.com/blog/2009/09/30/differentiate-your-resume-with-a-winning-strategy-fishing-and-response-resumes/
- Gaining inside information: “Guerrilla Job Search Tactics” at http://recareered.com/blog/2009/11/24/guerrilla-job-search-tactics/
- Networking efficiently: Utilizing your network to pass along a resume or to find out if there are openings is a low odds activity. Using your network to gain information is a much higher odds search activity (See: “Why Good Career-Changers Are Anthropologists” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/04/01/why-good-career-changers-are-anthropologists/).
- Research extensively before sending a resume: The average candidate spends 30 minutes or less researching a company before sending a resume. Successful candidates spend hours researching before sending a resume. The more you can learn about a company (including inside information) before you send a resume, the more you can stand out – making research a very high gain activity (See: “4 Killer Ways To Use Research In Job Search” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/07/16/4-killer-ways-to-use-research-in-job-search-best-of-recareered/).
- Send fewer resumes: So you can spend more time on the higher odds activities of heavily researching and customizing each resume you send (See: “Candidates – Send Fewer Resumes” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/02/13/candidates-send-fewer-resumes-best-of-recareered/).
- Focus on unadvertised market: Only 20% of the job market is advertised, and that 20% is the most competitive. Focusing on the 80% unadvertised market creates much better odds (See: “3 Ways To Leverage Job Boards And Discover The Hidden Job Market” at http://recareered.com/blog/2010/05/12/3-ways-to-leverage-job-boards-and-discover-the-hidden-job-market/).
- Send Thank you notes: This often overlooked activity can go a long way to differentiate you in the job market and it takes so little time (See: “Thank You! Make an impact in 5 minutes” at http://recareered.com/blog/2008/03/12/thank-you-make-an-impact-in-5-minutes/).
Think about your own job search. How much time do you spend at low gain activities? How much time could you reinvest into high gain activities?
Readers and recruiters – Did I leave anything out? Do you have suggestions of high or low return activities that you can add?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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