What can you do if your job search stinks and nothing seems to work well? How about … Change your search?
I talk to candidates daily who are frustrated. My Linkedin group has hundreds of comments weekly from candidates who don’t understand why their job search is so hard. They can’t figure out why the advice they hear everywhere doesn’t seem to get them anywhere.
Here’s an example: I spoke to a frustrated candidate earlier this week – She’d been job searching for about a year, re-educated herself with classes and certifications, yet she was getting nowhere. She’d sent 1,000 resumes, and had gotten very few interviews … with a resume response rate of about 1.5%
I asked additional questions and found that she sent about 50% of her resumes to recruiters and about 50% directly to ads.
Next, I asked this candidate what she thought she could approach differently in her search – She responded “Send more resumes?”
Let’s step back and think for a moment. This woman is sending over 2.5 resumes per day, 7 days a week …
… and her solution was to do even more of what she knows wasn’t working.
Send more resumes may be the answer if you only send 1 or 2 resumes each week … but she was already sending 85 resumes per month. This reminds me of a piece I wrote called “The Definition of Insanity” http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/06/11/the-definition-of-job-search-insanity-best-of-recareered/ quoting Albert Einstein. This not only applies to quantum physics, it also applies to job search.
When you realize job search strategy isn’t working, will doing more of the same thing change your results? Instead, why not change your strategy?
This is the toughest job market in our lifetime. Unemployment is stalled and there are 3 times more unemployed than advertised jobs.
It’s easy to blame poor job search results on the economy. But where will that get you? Will blaming the economy help you find a job? (See “Job Seekers – It’s Not Just The Economy, It’s You”
Why not try a more effective change, even if it’s tougher? Why not choose different activities, rather than just increasing the volume of the ones that aren’t working? I’m not suggesting it’s easy and it may push you from your comfort zone. But isn’t it better than just complaining about the job market yet still doing more of the same old thing? In today’s job market, the candidates who are working smarter are the ones finding jobs. Of course some get jobs because they get lucky – but are you willing to wait until you get lucky?
This candidate had a problem I hear about consistently … she was chasing after jobs the same way everyone else does. It’s an easy approach, we’re all used to it and we get validation because these approaches are popular. We were taught this approach early in our career, often when we graduated school. For many of us, we sent resumes in to jobs advertised in the paper (or online), and sent resumes to recruiters. It’s a random way to search for a job and one that emotionally protects us from direct rejection.
Some others take a slightly more active but still flawed approach – they drop in to HR offices and ask to speak with an HR representative, without an appointment, dropping off a resume and asking if the company is hiring. It’s how our parents looked for jobs, so it should be good enough for today. Again, it’s something we’re used to, so it’s within our comfort zone … just not very effective.
Problems with these approaches are that they target the advertised job market, when about 80% of jobs are unadvertised.
The unadvertised job market has much less competition and gives the candidate a much greater chance to differentiate themselves against the competition. In the unadvertised job market, the candidate has more direct input to self-design the job to custom fit their skills.
The challenge is that most candidates don’t know how to approach the unadvertised market, because it’s not easy. Often the approach that’s a little more difficult is much more effective.
Here are some suggested strategy changes – Four steps you can take to move your job search into the unadvertised job market:
- Target based on problems: Create a target list of 20 – 50 companies that have specific problems that your unique skills can solve better than anyone else. The key word is unique. Don’t focus on what you could do, one of the 15 things you’re qualified to do or what you could learn to do. Instead, focus on problems similar to what you’ve already solved before and that you can solve better than anyone else.
- One contact isn’t enough: Find multiple contacts to talk to at each target company, the closer to the specific problem the better. Use your in-person contacts, Linkedin network, alumni networks, etc. to find people to talk to. Do you think a hiring manager will take notice of 4 – 5 people within the company all say “You’ve gotta talk to this candidate”
- Don’t lead with a resume: Don’t send this contact your resume immediately or even talk about a job – instead just talk to them, find out what’s going on inside their company and learn more about the specific problems that you can solve. Learn who this problem impacts, how it impacts the company, and how much it’s worth to the company to have it solved. If your contact doesn’t know the answers, keep networking until you find someone who does.
The more you learn about problems, goals, roadblocks, pain and issues before you send a resume, the more you can bias the reader to see you’ve already solved similar problems and pain – how could you do this if you don’t know what the problem is in the first place? Use other job search espionage tactics outlined in “Dirty Rotten Job Search Secrets” http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/12/03/dirty-rotten-job-search-secrets/.
- Customize heavily: Create a customized resume that clearly shows how you’ve already solved similar problems this company has today and how much money you made for your past employer by solving them. Email your resume – without a cover – to the hiring manager. Call the hiring manager the next day to set up an appointment to talk about this company’s specific problem. If you can’t reach the hiring manager, over the next two weeks, Fed Ex a hard copy resume for morning delivery – and call that afternoon for an appointment. But only use this tactic if you’ve first learned about company problems and have crafted a resume to show how you’ve already solved them.
The major difference with this approach is that you’re not looking for a job – you’re looking for a problem, defining the solution (you), presenting a strong ROI and making yourself the only candidate for a job that’s not advertised. Your next job probably isn’t even a job yet – it’s still just a problem.
Be the solution.
Yes, this approach is tougher, because it takes you out of your comfort zone. But you’ve got to admit … you’ll see a whole lot less competition that you would through job boards and recruiters.
Are you going to give this a shot in 2011? Or will you stay the course, and blame the rotten economy?
It’s your choice…-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?
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