Christmas is next week. Job seekers and career changers – Where’s your next job?
If you don’t know where your next job is by now, your job search is already behind for next year.
If you can’t answer that question, what can you do to help your job search before Christmas and New Years are over?
Most job seekers wait until the employer internal job budgeting process and then for the holidays to be over, when positions are approved and advertised (See “How Does The Holiday Effect … Effect Your Job Search?” at http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/11/28/how-does-the-holiday-effect-effect-your-job-search/).
Instead, most job seekers use the holidays to attend networking events and holiday parties, telling everyone they meet that they are looking for a job and seeking help. This method has low odds of yielding results, because the candidate’s goal with this method is to find a hiring manager who is actively looking for their exact skills, experiences and accomplishments. Playing lotto might have better odds, especially in today’s tight job market.
During December, executives and managers often are still in the process of creating next year’s headcount budgets and are asking finance departments to approve positions. This lowers candidate odds even more, since hiring mangers are much less likely to discuss positions or consider candidates for positions that haven’t yet been approved.
Instead of using the holidays to ask for a job, what if candidates jump started their job search by discovering what problems, issues, and goals are likely to drive future job openings?
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 during the holidays?
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 1999 or even 2005, but it’s ineffective during the toughest job market in our 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 “Would You Stop Looking for a Job Already?” at http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/03/27/would-you-stop-looking-for-a-job-already-best-of-recareered/). 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’ve already answered similar 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, do your homework to gain an understanding of the company’s goals and problems from its quarterly reports, analyst reports, industry reports, articles and other contacts within the company. 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 learn about those challenges and goals (and unadvertised positions) … when hiring managers are concentrating on planning solutions. You’ll find that when hiring managers are busy trying to plan solutions to problems and goals, they will often make time for those who can bring new ideas to help develop solutions.
What are your plans to advance your job search over the holidays?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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