Last week, someone made a great comment on one of my posts, remarking that we do more research shopping for an appliance than we do searching for a job.
That comment is very true.
When most of us make a large, or even a medium sized purchase, we spend hours researching data on the internet, reading appliance reviews, price shopping a numerous appliance stores, maybe comparing to prices online, looking for user comments to gain insight if this fridge will last … if it’s worth the expense.
Sadly, most don’t research anywhere close to as much about a decision with a much greater economic impact to our lives and happiness … a job.
Most candidates do a little research just prior to the interview. Rather than research before sending a resume, most candidates prefer to roll the dice on job boards, send nearly the same resume (maybe with a couple tweaks), instead spending research time to send even more resumes through job boards and corporate web sites.
We do this because it’s what we were taught, and frankly … we got lazy. Most job markets, even during most recessions still offered more jobs than candidates – so it was easy. In a job market with more openings than candidates, you could afford to be lazy and approach job search randomly. With more jobs than candidates, eventually you’d get lucky – the odds were in your favor.
Today, there’s not the low hanging fruit of excess jobs, and your odds of “getting lucky” in job search are terrible.
With much lower odds, why are so few approaching their search differently? Why are we still so insistent that job search must be lazy and random?
So here’s some unique career advice … Why not search for a job, like you search for a refrigerator?
Here’s 10 ways to make your job search more like you’re searching for a refrigerator:
- Create a plan: Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Create a job search plan including a target list, contact list, target contact list (the contacts you want to meet – ex: a hiring manager at one of your target companies), call planner, outlook contacts (or other contact manager), Excel based call log, and calendar.
- Focus on your target list: Why concentrate on job boards, when they are the most competitive and least likely channel to find your next job? Instead focus on a target list of 30-50 companies in the same (or similar) industries and/or the same geography.
- Research contacts: Who are the hiring managers at your target companies for the job you want? Who are they connected to on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook? If you can’t find an easy path to a hiring manager, is there someone who works for (or closely with) the hiring manager that presents an easier way to reach? Plan exactly who and how you will reach hiring managers or contacts who work with your targeted hiring managers. Chances are, you’re not going to run into these people randomly at the networking events you’re attending – or you would have already arranged an introduction, wouldn’t you?
- Research your target companies: Once you’ve targeted contacts within a company, talk to them. Your goal should be to gain your target contact’s trust. Don’t start out by sending a resume, or describing how you’d like to work for the company … if you do, you’ll miss a great opportunity, probably blow a business relationship potential at that early stage, and get your resume an express ticket to HR’s ATS system. Instead, talk to your target contacts to learn about the company. Learn what are their goals, challenges, the issues are critical to your target hiring manager. Learn the names of the hiring managers. If you have built a great relationship with your contact, ask for an introduction.
- Don’t send a resume yet … be patient: You didn’t buy your refrigerator in a day, did you?
- Research, Research, Research: This doesn’t mean study the website and financials. Your best source of information is your target company contacts, because that’s information your competitors probably don’t have. If you’re satisfied with information you can find on Google, on a company’s website and financial statements, you’re learning about last year’s problems – instead you need to learn what a company’s current and future issues are. Your competitors can see everything on the internet that you can – the way you gain an edge is through better information, from your target company contacts.
- Make your research payoff: Now that you understand the company’s goals, issues, problems, and unique language incorporate these into your highly customized resume. Show how you’ve already solved problems that are similar to what’s on the hiring manager’s hot list, and what the results were. Show how you’ve helped companies achieve similar goals, and include numerical results. The best way you can demonstrate both is through relevant past accomplishments. Describe all of this using the company’s own language (terms, jargon, expressions, acronyms) that you learned by talking to people within the company.
- Contact the hiring manager: Don’t include your resume yet, because your intention of talking to the hiring manager isn’t to find a job … it’s to offer solutions to the hiring manager’s problems. In addition, you are far, far, far, far, far more likely to get a return call, email response, or a meeting if you want to discuss something the hiring manager is interested in – solution to the top problems that are the hiring manager’s priority.
- If you get a meeting … don’t bring a resume: Your meeting isn’t a job interview, yet. Plus, resumes go to HR. You didn’t do all this research just to get sent to HR and the black hole of the ATS, did you? Whether over the phone or in person, your goal is to better understand the hiring manager’s problems and suggest solutions based on your similar experience (“when I worked at XYZ, we had a similar problem. Here’s how I solved it.”). Also, find out how big of a problem this is – what happens if it isn’t solved? What are the costs or repercussions? If you can get the hiring manager to admit the costs or repercussions are significant, and they had the solution sitting in front of them, do you think the hiring manager would start to think “I wonder if they’d work for me to help me out?” Chances are, you’ve reached the hiring manager before they’ve advertised a job opening to solve this problem.
Step back and consider what I’ve described.
You’ve had a conversation with a hiring manager at one of your target companies, without giving a resume or telling them you’re looking for a job (yet), you’ve paid it forward, done the hiring manager a huge favor by helping them solve a problem, won them as a raving fan, caused them to come up with the idea (on their own) that maybe you’d work for them, and this is all before there’s an advertised job – so you have no competitors.
If you’ve really made a strong impression, if you’ve done your research well enough to understand the hiring manager’s priorities, if you’ve increased the pain by having the hiring manager verbalize the cost of leaving the problem unsolved, and if the hiring manager has the budget (or influence) to hire to solve this problem … then the hiring manager will likely ask you about your current job.
If the hiring manager doesn’t ask about your current job, then one of the above hasn’t happened – maybe they don’t have a budget (yet). Leaving your resume at this point won’t help your cause if the hiring manger doesn’t have the budget to hire you. It just makes you look like a desperate job seeker.
- Wait for the hiring manager to ask for your resume: If the hiring manager doesn’t say anything other than thanks, email them once a month with an idea, a relevant article, or to see how the solution is progressing (if it’s slowing, ask for a meeting to discuss again). If the hiring manager isn’t asking you about your current job, or asking for your resume then something is blocking them – either inside the company, or their initial perception of you (tough to change). Shoving your resume at the hiring manager won’t help you either way – it just reeks of desperation.
According to Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.” As a candidate who wants to work for this company, you’re dying right now. All you want to do is blurt out “I’ve always wanted to work for XYZ Corp, and I’d really like to work for you, and I think we’d get along great, and I could really help you, and did I mention that I’d really like to work for you?” It will be difficult, but your best bet is just to wait. Make the hiring manager want you first before they get your resume.
You can clearly see that it takes more time and more research to search for job like you shop for a fridge.
You should also see that making a hiring manager want you is insanely more effective than applying through ads, websites or recruiters – or worse, appearing desperate.
Will you start searching for your job like you’re shopping for a fridge?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?
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Phil shows you why your current job search strategies work against you and how to replace them with strategies that improve your odds. Phil provides you with research - cold, hard statistics provided by job boards and hiring managers themselves, to show you what works for you and against you in the worst job market in our lifetimes.
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