Maybe a decade ago, job searching meant preparing a resume or filling out an application and then waiting to be called for an interview.
Global economics, the rise of social media, and revolutionary advances in technology have radically changed the employment marketplace and have put new demands on job seekers, requiring different initiatives and more active engagement with employers.
When a job search fails to progress, a candidate must look beyond mere resume content and the use of distribution channels to increase his chances for success.
This article discusses how to remove obstacles that may be blocking a swift, successful landing.
The focus is misplaced
Most job seekers start their job-search process with many of the same ineffective steps.
They include updating and sending their resume to their current contacts, uploading their resume to job boards and recruiter sites, applying to online openings, polishing and repolishing their elevator pitch (just in case), sprucing up their LinkedIn profile and photograph, deciding whether to Tweet or to have a personal presence on Facebook, and furiously adding more connections to their online social networks.
Notice how all those activities focus on the candidate and not the employer?
A better approach is to identify qualified employers that might be a good match and then contact decision makers within those companies.
Job seekers often spend the beginning of a job search on ineffective tasks that slow down their progress. Performing job-search-related tasks without essential input about what employers appreciate, need, want, require, expect, value, etc., dooms the job seeker to circling around employers but not engaging with them, which is essential to reaching a mutually rewarding hiring agreement.
Connecting the dots for employers to recognize a candidate's potential contribution cannot be left to chance. A job search, like successful business projects, should be expertly strategized, organized, and implemented.
Many job seekers lack enough experience to conduct an efficient and effective search. Precious time is lost; frustration builds; stress mounts; and emotional, physical, and monetary costs escalate when a solid foundation isn't in place from the beginning. Adopting a different strategy will yield better results.
Luck is not a strategy
It's an employer's market today. The makers of hiring decisions act as if they have an endless supply of interested prospective employees and somewhere among them is the perfect candidate. They are reluctant to compromise. Candidates must therefore orient their efforts to attract employers' attention, meet their needs, and gain their trust.
Start a job search by identifying the candidate's requirements and then finding employers that match those qualifications
Don't begin by writing a resume that's candidate-centered and sounds like an obituary of past jobs. Research employers to find those that satisfy the candidate's requirements.
Such specifications may include industry sector, geographical location, company size, ownership structure, corporate structure, company culture, competitive ranking, reputation, financial status, etc.
For each company on the list, outline the employer's challenges and describe how the candidate can solve, address, or manage them
Base that description on the candidate's unique skills, talents, experience, background, interests, connections, education, and training, etc.
The intention is to show the employer that the candidate is the best available resource the employer will find. Note: If something might damage the candidate's positioning as an expert, determine how to eliminate that or, worstcase scenario, mitigate its impact.
Present the candidate's credentials to the employer, showcasing how the candidate is the perfect prospective employee
That goes beyond the traditional resume. In today's world, reputation often precedes a formal introduction. Candidates should expect to be googled, looked up on Facebook and LinkedIn, and checked out on Twitter, ZoomInfo, and other sites.
Ideally, the candidate's public, published track record should clearly illustrate the candidate's capabilities and suitability for the employer.
There's no privacy, confidentiality, or hiding from employers. Online information is the employer's reality, and the the candidate's resume has to be consistent with the virtual image—or a convincing explanation must be made available regarding any inconsistencies. (See comment about positioning in bullet above.)
- Immediately document strengths, experience, accomplishments, etc., online, and keep that information up-to-date even after starting a new job and especially during periods of high productivity, when the achievements accumulate and there are lots of chances to show an ability to produce profits, decrease costs, or improve process.
- If the online evidence is sparse, develop a creative way to show enthusiasm, intellect, engagement, interpersonal skills, talent, etc., using success stories or a PowerPoint presentation, or by writing a whitepaper. Why? Because people are not their resumes; they are their work. In other words, show, don't tell.
Introduce the candidate to a hiring decision maker
Ideally, that introduction would occur via a mutual contact who can address concerns and recommend the candidate. The inside contact should not be HR; the contact should be the person with authority to make an offer to the candidate.
Choose someone who will not be threatened by the candidate and will appreciate the candidate's taking initiative for the purpose of sharing a meaningful conversation that may produce potential job leads to a current opening or creating a new role just for being at the right place at the right time.
Remember: Meeting with a decision maker isn't a cold call to find a job. It's a polite introduction to start a mutally beneficial relationship that might unearth a new opportunity now or in the future and expand contacts for both parties and their entire network of connections.
- Maintain contact after making the significant investment to develop relationships, because one's network is like long-term career insurance, providing ongoing mentoring, future job leads, referrals, expert advice, etc.
Follow through on promises and keep in touch periodically by extending invitations, sharing ideas, exchanging links, making referrals, asking for advice, offering assistance, etc.
- Look for opportunities to be generous. It makes the giver feel good to help, and people remember those who not only talk the talk but come through with assistance.
Those who get help usually seek to return the favor, which keeps the relationship vibrant, dynamic, and effective.
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Candidates have to focus their job-search efforts on employers. In most instances, that turns the candidate's usual job-search behavior upside down by focusing on the employer rather than on the candidate.
It is an employer's market; they call the shots, set the ground rules, and have more power in the relationship. The closer the match between candidate and employer from the hiring authority's perspective, the better the chances that the parties will come to a mutually successful agreement.
Today's job-market reality is that it is not just what you know or even who you know, but who with hiring authority needs you and knows your potential.