is originally from the March 10, 2004, issue of the Online
Job Search Guide, Job-Hunt's free twice-a-month e-mailed newsletter. Latest update is August, 2011.]
Most of us search
for a job by responding to job postings we find that look interesting.
typical job board based search is reactive, not proactive.
We search jobs
at one or a few job boards. We may also scan the classified ads in
the local newspapers. We apply for the jobs that look interesting,
maybe sign up to get some sent by e-mail, and repeat the process
the next day or the next week.
So, what's wrong
- It's too
limited. We are depending on what others have done both
in describing and in posting the job. And, an estimated 70% to
85% of jobs never get posted or advertised anywhere!
- It's usually
too competitive. Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes
submitted in response to job ads and job postings. You must stand
out, in a positive way, to be noticed, and that takes a combination
of hard work, skill, and luck.
- It's too
random. The right opportunity for you may or may not be
posted, and it may not be posted where you are looking.
Finding the right opportunity for you at the right employer is
a hit-or-miss proposition.
- It's hard
to find a good fit. How often have you found an opportunity
that makes you think "I have exactly the skills and
experience they have specified for this job"? If you are
honestly assessing your qualifications and reading the job description
carefully, the answer is probably not very often. They want 5
years of experience, but you have 3 (or 7); they want at B.S.
in biology - you have a A.A. in Biology; etc.
Employers or recruiters may over-specify the necessary skills
and experience needed for the job, creating a job posting with
requirements that no one can meet (e.g., 10 years of experience
with a technology that's only 7 or 8 years old).
Job seekers over-apply. Many recruiters have shared with
me that they don't like to advertise a job opportunity because
they receive so many responses from unqualified applicants, an
estimated 80% to 90% of responses. Job seekers view it as a "why-not"
opportunity; recruiters see it as dumb (or lazy) applicants
who didn't pay attention or don't understand what is required.
Some people would call this a lose/lose situation. You lose
because you must spend a lot of time finding and combing through
job opportunities for the ones that match your qualifications and/or
interest you. The recruiters lose because they must comb through
hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes to find the truly qualified
a Proactive job search!
job seekers I've interviewed selected the kind of job they wanted
(e.g. bank teller, entry-level professional, senior executive),
the industry (e.g. banking, retail, healthcare), and then the local
employers that they liked best. Once they determined the target
employers, they focused most of their job search efforts on those
What did these
successful job seekers do?
- Learned as
much as they could about the target employer.
Checked out the employer Website for information on the products,
services, officers and senior staff, internal organization, benefits,
and any other information they could pick up.
Leveraged their LinkedIn networks for current (and former!) employees to connect with, and used the Company follow function to stay up to date on what's going on with the employer.
Checked the various Web resources for information about the employer's
financial health (e.g. Yahoo!
CNN Financial, etc.).
Checked with sites like PRnewswire,
NewsWire, etc. to see the latest press releases and news reports
about the employer.
Read and applied what they learned from Job-Hunt's Google-izing your job search articles, like using Google Alerts for Job Search.
the process used by the target employer to fill job openings.
They regularly checked the employer's Website for job postings.
One job seeker told me that she knew that her target, the Fallon
Clinic in Worcester, MA, always posted new job openings on Mondays.
So, she always visited the site before lunch on Monday. She got the job she wanted, for the employer she wanted.
They spoke with the people in the HR department to initiate (if
possible and appropriate) the official job application process.
- Got a contact
on the "inside" to help them in their application process.
LinkedIn and Twitter contacts, friends, family, neighbors, former colleagues who worked at one
of the target employers or who knew someone who worked at one
of the target employers. Then, they worked with these people, providing
as much support as possible, to identify appropriate job opportunities
and get their resume submitted.
Hiring managers don't want to make mistakes - it's expensive for the employer to recruit an employee and a few "bad hires" can definitely be career-limiting events for the person doing the hiring.
Employers LOVE "employee referrals" - potential employees referred to the employer by current employees. Many often have "employee referral programs" which reward employees who refer someone who is ultimately hired and becomes a successful employee because someone who is referred into the company by another employee is usually a successful hire.
- Stayed in
touch with their internal contact, if they had one, the HR department,
and/or the hiring manager.
Nicely, politely, relentlessly following up...by phone,
in person, by e-mail, or even by Twitter. Whatever works best for you and is most
effective in reaching a person at the employer's office.
Early in my career, I worked for a senior manager in the Personnel
Office of Harvard University, and, many years later (we won't
discuss how many), I still remember the ultimately successful
applicant for a major construction project management job. He called every
two weeks to see how things were progressing - always polite,
always nice, and always in touch. It worked for him (he
got the job) as it has worked for many thousands of job applicants
and sales people. I've used it myself, too.
don't want to be doing another job search in a year or two, so use
this job search as an opportunity to find a job with an employer
who will be around (and keep you around) for a while. The research
you've done in selecting your target employers should help you avoid
the ones that will disappear or disappoint - although no one has
any guarantees in life or work.
For more information on using social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, check out Job-Hunt's Social Networking section.
About the author...
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg.
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