I recently read four heart-wrenching stories of U.S. based careerpeople in last month’s Esquire magazine (“Work: Stories of Unemployment” by Ryan D’Agostino”, pp. 167-170, March 2012 issue): a former warehouse supervisor, a newly minted MBA, an ex- distribution executive and a social worker shifting careers.
Two had left their jobs, one had just gotten laid off and another had just finished school and was looking for work for the first time. What was common in their stories was that they were all struggling mightily to find work and were rapidly depleting their savings. Two were told that they were overqualified while the rest were trying to find jobs in new industries where they had zero experience.
While many people might blame the recession on the failure of people to secure good jobs, I think that many people aren’t really helping themselves by opting to go after “low hanging fruit”. It’s an expression that means choosing a course of action that is easy to do, but not necessarily the most effective.
Here are three of the most common examples of time-wasting activities:
1) Randomly firing out dozens of resumes each day
2) Answering classified ads (virtual- and paper-based)
3) Attending Job Fairs
Why don’t they work? Well, hundreds or even thousands of other job applicants are doing things the same way. Interested to work for Google, for example? So do several hundred thousand other people. Want to know the best way to get noticed by them? Sending your resume with 2,999 other interested applicants won’t help. That’s how many applications they get every day in case you didn’t know. Most other companies get more than a hundred resumes a day, with yours included.
Clearly, you’’re not helping yourself by going with the herd. If you want to stand out, you need to go to places – or do things – that your peers find too troublesome to do.
Here are some things you can do that are different:
1) Zero in on an industry and the top 50 companies in it and simply focus your job search there instead of using a scattershot approach
2) Find out who the company decision-makers are and where they regularly meet and be there, too.
3) Ask members of your network to connect you to those decision-makers (or anyone they know at those companies with access to these decision-makers)
4) Set up a meeting with these decision-makers (or people with access to them) and develop new “loose ties”.
Notice that there are no resumes or interviews involved here? What this type of job search entails is more face time and less time-sitting-in-front-of-your-computer-firing-out-resumes and waiting for a callback for an interview. That’s the least productive thing you can do with your time. You can literally spend years just doing this and getting zero results. While it feels productive mass mailing resumes, it really isn’t.
This was what struck me most about the job applicants featured in Esquire was that they were still using techniques from the 20th century that used to work. Unfortunately, job-seekers in the 21st century need a totally new game plan. These old school methods simply get you filtered out.
What you – or any new business – needs to do – is to get in front of as many decision-makers as you can in person and to not make a pitch when you do meet them. Leave it to them to make up their minds about whether or not you’re worth hiring. They can make that judgement call in mere minutes. Seconds even. In his book “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell called this “thin slicing” or the making a snap judgement based on gut feel or what was once called “making an impression”.
These days, the best job-search method consists of:
1) Not answering someone’s questions but asking them
2) Letting companies compete for your services rather than chasing after them.
If you can learn to do both, then you’ll never run out of people to work for or clients for your business. For more insights on how you can do this properly and get a job faster than anyone else, check out THE SITTING PRETTY course.
Fruit tree photo by DieselDemon