Get to Work!

July 6, 2009

Are you putting the right effort into your Job Search?

Looking for a job, much like parenting, is not something that we studied in college so many people when faced with unemployment are at a loss for what makes a ‘well-rounded’ job search. Most of us start with the low hanging fruit, the obvious approach; we start mining the job boards. If you work at it you can actually spend the entire day applying for open positions that are posted. That’s fine however you are only applying to about 30% of the open positions using this method. Moreover, if you are a manager/director or other senior level professional postings will net you only 10% of the openings. Let’s take a closer look at what this means to a job seeker.

Brandon is a software project manager with an MBA, PMP certification, an undergraduate degree in software engineering, is studying Six Sigma has a solid work history and a great track record. He’s been unemployed since before the end of the year. He is spending an exhaustive amount of time on Monster, Dice, Careerbuilder, etc and has interviewed, even as a finalist for a couple of positions. He’s hitting obstacles due to the current economic climate (or at least that’s what the excuses are) and just isn’t getting any traction. Brandon’s resume looks just like every other Project Management resume on the big boards. When you Google Brandon, you can’t find him. On Linked In, his name is registered but his profile is non-existent and he has 3 connections.

I asked Brandon what else he’s doing to find a job. He replied “networking with my buddies.” That’s a good start, but are you asking your friends for referrals to other companies that might be hiring? Did you ask what recruiters they know and respect? Do you check the calendar of events in the area to see where you should be ‘hanging out’? Are you making connections with former colleagues, associates, classmates on the social networks? His answer was, “no, I’m too busy looking for a job to do that.”

John is a software architect who was with his last employer for 4 years. He was recruited into that position from his former company and had been there since 1999. Essentially, John has not looked for a job in this century.. However John has more activity than he can handle in his job search. Not because his experience is any better than his peers, but because of his approach. John has been unemployed for barely 4 weeks, has discussions happening with 5 CIO’s and is expecting an offer within the next 2 weeks.

John learned early in his career about the power of building a solid network (outside of your company). He has kept in contact with his former colleagues, helped them in their careers, offers advice, participates in technical forums and has earned the reputation as a genuine thought leader amongst his peers. John spends about 10 minutes reviewing job board results in the morning over his coffee. He does this purely from an information collection standpoint. He is looking for new companies, postings with companies that he is targeting (not his position title, but all position titles) to see where there is activity. Interesting companies are further researched on the web and Linked In.

The rest of the morning is dedicated to connecting with people that are in a position to hire him. He does not call and email the HR department. He reaches out to CIOs, CTO’s, VP’s and CEO’s of companies that he is interested in. John will absolutely follow protocol and get his information in place with HR, but there is no sense in creating extra work if there isn’t a position available right now.

John sets coffee meetings and lunch meetings with people who he knows to talk about their business, their challenges and their opinion on where the industry is going. John is a thought leader, and these meetings provide some great peer discussions for these connections. As well, John makes it clear that he is looking for his next career move and asks for referrals. After his meetings, John heads back home to check his email/voice-mail, returns calls (because he is searchable on the web), completes follow up on the opportunities that he is targeting presently and checks Linked In for the day’s activities (job postings, group discussions, contact updates). To close out a busy day, John makes a list of planned activities for the next day, and enjoys an evening with his family.

Brandon is taking a bottom up approach to his search. He is feeding on the bottom 30% of open positions. Brandon will get a job, but he may not be satisfied and will likely just survive until the economy improves.

John is taking a top down approach. He is looking for the ‘unadvertised’ openings and will be gainfully and happily employed in a very short period. He will continue to build his network and will rise in his career as high as he wants to go.

Which approach – AND OUTCOME – do you like better?

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