By Skip Freeman
If you are the typical job hunter in today's job market, I strongly suspect that you are among the legions of those who are doing the same things over and over and still expecting different results. (Isn't that the true definition of "insanity"?!) What I'm referring to here concerns going to the job boards to find and then apply for a multitude of open positions, many, if not most, of which you may not even be qualified to perform.
Here is how the typical "job hunting" scenario unfolds for many, day in and day out:
- You spend hour upon hour in front of your computer posting for job after job after job. Oftentimes, it makes little, if any, difference if you are even remotely qualified for the positions. All you know is that you "need a job"! Now!
- You send the same "generic" résumé and the same "generic" cover letter (if you even send one at all) to virtually each and every posting.
- You get discouraged and frustrated when you hear absolutely nothing back from any posting.
- You continue to send résumé after résumé to posting after posting.
- You become even more discouraged and frustrated.
Sound familiar? It should because this is precisely what literally millions of job hunters experience each and every day. And most have absolutely no idea why! It's what I-and other "headhunters," too-refer to as the "Online Lottery," which I'll explain at the end of this blog.
In this blog I am going to share a little known "headhunter" "secret" (approach) that still utilizes the job boards but with a uniquely different, far more effective "twist." It's a secret I love to share with job hunters, but I have to tell you right up front that, in order for this approach to work, you must first brand yourself as a candidate who is exceptional at what they do. That is, this secret will not work if you are viewed as a "mediocre" or "average" candidate. (See "Stop Applying and Start Competing") I must also tell you that I get mixed responses from those to whom I suggest using the approach. While many job seekers say, "Wow! That's a GREAT idea!," still others say such things as, "You have got to be kidding me. That is something I would never do!" Plus, the feedback I get from those who do try it ranges from, "I tried it but it didn't work" to "I landed an interview with it!" to "I just got hired!"
With these caveats in mind, then, let me outline the five-step approach that I recommend using in conjunction with the job boards, an approach that can get you out of the job-hunting doldrums, out of playing-and continuing to lose at-the "Online Lottery" and on your way to finding your next great job.
Go to the job boards and find an open position for which you are fully qualified.
Do NOT, however, apply for the position online! Instead, find an "internal sponsor" for the position, someone who will "represent" you and your candidacy.
(Many companies offer a "referral bonus" to employees who recommend someone who ultimately gets hired. Such bonuses can be substantial, too, ranging from $500 to $3,000. So, if you see an opening with a company that you are a fit for, i.e., you truly have the credentials/experience/skills required, you can use proactive networking skills to identify someone who works in that company, get them to review your résumé and credentials and, if they feel you would be a good fit, ask them if they would be willing to sponsor you and submit your information internally. What's in it for them? Of course it's the "finder's fee"!)
Use LinkedIn to find someone in the company within your network or, if your network is relatively small, use the LinkedIn "hack" to find someone within the desired company. (See "The LinkedIn Hack" -- the algorithm has been changed since that blog was written, but the blog will tell you how to use the algorithm.)
Here is the new algorithm to paste into Google:
site:linkedin.com -intitle:profiles –inurl:dir -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers (title OR title 2 OR title 3) company
Note: That which is in bold italics are your variables.
Knowing that sales people are generally "money motivated" and thus excellent networking opportunities, you can then use the LinkedIn hack to find sales and business development people within a company in this manner. In this example, let's use Nalco as the company:
site:linkedin.com -intitle:profiles –inurl:dir -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers (sales OR "business development") Nalco
This Google search returns 24,000 people who are potential "referral" candidates you can use!
Begin calling the "referral" candidates you have identified. Here is an example of an effective script to use:
"Valerie, this is Jim Smith. I know your time is valuable and this will only take three minutes. Do you have three minutes, or should we schedule a time to speak?"
"I have three minutes but that's it. What is this about?"
"I noticed that your company has an opening for a mechanical engineer at its Chicago facility. Now, I know that, since the position is posted, I either need to go to HR or apply online. However, I have one important question for you. Many large companies like yours have employee referral programs, where if someone is referred and hired the referring employee gets paid a couple of thousand dollars.
"Valerie, if I were to send you my résumé, and indeed you felt that I was 'MNO Company quality material,' would you be willing to introduce me into the company? The value of your doing so ensures that I get reviewed by a real person and not a computer, and the value to you is that you might get the referral fee. Would you be open to me sending my information to you for review?"
Does this approach actually work? you're probably asking yourself at this point. In my experience, it works about half the time. That is, about half the time the person you speak to will be willing to review your résumé and about half the time they won't. When you encounter someone who is not willing to be your "sponsor," simply move on to the next person on your list!
After you have found an internal "sponsor," do NOT then apply online! That will cause any referral bonus for the current employee to be "null and void." Only apply online once someone in Human Resources contacts you and specifically directs you to do that.
Quit playing the 'Online Lottery'!
What do I mean by the term "Online Lottery"? Let me briefly explain by giving you an example of how a hiring company recently used one of the major job boards (which shall go unnamed here), touting its "new technology," to fill just ONE of the company's open positions.
The major job board claimed that, through its relationships with media outlets, as well as its unique social media positioning, it could "push" ads to locations throughout the Web and more effectively and efficiently "winnow" down a usable "pool" of fully qualified candidates for participating hiring companies. And indeed that is what the job board was able to do for this hiring company! In this case, the "first cut" of potential candidates for just a single job opening the company was trying to fill consisted of 50,000 applicants. These 50,000 applicants were then further assessed using the job board's "new, sophisticated software" to pare the list down to just 50 people. This "short list" of candidates was provided to the hiring company, candidates were contacted, interviews were set up and, ultimately, the successful candidate was hired.
The hiring company said it was "ecstatic" with the job board's results and very impressed with the "quality of the candidates" produced. And, of course, the candidate who ultimately got hired was equally "ecstatic." But how about the other 49,950 job seekers who were never even "in the running"?!
In this particular example, which is very typical of the results today of applying for positions online, the odds of "winning" the position were just one in 50,000-and that only considers the applicants who made it to the initial pool of 50,000!
The choice in today's job market is clear, or at least it is to me, and it certainly should be to you, too, if you're still playing the "Online Lottery" and still hoping to "win." I've been a "headhunter" for going on nine years now and I know, without hesitation or qualification, what works and, equally importantly, what doesn't work. If I didn't, I wouldn't get paid! I wouldn't eat! And one thing that I definitely do know is that continuing to play the "Online Lottery" is a fool's game, and one which only a very, very few will ever "win." To succeed in today's job market you must first brand yourself as someone who is not just "average," just "another candidate looking for a job." You've got to brand yourself as someone who is both imaginative and creative, someone who is ready, willing and able to try new approaches, such as the one outlined in this blog, and WIN your next great job!
The choice is yours!
Skip Freeman is the author of "Headhunter" Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed... Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.
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