Many of us have been there. You want a job, but you have no idea how to get the right people to pay attention or read your resume. Congratulations, you are now part of a not-so-exclusive club of job hunters who feel like they are being ignored.
Everyone feels this way. Part of it is due to the advent of the internet and the ease at which information can float around. It’s easy for you to find job openings, but it also means everyone else in the market has just as much ease finding open positions to apply to. All information is spread evenly to everyone, and everyone gets an equal shot at finding information about job openings. This system, spawned by the internet was devised by technical people in order to find other technical people. Technical jobs have a codex of metrics, certifications, and words that make it easy to quantify and to locate those opening positions. The key to any job search is knowing how to take advantage of the imperfect flow of information. Just like market traders, if you have an advantage of knowledge in both time and space over your competition, you win. Remember, that other job hunters are your competition!
What I’m about to discuss holds more weight with non-technical jobs, but also technical; just not to the same degree. Let’s assume a perfect market where everyone gets an equal shot and then let’s consider the following scenario as a thought experiment:
- You have the right hard skills match for the job
- You have the right level of responsibility and experience for the job
- You submit your resume online
- You submit your resume on time, with the correct prerequisites of paperwork and data
If you apply for 30 jobs with the outlined conditions stated above, I bet your odds of acquiring that job would not significantly increase than someone else that applied to 5 jobs.
Want to know why?
There are several factors at play that are unbeknownst to you as a job seeker, but are common knowledge to employers. The first one is legal. Companies are required by law to post all newly open positions under anti-discrimination statues at both the federal and state level. This was mandated under the Civil Rights Act of 1968. On paper, it doesn't matter your background, race, or (for office jobs) your physical ability to get the job. But once posted, a job posting does not mean that another candidate is not already waiting in the wings. Sometimes, there is already someone within the company who is ready to apply for the job as soon as the job is posted. They are required by law to post the position, but within hours after meeting this law, they can give it to someone from the inside or outside that is previously known to the hiring manager.
Here's what this means. If you see a job opening on a jobs board, it means the position could neither be filled internally nor by the hiring manger's social network. The longer that job sits unfilled, the more likely it is either completely new, exceedingly specific in it's requirements, or is a job that a small population wants in the first place. Draw your own conclusions.
At the end of the day, a job offer is about trust. Who would you give it to? Would you give to someone in the company or a close colleague with the hiring manager? Or would you give it to someone on the street and roll the dice?
As written, there are 4 more important metrics to keep in mind about open positions:
- Are you already part of a company? You may have the best shot, but not always.
- Are you part of the hiring manager’s network? If so, you have a MUCH better shot.
- Are you the general public? If so, then you are least likely to have a shot.
- Finally, you can be part of an extended social network – a friend of a friend of sorts. If so, you have a better shot then someone who is part of the general public.
How do you break this cycle? You network! You find people within positions and talk to them. You draw on your friends' networks and go through them. Finally, you spend considerable time selling yourself socially online via LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
In the new era of the social networking game, talking to people takes on all kinds of interesting segues. For one, you are no longer bound by geography which was a problem up until the age of the internet. You now can instantly update experience or skills and have those published instantly. There are now websites, such as MeetUp.com that specialize in geographic networking for nearly any venture you can imagine.
Remember, networking is still about meeting people in person. Traditional job networking events are static and take months to set up. Because of this, they need to be generalized and need to be large because of cost. That’s not ideal. What is ideal is focused networking in the area you wish to live and work.
So here is the take away message:
- Create and nurture a social network of professionals whom you can call on
- Create a dynamic presence online via social media
- Seek small, specialized meet-ups
- Avoid large meet-ups, unless you are truly bored or desperate
- Communicate to said networks what you want to do
- Insist on getting feedback from said networks on their thoughts and recommendations
- Take notes on interactions and follow up by thanking people for meeting with you
- Create a database of interactions…you never know when you might need them again
- For very special connections, offer to meet with them in person - perhaps buy them a beer
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