The #1 Job Search Mistake You Can Make

Job Search graphicLooking for a job or a root canal?

So, you’ve found yourself in the job market again. Perhaps it is of your own choosing, or perhaps you never thought this could happen to you.

Regardless of how you got here, the fact is…you’re here. And you are perhaps thinking that a root canal would be preferable to looking for a job.

At least they give you drugs at the dentist office

There are some similarities: with both the root canal and the job search, you’ll feel much better when it’s over; you’ll also be very sensitive during either process.

The main difference, as I see it, is that they give you drugs to help you through the root canal.

You’re going to have to face the job search without pain medication (I don’t recommend self-medicating).

If you haven’t been in the job market for some time, you may not realize that the way people go about getting great jobs has changed dramatically.

Notice I said great jobs – that is what you’re looking for, isn’t it?

There are four job searching realities you really must accept in order to move successfully into your next career role.

In this article, I want to address the most important reality.

Job boards can’t be the only tool in your arsenal

Reality #1: Your job search cannot be focused solely on looking at job boards.

Here’s what you’re doing: you’re looking at the same positions that thousands of people are looking at—even those who aren’t actively job seeking.

This means your resume will be part of a large applicant pool with stiff competition.

I’m not suggesting that you eliminate this tool from your arsenal, but I am suggesting that you minimize the amount of time you spend on this tool due to the low ROI.

Networking is the name of the game

Let’s think about how companies go about the hiring process. Increasingly, companies are turning to their internal network—including their existing employees—to find great candidates.

Some companies even have structured incentive plans that reward employees for recommending people who are then hired.

Think about it: if your company is looking for an outstanding accountant, would you rather put an ad online and have to sift through the dozens of applications you receive from strangers, or would you prefer to ask a couple of your outstanding accountants who they would recommend for the position?

Yeah, I thought so.

 

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Don’t Make This Job Search Mistake

Job Search Candidate using computer to apply online

Okay, so you’ve decided to conduct an effective job search rather than having that root canal…good for you. Remember, no self-medicating.

Reality #1 explained the reason that passive job searches (comprised primarily of looking at job boards) are not effective. So what’s the alternative?

Bear with me as I paint a picture for you: You have a medical condition. You’ve identified what that condition is, but you haven’t yet found a medical practitioner to treat you.

Do you a) actively seek the right practitioner, based on referrals, research you conduct, whatever it takes to get the right doctor for you; or b) wait at home, looking online for doctors who are advertising for a patient just like you?

Of course, you are proactive—after all, this is your health we are talking about! You wouldn’t wait at home, and yet this is just how many people conduct their job search.

Please, Mr. Wonderful Employer, send me a sign (job notice) that you are looking for me.

It’s time to shift your thinking; it’s time for you to get into the driver’s seat of your own job search.

Which brings us to Job Search Reality #2: Your job search must be targeted. Throwing resumes out into the ether for positions you see online will probably not get you’re the results you desire, nor will applying for every position you’re even remotely qualified for.

So, what does work? Doing the work to determine what your brand is, what your ideal next position is, and which companies hire someone to do that job.

Of those companies that hire people like you, which ones are a good fit for you? It doesn’t matter what you value in an employer—it only matters that you seek out employers who provide what you value.

Notice what I didn’t say: “Which companies are currently hiring people like me?” If they are already advertising for you, then we’re back to Reality #1: looking at job boards.

Your goal should be to gain access to the hidden job market: those positions that aren’t advertised yet, may never be advertised if the company can find a qualified candidate by other means, aren’t known to the company yet (Mr. Manager is announcing his resignation next week), or don’t even exist.

You heard me right…don’t even exist. Companies routinely hire top-notch candidates and then find a perfect fit for them. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, calls it “getting the right people on the bus.”

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

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How to Get Your Leg in the Room

Hopefully, by now you are sold on the ineffectiveness of a passive job search and the importance of conducting a targeted, proactive job search.

Now you need some job search strategies to get your foot in the door (or, as an international client once said to me, “I just want to get a leg in the room”).

Which brings us to our next Job Search Reality: The bulk of your job search should be focused on getting face time with decision-makers at your target companies, regardless of whether or not they have a position posted for which you’re qualified.

You want to determine who in your network can help you get to the decision- makers in those organizations.

Yes, Virginia, it really is all about networking.

For those of you who think networking is akin to a four-letter word, let’s break it down: Networking is an exchange of information among colleagues. It should be conducted throughout your career, not just during a job search.

Sometimes you’ll be in a position to give more than you take; sometimes you’ll primarily be the taker.

Believe it or not, it can be 50-50 during your job search. This is one of the techniques I teach my clients.

Let’s spend a moment trying to organize your contacts. Note that you will do this for each of your target companies, as follows:

    • Quadrant 1: People who work in your targeted company, and who know the decision-makers in the area you want to work in
    • Quadrant 2: People who know the decision-makers, but don’t work at your targeted company
    • Quadrant 3: People who work in your targeted company, but don’t know the decision-makers in the area you want to work in
    • Quadrant 4: Influencers who neither work at your targeted company nor know the decision-makers in the area you want to work in, but who know a lot of people

As you fill in the quadrants for each of your targeted companies, you goal is to have at least one contact in Quadrant 1.

If all you can come up with is Quadrant 4 contacts…it’s a starting point. Think of it as a dart board: you may be starting on an outer rung, but at least your dart is on the board.

Keep working at it, and eventually you will land smack-dab in the center of the target.

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

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Organizing Your Job Search

Job Search Strategy with computer keyboard

So, how’s your oral health? Just checking. The only thing that hurts more than a toothache is not having a great job search strategy…

Here’s a Job Search Reality: Organization is a MUST in the job search. It doesn’t matter whether you use one of the on-line job campaign systems such as JibberJobber, an Excel spreadsheet, or file folders, the point is you must stay organized throughout your campaign.

You need to keep track of jobs you’ve applied for and your employer research, maintain copies of the customized resume and cover letter you submitted for each position, a calendar to remind you to follow up with contacts and attend networking functions, and notes to remind you of important points from conversations and interviews.

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but I will anyway: it is critical that you do what you say you will do throughout your job search—prospective employers will see a direct correlation between your follow-up and follow-through during the job search and your ability to do the same once in the position.

If you tell a prospective employer that you will check back with them next Friday to see how their hiring process is coming along, DO IT. If you tell a new networking contact that you will e-mail her your resume within two hours, DO IT. Create an infrastructure for your job search that facilitates your success.

In summary: Here’s a great analogy I learned recently, and it seems to resonate with my clients: In your job search, you want to be a thermostat, not a thermometer.

Think about it: a thermometer just measures what’s there, whereas a thermostat determines how comfortable the room will be. In other words, a thermometer is reactive, whereas a thermostat is proactive.

Be a thermostat in your job search and you’ll be amazed at the things you can make happ

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

 

 

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