With the high stakes of serious competition for employment these days, having as many odds in your favor is more than worth the effort. Employers are hiring people that they already know or hiring based on recommendations of people within the company or organization. So how do you place yourself in the path of those hiring before they post openings? In Cracking The Hidden Job Market, Donald Asher explains in detail paths to get you ahead of the game. Make yourself and your strengths known before a company or organization needs you. I'll list a few here from his book:
- Talk to people: Everywhere you go (including social media) tell people you're looking for a job. Attend meetings, meet ups, clubs (ie: swim and tennis), organizations, churches, gyms or parties. Talk to family, friends, friends of friends, etc.. He encourages this even if you haven't nailed the specific job that you want. As you talk to people, you not only get the word out, you can also ask questions that will help you narrow your goals. One important note here is that if you haven't kept in touch with some people for some time, don't begin by asking for anything. Begin by being a friend. And yes, he does have plenty of suggestions in this regard.
- Using his suggestions and some of your own, develop a list of 100 leads.
- Every lead, no matter how odd it may seem is worth trying. You might be surprise how much the most unsuspecting lead might help.
- Target the industry, function and title: One thing he makes very clear is that ". . . all industries are always hiring." Even during 'lay off' periods, people will retire, die, become pregnant and needs will always be there. In addition to talking to people he offers research ideas that help you get ahead of the game. Here are a few ideas of online searches. You'll want to include the name of your city in each search:
- "new lease" (include the name of your city)
- "newly hired"
- "was promoted"
- "economic growth"
- "safe from downturn"
Each of these offer helpful information regarding growth that would necessitate additional employees or suggest opened positions.
If you're in transition and/or perhaps don't know the specific titles that match the specific responsibilities, it's perfectly fine to ask people as you research. People have asked me many times if Exercise Science is the same as Physical Therapy. They are vastly different. Do you know the difference between an Editorial Assistant and an Assistant Editor? They are opposite ends of the hierarchy. There could be almost identical titles with very different responsibilities.
- Find someone doing the job and talk to that person: Use the industry information to contact the company (you should actually have several companies). Ask for the name of the person doing the job you want. Make a call or send an email and ask to meet in person. Yes, he offers script suggestions and strategies to find out names and make the meeting come to fruition.
- Be sure you know what your goal is for the connection. Are you simply exploring a career or are you more seriously looking for opportunities? Knowing your goal clearly will determine how you approach the meeting.
- Be sure you do not ask for a job even if you're looking for one. This is not an interview.
The author has more great and detailed advice and you can find the book at the library if money is tight. If you like it, buy it here and it will help me. And thank you in advance!
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If you follow Mr. Asher's advice, by the time you get to the interview you will have these first two down. I can not express how much of an advantage it will be. I have interviewed far too many people who have not had the answers to these very basic questions.
- Know the job responsibilities: You will be an asset to the company with the research you have already done. They will know you care not only about having a job, but about their company or organization. And that you are willing to put forth the effort on their behalf because you have done your homework. Remember that the company has already invested time (which equals money) into preparing the job description. Since time is money, if you put someone in a position to have to explain the job responsibilities to you in the interview, you've probably lost the job because that is a waste of their time and company money. On the other hand, if you know this information, it puts you one step closer to getting the job.
- Know about the company or organization: Knowledge that exceeds the job responsibilities and extends to the company conveys that you show initiative. At some point the new hire will likely be asked to cross over into other areas and once again, the greater your knowledge base, the more of an asset you become. Not to mention that you will likely be asked the question in your interview, and preparation can help you avoid embarrassment.
- Develop or fine tune your skills: Even before your interview make goals to continually grow in your field. If you feel you already have the necessary skills, apply them in other areas of life or approach them from different angles. As much as things change with different fields, it's wise to stay ahead of the game. Again, it conveys a self-starting attitude.
- Dress well: Regardless of the job description, dress well and be clean. Although there are positions in locations that might not scream 'slacks and tie' or 'dress'; be mindful of a professional interview presence in spite of the location.
- Arrive early: Get to the interview 5 to 10 minutes early and let them know you're there rather than waiting to go inside. This will show that you care about reliability.
- Speak positively about former jobs, co-workers and employees: The manner in which you speak of people from your former locations will speak volumes of your character and what your potential team can expect in the future.
- Be honest about your abilities when asked: If you don't have a particular skill, say so. If you're willing to work hard to learn, you can communicate that without being dishonest.
In closing I'll share a simple story to make a point. I very casually mentioned to someone that I needed to get rid of a computer that was ready for disposal. It was bulky making it difficult to carry on the small stairs en route for the disposal and remained undone. I did NOT ask him to help me, but the next day, it was gone. Of course I never forgot that.
Be that person.