The Job Search

Here you are standing on the street, the closed doors of the building you worked inside are behind you, literally.  You are not welcome in there anymore, perhaps you are clutching a box of your belongings that had accumulated in your desk over the months or years or hopefully the company allowed you a more dignified exit.  The fact remains that you, for whatever the reason are out, you are going to wake up tomorrow and think what do I need to do today to find my next job?

Not an easy question to answer for most people, the reason is primarily because most people have no idea how to effectively search for a job.  Where does one begin?

For most people it begins and ends in two places, job boards and recruiters, I mean what other way is there right?

Think Like a Recruiter...... but don't become one!

Let's take a typical scenario, John was a mid level manager for a multi-national company, he lost his job on a Wednesday morning the company stating the tough economic times and declining revenue as the reason for his department being downsized.

On Thursday John wakes up full of enthusiasm for his job search, after all he has the skills he has years of experience and an outgoing personality.  He hits the job boards, he browses and saves interesting jobs then he signs up for updates and alerts.  Ok now the CV / Resume.  It's out of date so he spends the next couple of hours putting all his recent experience on there and then proceeds to upload it to various job site databases to become searchable by recruiters, also sending into various roles he sees advertised.

Fantastic, now Johns sits back and waits for the phone to ring!.......

Ok it doesn't ring, why? Maybe he got lost in the inbox of the recruiter, ok go back on and resend the CV for the same roles again, in fact keep going and keep trawling and submit submit submit, every day go back to the job boards and submit for any role that looks even slightly interesting.  After all you can filter the responses out later can't you if they come back with jobs that aren't perfect.

Meanwhile at the other side of town a recruiter arrives at the office and sits down to check his email.  There is the usual deluge of Linked in updates, a few marketing mails and the like, he despatches these quickly to the trash or a relevant folder for reading later. Now he turns his attention to the most recent applications from the job boards, he sees John's email in response to a role so he opens the CV.

Ok the CV isn't great but it gives enough information to see what John's skills are, he isn't right for this role for a variety of reasons so the CV is saved and closed.  The recruiter like many across the city see's John's CV and email in their inbox, again and again sometimes several times a day for various roles.  It gets to the point where they simply roll their eyes and move on to the next candidate.  

Sounds ridiculous, I mean who would approach a job search like this?  Far too many people do and they are not as one might reasonably expect, the juniors, the inexperienced, I have seen it happen with the most experienced and successful managers.

On Recruiters, 5 Things you need to know:

  1. Recruiters are not in it to help you, they are in it to hire the position primarily for themselves and secondly to keep a client happy.  You as a candidate are a commodity, it is a very common misconception that recruiters exist to help candidates and work with them to get a job.  In most cases this is not true, know where you stand.
  2. Recruiters scan and filter emails and CV's very quickly, they have to and it isn't always accurate especially if the information they are looking for doesn't leap from the page.
  3. Many (not all) but many, recruiters are relatively junior and inexperienced people who have never worked outside of this industry and they are the ones acting as gatekeepers to your next job.
  4. Recruiters are often working a numbers game, CV's in CV's out in as little time as possible with the aim to be first past the post with the CV that eventually gets hired, they are judged in many cases on a KPI (Key performance indicator) i.e. How many CV's out of the door today, how many calls have you made today etc...
  5. They may well know very little about your skills or expertise aside from a shallow and quickly acquired glossary of terms that are applicable to your industry.

Get Serious, Get Pro-Active, Get on Their Radar and Stay There!

My intention is not to suggest that recruiters are a waste of time and space, they are not, a good recruiter is worth his or her weight in gold, just be aware that not all are created equal.  Secondly I am not suggesting that job boards are not effective, they can be if used properly which is something that many fail to do.

The candidates that I know and remember, are the ones who did it right, they may not be the strongest and most experienced, they may have just as many flaws as the rest of us but they followed a simple yet often neglected process.  The result, I not only know them, I remember them and if a role comes in that is right for them I will call them immediately!

How did they get to the front of my memory and stay there?

First of all, I like these people, they went out of their way to connect with me, sometimes on the phone often over a coffee. We have over time built something of a personal connection, this isn't hard to do.

Perhaps John in our example took a slightly different approach, he sees a role on the job board that he loves the sound of, he studies it carefully and is pretty certain from the description that he is skilled for it.  This is an important point, you must be very critical of your fit for a given position, by chasing roles that are plainly not suitable, you decrease your credibility in the eyes of the recruiter or hiring manager for that matter.

So John prepares his CV / Resume, carefully tailoring it to the description of the job, he writes a short but to the point email to the recruiter and sends his CV in.  John then records to which role he applied and when and keeps a copy of the job spec copied and pasted in a document.

The following day he calls the recruiter and speaks with them about the role as well as his background and experience.  During this call it is vital that John not only asks questions about the position and pitches his skills against it but also it is very important that he qualifies the recruiter as much as the recruiter should be qualifying him.

What is qualification?

In the recruiters mind is a list, that list is being mentally ticked off as the conversation with a candidate progresses, they are looking for a skills fit, personality fit and financial fit i.e. are your salary expectations in line with what the role will pay.

You should be running through your own qualification of the recruiter, after all it is this individual who will be responsible for representing you to the ultimate hiring manager! Would you hire any old salesperson to push a product especially if that product is you and your career?  No, you would and should, be very selective about your representative.

This conversation should yield several important results:

  1. The recruiter knows you and now will remember you
  2. You now know and are happy that this person is an able and trusted representative of your profile and that they understand what it is that you do
  3. You know this recruiter actually has contact with the hiring manager, and that they really have access to the business

Point 3 I will cover in more detail in another post as it is a subject that goes much deeper than can be covered here.

If you are right for that position and if you are happy with the representation then you can be assured that your CV will at least stand a fighting chance in the deluge of other candidates. Even if this role was not for you I would strongly suggest keeping in regular contact and fostering relationships with competent recruiters that you trust.  It will give you an eye on the market, it will help you immeasurably in future and it is a source of advice should you need it.

I am amazed how few experienced people follow these simple steps and how many do themselves a great disservice.  There is no right answer but there are things that you can do that are simple and easy that greatly increase your chances of finding that amazing next step in your career.

In future posts I will cover how you can be your own recruiter, find passive hiring and network with key people in your industry to increase your chances of finding a dream job.

You are your own most valuable product, your career is one of the most valuable possessions that you will carry through your life. So get serious about managing your career and the rest will take care of itself.

I wish you all the best in your search