I ended my last blog with the question, how do you circumvent the mechanized electronic résumé-sorting systems so that you stand out and land interviews? To quickly rehash: A good friend who is having a hard time finding a job asked me to critique his job-hunting strategy. I welcome the opportunity to help him out.
Not surprisingly, everything seemed in order and he was doing what most technologically savvy professionals were doing. He developed an above average résumé, and built an impressive social media image. He followed up job leads religiously, and seemed to be on top of his field. But as I said in my previous blog, he was making a couple of major mistakes. The biggest of which was responding to job ads published on large and niche job sites. Naively, he never once thought about the fierce competition and the odds of being plucked from the hundreds or thousands of résumés emailed every day. And, even if he used all the right keywords, and his résumé actually wound up in a human being’s hands, his chances were still slim. Although, he was more than qualified for all the jobs he was applying for, he wasn’t reaching the right people, which were senior HR staffers and hiring managers. I told him he needed to find a way to reach these people, which puts job hunting on another plane. It’s not as simple, straightforward and formulaic as the career experts say it is. Follow these simple five steps or do the following exercises and you’ll start locking up interviews. The truth is that even though you do everything that is required or recommended, landing a job isn’t easy. It was difficult three decades ago, and it’s even more difficult today, because expectations are greater, and requirements are stiffer. The bigger and more demanding the job, the greater the requirements and qualifications.
Mark Mehler, president of Mmc Group, a staffing-strategy consulting firm in Kendall Park, N.J., and his partner, Jerry Crispin, authors of CareerXroads, a directory of career websites, hit the nail on the head when they said buckshot job-hunting strategies don’t work. This is not a new observation. Theformer HR executiveshave been saying this for two decades. Said Mehler, “Job hunters should not be sending their résumés into “black holes,” a term he coined to describe corporate websites, where they’re lost among hundreds or thousands of résumés.
Mehler and Krispin’s research found that most jobs are landed through employee referral. “In many organizations, one in four résumés sent via employee referrals get job offers,” Mehler said. “The average is about one in 10.”
Wouldn’t you rather be one in 10 rather than one in 4,500?
The goal of all job hunters ought to be to cultivate contacts at companies they’d like to work forwho can walk their résumés into hiring managers’ or recruiters’ offices, Mehler said.
There is nothing mysterious or complicated about job-hunting. It’s a numbers game, plain and simple. And it takes hard work and persistence. It can’t be a random effort. Finding a job is more than a full-time job, Mehler stressed. It ought to be a five-, better yet, a six-day pursuit, rather than a random effort.
Mehler is not the first one to drive that point home. I’ve said it repeatedly in stories, columns and in many of my books. And so have other writers. But the advice often falls on deaf ears.
The reality is that there is no magic bullet, panacea all-purpose solution to scoring jobs. It takes hard work, imagination, creativity and guts. And a little luck doesn’t hurt.