Monday, September 22, 2014

Begging For a Job

People should always accompany their online job activities with other methods of looking for opportunities, utilizing a combination of strategies. One of them involves literally, physically and actively approaching companies and company managers on your own behalf in-person, with all that entails. Handshake-to-handshake, face-to-face and eye-to-eye, is hands-down the best way to go, anytime you can facilitate such an event. But if you’re only going to passively wait until you are invited as a result of your online activity, well, then you’re missing the whole point. I recognize that for many people this concept is foreign to them.
Imagine; there are people with whom I speak, for whatever reason, who act with incredulity and react viscerally, opposed to such crazy talk and very often they’ll respond by telling me they absolutely refuse to sink to the level of going and begging someone for a job. Yeah, that’s what they tell me. So let me get this straight, physically approaching a company you’d like to work for in-person; knocking on the door to introduce yourself, makes you a beggar. Oh really?
Some may think their perspective derives from an inflated sense of entitlement. For the record, I consider their negative reaction just plain stupid and na├»ve – sorry, but it is – it’s weak, wimpy, short-sighted and sad. However, it is more likely only a panicked response because they’re no longer capable – or they never learned how to do anything more than point and click. Meanwhile the clever people, the few still possessing a measure of self-confidence, are finding their way to companies and they are getting jobs, while most others choose to continue to hide behind their computer screens with their fingers crossed.
Just Today, not more than 3 hours before writing this blog entry, I spoke with a company hiring manager about someone I’m representing. I shared the person’s background, accomplishments and what they claim they have to offer a company. I didn’t look online to see if there were any job openings because that’s a sucker’s game. Personally, I don’t care what’s posted online and never have. For years, I’ve recognized that companies don’t post everything, anyway. Although, hiring managers are always interested in hearing about good professionals with a demonstrable track record of success. As proof of this, upon hearing about my candidate’s attributes and accomplishments the hiring manager suggested, “Please send me their resume, there aren’t any jobs posted on the website but we’d be interested in someone like this.” Hello, ding, ding, ding…ding - if you missed it, go back and read this paragraph again.
And yet, even with overwhelming evidence to support my claims there are those who I described above, who assume that contacting a company directly will somehow diminish them. Meanwhile, they are more than happy and willing to search online for a job in the same manner as one might look for and purchase vitamins or something -- yeah, that’s much more dignified, eh. If this is the level of importance you apply to your career and professional wellbeing, so be it.
If you want to be more direct but you don’t know what to do, the hard part isn’t picking up the phone to call; yes, it is a little bit of a challenge to find and contact the appropriate hiring manager (see the entry I published last week). The toughest part is when you have your moment to speak with a potential boss. But you can do this if you so resolve.
When your moment arrives, demonstrate what you have to offer (your experience), what you think you can contribute and immediately validate any claim with anecdotal evidence of your career accomplishments. So, voice interest, make a claim, back it up with fact / figure / example and then repeat for each individual claim. Do it in a brief synopsized manner and remember, peoples’ attention spans are short. Be brief, your initial intro and presentation should not be longer than about 30 to 40 seconds, tops. Remember, the goal is to secure a meeting / interview, so don’t tell them everything and save the best stuff for when you are face-to-face. And no, it isn’t easy to do this and it takes time to perfect. If this is too much for you then go back to the way you’ve been doing things – but don’t complain if you’re not willing to try new things.
Furthermore, don’t over-analyze either, before you act -- better that you mess up and stumble, adjusting as you go, than to sit doing nearly nothing and make excuses. Online only job searching is about as near to doing nothing as there is. Indeed, what I’m suggesting requires real effort and commitment. By the way, this is how you make your own luck.
So is there anyone who still wants to tell me taking charge and making potential employers aware of you, is akin to begging, and is beneath your dignity? I say it all the time, the tools and the means to take more control of your career are available, my handbook is the best example I’d point to; buy it or don’t buy it, I don’t care, but it has a lot of good info I’ll bet you don’t know but could use. Likewise, there’s free stuff in dribs and drabs on my website and blog, which you can access from my LinkedIn profile.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Take Back Control – or Else…

During the 22 years during which I have been a headhunter or, more categorically, a direct-search recruiter, I have been watching with studious interest the standardization and streamlining of hiring processes. Let me be clear: the processes, and the rules you are told to follow, serve only to benefit companies, not you. Most of the advice you read is presented by those very same people telling you what and how to do it to fit their vision of what’s best for you. It’s rather like asking the prison guard what your rights are from the confines of your cell. That is because you, your concerns and your interests, are not their priority. That which differentiates you from everyone else is a distraction, by and large they aren’t interested. They have a script, a list, a ritual they follow and to step out of line is to attract a look of disapproval. They’re too busy trying to connect the dots of some generic job description, just one of many job vacancies they are tasked with filling. They aren’t as interested in you as they are with trying to find a match to an ideal psychometric profile; they can’t be bothered with your needs while they are busy trying to connect the dots. Just get in line with everyone else, react when summoned, speak only when spoken to and don’t call us we’ll call you. You need to understand and accept that human resources is less human than ever.
But we share a lot of the blame because, for the sake of convenience, we’ve disarmed ourselves, gotten fat and lazy to the extent that far too many people are not capable of doing more than the online activities. Imagine, when I suggest that people do something so basic as to pick up the phone and seek out an actual hiring manager (not to be confused with human resources who, in reality, are process oriented, they don’t make actual hiring decisions) they give me a look of incredulity that implies I am being unreasonable and even radical. In the modern era, if it isn’t posted online most people have no idea what to do for themselves. So they do nothing, beyond the same pointless routines over and over again with the same result – which defines what? Yeah, and I’m the crazy one?
So welcome to the new normal, which is increasingly analogous to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Unless you make a conscious choice to take responsibility for yourself, turn away from those with interests other than yours and what’s best for you and your family – here is your future; here is your kid’s future, get used to it. Actually, it’s already here, we just have better clothes and a brighter, better-appointed workplace.



But all is not lost. For those who want to take initiative, actual hiring managers still want to find the best available talent. But you’ve got to get their attention and even before that, you need to navigate an obstacle course of bureaucracy. This misconception the internet has made finding jobs easier is a lie; what it has done however, is create yet another barrier between you and a decision maker. It has also made it much easier for human resources to avoid having to expand their precious time dealing with pesky applicants. Meanwhile, you’re more frustrated than ever.
Ironically, I hear managers often lament they can’t find the best candidates. I also hear job seekers complaining that they pursue job opportunities and apply online, only to never hear from anyone and are not even sure their resumes have been reviewed or considered. Hey look, this blog now has an archive spanning almost two years. Also available here is a series of video segments, free to anyone who’ll take the time to view them. Best of all, I have a step-by-step handbook with more detail than I can provide in a blog or the videos and you’ll always have it at your fingertips to quick-reference, anytime. So if you want to improve your chances you have no excuses – and if you still fail to do anything, I haven’t an ounce of pity or even any sympathy for you.
A lot of people talk about doing things, but increasingly fewer actually do anything about it. I’ve done my part, making this information available. It’s up to you to do something with it or share it, bringing it to the attention of someone you know who is in need. And you will set yourself apart because human nature is such that most people will continue to do nothing and prefer to complain. This is an advantage for you, so capitalize on it.    

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Uncomfortable Truth About Jobs Posted Online

As you read this, if you are looking for a job you will no doubt get depressed, however, that is not the intent but, instead, to jar you out of your walking coma. More about that later -- if you are someone who does not look very often or regularly at the job portals and postings, you won’t notice; but if you do, it is increasingly frustrating. There are jobs, but fewer and fewer are the good jobs that people want. You can get a job, anytime you want.
You likely don’t know this, but I have known for years large companies post jobs they have no intention of filling through outside sources. I’ve been told this directly and recently in conversation, by a member of human resources responsible for recruiting at a well-known pharmaceutical company. There was a very good position posted and I knew an ideal candidate who was interested, whom I told I would attempt to help, so I called. I was told that, indeed, the position was posted and again recently re-posted, but they were going to do an internal selection and transfer. I know what you’re thinking; so why post the job in the first place? And it’s not the first time I have seen this – routinely, even if a manager has an internal referral, often they have a policy jobs will first be posted for the public. However, they have no intention of actually considering someone from outside. They’ll always first look within for internal referrals or dig into their own databases for those who are already on file.
Or, what about companies that post jobs, not because they need anyone, but because they want to build their database for future reference. This happens as well.
Or, you see the same jobs over and over again every week, which, according to my experienced eyes suggests there’s a bait and switch going on or worse, the jobs suck so badly no one stays more than a few weeks or months.
Or, the fact that there are jobs out there that are not even being listed – I’ve written about this particular topic in the past. Yep, there are open positions that you are not even aware of, but dutifully and obediently watching online portals won’t get you any closer to them. So what if you take the time to investigate more portals or aggregate sites – it is not likely you will find more jobs, just the same jobs posted elsewhere and any resumes sent are going to the same place.
My point is the same as it has been; everyone has accepted a norm that is increasingly ineffective; an ever more automated and faceless system that is already not efficient, but it does relieve HR and admin from having to deal with those pesky applicants. You see, they are too busy sifting through emailed resumes to deal with a real person – until they are called. Who do you think the system is meant to benefit, you or them? Yeah, I know you don’t like hearing this but it is true – not every time mind you, but increasingly and more often than you think or they are willing to acknowledge.
My advice is and has been, to go back to the basics. I urge people to get off their butts and step away from the computer. Indeed, use it for research; you’re lucky, folks used to have to go to the library to research companies. Then pick up the phone, call someone other than human resources in the company structure and then put on some decent clothes and try to meet them. Yes, it is more difficult and if you can’t find it in yourself to do so, no problem, sit back down and delude yourself into thinking point and click will get you the job of your dreams. Or, go ahead and mortgage your future with a very expensive scholastic degree and it’ll work itself out because you’re special and never mind everyone else with a degree, who is also convinced they are special. Sorry, but it ain’t enough, and it never was.
But bear in mind you need to prepare yourself also, yeah you, the person in the mirror, before you go out knocking on doors. If all you’ve been doing is sending virtual resumes you’re out of shape mentally and your resilience to rejection is probably pretty flimsy after years of indulging in the empty calorie Twinky represented by mostly fruitless internet efforts. And no, I am not spoon feeding you, I wrote a handbook with tons of advice – if or when you decide to get serious you can even point-and-click from your comfortable chair to get it, too.
Frankly, I recognize my blog only appeals to a minority of people who actually want to do more and explore different options, but it is becoming clear people prefer to be told that everything’s okay and be patted on the head and told it is because they are trying. But I know I am talking to the wall and those who agree with me, well, I am just preaching to the choir. They prefer warm hugs with worthless advice, which only reinforces empty effort. Don’t stop looking online, you might luck out, but it should be only a portion of your efforts to help yourself.
You can be talented; you can be qualified and have a terrific resume. You can be a great interviewer but, even if you are all these things, what does it matter if you are sending your resume into a virtual black hole. What happens when you finally recognize the vast majority of resumes submitted online are never seen by human eyes. You need to resolve to stop pretending you are actually doing anything – if all you are doing is relying on predominantly faceless online efforts. If my honesty is a little harsh I contend everyone asks for and wants the truth – until they get it. Fewer people are willing to do more – even if they would benefit as a result. Sorry to sound a little harsh but I grow tired of people complaining meanwhile, they’re unwilling to take real measures which might result in (gasp) rejection. I guess faceless online rejection or inaction is easier.