Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Uncomfortable Truth About Jobs Posted Online (Redux)

This is a re-post of one of the most popular articles I have written. Viewed by almost 50,000 readers it truly struck a nerve and it is an honest assessment of jobs posted online. It is also evidence, why relying predominantly upon internet resources in your job search is not the best use of precious time.

Originally posted 1 September 2014:
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.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Self-inflicted Damage

“Time Kills All Deals” – as the saying goes among sales professionals. I often write about obstacles that lay in the path of an individual’s efforts, when trying to advance their own job search and interview progress. But on the opposite side of the subject, there are those who handicap themselves, messing up otherwise promising situations.
For example: I recently introduced a very talented and successful person to a company and there was seemingly instant rapport, both sides liked one another and shared mutual interest in the potential opportunity. As perfect a potential fit as could be hoped for. However, something happened after that. The candidate became aloof and was hard to communicate with. Afterward, she acknowledged a high level of interest. The client was likewise very expressive about their interest and stated they would do what they could to accommodate the candidate. But time passed, she needed a few weeks, then another extension … what happened?
What became clear to me and turned out to be true, is that she was and still is shopping around to other potential employers. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with this and in fact I support and recommend that people should do this for themselves, however, one must do so recognizing there is a freshness, best by or best before date as it relates to the interview process. Opportunities are perishable commodities with time-sensitive limitations. She took their level of interest in her too far (two-and-a-half months), assuming that nice, complimentary words would prolong an open door for her. Sadly, she miscalculated. 
What I know from hundreds of placements and placement processes of the last few decades - there is ebb and a flow to any interview process that transcends specs and qualifications; there is an emotional component as it relates to interest level between parties. The key is to pay attention, anticipate and strike while the interest levels are at their height. This is more important and far more beneficial to you than delaying and obfuscating in order to have more choices, even if they are not very good ones or merely for the sake of it. Sadly, there are some otherwise very smart people who are completely ignorant to this reality. 
As a result my client, who was so interested in the beginning and willing to almost bend over backwards to accommodate the candidate, predictably and inevitably, told me a few days ago they are no longer interested and that, rather, their sentiments have gone in the opposite direction. The prior level of interest has vanished – she blew it and missed a very good window of opportunity. 
Indeed, always strive to get the best deal you can for yourself and if you want to play poker go ahead and do so at your own risk. You’re free to bluff but only for so long before you need to play the hand you’re dealt to the best effect.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Convention Be Damned

There are already plenty of obstacles built into the process of seeking a job. The interview process is daunting enough but to get there, you must first find an opportunity, avail yourself and get an invitation. By the way, I really laugh with incredulity when people tell me they know what to do and how to find a job and interview. When, actually, the majority of people haven’t a clue but after 5 minutes with me, they are suddenly freaked out because until then, they didn’t know what they didn’t know – and this includes senior-level professionals who think they know it all. But as I said, you first have to find and then you have to inquire and apply for the opportunity. However, there is more than one way to do this although the gate-keepers would tell you otherwise; my advice if you are serious – ignore them.
We’ve all been conditioned to be the same and behave the same but, I have to tell you, following these faux rules is counter-productive to your efforts. Innovation and to be innovative requires rejection of convention. When you want to help yourself, aside from professional conduct and behavior, there are no rules and you are limited only by the processes imposed by others. It’s the same for anyone involved in business development activities. Rules are for sheep, and when I encounter those who are not decision-makers but, rather process-obsessed administrators who haven’t an ounce of interest in my pursuits – or yours, I swat their processes aside and circumvent them, as you would with any obstacle that lay in your path. This, folks, is what goal-oriented people do and so, too, do the very people who stand in your way, when it suits them - their rules are only, for you. 
When you encounter someone who may view your efforts dimly because you don’t conform, be polite, suggest you didn’t know, apologize if you choose to, feign contrition if you must, then choose a slightly different course toward the same goal. It is only after all means and options available to you have been closed will you shift to activities elsewhere. If you so choose, go back after the dust settles and try again. Think like a Sapper (originally a French term that described those who dug beneath fortress walls to affect their collapse in order to penetrate the defenses to gain entry).
You are the captain of your fate and, in reality, limited only by your own imagination. Trust me, there are still many managers who find it refreshing to encounter people who buck convention and if you have the option, these are the people you want to find and work for. And no, it’s not easy but is anything worthy of getting easy to obtain?