Power Pack Your Job Search!

Updating Your Job Search Strategy

If you’re like most job seekers, you invest the majority of your time and precious resources in scanning Internet job boards and responding to ads in the newspapers.

Reality check. Estimates vary, but if that’s the strategy you’re using to find a job, indications are that your likelihood of success is around 10 to 13 percent. No wonder people get depressed and quit before they find a job. It can be like pounding your head against a brick wall.

The problem is that there are a lot more people looking for jobs these days than there are jobs available. (I’ll bet you already figured that one out!) Consequently, there are literally millions of resumes posted on the various job boards, giving new meaning to the term “needle in a haystack,” and when an ad hits the Internet, it’s not uncommon for an employer to to receive hundreds of responses, if not thousands.

So if your primary strategy for finding a job is to surf the Internet boards and respond to newspaper ads, you are competing with dozens, hundreds, thousands, and in some cases millions of other applicants, making the odds against you pretty overwhelming. No wonder you’ve begun to feel as if you’re dropping your resume into a black hole! There’s got to be a better way.

There is, but it’s going to take some hard work and initiative on your part. If you enjoy sales and marketing, it will be right up your alley, because for this little window of time (i.e., while you are trying to find a job), you are in sales, and the product you’re marketing is you. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, there are lots of other “products” out there. Some of them are cheaper, some of them are smarter, some of them are older, some of them are younger, some of them have more experience, and some of them have less. It would be nice to think that the most qualified applicant will be the one who lands the job, but it frequently does not work that way.

Put yourself in the position of the person doing the hiring. You have an opening you have to fill within two weeks. You have two hundred resumes to review and counting. You would love to shut down the office for the next fourteen days until you’ve settled this matter, but that’s not at all practical. And so you get the awful job of sifting through resumes and calling people to come in for interviews while still performing all the other functions of your position. And you would rather submit to a root canal without an anesthetic.

And then some eager beaver (let’s call him Joe) gets a hold of you on the phone. Actually, he’s been calling for weeks. He’s talked to your assistant and sent you e-mails and forwarded his resume and then e-mailed another copy “just in case the first one got lost.” Finally, he calls early one morning before your assistant gets in, just as you are facing the prospect of going through all those resumes. He is pleasant and polite and to the point. He tells you briefly what his skills are, he expresses an interest in your company, and he asks about employment openings.

On the one hand, this call is a little annoying. On the other hand, you look at the growing number of resumes and think, “This guy seems to know a little something about what we do around here, and he’s awfully eager.” And at a subconscious level you’re even thinking, “If he works out, I won’t have to go through all these resumes.”

He presses a little bit. “Would it be possible for me to come in and speak with you? I promise I won’t take up too much of your time, but I would appreciate just a few minutes to introduce myself and present my qualifications in person. Would today be okay or would sometime later in the week be better?”

What would you say? If you’re like the hundreds of hiring managers I’ve talked to who have been through this, you’re likely to say something like, “I’ve got a little time this afternoon if you can be here at 3:00.” So Joe gets a crack at the job, while the 200 applicants who simply submitted resumes and then sat around twiddling their thumbs hoping for the phone to ring may very well be history.

What made Joe stand out? Is he smarter or more qualified? Not necessarily. He was simply the one who called the right person at the right time.

But, you say, how can you possibly know when to call whom?

You can’t. And so what you do is make a volume of phone calls (I recommend 10 to 20 or more a day) and persist through a thousand stalls, rejections, and maybes until you touch base with the right person at the right time who says yes. It’s that simple. And that difficult.

Before you moan and groan and say you can’t do it, it’s not your style, let me reiterate. In the past, the approach to getting jobs was passive. You submitted resumes and waited, hoping for a response. Since back in the good old days there were more jobs than people to fill them, you usually didn’t have to wait very long, and this approach worked most of the time.

But we’ve already established that the world has changed — a lot — and today the onus is on the job seeker. You must take an active, persistent, aggressive approach to finding the job you want. If you don’t do it, no one will. That I can guarantee. And my experience has been that for many people, the process can be exciting and empowering. Rather than submitting helplessly to the whims of the job market, which can be the most depressing experience of a lifetime, you are taking control of the process for yourself.

~ Excerpted and updated from the book Power Pack Your Job Search! by Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2012, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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