Sunday, January 09, 2011

Macro to Micro

4,830,000 was the number of hits that came up when I put "job search strategies" into Google.  Pretty big number, and my guess is considerably understated.  Indeed, given what I see come across Twitter on an hourly basis, I am not sure how big the number could get, but I'm sure it is considerably larger than what came up on Google.

If you review the bidding, most experts agree that there are essentially four (4) ways that someone makes a job change:

1. Via answering ads.
2. Via being recruited by a search firm.
3. Via a mass mailing of some kind - broad-based or targeted, and
4. Via networking.

With that being the case and considering that job hunting is certainly nothing new, it sort of makes you wonder what exactly is the "strategy" that people are looking for.

Now for sure you can make the argument that given the tough job market that there are more people looking for answers, and  for sure that is part of it, but I also think that there is another factor at work: the two-edged sword called technology.

What I mean is this: With the advent of the web, everything on the above list can be and has been empowered by technology but each in its own way can and has been hindered by that same technology.

Rather than setting out the pros and cons here (which I suspect are pretty obvious to most readers anyway) let me just comment on at least one that I think that has a major biggest impact.

Ever since I've been involved in the career management world (40+ years) the default "strategy" for the job hunter has been to answer ads.  Very understandable.  They are easy to find and don't require a lot of effort to react to.  Add the web to that picture and we all know the result, sites that trumpet thousands of openings. 

All good news except that the more visible obviously the more people who become your competition.  Worse, because responding is so easy many job seekers just play the numbers game and keep clicking and praying.  The results are all too often rejection that keeps coming in the form of silence.

So, here's another stat that comes as no surprise ~ 60-80%* of us end up making a job change via item #4 on the list, not item #1, and that fact has been the subject of many other posts both here and elsewhere.  It is also why since the day ExecuNet opened its doors in 1988, we have been banging the networking drum. 

This isn't to say that we don't encourage our members who are job hunting to invest time and/or energy in any of the other channels, we certainly do, but at the same time, we try to make sure that they are balanced in their approach and we provide them with resources in all areas but for sure, our focus is on providing the ways, means and tools to help people to expand their personal and professional networks.

All that said, it remains human nature to follow the path of least resistance, not the one that is more productive and which requires lots more work.  It usually takes a while before people decide to really put some real energy into #4.

So it is with that in mind that at least for the time being we offer up an important "tip" for those who are checking out postings: Look at the macro as well as the micro.

Here's what we mean: Most people who are in a search have very specific objectives they would like to achieve, one of which is usually not to relocate if they don't have to.  As a result, when they are looking over postings, they are focused on those openings that appear to be in the geography they want.

Certainly nothing wrong with that, but what they often overlook are the openings that say they are located elsewhere.  I would suggest from a strategic perspective this is a mistake. 

No matter what your geographic goal, the over riding goal is to get someone to pick up the phone.  Said a bit differently, if and when you see a posting where you would be a super fit save for where they say the job is located, I would suggest you raise your hand.

It's a free country, no one has asked you to move anywhere, and you can always say no if they do!

The key thing to remember here from a strategic perspective is that once a conversation begins, any number of things a posting says are "specs" can and often do change especially once you start to put real people against a job description. 

And while indeed today's technology can both help or hurt, one of the upsides is that "locations" can be "virtual" as well as "real". 

Over the years, I have lost count of the number of our members who have ended up in great jobs because they responded to a posting that initially had the job located in a place that they had absolutely no interest in even seeing much less moving to.  They stayed right where they were.

* The stats on networking as the source for people making a change can range all over the lot, but the 60-80% range covers most of the surveys I have seen for as long as I can remember.  ExecuNet's experience is in the 70% area.

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