You start your job search. What is the typical plan?
- Create/Update your resume.
- Tailor it to the specific position.
- Submit it to a bunch of job boards like Monster and Indeed.
- Respond to job postings on those job boards.
- Hope…pray…wait for that call.
And what happens? Nothing. Why?
Let me share a recent experience my niece, Kelly McRitchie, shared with me about her search.
She’s a new graduate with a nursing degree and nursing license. She has high hopes of landing an acute care nursing job at a top hospital. And she is fighting an uphill battle.
Here’s what she told me.
Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation.
- You’ve got your shiny new college degree and no relevant job experience.
- You have experience but don’t meet the degree/educational requirements of the job posting.
- You’re one of hundreds of applicants (many equally or more qualified than you).
And as a result you feel like you’re Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill…and then it keeps rolling back down.
So being the rational person she is, Kelly investigated to learn to improve her chances at this game.
I tested this out quickly by throwing my non-optimized resume into JobScan and compared it to a generic job description.
And I sucked! 30%!
Obviously there is more to it than just dumping something in there and having it match up.
So this is where you get to learn not just how to do the job, and not just how to do basic job searches and job interviews, but how to be an SEO (search engine optimization) and marketing expert in all your spare time (if you’re actually working some job to pay the bills) or paying someone else to help you do it.
Becoming an SEO Expert
This was Kelly’s experience.
You can sense the frustration in her voice.
Is this what we’ve been reduced to? Trying to please the Applicant Tracking System gods?
There’s got to be a better way, hasn’t there?
Yes, degrees are valuable.
Yes, experience moves you up the food chain.
And Yes, not every job is a fit for your skill set just yet.
But there’s more to that story…
Being new to the job search process there’s much to learn. For Kelly it was her first time down that road. For others you’ve done it before. But that may have been years ago. And as you can see, things have changed. And in many cases fairly dramatically. The internet, applicant tracking systems, and search engine optimization have been major contributing factors along with tightened recruiting and staffing budgets.
Dealing with all this change can be tough on any new job hunter. Getting support and guidance along the way can be critical to avoid the downward spiral of frustration and despair.
Get the Support You Need
In other cases where that is the entry point, and you still are dealing with being one of 200+ resumes that are submitted, you need to look at the process and ask, “How can I separate myself and not be commoditized by the process?”
That requires looking at how the process is currently engineered to exclude people and figure out how to move yourself up into the short list.
Use the Tools
One method is using a tool like JobScan to leapfrog those other people who don’t optimize their resume for keywords (cutting that pool of 200 down to 20-50). But then you’re still hoping you’re a better player of their game than others.
What if you could go a different route that changes the paradigm?
The one area that applicant tracking systems and keyword optimization don’t address is the human side of the process.
They are designed to filter out people before you get the opportunity to sell yourself.
What Other Options Exist for the Non-Techie?
What if there was a way to sell yourself first so that you’re resume is already on the short list when you submit it?
Wouldn’t that be worth the time and effort you’re spending on the technical side of your search?
Before I tell you this approach and how it might shortcut your search, let me share my experiences in hiring staff.
The Life of a Hiring Manager
First off hiring managers don’t like to go through the hiring process. It takes away from their job duties and project work they need to accomplish. It is a distraction. It is not something they are good at (otherwise they’d probably work for HR or be recruiters themselves). They begrudgingly do the tasks but they love shortcuts (rather than having to cull through 200 resumes and do 30+ interviews to find one or two people to make offers to).
So that is where HR departments screening out candidates and applicant tracking system screening processes come in. They help reduce the workload of the hiring manager.
But what if someone came to that hiring manager prescreened and available? People are inherently lazy. They love easy way outs. And if they have someone they already connect with and think would be good for their department, they’d love to just say yes to them and get them on board rather than guessing at someone that comes through the normal process. This is especially true since interviews rarely give you a true sense of someone’s personality and how they will or won’t fit in your department.
Beating the System
So how does this work?
Step 1: Determine possible companies you’d want to work for.
The first step is really important. Where would you like to work? What about that place intrigues you? Learn all you can about it. Read the website. Talk to people who work there. Ask industry contacts.
Step 2: Narrow down your possible job titles.
What role are you looking for? Go on the job sites and download the job postings. Review for keywords and educational and experience requirements. Can you meet most of them? Is there anything you don’t have that will prevent your hire?
Many times hiring managers and company HR/Recruiting managers put in their best case list of requirements. Many times that perfect candidate does not exist. Or they are so overqualified they’d be looking for jobs one or two levels higher.
Don’t cross yourself off the list prematurely.
But at the same time there are situations where requirements are cast in stone (like government or Fortune 500 companies that might have an MBA or Bachelors Degree required – where it really is). If that is the case and you’ve proven in through your search, you may need to rethink things.
Step 3: Find Hiring Managers.
Hiring managers are your gateway to that job. They can move you to the top of the list or drop you out of consideration with a flick of the wrist. So you’ve got 3-5 companies you’re interested in working for. Now find the hiring managers who work at those companies in the departments you want to work. This may require a little detective work. Calling people, emailing, networking with associates. But this is a critical piece that very few people do. Most people are submitting resumes to a nameless, faceless company contact. Don’t be like that. Make that final connection.
Step 4: Take Hiring Managers and those in your desired position to coffee.
Hiring managers hire for the jobs you want. Others in the jobs you want can give you insights as to what the job is like and when openings might be coming up.
I often hire people who were referred by others who want to work with good people like them. If I’m hiring a construction manager or project coordinator, often my existing staff know others like them who are looking for those same jobs. And you know someone who will end up working with these people are not likely to refer a dud (since they’ll experience the pain of a so so worker affecting their work).
And hiring managers will be able to tell you when a job is opening up in their department or hear from other hiring managers looking for the same.
So take them all out to coffee – one or two a week should do. Quickly (in a month or two) you’ll have a good network of people you can contact from time to time regarding opportunities or to provide guidance in your search. And you can be on the short list when an opportunity approaches.
Want to learn more about how to do that? Need coaching assistance or resume help? Let me know how I can help.
And realize there are more options available to you that you might be considering. And good luck on your search!