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The Optimal Job Search Strategy is an Integrated One

I'm regularly asked advice by marketing professionals seeking to change jobs on how best to conduct a search and I find some are genuinely surprised when they find I tell them that its much more than registering and putting their resume at job boards and creating job agents. Granted, that's important, but there's much more to do. Just like conducting an effective marketing communications campaign, in most cases, you should be integrating your efforts and not merely rely on one vehicle or channel exclusively.

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How to Compete with Employed Job Seekers When You're Unemployed

Employed job seekers often have an unfair edge in the job market.  The fact that they currently have a job gives them a “credibility premium” with employers.  Consciously or not, many organizations assume that anyone good enough to be on another employer’s payroll is probably good enough to be on theirs.  It’s a significant advantage and one you simply cannot match if you’re in transition.

Does that mean you’re out of luck and doomed to remain out of work?  Absolutely not.  You can undercut an employed job seeker’s advantage by using the one advantage that you have and they don’t – the capacity to do what’s best for you.  That’s an edge that working people simply cannot match.

How does that advantage work in your favor?  As a person in transition, you have:

  •  the time to add 2 kinds of skills that will upgrade the expertise you offer to employers;
  •  the flexibility to network in 2 venues that will expand your visibility in your field;

and

  •  the freedom to brand yourself in 2 ways that will enhance your occupational standing.

Let’s look at each in a bit more detail.

The Time to Add 2 Types of Skills

The most valuable candidate in today’s job market is a person who is both an expert in their primary field and able to apply that expertise in a wide range of work situations.  Therefore, a person in transition can gain an advantage if they enroll in 2 kinds of training or academic courses during their job search: one that will put them at the leading edge of knowledge and skills in their occupation and a second that will add an ancillary skill that expands their range of contribution.  An employed job seeker seldom has the time to do either, let alone both.

So, enroll in the appropriate classes and then feature them on your resume.  Those entries convey two messages that act like catnip for employers.  First, they signal that you are a person who understands the importance of continuously adding expertise.  And second, they indicate that you are someone who takes personal responsibility for doing so.

The Flexibility to Network in 2 Venues

The conventional wisdom is that 30 percent or more of all open jobs are never advertised.  They are typically filled by networking.  Therefore, a person in transition can gain an advantage if they commit to active networking and then perform that networking in 2 places: one that will expand their visibility among their peers generally and a second that will do so among those who are members of their professional society or trade association.  An employed job seeker seldom has the flexibility to do either, let alone both.

So, commit yourself to networking, but do it in the right way.  First, the word is netWORK, not net-get-around-to-it-whenever-it’s-convenient.  Make networking an integral part of daily job search activities.  Second, practice the Golden Rule of Networking and “give as good as you get.”  Be helpful to others if you want others to be helpful to you.

The Freedom to Brand Yourself in 2 Ways

The biggest threat to employers today is competitors with smart workers.  Their only defense is to hire those who are standouts in their field.  Therefore, a person in transition can gain an advantage if they build their brand in 2 ways: by sharing their professional knowledge and experience at blogs or online discussion groups that are occupation-related (not focused on job search) and by holding office in or otherwise contributing to their state or national professional society or trade association.  An employed job seeker seldom has the freedom to do either, let alone both.

So, set yourself apart from the herd.  First, make sure you haven’t subconsciously accepted the view that you are flawed.  Take the time to reinforce (or regain) your self-respect and self- confidence.  Second, get up and go to work each day, shaping an exceptional image of yourself among your peers and their employers.

Employed job seekers seem to have all of the advantages in the job market.  They don’t.  Those who are in transition have their own advantages that provide 2 powerful benefits.  They can level the playing field and give those who use them a powerful competitive edge.

Thanks for reading,

Peter

Visit me at Weddles.com

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American DreamThe Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired,WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet,The Career Activist Republic, and The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hold Onto the Job of Your Dreams  Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.

Kindergarten Can't Help: The New Rules in Today's Job Market

One of the first lessons you’re taught in school is to follow the rules when playing a game.  The rules ensure that there is a well defined pathway to victory and that everyone knows what it is.  They establish certainty and fairness.


The job market is no game, but it too has long been governed by a set of rules.  Those maxims determined how to win employment.  They were all important, but only one was absolutely critical to success.  It was the definition of “qualified” – what it takes for you to be considered a legitimate contender for an open position.

Employers set that rule because only they judge a person’s qualifications.  And, for the last fifty years or so, they’ve defined a qualified candidate as someone who met the requirements and responsibilities specified for a job.  If your education and experience met that standard, you were deemed to be an acceptable applicant.  You were in the running for selection.

And now you aren’t.  In today’s job market, if you apply for a job where you are a perfect match with the stated requirements and responsibilities, you will almost certainly be ignored.  All you’ll hear back from the employer is the sound of silence.

What’s causing this situation?  Employers have ignored what they were taught in kindergarten.  They’ve changed the rules and haven’t told anyone they’ve done so.  They’ve reset the definition of “qualified,” and kept the existence of the change to themselves.

The New Rule for Being Qualified

The change in the definition of “qualified” wasn’t done maliciously or out of spite.  Indeed, many employers aren’t even aware that they are using a new standard for determining who is eligible for their open jobs.  Whether it’s applied consciously or otherwise, however, it is being used because employers now face changed conditions for their own success.

For years, employers selected candidates based on their ability to do a job competently.  Their requirements and responsibilities were simply a way of ensuring that level of performance.  They believed that individual competence was sufficient for organizational success.  When employees performed as required by the responsibilities of the job, employers would thrive.

Today, that’s no longer the case.  Employers are now facing domestic and global competition from organizations with workers who perform at a higher level than competence.  These employees aren’t doing their jobs, they’re excelling at them.  That’s the new standard.  Being able to excel at work is today’s definition of “qualified.”

How can you prove your ability to excel on-the-job?  It involves the 3 Rs: resume, reputation and recurrence.  I’ll explore each of them in my next column.

Thanks for reading,

Peter

Visit me at Weddles.com

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American DreamThe Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams, The Career Activist Republic, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, andWEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet.  Get them at Amazon.com and Weddles.com today.

Job Search Budgeting for Job Seekers

We all face time constraints in a job search.  There are many different ways to look for a job, but only so many hours in the day.  For many, maybe even most people, therefore, the best strategy seems to be to do a little bit of everything.  You don’t know which specific tactic or set of tactics to rely on, so you cover as many bases as you can in the hopes that one of them will pay off.

The problem with this approach is that it forces you to minimize the time and effort you invest in any one tactic.  You start out doing one thing, but quickly feel as if you have to get started on something else.  As a result, neither one gets the concentration of attention or level of commitment necessary to deliver any, let alone the maximum benefit to you.

As you race from applying to jobs posted online to an informational interview and from networking on a social media site to conducting research on prospective employers, you are constrained in two ways.  Either you’ve worn yourself out and lack the energy to do your best or you do your best but can’t stick with it long enough to get the best results.

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A Multitude of Hope for Job Seekers

No one likes confrontation, but sometimes it’s the only way we can make change happen.  That’s the central thesis of a book I’ve written about the post-recession job market in this country.  It’s not your typical career or job search primer, but is, instead, a novel called A Multitude of Hope.

The book traces the experiences of three out-of-work Baby Boomers as they struggle to find a way through today’s dehumanizing job market.  Along the way, they meet a secret online group of radical activists practicing “economic disobedience” against the all-for-me-and-none-for-you class of corporate America.

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Next Practices for Marketing Job Seekers

The Web is crowded with articles extolling the best practices for finding a new or better job. I've contributed a few of those missives myself. Recently, however, I heard a fellow describe best practices as "stuff that used to work." In other words, by the time something has become a best practice, it's likely also to have become obsolete. What's the alternative? Next Practices.

Next Practices are emerging ideas that have a positive impact on your job search. They are not widely known or even accepted, but that's part of their value. They enable you to stand out from the herd. And, in today's crowded job market, that's an important advantage, in and of itself.

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Using Job Boards in Your Marketing Job Search to Your Best Advantage

No single job board can connect you with all of the open jobs available in your field.  Therefore, to use NASCAR most effectively, you must first learn the 5-to-1 Rule.  This rule states that you have to use five job boards to find a job.  It looks like this:

2GP + 3N = 1GJ

Where:

·         2GP means two general purpose job boards, or those that post openings in all professions, crafts and trades.

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What to Do About Ageism & Sexism in Hiring

Incidents of bias against people over the age of fifty and women are clearly on the rise. These situations are typically viewed as a defect in an organization’s hiring process. The assumption seems to be that the recruiter or the hiring manager who does the interviewing is prejudiced, but the employer is held blameless – consciously or unconsciously –by most people in transition.

If you don’t believe that, consider the fact that countless job seekers would still go to work for an organization with a biased recruiting process if they could find a way around the offending individual. And, that would be a terrible mistake. Basically, they would be substituting the devil they know for the devil they don’t know.

One devil, however, is the same as the other. The way employers treat candidates is exactly the way they treat employees. If the leadership of an organization permits ageism and/or sexism to exist in the recruiting process, you can be sure they will accept or at least condone the same behavior in its day-to-day operations.

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Be a Career Activist, Not a Job Seeker

Most of the people who find themselves in transition these days accept a descriptive label only an employer could love.  They allow themselves to be called a “job seeker.”  Indeed, many actually think of themselves that way.  They are a supplicant for work.

Job seekers stand in long lines at career fairs waiting patiently for thirty seconds with a recruiter who’s going to talk to two or three hundred other supplicants during the event.  They go to corporate career sites and follow the directions for job seekers who are one of several hundred who will apply for each opening posted on the site.  And, they join hundreds of other job seekers who pore over the jobs posted on job boards and social media sites every day.

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