Thursday, November 13, 2008

Job Finding Secrets: Part I

Want an edge over your job-hunting colleagues in this incredibly competitive job market?   Try burying your resume.

Now don’t get me wrong.   A crisply written resume, geared to the needs of the reader, is an important tool in a job hunter’s arsenal and absolutely necessary when contacting head-hunters, responding to ads or following up on leads that have asked for one.

But sometimes, sending out a resume is more of a hindrance than a help.  Especially, when you are unable to network into a company you’ve targeted and are forced to approach them cold.

Stand out from the crowd

With over 500,000 jobs lost in the last two months alone, including many executive positions, it’s important to find a way to separate yourself from the herd.  And with the majority of job hunters flooding the market with resumes, doing something a little out of the ordinary, can make all the difference in the world.

Years of career coaching has taught me that a well written note will almost always generate more attention than one accompanied by a resume.  It doesn’t scream “job hunter” and lends itself to follow-up conversation.

So, how do you craft a note that brings results?

Understand your objective

Start by understanding what the desired outcome of contacting someone is.  It is not to get a job.  That takes ongoing discussions, interviews and the ability to convince others that you have the appropriate skills and experiences to add value to their efforts.

The initial objective is simply to find a way to get the attention of a decision maker who is positioned to offer you a job or help you in your search.  You want to open a dialogue, get them to take your call and hopefully wind up across the desk from them in meaningful conversation.

Resumes often say too much and allow others to make go/no-go decisions about candidates.  A note that starts out talking about a company’s needs, relates it to a brief summary of your background and closes by indicating you’ll follow-up is the perfect definition of “less is more.”

Strike while the iron is hot

Most career coaches know that a sizeable proportion of jobs are filled long before a company ever considers advertising them.  They call it the “Hidden Job Market.”

That’s not all that surprising.  Jobs are created in one of two ways.  Either there’s a need that has to be addressed or a leader is dissatisfied with the performance of someone in their department and starts thinking about making a change.

Whatever the reason, it typically takes months between the time an issue is identified and a job gets advertised.  Meanwhile, the need or level of dissatisfaction keeps growing.

And it’s during that time of indecision, before a position is ever posted, that a prospective candidate who has opened a dialogue with a company often has their best shot. 

So, try leaving your resume in the drawer, bang out a note and see if you can get the conversation started.

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