I write about entrepreneurship a lot on this blog, but not everyone want to start a business. So I thought it would be nice to add some updated insights on the other side of the employment spectrum. Enter today’s guest contributor, Scott Dinsmore of LiveYourLegend.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein
If you’re looking for a job, chances are you’re going about it all wrong.
Whenever someone approaches me looking for a job, the first thing I ask is what they’ve done so far. The general answer is “I’ve posted my resume on Monster, Career Builder and a few other job sites and sent some emails out to friends. But I haven’t heard anything.”
They haven’t heard anything because they haven’t done anything.
They don’t get it. Posting your resume on job sites is not job hunting!
That’s table stakes at best. Sure it’s the easiest and most passive thing to do but it also won’t get you anywhere. Do you really want to compete with thousands of other pieces of paper being sorted by arbitrary keywords to see what person is a ‘good fit’ anyway? I doubt it.
Last I checked, as many as 90% of jobs come from people you know, or people who know the people you know.
Relationships rule when it come to jobs.
With today’s tools and social networking, the resources have never been better for finding work that lights you on fire. Anyone with a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account has the tools to hack the traditional job search.
The problem is there are even more tools out there that make you feel like you’re looking for a job when you’re actually spinning your tires.
If you want to find work that matters you have to get creative and enlist those around you.
The good news is there’s always a market for energetic talent. There are people and companies who desperately need what you have to offer. I’m sure of it. You just have to increase the odds of getting in front of them. When looking for a job, that’s your only job.
So let’s get started.
1. Know what you want. No one can help you until you tell them what you’re looking for. Last week I got three emails from different folks that went something like this “I’m looking to change careers and am open to just about anything. I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me know if there’s something you might think would be a good fit”.
How can I possibly act on this? If you’re looking for everything, you’ll likely find nothing.
List out what you have to offer and where you want to work. Be as specific as possible. If you don’t know yet, this is the perfect time to do a little self discovery. Here’s a resource to get you started: Follow this Process and I Guarantee You’ll Do Work That Lights You On Fire
2. Generate your ideas list. Even if you have an idea of what you want, odds are you aren’t thinking of a lot of cool opportunities that just haven’t come to mind yet. This is where job sites and social networks start to become really useful.
Visit the top job boards in your industry. Start with big sites like Monster, Simply Hired or Career Builder, but also leverage niche sites for specific types of industries such as Dice or Startuply (here’s a good startup list). Read job titles, descriptions and companies that stand out. Start your list.
Now go though all your LinkedIn contacts and do the same. You’re looking for any interesting companies or titles. Also spend some time on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone’s raving about a company or job they have. Take note.
The goal here is to create as comprehensive a list as possible that we can later use to see who can get you in the back door.
3. Enlist your support crew. Think of your top friends, contacts and colleagues who are most connected and willing make introductions. Who have you left a rockstar impression on in the past? List five or 10. You’ll be reaching out to anyone who might have a connection but these will be your go-to guys.
4. Find your way in. With your list of companies and job roles in hand, it’s time to find a way to make a real connection. LinkedIn is the best tool for doing this. There are all kinds of ways to search based on location, company, job role, etc. Find those connections. Specifically go through everyone of your support crew’s connections. Who knows someone? Make a list of connections.
5. Make it super easy for people to help. Odds are that between my clients, colleagues, blog following and social networks, I know someone who’d be a fit for just about anyone who asks for help. But thinking of sorting through all that on my own is way too much work. Everyone loves helping someone find a job. It feels amazing. But you have to do the heavy lifting for them. The odds of getting what you want are directly proportional to how easy it is for someone to give it to you. With that in mind…
6. Ask for introductions (the right way). Take your list of connections and start asking for help. Send personalized emails to each person in your network (a mass email will NOT suffice). Tell them what you’re looking for, what your skills/experience is and the specific person they’re connected to whom could help. Better yet do this over lunch or coffee. The more human the ask the better. Also give them a short template they could use to make the email introduction.
The goal is for them to be able to make a connection in the shortest time and with the least effort. Don’t just say “Hey Scott do you know someone at Apple?” when you could have done 10 minutes of work to get the answer and know the person’s name. If you make them work too hard, it likely won’t happen.
7. Start making connections. Meet with anyone who will meet with you. Never eat alone. Try to get at least two more introductions from each meeting. Refine your criteria and target least as you learn more. Let the connections lead your search.
You haven’t heard much back from folks? Be persistent. This stuff isn’t going to happen on it’s own. Don’t stop at one email or one phone call. You must be active. There is no waiting around. You can always be doing something to get you closer. Such as…
8. Use your talents to help someone. So you know finance, PR, web design or SEO. Offer to help those who need it. Maybe even for a reduced price or pro bono. It’ll keep you sharp and show a few others how good you are. Just like you wouldn’t be that excited to take someone out who hadn’t been on a date for five years, people with work are always more attractive than people without. Find a way to help.
9. Be a purple cow. If you’re going to compete with the hundreds or thousands of other folks looking for the same work, you have to stand out. At the least, create a place for people to see your work. You have to have an online presence. Maybe it’s a blog or portfolio or simply a more in-depth version of your resume with some wild headshots. Do something different.
A friend of mine recently started applying for high school teaching jobs. She just got her credentials and knew it was ridiculously competitive. So she went out and created a simple website for students and parents to download homework, connect, ask questions and see their progress. The site took a few hours to create and immediately she was on a different playing field. There were 90 experienced teachers applying for the job she wanted. Guess who got it? The one who showed some creativity.
Ever heard of Susan Hires a Boss? Susan was in need of work so she decided to turn things on their head and start a search for the perfect boss. Who does that? She put her criteria and details of her search up on the web. There was a full application process. Then something wild happened…she started getting offers. She ended up going with a boss who wasn’t even looking to hire someone. He couldn’t help himself.
How can you be different?
Be active, be clever, be hungry.
Sending resumes is passive. Email is passive. Posting on job boards is passive. They feel like work but they’re really just giving you excuses to sit on your ass. There is no downtime when looking for something new to light you on fire.
Your connections want to help. People want to hire you. You just have to make the decision easy on them. Do you know how hard it is for a company to sort though 100 resumes and try to figure out who to interview? No one wants to do that. Work your ass off so they don’t have to.
The front door of most companies is tighter than Fort Knox. Sure, a few may have found their way in over the past century but many more will die trying. There is a better way. There’s always a back door. And there will likely be someone to eagerly greet you when you find it.
It’s time to get creative.
Scott Dinsmore is the founder of LiveYourLegend, where he writes and helps people discover passion & purpose and do work they love. Check out his latest articles or Download his free Epic Work Toolkit here.
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