Let’s say you want to catch a sturgeon. Each day, you pay someone dearly to motor a boat to deep waters where there are sharks, deep sea anglers and dragon fish; lots of activity, many fish, but not one sturgeon in the bunch. You are worn out and demoralized from trying. You use your best equipment and you know you know how to fish; but still, no sturgeon.
If you want to catch a sturgeon, you have to fish in cold water lakes and rivers. Submitting your resume to job boards, corporate websites and all those LinkedIn recruiting sites is a bit like fishing for sturgeon in deep ocean water.
This is not another fish tale; you want to land a job? Go where the employers are looking for candidates. You have to know how to be found because they are certainly looking. There are jobs out there in spite of what the media and your unemployed friends tell you. All those products need to be created, marketed, supported and sold regardless of our weakened economy.
Don’t believe for one moment that you chum the waters with resumes to countless job boards, resume sites and corporate websites. All that accomplishes is you bloody the waters to become prey for sharks. Those public resume aggregators receive thousands of resumes from job seekers; you have no opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to be seen. And many are scams, identity thieves, and just plain bogus. That’s why you rarely hear back and if you do, you rarely make it to the first interview.
Referred and recruited candidates trump random submissions every time. It is your job to do everything you can to get found, to be wanted. Know the resources sophisticated employers/recruiters use and increase the possibility you will be lured into an interview.
One very smart internal recruiter caught the biggest fish possible for her employer. Her success demonstrates the typical methods hiring authorities use. She ignored all the website-submitted resumes gathering dust on her virtual desk; in fact, she never looked at them.
Her company had an EVP spot and needed an excruciatingly specific track record and skill set. She knew the best use of her time was to talk to only those people with that skill set. She located the top five companies who had the metric she needed then located the names of the execs responsible for that success.
She used a variety of resources to vet her suspects. She first examined the corporate website for a bio and product information. Next, she used LinkedIn just to get an idea of former employers, quality of references and an overview of how these suspects saw themselves as represented by their summary. She then looked at blogs and any number of other internet contributions from each of her suspects. She needed someone who was beyond reproach technically, but who had a leadership style that demonstrated collaboration. The tone and type of contributions (brand identity) she discovered narrowed her search to only two candidates whom she called to introduce herself. She used a Boolean string to find direct contact information which interestingly, was also on the blogs she read.
Executives and technology leaders are in a different class from most candidates. Do not be confused by all those recruiters who cast gill nets for new connections and make an appearance on every public forum trolling for submissions. You are a rare breed and the recruiters who can place you are not to be found in their ranks. If you are a big fish, avoid these recruiters.
Many jobs will be filled by the hiring authorities themselves through their network and online efforts which are not largely different from the resources recruiters use.
Quality employers and recruiters look for successful executives and technology leaders to recruit. They have a network of long-term connections; they are not hit and run artists who collect (and ignore) resumes. And these recruiters make anywhere from 20-30% of all executive level placements. These are the recruiters by whom you want to be caught. You have to swim in waters where they fish.
Blogs: Many experienced recruiters prefer to set alerts and search blogs for quality candidates. They use Boolean strings to isolate exactly the skills and requirements they need. They look for comments made on specific topics and they look for blogs on point to their client’s needs.
Clearly, if so many recruiters, both internal and external and hiring authorities in general, are looking for quality candidates on blogs, you need to be found there.
Answer questions using your full signature and LinkedIn profile address.
Write a blog of your own and keep it professional and on topic for your brand identity.
Create strategic alliances with other bloggers topic-adjacent and share links to each others sites.
Answer questions, start discussions and link to your site as a news article on LinkedIn and use your blog as part of your signature.
Social networking sites: Clean up and maintain your LinkedIn profile. It is the first place people look once they have your name. And some crafty employers use LinkedIn search tools to find people with certain former employers, titles and skill sets.
Twitter, Facebook and others are, in my view, best used as a job search resource by job seekers young in their career. You will read a lot about how they are used for job search, but your job search is different. There are fewer jobs for executives and technology leaders than individual contributors and those employers tend to use more sophisticated options.
That having been said, do maintain your profiles and use the sites to promote your personal brand. It’s like chicken soup, it couldn’t hurt.
Conferences and trade shows: Most companies set aside time and resources during conferences to cast a line to hook great candidates. On more than one occasion when I was a recruiter, I was invited by clients to attend conferences with them to look for and qualify suspects my client could interview for key positions. Today, even more resources are spent at conferences to locate industry-specific experts. Be one.
Attend all conferences, trade shows and seminars where your target employer may be.
Volunteer to promote or organize the event
Offer a strategic employer your services to assist with booth duty
Attend your brand-specific topics and ask provocative questions
Come to each session early and linger to meet people
Stay in the radar of conference organizers as a prospective speaker or moderator
Write a brand-specific white paper to present or have available to attendees
Community: Many hiring authorities look to the community, both business and other for prospective employees. They want to connect with people with shared values and interests.
Volunteer in organizations for which you are passionate
Attend business community events and engage. Working to create and lead programs is a better advertisement for your brand than simply attending.
Participate in every and all alumni group for which you qualify
Become a mentor. Get better visibility by helping others who succeed.
Your network: Job search by multiplication is accomplished through your network. Employers ask the people they know and trust for referrals. Big fish swim with other big fish. Be that referral. It is not enough to let your connections know you are looking for a new job. You increase the chance they can actually help if they know what help looks like.
Hone your elevator pitch so everyone knows what you will be hired to do
Ask only for what your connection can deliver easily
Remember to return the favor
Stay connected but don’t badger; pay attention to their needs not just yours
Connect with and maintain relationships with a few good recruiters
Contentiously maintain your personal brand
And most important, maintain the big-fish attitude. If you are unemployed while looking for that next great job keep your spirits up; unemployment didn’t change your credentials or the value of your experience. Just like that 100 lb sturgeon, focus on what you are going toward, not what you are going away from.