One: You can’t outsource your job search.
Not to your friends, colleagues or a former boss. Not to a recruiter, head hunter or career services professional. Even though these well-meaning individuals may offer you encouragement and connections, the truth is that you’re going to have to “work it” by doing research, targeting the right opportunities and using your network strategically.
Then, you have to work it, yet again, during the interview and follow-up process. You’re the only one who can do this part and chances are, by this phase, your contact will have little influence over you getting hired.
Especially at the beginning of your job search, when you announce that you’re now looking, enjoy the flurry of activity which happens when your network rallies and steps up to help. Just know that ultimately, you’re the captain of your job search and even with an able crew of support, it’s your career and no one is more invested than you.
Sure, friends and colleagues want to help, but they can’t land the Jobbörse for you, and they expect that you’ll “run with” the contacts they connect you with or the leads they provide. And here’s a little secret: They WANT you to run with the opportunities.
Because they don’t want to feel responsible for you. Really, they don’t. They’re happy to help, but they don’t want to feel like it’s their responsibility to find you a job. And that’s an unfair burden to place on them anyway.
Two: A job description is just a job description.
Never judge an opportunity solely by how it appears on paper. I have so many clients that discount opportunities simply because of how the job description reads. Too boring. Not the right mix of things they like to do. Their background doesn’t perfectly match the job requirements.
What? Are you kidding me?
Come on folks… a job description is a one-dimensional view of a job. We gotta dig a little deeper if we want a better picture, no? Seriously, dig out your most recent job description and tell me if it’s what you really do or, better yet, if you’d apply for the very same job based on how the description is written.
The job market is pretty fluid right now – meaning things are shifting and morphing regularly (fluid is another word for wonky, by the way.) But great opportunities still exist they just look a little different. They’re rarely at large organizations. They’re not always in sexy or high-profile industries. They’re often in niche industries.
What I’m saying is that a job description is just a job description. It’s a written description that often defies what the job is really about. Embrace new opportunities but be willing to read between the lines. I’m noticing a fair number of choice opportunities don’t look very sexy/interesting on paper, but instead, offer the chance to learn new technology, work in a dynamic environment, or be a part of an organization’s change/evolution.
Three: Being visible is more important than talent.
Yep. This is a hard one for me to accept too. I want to believe that in a perfect world, the most talented individual is hired, regardless of his/her visibility. But today’s job market is divided into two distinct parts – the front end (getting noticed to make it into the pool of candidates) and the back-end (going through the hiring process of interviewing and selection).
So at the front end, visibility is key. You’re not a candidate until you get noticed – and you won’t make it into the pool of candidates if people don’t know you’re out there. Sorry, but it’s true. I’ve yet to have a client who’s landed a job because someone came knocking on their front door in the middle of the afternoon to offer them an awesome opportunity.
If you’re not making yourself visible through networking, being active on social media and leveraging personal and professional contacts, your job search is going to be slow and painful. It will be that way until you get noticed, which opens the front-end of the hiring process that can lead to the back-end.
One way to think of talent versus visibility is that visibility helps you overcome the first obstacle in the hiring process (I.e. making it into the pool of candidates) and talent helps you with the second obstacle (interviewing and hiring – where you’re quantifiable credentials matter more). You’ve got to have both, but in order to make it through the front door, visibility is key.