Ask career changers what consumes most of their time and they’ll say “searching for jobs” or “(re)writing my resume.” Unfortunately what takes up time and creates value are very different in a job hunt. Of all the activities in job-hunting, there is one that acts as the tipping point. It requires a small change in strategy, but has a disproportionate impact (up to 21x) on a job-hunter’s ability to land their dream job.
The one measurable activity that has a disproportionate impact on a job-hunters success is face-to-face time with hiring managers. Despite jobs being distributed across more online platforms, hiring people is still a face-to-face process. By focusing on this metric of job-hunting success, it becomes easier to experiment with unconventional approaches for landing meetings with hiring managers.
Several years ago, I discovered a short-cut that bypasses the need for spending time writing resumes and searching for jobs online. These two activities lead job-hunters to the small market of advertised jobs which is full of competition and rejection. Instead, I sidestep the traditional process and jump right into face-to-face meetings with hiring managers.
“On average it takes six first time, face-to-face meetings to get one offer!”
What if you could land six face-to-face meetings with hiring managers this week, would that get you closer to an offer? It’s not difficult to do when you know the recipe.
Stop asking for a job
The ironic part about look for a job, is that when you ask people for help they become reluctant. Why? As you get farther from your inner circle of colleagues and friends, the less people know what you’re like as a person and as an employee. It’s risky to recommend someone you don’t know. It puts your reputation at risk.
Several years ago I got an unexpected call from a young, ambitious chap who had recently moved from the U.S. to Norway like me. He was in high-gear networking to find a job. Within the first minutes of the conversation, he was assertively asking me to connect him to executives in my network. I’m all for taking initiative, however this fellow was going about it all wrong.
One secret I discovered to getting people to open doors for me, is to stop asking for a job and starting asking for advice. Chances are you have questions about where you might apply your skills, how someone of your background gets a job in your target industry, and what trends are creating new job opportunities. Everyone loves to give advice, few like to give job referrals.
Don’t approach it like a sales call
Countless books recommend approaching job-hunting like a sales process. While there are many similarities, most of us don’t like sales and are turned-off by the analogy. Me too. Although there are many benefits from learning about sales best practices, I don’t benefit from the selling mindset when I’m job-hunting for my dream job. Let me explain.
When I job-hunt, I design a learning journey. After I create a Career Outline of my skill strengths, interests, and work environment preferences, I then present it to people in the industry I want to work in. My goal isn’t to look for a job, but to learn, to get advice from those in the market space where I want to work. As I progress with the process of gathering advice, my questioning gets more specific, the advice more pointed, and the list of target companies becomes clear.
Reframing the meetings around learning makes it easier to land meetings with hiring managers. Something that most job-hunters have trouble with because they’re in sales mode, not learning mode. Not only does this re-framing create precious time in front of hiring managers, it also elicits invaluable industry insights.
Dream Job: Ready, Aim….
It’s not uncommon for job-hunters to not know what they want to do with their careers. I’ve been there too. 99% of us have been there. Before I start my learning journey, I spend time to clearly identify and my skill strengths in detail in the Career Outline. This 1-pager is quite different than a resume because it outlines what you can do for your future employer. A resume simply shows your previous results, which you may not want to do anymore or may not relate to your next job. This is especially the case if you want to change industries or roles or you’ve recently graduated from school.
After creating descriptive one-liners for each of my skill strengths, I then use this list to drive the discussion with hiring managers. By describing your talents in a simple and concise manner, hiring managers can then provide both direction and advice regarding the roles that fit your description of your dream job.
When I changed my focus from searching online and customizing resumes to landing meetings with hiring managers and collecting advice, I saw a complete reversal in my rejection rate.
“I went from being rejected 100% of the time, to landing meetings with hiring managers 100% of the time!”
It was just the strategy I needed to beat the odds and land my dream job in a tough job market.
Thank you for reading.
– Ian Jenkins