Workplace Trends

How to Simplify and Shorten Your Job Search

By James Greenway on June 18, 2012

May’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s report showed the unemployment gauge stuck once again at 8.2 percent.  While regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in May, 18 states registered unemployment rate increases, 14 states and the District of Columbia recorded jobless rate decreases, and 18 states had no statistically significant change, according to the June 15 BLS. The largest month-over job gains were in California (+33,900), Ohio (+19,600) and New Jersey (+17,600).

While the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high and job growth slow, that doesn’t mean your job search needs to come to a grinding halt.  If you find you’ve hit an impasse, you may want to recharge your networking efforts – and that means re-evaluating who you’re targeting and how.

In order to break through the hiring wall and land the job you want, you must first understand the scenarios that advance hiring.  Below is a brief overview:

  1. The applicant pool.  This scenario generally takes place when an employee leaves, creating an open position.  To fill the position, HR solicits resumes via job boards, advertisements, social networks, internal referrals and other external resources.  The pool of applicants is screened to identify candidates who best fit the requirements.  The screened applicants then participate in interviews, which leads to a final hiring decision.  Although research indicates this scenario accounts for only 25 percent of hiring, many job seekers erroneously consider this the primary process through which candidates are hired.
  2. The created position.  In this situation, the job seeker has a special skill set and presents a proposal to the hiring manager outlining why these skills are needed within the organization or department.  The hiring manager may then create a position to bring this candidate on board.  As expected, this is a more complex and sophisticated hiring scenario that requires exceptional communication and selling abilities.  Consequently, “the created position” accounts for only about five percent of new hires.
  3. The known candidate.  The “known candidate” is when the hiring manager or recruiter knows candidates personally or through referrals and has them in mind when a position becomes open. Once the position is available, the hiring manager or recruiter may go through the typical “applicant pool” search, but the “known candidate” comes pre-qualified and recommended, giving the job seeker a tremendous advantage over the “unknown” candidates.  Seventy percent of hiring takes place through this scenario.
  4. The informational interview.  In this scenario, the job seeker leverages his or her career and social network to schedule meetings with people who are currently working in his/her targeted field.  The objective of the meetings is to gather information, explore career options and gain a better understanding of a role or industry.  Informational interviews differ from traditional job interviews in that the job seeker asks the questions and solicits career advice, without asking for employment.  Informational interviews help job seekers to expand their professional networks and can uncover opportunities that can lead to a job offer.

How do you get the inside track?  The answer is simple: become “known” through networking. Develop a list of targeted companies, and then expand your network to include current employees at the companies you are targeting.  Build relationships by offering advice and insight on challenges you can help solve.  Current employees may be aware of open or soon-to-be-open positions.  They can make introductions to individuals who are most likely to hire you.

Becoming known can put you at the top of the list of potential candidates for advertised and unadvertised positions.  It gives you an opportunity to pre-qualify yourself as knowledgeable and trustworthy.  By building relationships that add value and demonstrate your capabilities, you gain a competitive edge that simplifies and shortens your job search.

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