9 Lives for Women Blog

Get on the Employer Wavelength to Find a Job | April 2nd, 2013

If I had the resources of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or another major philanthropist, I’d find a way to “send a memo” to every job seeker in America. My message would be this: get off job boards, stop calling recruiters and forget newspaper ads. Despite many media reports to the contrary, most job seekers–even at the most senior levels–still believe that their best shot at finding a job is to read about an opening or be told about an opening through a recruiter.

Just ain’t so. Online job postings and newspaper ads are black holes teeming with every Tom, Dick and Harriet looking for a job. It’s not remotely possible for hiring managers to read all the resumes that flood these job posting outlets. And in a difficult economy where skittish employers tighten their budgetary belts, they will do everything to avoid paying recruiter fees.

You heard it here…networking through an ever widening circle of personal connections and Linkedin–is the way to go.

Though I’ve sent this message many times as I blog and speak to groups of women, it can never be said enough. For some reason (probably because answering online or newspaper ads is falsely perceived as a lot easier than drumming up networking contacts), the message is just not getting through. That’s why I glommed on to Carla Hunter’s great blog post (below), which sends the same message with some powerful imagery. Carla heads Career Span, a career development resources firm (with a great blog!) based in Lexington, Kentucky. —KAS


Today as the competition is fierce and only getting fiercer with a tight job market, I have an illustration for you to consider.

Imagine you are driving in the car and listening to your favorite radio station. It plays the music genre you prefer and it is the only station you listen to on a drive. But, is it the only station out there?

People treat seeking employment the same way. They tune in to their most preferred genre of finding and applying for jobs in one of the following ways:

  • Job boards
  • Newspaper ads
  • Trade journal openings
  • Online web crawlers like Indeed or Simply Hired.

The stark reality is that employers have veered away from most (but not all) of the above and are on another frequency. You can tell this by job seeker frustration:

“I’ve applied online to 99 jobs this week alone and haven’t heard back from one.”

“I keep seeing the same job posted every week in a recycled fashion. Why are they not interviewing me?”

As a job seeker, you have to crank it up a notch and migrate to the station where employers advertise their openings.

Their station is simple: their current employees are the frequency used to refer potential candidates for the position which likely lessens the risks involved in a new hire.

When I discussing this strategy with HR professionals, I understand their reasoning and logic:

  1.  Our new hire is referred by someone we value and know.
  2. By seeking the candidate from an internal search, we minimize the public response to an opening which could be overwhelming (think hundreds of responses to one opening).
  3. We are likely to retain the person because they were referred by someone who knows our culture.
  4. We have more success this way since job seekers have become adept at interviewing, masking the fact that they will not perform well on the actual job.

Re-read #4.  That is the major reason employers are emphasizing new hires from current staff.   A decision-maker of one organization told me that this strategy has reduced turnover and saved money.

If you respond to an opening you see on the Internet or anywhere else you are in REACTIVE mode. That means you are in a battle for attention with many others. Your struggle becomes one of how to differentiate yourself from the pack.

Conversely, if you hear of an opening from a contact, friend, colleague, etc. that works for the company you are in PROACTIVE mode. You have created a real opportunity to get an interview. The likelihood of your success is much, much higher.

All of this to say you must consider the following strategies for a successful job hunt:

  1. Get out of your house and mingle every single day with people through lunches, coffee, networking events and opportunities for interaction.  Don’t let one day go by without seeing other people in some way.
  2. Limit the time you spend on the computer to only 15% of your day. The rest of it should be spent with others interacting–online or in person–in some capacity. Think creatively on ways to interact and be seen
  3. Volunteer your time to your community. Build a house with Habitat, tutor a child at school, walk the dogs at the animal shelter and help in any way possible.
  4. Always follow up. It is one of the most critical tasks you will do in the search. It shows you are serious.

Tune in to the station where the employers are or you will have a very long search in front of you. As long as it is their market, they can be tight with their choices. The difference for you will be what steps you take to land on their radar.  The best and most effective way is for their employee to recommend you for an interview.  Other alternatives play music you might not want to hear.

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