Have you ever attended a job search meeting and felt bombarded by all of the various advice and recommendations? Do you hear something different from everyone you meet to the point of being overwhelmed with what to do?
Recently I attended a highly valued networking meeting of management level job seekers that also included several representatives from respected recruiting/retained search firms.
During the meeting the representatives from the recruiting/search firms had the opportunity to answer questions and provide many tips, tactics and approaches they believed vital to landing a job. Some of the information was valuable. At the same time some of the other advice provided in particular by one representative who has a considerable number of years in his field to me wasn’t valid and actually counter-intuitive . Having conducted a job search a few times in my career I have learned what works consistently, what works some of the time and in certain situations, and what only sounds good in theory. Equally important, I learned what works for me may be slightly different than what works for someone else.
No one has all of the answers, all of the right tactics, or all of the right approaches and methods to a job search, and yet this person presented his ideas as of if only those approaches worked. No one approach or person can state there is only one approach in job search. Why? Because quite simply every person is different and therefore, every hiring manager is different. Therefore, no two interviews and hiring processes are the same, no matter how many you have experienced. I have learned not to trust, or rather, question every job search approach or tactic no matter the source. Yes, consider it, evaluate it, but also question it.
What is the right course of action for you in your job search?
Question everything you hear or are directed in a job search. Why? Because what worked for another person may not work as well for you. You have your own style and may excel at one job search tool or approach than another. For sure, you must have a solid resume and practice at being able to convey who you are and your talents. Attempt to use all tools available and yet use what works for you and feels right. I have also discovered much of job search is not about a tool or tactic and rather comes down to using your own skills and trusting your intuition as to how to conduct a job search.
There are a myriad of job search tools and tactics and I do recommend you consider at least reviewing them. Then decide what works best for you, or rather, how to use the tool, but in your own style and ability. For example, I believe networking is a vital component of a successful job search. Initially I failed miserably at networking fearing it was like cold calling someone and I simply was not comfortable with that approach. Once I learned how to network through a referral process, I excelled at it because I had the opportunity to learn about someone in one-on-one. This approach has proven to be much more comfortable to me and fit who I am and my style. Meeting someone in person continues to be an extremely valuable venue for effective networking.
Further, and most important, I found for me, that simply, some tactics touted by many, are not effective. Specifically, having spent years researching personal development I discovered that many tactics touted as being effective often lacked an understanding of the way people think, act and believe.
For example, I don’t believe in elevator speeches as they are too rehearsed and say little. Sure, understand how to explain to someone what makes you a special hire, but I have found other approaches to delivering that information. The human element behind the concept of producing an elevator speech is partly about you being able to state what you do, what you excel at, and how you do it, all in 30 seconds. The real importance is for you to decide what you want to be when you grow up. What do you want to do, what matters to you, where do you want to go and why are you good at it? Most people struggle with those questions. Once you answer these questions, then an elevator speech isn’t an elevator speech at all. Instead of sounding rehearsed, your information will flow smoothly in a relaxed style. If you want to turn someone off, just start spouting an elevator speech. If you watch the recipient’s body language, it will strongly tell you that they stopped listening a few seconds after you began your speech.
I also don’t believe in target lists, although it is a constant promoted approach in every job search meeting. Some people believe they work great. But I have seen how they hindered many candidates. (But that concept is for another day as I will soon publish another article and post on this specific topic.)
One key I learned is our own inner thought process, our beliefs and actions determine our job search success more than any tactic or approach. To put this in perspective, when we are employed we are making decisions every day regarding what project to work on when, who to meet with to collaborate on a project, and much more. Conversely, when unemployed, it is easy to feel as if someone has grabbed the TV remote control from us. Hence, we feel out of control. We are at the mercy of when someone returns our call, or responds to an email, or simply waiting to hear on the status or outcome of an interview or potential job offer. As you have discovered, there are some factors you can control and impact, and there are some factors out of your control. Knowing how to manage the factors you can impact and understand mentally and emotionally how to deal with the factors for which you have no control is the essence of a job search.
If we are seeking response from an email, voicemail, or interview we begin to think like waiting to hear from someone after a first date: Will they call back, when will the call back, what should I say when they contact me, how long should I wait to contact them if I don’t receive a response, and does no quick response mean they are not interested? Spending time on these questions can distort our view of reality potentially making you appear too aggressive, or impatient or potentially bothersome to the hiring manager. At the same time understanding that the hiring manager during the interview potentially was more focused on meeting an urgent deadline or responding to an important email after the interview are challenges few discuss yet every interviewee encounters. You are sure to hear all sorts of suggestions from others on how to manage this challenge. Sort through the potential options and do what works best for you.
But if someone tells you that it should only take a certain amount of days for you to land a job or not to use a tactic for which you found value, such as not talking to anyone you meet at an networking meeting outside of the meeting, then don’t follow that advice. Consider it, question it, and then decide for yourself.
The confusion in job search and requirement that we question everything is best demonstrated by asking someone for advice on a resume. Ask 20 people and you will receive 20 answers. Instead when I first conducted a job search 15 years ago, I asked for a copy from everyone in which I met, especially from those who landed a job. From there I pulled what struck me as highly effective as well as incorporated some of their input.
In your job search, listen to everyone, but determine what makes sense to you. Often people providing job search advice have never been on the other side of the table; your side as being interviewed. Sure, you can ask many a hiring manager why they didn’t hire someone. We all hear many stories, of crazy answers to questions, not being prepared, mistakes on resumes, and much more.
But in the end getting hired boils down to what really is the most nebulous factor of all: that you are a good fit. Only the hiring manager can describe what a good fit is to them. At yet every hiring manager will have a different belief on what constitutes a good fit. The greatest challenge in the interview is seeking to determine and convince the hiring manager that you are a good fit – and I would contend this can be more important that being able to fix their immediate problems which is often stated as the key to interview success.
From my experience there are 2 vital components of a job search that have the greatest impact on landing the job. These 2 components can’t be provided or directed by someone else. Only you can determine and must decide what exact type of job you want; you must know exactly what you want because often a hiring manager isn’t sure. Hiring managers often are not sure exactly what they need other than someone to fix an immediate problem. And often that problem is not revealed in a job description and rarely fully conveyed in a job interview. I often discover from researching a company, talking to my network about the company and officers you can determine how to help the hiring manager. Having worked a many size companies, I have found that your experience can often provide you insight into what the hiring manager needs, sometimes before they do.
The other vital component is self-confidence. You radiate your self-confidence of lack of it, to everyone you meet. Everyone can feel if you are cautious or confident. When confident, you will be much more relaxed and the real you will be revealed to each person you meet. Answering interview questions and projecting your knowledge will flow easily in words and body language.
Most likely some of you will not agree with some or all of my suggestions. And I can say, good! Question what I have said and determine what works for you. The key is to understand no one has all of the answers. Determine what works and feels comfortable and use what intuitively feels right. Tactics don’t land you a job, you land a job. Believing in your ability sets the stage for an effective job search. And you can question everything, and even question yourself. And when you answer with confidence you are ready for landing a new job.