It is really hard to be disciplined when there is panic in the air.
Job creation is anemic—yes, there is job growth, but it is not keeping up with the rate of new workers entering the market. There is a foul smell that suggests the U.S. may be heading for a second economic dip as is the case with Europe.
The unemployed, those who have just lost their jobs and those who have been out of work for more than a year, are growing increasingly desperate. Desperation and shaken pride are two key ingredients that spur panic in the job search market. Now is not the time to abandon discipline in the job search process.
Over the past two days, my colleagues and I have been reviewing dozens upon dozens of resumes for a Chief Operating Officer search for a U.S. Hospital. The postings that we have produced for LinkedIn and the American College of Healthcare Executives websites are very specific regarding the criteria necessary to be considered for the job. We could have added, “Candidates who do not meet the criteria need not apply” but it would not have done any good. Increasing numbers of candidates are resorting to a time-honored, but very unproductive job search strategy: Post and pray. Too many candidates are flooding the market with resumes, using shrinking resources and wasting time on jobs they have no hope of landing. More is not better.
It is time to get back to the basics. For executives and managers who want to increase their chances of finding a job, here are some points that I have discussed before but clearly bear repeating:
Executive recruiters only handle about 35 to 40 percent of all the job openings. While it is important to build contacts with search firms, developing a robust network of industry contacts is more important and productive.
Make your network an active, not passive, tool. Having a big network is useless unless the contact information is current and you understand the connection relationships between your network contacts. LinkedIn provides an invaluable tool by showing you how your contacts are related. That is critical. See #3, a key strategy for job seekers.
The best job is usually the job that is not posted or referred to a search firm. It is the one in which recruiting has not started or the search is being handled internally on a colleague referral basis. This means you have to stay in contact with your network while continuing to look for productive new contacts. Jobs come and go in the marketplace on a regular basis. Calling or emailing once every six months is not adequate. On the other hand, you should not overload contacts with calls or emails. You have to have a carefully thought out strategy to ensure top-of-mind awareness without appearing desperate. No plan is a fast-track pathway to no job.
Personal brand management is critical. Employers and recruiters shy away from people who appear panicky, desperate. Finding a job is a full-time job. Set a routine for being in your job search office and stick with it. You have to work your network every day. Building and developing your network is a never ending process. Maintain your professional association memberships. Those should be one of your last expense reductions. If you are going to post information on websites, be sure that you are adding valuable information that supports your personal brand. Stay out of the current political fray. You may be passionate for candidate A or B. Good. But remember that the person you are networking with—the man or woman who might be able to help you find a job—may be just as passionate about the opposing party, candidate or issue.
Appearance is important. In times of stress, people react differently. Appearing fit, healthy and on top of your game is very important. There are literally dozens of stated and hidden reasons why candidates are not hired. It is a hyper-competitive job market. Do not give a potential employer an easy reason to eliminate you.