There is a certain socioeconomic dynamic surrounding our jobs.
They provide security. They are integral to our identity as a productive member of society, as a husband, a wife, a dad or a mother. So, when we are out of work, the result of a termination, downsizing or sale of the business, we are unmoored and unsettled.
We worry about things like the mortgage, school tuition, the cost of food, gas for the cars — the list is endless. And this state of anxiety generally prevails whether we have an adequate severance, sufficient cash reserves or not.
For many people the angst begins building the very moment they cross the threshold of their former office, plant or wherever they worked and that angst is fueled by a need to avoid any stigma of “losing a job.” So we want to take action. We want things to happen when we want them to happen. Oh, if it were only so.
Most job hunters re-enter the market too quickly and they are poorly prepared— absent an understanding of their value proposition, little or no strategic market insight and a crummy resume that they plan to send to every job opening (another bad idea). They are anxious, they want instant gratification for their efforts and they are easily frustrated when the job process does not move as fast as they want it to advance.
There is another complicating factor that is contributing fuel to their fire. The existence of social media to help them network. Platforms like LinkedIn will surely make the job search go faster, they reason, then they will find a recruiter to help them secure a job and all will be well, rounds out a very misguided job search scenario.
Lets deal with the easy stuff first: Most recruiters work for clients, not candidates. Some contingency recruiters will make calls on your behalf in search of a commission but if your are at a director level position or higher, this is a bad idea since you have no control over their activities or their message to clients when they call. Having someone shop you around the marketplace screams “lost his/her job. I wonder what happened?” Moreover, if in their zeal to land a commission the recruiter sends a resume to a potential employer, one that you later approach on your own, you have set yourself up for a conflict when that recruiter finds out you took a job with a company they had contacted. They will insist on being paid a commission. I know. I learned that lesson the hard way earlier in my career as an uninformed job seeker. Employers hate that, so I advise candidates not to spend more than three seconds on the notion that they don’t need a recruiter to help with the job search. Building a relationship with the right kind of recruiter, the right kind of search firm, is a very good idea, especially as that firm may have an assignment that might match with your skills and experience. Most retained firms will not make calls to market candidates, not should they.
The other misunderstood element of the job search is social media. This is not an instant answer, there is no immediate gratification here either.
Building a significant social media presence takes far more work, and much greater commitment of time, than the vast majority of new social media devotees realize. It is closely aligned with building a professional network. Sites line LinkedIn and others are called a platform for a reason. It is most certainly not a launching pad. Yes, a site like LinkedIn gives people enormous and unprecedented control over how they develop their brands but getting from there to where you want to be is a big challenge. In fact, you might even say that LinkedIn and the Web Page have something in common.
When I first invested in my web page in the late 1990s, everyone wanted to know if I was getting any return on my investment, as in new work. Those without a long-range digital/web outlook thought it was a waste of money, nothing more than an awkward on-line brochure, one business consultant informed me. I did not see it that way. I thought of it as an important pillar to help me develop my brand as an executive recruiter, speaker and writer. I got the same financial lectures when I began my blog in 2006. Does it bring in any business? No? Then why do you waste your time? Because it is another of those brand management pillars. Now, with the unveiling of our podcast, the questions are the same. And my answer is the same — another pillar to support the platform for my career brand. The same goes for the book on career management, and my speaking.
I just hope I finish building it out before I retire.
John will focus on specific social media strategies for career management in his Thursday podcast. You can listen to the broadcast on this page, or you can subscribe on iTunes.