Archives for why job boards don’t work

Could a Simple Shift Produce Breakthrough Results in Your Job Search?

 

Even though most job seekers have heard that job boards are not a very reliable resource to create momentum in your job search, it’s still a default activity for most job seekers.

I know it’s very hard to resist the seduction of low hanging fruit. It may seem counter-intuitive to NOT apply when you see a great job posting show up in your job board results or among the postings sent directly to your e-mail, but are you happy with the results you get?

There are dangerous, not just detrimental, impacts of spending most of your time on these job boards, which include:

  • Negating the potential for a current employee to earn a referral bonus for sponsoring you.
  • Haphazard applying can sometimes lead to multiple submissions into a company, which can disqualify you; companies don’t want to get in the middle of placement fee disputes.
  • Believing that job board search results are good indications of the viability of landing the position you want, then…
    • Deciding that the job you want isn’t viable when the results show few postings
    • Deciding that landing will be easy and is just a matter of playing a numbers game when many postings show up
  • Expecting a response or any kind of return on the time you take applying through job boards, then…
    • When a response does come that lets you know your application was seen, believing that you are getting somewhere with that job
      • Then spending more time preparing for something to happen with that job instead of spending time generating new opportunities
        • Letting momentum slip and then when that job falls through having to start back at 0.
      • When few responses come back believing that there is something wrong with you, that you are not an attractive viable candidate
        • Questioning your self-worth
        • Devising a plan B (or C or D) believing that plan A isn’t feasible
          • Falling into depression as hope slips
        • Finding it hard to stay motivated
          • Being even more likely to continue doing what is easy, not what’s effective, but requires you to be brave
        • Putting a lot of pressure on yourself to perform in an interview.
          • Making you even more nervous, less confident and ineffective at inspiring the confidence of prospective employers
          • Increasing the likeliness of you having to take the first job that’s offered rather than the job the represents your best chance of success
            • Having to swim upstream every day to keep your head above water
            • Feeling like you’re not able to be your whole self at work
              • Increasing your chances of illness and chronic disease

This is not hyperbole! This cascade of negative consequences happens all the time, and it’s something I would love to help everyone avoid!

Have you been here? I have!

Here’s some good news – avoiding it is simple. It’s not easy, as creating new habits is a challenge for many (unless made easier through hypnosis.) However, with a conscious shift in how you spend your time, you can reverse your fortune and enjoy exponential momentum that leads to multiple, attractive, competing offers and your ability to take control of your career destiny!

If you don’t believe me, great – try this 14-day experiment:

Every time you would normally be compelled to check the job boards or the agents send directly to your inbox, go on LinkedIn and do any one of the following instead:

Monday:  Make a list of 10 target companies

Identify your top 5 criteria for your next company, team, or boss and enter a search in the search bar for related keywords, like “social responsibility.” Try filtering results to search content first, but try all of the search categories until you get a hit.  Add the company name to the list. That’s it today – just focus on making the list. Don’t check them out – yet.

Conduct what I call spider research to identify additional companies. This is where you follow “bread crumb” trails. This can mean following the prompts that LinkedIn offers, such as “People also searched for:” or evaluating the profiles of people who work at a company to see where else they worked.

Stop when you have identified 10 prospective companies.

Tuesday: Deep dive into your target companies through LinkedIn

Make it a mission to uncover all of the content available.  Put the company name into the search bar, but go beyond the company’s LinkedIn company page.

Search for content related to that company. Evaluate the employment history of leaders and employees.

While you’re doing that, make a “hit list” of people who seem approachable, people who seem like avid networkers and people who share content and engage.

Create company reports, a place where you can compile relevant information you find, such as the company’s goals, mission, challenges, stances on industry trends, and key people.

If they happen to have a job opening that seems appropriate for you, copy and paste that in the company report as well, recording any contacts that may be connected to the job opening or the company.

Don’t apply. Remember, this experiment is designed to show you how you can make something happen and take control instead of taking the “short cut” that doesn’t actually get you any closer to landing the job.

Wednesday: Take massive action and do it in bulk  

This may sound odd, but pump yourself up physically before doing today’s experiment. Lift weights, do pushups, go for a brisk walk or jog, do yoga etc. This neurohack of the mind-body connection tends to make you feel a bit bolder and braver. It will increase the oxygen to your brain which will help you make good decisions and think more creatively.  The endorphins running through your body will put you in a good mood, which will make you more magnetic to your prospects.

Your primary goal here is to start a conversation. Getting a job is your end goal, and a noble, if not necessary one, but initially you need to get the attention of your prospective employers and potential sponsors. This means knowing, or at least guessing, what will incite action. It could be a pain they need relieving, or a contact you know will help move them forward, competitive intelligence, something related to a personal passion, or flat out asking them for help.

Most people will default to sending a LinkedIn Inmail or invitation. But, when a phone number is available among a contact’s contact information, try it. This is an experiment intended to help you understand the most impactful ways to invest your time in your job search. There’s a reason people put phone numbers in their profiles – they want people to call.

Thursday: Follow up promptly and nurture your network

It’s possible you will have responses that you’ll want to respond to immediately, but even if you don’t, you can still use today’s reallocation of time toward expanding your network and visibility by spreading the love.  Comb through content worth sharing. Make introductions for people. Give people recommendations and endorsements. Share other people’s status updates or posts. Make thoughtful comments on high-engagement articles and posts in your home feed or those from specific thought leaders in your target industry. Direct message job leads to people. As you share, let them know that you are concentrating on connecting with [enter potential boss’s title] at [target company/companies] so that you can [value proposition.]

Friday: Find another way

While the purposes of this experiment is to find ways to leverage LinkedIn to get further faster than you would with job boards, it’s not the end-all/be-all resource. If someone lacks a picture, 500+ contacts, recent activity, and a summary or job descriptions, LinkedIn is probably not going to get you visible to this person because they are not using it in the flow of their day. You want to interrupt the flow of their day and get their attention, so look for other venues where they may be more active – non-profit involvement, other social media platforms, directly in their e-mail inbox, or even in their social circles.

Identify and follow up on a potential new venue to get the attention of your prospective employers or sponsors.

Track the time you spend, and track the results that you get as a result of the time. Results look like introductions offered and made, meetings scheduled (even if by phone), interviews (of course), and leads shared.

Tony Robbins said that there’s a millimeter of difference between success and failure. Usually, it’s the small shifts that cause the most significant breakthroughs.

Please share the results of this experiment, some of which may not be instant, but may be results nonetheless.

Best wishes and happy experimenting!

Oingo Boingo – Weird Science

1985) For most of the 80’s Oingo Boingo was to L.A. and Orange County what the Grateful Dead was to San Francisco. Oingo Boingo developed the kind of fan following that made every appearance an event. They were “our band”, and we believed they knew and appreciated our enthusiasm.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Unemployment Bias: Create Your Own Opportunities

"College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 23" by COD Newsroom from Flickr

“College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 23” by COD Newsroom from Flickr

 

Finding employment can be more difficult if you’re unemployed. It can be a frustrating period in your life, but it can also be a great opportunity to transition faster into a new position. You can spend a 40-hour week networking, researching employers and creating opportunities that will help you land sooner.

 

Jay had been working as a User Interface (UI) Programmer in a large marketing firm for nearly five years. He was suddenly laid off from his job and at a loss as to what to do next. It was the first time he found himself unemployed. For a while, he lived off of unemployment benefits and applied for jobs using various job boards. Before he knew it, more than six months had passed. During the worst of times, it seemed as if Jay’s résumés went into black holes, or what we refer to as “e-pits”. Other times, he landed interviews only to have the gap in his employment looked at with suspicion by employers.

Finally, Jay had enough of his confidence being undermined by his unemployment situation and fear of never finding work again. He began to explore his network, volunteered, attended industry group meetings, and wrote often about his skills and knowledge as a UI Programmer. He made sure his work was posted to his social media accounts. He presented himself as “between jobs” and “open for new opportunities”. Eventually, he was hired by a new marketing firm. The information about the job opening had come from his network, but it was Jay’s self-confidence and ability to sell his own worth (as opposed to coming off desperate) that helped land the job.

This example encompasses two scenarios. In the first, a person finds him or herself without employment and they reactively search for a job. They visit online job boards or send hundreds of résumés out in the hope of getting called for an interview. They don’t find a job immediately, months pass and they become caught in a vicious downward cycle. Employers question the long gap in their employment, they lose confidence, become desperate and apply for any open position at a company and they continue to languish as the interviews (and their finances) dwindle away. There are millions of these types of heart-breaking stories.

While some people eventually get a break, there is a difference between getting lucky and creating your own luck. Getting lucky means you’re at the mercy of your circumstances. Maybe someone will see your résumé and give you a chance. When creating your own luck, you’re actually creating your own job opportunities. Your ambition, passion and drive, combined with your skills and qualifications make you too tempting of a candidate to pass up. Which brings us to the second scenario.

A person is unemployed, but instead of reactively looking for work, he or she takes a proactive job search approach.  They go to their network and ask about open positions. They volunteer when they can, and they make sure to attend networking events, industry meet-ups, and do whatever they can to meet people in person. They present themselves as “between jobs”, but they keep abreast of industry news and maintain a competitive advantage. They even take some time to hire someone to polish their résumé or do it themselves. Their personal brand demonstrates their skill, value and passion. They know people in their network will eventually produce leads, and they will be ready to capitalize upon those leads.

Let’s get the obvious bad news out of the way: It can be harder to land a job if you’re unemployed. Employers have a variety of biases toward the unemployed. These biases can create a challenge for job seekers, which may require applying a different strategy to a job search. Employers may assume a worker’s skills may have become rusty if he or she has been out of work for more than six months. They may feel if a person can’t immediately land a job, he or she must be lazy and can’t keep a work schedule. Or it may be more tempting to poach an employee from a competitor than hire someone unemployed, even if the unemployed person has stronger qualifications. Some employers may go as far as to tell the unemployed they should not apply for an open position at their company.

Quite frankly, excluding the unemployed is extremely short-sighted. Abby Kohut argues in her article, “Why ‘The Unemployed Need Not Apply’ Need Not Apply to You” that it is absurd to eliminate out-of-work job-seekers without understanding why they’re unemployed. The reasons can range from stay-at-home parents returning to work, workers who were laid off, or workers who were fired (it’s not always the worker’s fault). That last reason is quite chilling. Your job could vanish in an instant due to no fault of your own. Don’t let employer bias deter you from your job search. At the end of the day, networking is still the best way to land a new job. Also, the employer practice of poaching talent doesn’t always work. There will be positions that need to be filled immediately and a highly qualified unemployed person could be the perfect match.

Employer bias is such an issue that legislation has been passed banning this practice. I wrote about it in my article, “Unemployment Discrimination: Does it need a solution?”, New York City passed a jobless discrimination bill in March 2014, while 11 states and multiple cities have their own versions of these laws. The legislation seeks to prohibit unemployment discrimination and allows aggrieved applicants to sue employers (in certain cities, like NYC). Unfortunately, as I wrote in my article, these laws are more of a hindrance than a help as the economy improves.

Technology is rapidly changing business and the long and short-term unemployed need to have the latest skills to compete. If these laws aren’t accompanied by training programs to help the unemployed compete in the workplace, they can be harmful. In some states the unemployed have to surrender their benefits to receive state-compensated training. While such a move could be beneficial in the long run, a reasonable person would have a difficult time forfeiting guaranteed income in order to participate in such a program. It’s hard to focus on learning when you’re unable to put food on the table. Furthermore, creating legislation to ban unemployment discrimination won’t prevent employers from covertly excluding the unemployed if they’re really determined.

So, should you present yourself as unemployed?

My opinion is… Be You! Lying on your résumé or your LinkedIn profile about your employment status won’t gain you any favors. In fact, it may become clear that you’re lying. I had a prospective client who was told by peers not to change her status on LinkedIn. This could be perceived as a lie, or an oversight. Either way, it doesn’t present you as forthright, accurate or prompt. Be yourself and believe in your professional value. You may be out of a job, but you still have a lot to offer an employer. Your skills and knowledge didn’t vanish along with your job.  (There are some careers that will become obsolete in the future, and it may become necessary for those professionals to reinvent themselves.) Know your target market, your skill set and your qualifications.  It is the passion for an industry that shines brilliantly. Your passion is your brilliance, and that brilliance will attract others to you.

Your personal brand should reflect your brilliance. You’re unemployed, but if you constantly blame others, and your former employer, it reflects badly on you. Think about it. If you’re constantly on your social networks, or attending events decrying your unfortunate situation, others will take notice. Instead of noticing your passion for your industry, others will only see your bitterness and will make it a point to give you a wide berth. On the flipside, if you’re constantly presenting yourself as passionate and engaged in your industry, someone will take notice and it could lead to job opportunities. In short, you may never know who’s watching, and you want to attract people, not repel them.

There are employers who will always have a bias against the unemployed, but ultimately it is their loss. Being passionate and unemployed can have its own advantages. Here’s a scenario to consider. Some employers are targeting those currently working for their competition as their priority effort, or expecting the third party recruiters they work with to do so. However, this requires a lot of selling and wooing, and there’s also a LOT of negotiating to make this successful. When this gets tiring, they look for the people immediately available. And if a need is urgent, they are not going to look for people who need to give two week’s notice. Suddenly, that highly-qualified, zealous and extremely available job-seeker is too tempting to pass up. Or maybe that job-seeker has been targeting employers of choice and now a position is finally open. Again, why bother looking elsewhere and negotiating with someone who’s already employed, when you can hire a passionate job-seeker who has been making connections within the company?

 

Let’s return to a favorite adage of mine that you can apply to employers and their attitudes about hiring you– “Some will, some won’t. So what? Next!”.

 

That’s much easier to say when you have momentum on your side. Don’t fall into a fear trap, thinking that you have to play political or tactical games to make it through the process. The difference in how it feels to generate interest by just being your best self versus pretending to be something that you’re not is the difference between freedom and being trapped. This is what we mean by “Unveil Your Brilliance”. We mean, be you, because you are brilliant, and people just need to see that. We don’t mean try to be something or someone else. That’s not the path to empowerment or authentic happiness.