Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting a job in today's market.

I got a bunch of emails from folks wanting to know why I decided to do a free employment seminar and a bunch more from people who said they would have liked to attend but couldn’t make. I decided this was a good place to answer with some of the tips I shared and just as importantly, the big reason why I did it.

I think it’s important for people who are seeking jobs today to understand that both sides of the table are a little shellshocked. What we all went through last year, as employers and as employed/unemployed, was a very big deal. Folks seeking jobs are desperate to get back to work and employers are scared to death that if they over hire or hire wrong they’ll end up back in the same boat. We all need to take a deep breath, but it’s hard and I get that.

The thing that prompted me to do the seminar was a series of conversations I’d had with people who, after rejections, unreturned calls, 100’s of applications via internet sites, etc., were losing hope. For these folks, it’s so important to understand that the reasons for the rejections in most cases have nothing to do with them. In fact, the rejections themselves aren’t actually rejections, they’re simply applying for jobs that are already actually filled...

So from here on out I’m going to talk to folks looking for work and tell you what I told the folks who were able to be there on Saturday.

The first thing you need to understand is that the job market is beginning to stabilize and add jobs. For more than 16 months, the marketplace actually subtracted jobs. So if you lost your job you were forced into a situation where more people were actually looking for less jobs. That sucks. That’s turning around. Slowly, but it’s happening. So there is hope.

The second thing to understand is that in a market with a lot of applicants and companies that are scared to hire your materials need to be impeccable. Your resume needs to be flawless and it needs to tell the story of your working life in a way that someone scanning it can readily see your value. It can’t be too long either. That’s a common mistake when people have been working for a while. 3 pages Max is the rule I use. I told the folks who came to the seminar yesterday that I would review their resumes for them. I wish I could do that for everyone. I can’t. But find someone you trust and have them go through it with you to make sure it works. It’s important.

The third thing to understand is that the internet is your friend for research, but it is not your friend for open jobs, hiring, etc. In fact, it hurts you. There is a recent University of Washington study that confirms this. The reason is that you can spend hours sifting through open jobs, etc. (most sites are actually designed to keep you online) and submitting resumes. 90% of the resumes you submit will provoke no response. (Because the jobs are already filled). Of the responses you get most will be rejections (same reason). This flood of “no’s” can’t help but be disheartening. So instead of helping you, this medium is actually hurting you by giving you a false impression that you have no value. And that’s the thing you need most to understand... Working through friends and business contacts is a much better approach that gives you a much better chance of finding a job. I tell people this. Next time you feel the urge to log on to Monster go for a "thinking walk" instead. Sift through your mental memory banks for all the people you know. Where do they work? Does that sound fun and in your wheelhouse? If so, call them up and have coffee and ask them for help.

In this market no one is going to think you're a bad person because you are out of work. Everyone knows last year sucked. Get over that stigma and get yourself out there. It'll happen.

Prepare for the interview. Learn everything you can about the company and the people you’ll be talking to. Have a specific reason why you want to work there and make it something tangible. Hint, “It seems like a cool place to work” is not what I’m suggesting. Be on time. Have fresh copies of the resume you sent the company. Know how long they expect you to be there and be prepared to stay longer. Make the interviews a dialog. When you sit down remind yourself of this one important fact. What’s next is what’s important. You need to make the interview about why you’re excited about this position. You absolutely must keep it from being a conversation about the wrongs of the past. The company you’re talking to wants you to be motivated by who they are and what they do and what this job is. They want you to be excited about the job for which you are interviewing (as opposed to the one you can move up to from there). They don’t want to be your rebound relationship. They want to be your happy future.

Lastly - and MOST IMPORTANTLY. Understand this. You have value. The rejections and frustrations you’ve faced, so long as you’ve got a great resume and you prepare adequately for interviews are about the market. They’re not about you. The next one could be the one, or the one after that. There is no quality more necessary for someone looking for a job in today’s market than perseverance. There is good reason to hope. You have value. Someone will see that and they will hire you and this will be a memory. What’s next is what’s important.


John Wohlfeil said...

Great post Jim and a positive look at a tough situation. Inspirational as always. I'm going to pass it along.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to put this information together and sharing it, Jim. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help if you do something like this again.

Anonymous said...

My comment came up as anonymous which is funny bc I'm offering my help! Alex Abercrombie

laurie ann martin said...

Thank Jim for this. I am going to pass this along to some very talented and experienced people in my family that are looking for work. After years of being a supervisor/contractor one was laid off and he is an excellent supervisor and is discouraged right now. He has never been out of work so long. Thank you again for caring about people in this world that you dont even know!!