The reason I most often hear regarding why people seek me out as a Certified Résumé Writer is that they’ve sent out loads of résumés for posted positions but “I never hear anything back. It’s like my résumé goes into a black hole.” Similar to those black hole regions of spacetime that are so intense that no matter or radiation can escape them, submitting résumés to job board postings can feel like an application abyss; just as frustrating as those nasty potholes that motorcyclists dread because the steep edge of a hole can push the tire sideways and bend or fracture a wheel rim…or worse.
Whether it’s a résumé black hole or a pavement pothole, the underlying issue is the same: the experience of feeling out of control. To complicate career control matters, 98.2% of Fortune 500 companies are using Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to eliminate candidates who don’t have strong résumé keyword matches to the job posting.
Candidates can’t rely on hiring managers to magically pull their résumé rabbit out of the hiring hat and select the candidate for an interview (or contact them if they are not selected). It’s 2018 and it’s just not the way the hiring world works. Candidates need to change from being “potholers” to “holeshotters,” those motorsport riders who have the strongest start to get up to racing speed and are first through the first turn. That means taking career control back.
Always have a résumé created by a professional to increase your potential to be recognized and to move to the interview stage. And, it’s vital to acknowledge two statistics: (1.) there are millions of jobs that never get posted but make up the “hidden job market” and account for 80% of hires (2.) 85% of open positions are filled through networking. Those realities said, you need to change the way you network (or start networking!). If you want to crack the hidden job market and get smarter about taking control of the way you connect with people who have insider knowledge about openings here are some tips:
- Instead of power spraying the job boards with résumés, get into the habit of networking. Stay in touch with former colleagues, alumni and new LinkedIn connections with one important caveat: give before you get. Forward articles you think could be helpful to people you know and pass on job leads you’ve heard about. Networking is about building genuine relationships, not asking for a job. Do your networking correctly and it will ultimately pay off.
- Join a professional networking group Your fellow job seekers can sometimes be excellent resources for learning about employers who might be hiring.
- Participate in nationwide or regional job-search support groups. Execunet, for senior-level professionals and The Five O’Clock Club which is open to people at all salary levels are both good. You can also check Meetup or the library.
- Contact employers directly. I never fail to be amazed at how rarely people reach out to people at places they’d like to work unless they see positions advertised there. When you contact people at these companies be sure to tell them (a.) three ways you have the demonstrable skills they’re looking for (b.) three ways you are aligned with their corporate mission (c.) how you can be a value-add and make a contribution (d.) request an opportunity to talk. IMPORTANT NOTE: Can-do claims are contestable. Quantifiable achievements are incontrovertible. Find out who the hiring manager is and be bold; take control. Email or call to introduce yourself and ask to talk on the phone or, preferable, in person. Explain how your background and experience would be useful there. You can use LinkedIn to get introduced to the decision maker by one of your connections on the social network. You’re more likely to get your target’s attention if you get referred to him or her. And, once you meet the hiring decision-maker: DON’T ASK FOR A JOB! MAKE HAVING MET YOU SO COMPELLING THAT S/HE WANTS YOU ON THE TEAM.
- Attend conferences, trade shows and conventions in your field to network and mine the hidden job market. You’ll make new contacts who can tell you about unposted openings and recommend who to contact. These events can be expensive to attend but far less expensive than exhibiting and affordable if within commuting distance without an overnight stay.
Ride safe and WRITE SAFE!
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