25 June, 2010

Play The High Percentage Job Search Game of Getting Mentioned By A Social Co-Signer, Not The Low Percentage Game Of Sending Resumes And Interviewing

Can you spot the obvious, common flaws in these tweets by people who purport to be job search experts?

“Is your Resume getting thrown in the Trash?”

“Can you describe your "personal brand" in less then 3 sentences during a job interview?”

“Do you know how to give great phone during a job interview?”

“Do you have a "two minute pitch" for your next job interview?”

These questions were tweeted by people who use the question to tell you something they hope will give them the chance to sell you something. These questions are examples of a kind of social media push polling.

But have you spotted the common flaw in these push polls yet? If you are a regular reader of Higginbotham At Large you already know the answer: The advice that these so-called job search experts want to sell you starts at a point way too late in the job search process to be of help to you.

If you’re a regular reader of Higginbotham At Large, you already know that sending out resumes and going to interviews is a low percentage game. Your chances of getting a job as a result of sending a resume and walking down the runway in the swimsuit competition of the interview process are just slightly above zero.

Higginbotham At Large wants you to play the high percentage game of getting your existing and future network of friends and colleagues to say your name to headhunters and employers. The goal is to get people to say your name. Getting people to say your name is the holy grail of job search or business development. Getting people to say your name instantly puts you in the running for jobs that haven’t been advertised anywhere, jobs that are casually mentioned over coffee, at church, on the golf course or by a headhunter who calls and asks one of your friends or colleagues “Who do you know who has expertise with X?”

As I’ve said before, yes, it’s possible that you might get a job because you have a better resume or give good phone the real goal of every job seeker should be to trade the low percentage game of resume-sending and interviewing for the high percentage game of getting recommended. I don’t care of you’re a plumber who wants new business or if you’re a job seeker who wants a new job, the shortest distance to what you want is to get recommended by somebody.

And the reason you won’t see push poll tweets about how to get recommended is because the push pollers can’t figure out how to make any money off the truth that sending resumes and waiting for interviews is a low percentage game. While you’re waiting for a window-dressing interview with a guy who’s never heard of you, the successful candidate is across the street at Starbucks getting introduced to his new boss over a latte by their mutual friend. The guy at Starbucks didn’t send a resume and didn’t have to glide down the runway in the swimsuit competition we call the interview process. He moved to the head of the line for that job when his “social co-signer” said his name.

How do you get people to say your name?

Well, it starts with making sure your social co-signers know what you do. As I write this blog post, a headhunter is asking a guy “Who do you know who has expertise at X?” and the guy he’s asking can’t say your name because he doesn’t know you have expertise at X. As I write this post, a boss is confiding to a mutual friend that he is going to fire his X and find a replacement. Your mutual friend doesn’t mention your name because, despite being your friend, he doesn’t really know what you do.

First, let’s get organized: I want you to take out a legal pad and make a list of all your neighbors (if you’re friendly with them). The guy across the cul de sac, the lady next door.

Then I want you to make a list of all the people you know at social orgs or clubs you belong to.

You get the idea. Make a list.

Include the social circle of your significant other.

Now go to your Linkedin account and your Facebook account and your Twitter followers and make a list of contacts who like you and respect you and would be good social co-signers for you.

After you’ve completed your list, I want you to systematically start educating or coaching these social co-signers on just exactly what it is you do. Where possible, do this face-to-face. Yes, you can send tweets and emails and Linkedin messages, but also try to have a phone or face-to-face conversation.

Tell each of your social co-signers what you do and how to recognize opportunities to recommend you.

Some of my readers - like Jeff Foster of Lexington, KY, with whom I worked at Lexmark - have jobs that are hard to describe. For instance, if Jeff told you he is a "business analyst" at Lexmark would you have any idea what he does? probably not. People like Jeff have more work to do than people with simple, easy-to-understand titles. I challenged Jeff to come up with a 15-second or 3-sentence speech with which to describe his work at Lexmark. Here's what he gave me: "I work with people in different countries to develop a standardized process for a set of tasks, document all aspects of the process, develop training materials and then transition the tasks to a low cost country."

Jeff, advise your social co-signers to listen for words like "offshoring" and "outsourcing" because that's also what your work facilitates.

And , Jeff, your elevator speech is timely. Have you seen what Seth Godin and Daniel Pink have written about turning autonomous, creative, heuristic jobs into "algorithmic", repetitive jobs?

And, Jeff, you may not have thought of this but what you do is, in many ways, related to franchising. When a franchisor sells you a turn-key franchise, he is selling you more than a well-known business name, he is selling you his methods of turning operations and jobs into "algorithmic", robotic , repetitive jobs that might be better matched to low-wage, low-intelligence workers than to, say, people with high IQs who are used to making good money. So, Jeff, tell your social co-signers to listen for the word "franchising" when a headhunter calls.

And tell them to look at the Linkedin recommendation I wrote for you.

"Follow up the oral communication with an email that contains some carefully selected verbiage about what you do and what you want to do. The goal is to help your social co-signers recognize a referral opportunity when they hear one. Each time you tell somebody how to recognize an opportunity to recommend you to a headhunter or boss, you’ll get better at it and by the time you send the email follow-up, you’ll have a great 3-sentence or 15-second “elevator speech”.

See why nobody’s tweeting about this? Push polling tweeters can charge you $100 dollars for writing your resume or $500 for giving you classes on how to interview but the truth is free and it’s unmonetized. The truth is, if somebody mentions your name to a headhunter or to a boss, you move to the front of the line – without a resume and without an interview.

When a social co-signer mentions your name, you might become the first and last candidate for that job. It’s happened to me on several occasions.

If I’m right – and in your heart you know this is how it really works in the real world – what good does it do to pay people to write you a better resume or coach you on how to interview if the jobs are being filled through referrals and recommendations?

Sending resumes and waiting for interviews is for suckers. Yes, jobs are occasionally filled that way but the overwhelming majority of jobs are filled through an informal, nearly invisible process.

Even when you see a job advertized online or in the newspaper, it doesn’t mean the job hasn’t already been filled through that informal, invisible means. Employers maintain a façade of transparent, “meritocratic” hiring. Advertising job openings is window dressing to keep the appearance of a meritocratic, transparent hiring process.

Sometimes my readers ask me why they aren’t getting calls from headhunters. I tell them there are two reasons: First, nobody is mentioning their name. At its core, headhunting is just calling and calling and calling until somebody says “Yeah, I know somebody who can do X.”

Second, if you’re not getting calls from headhunters it means your name isn’t turning up in Linkedin searches. Headhunters plug the pertinent search terms into Linkedin and start calling people whose names appear in the resulting list. If you don’t have a Linkedin profile that is replete with buzz words you won’t show up in search results.

If you don’t have a network ( Linkedin group memberships, Linkedin 1st level connections ) you’re invisible.

To get hired, get mentioned by a social co-signer. It’s the way more than 90% of white collar and high-paying jobs are filled.

Higginbotham At Large is happy to publish comments from people who hate me but Higginbotham At Large will not publish comments from anonymous or pseudonymous posters, posters with childish “CB handle” IDs, or posters who resort to obscenity.

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