28 February, 2011

Why Your Job Search Needs A "Co-SIgner"

I recently received some questions about how to deal with (1) Employment gaps and with (2) age discrimination.

Both of these issues melt away and become non-issues if you have one thing on your side that other applicants and candidates don't have. I'm going to tell you what that thing is and I'm going to tell you how to get it but before I do, please take note that I have no reason to mislead you or lie to you because I am not trying to sell you anything. I don't want to charge you money to write you a better resume or to provide you with "leads" or improve your interview skills. And by the way, you don't need any of that , either, if you have one thing on your side that other candidates don't have.

I'm talking about what I call a "social or professional co-signer".

As I've said in my blog and in my speeches about job search, a candidate with a great resume is no match for a candidate with the right relationship.

And you don't need to figure out how to deal with gaps in your employment history, current unemployment or even your age if you have a social or professional co-signer - a person who says your name to the hiring manager.

If a social or professional co-signer says your name to a hiring manager, the job becomes yours to lose. Without ever submitting a resume, you move to the top of the pile. Without ever interviewing for the job, you move to the top of the short list.

Let me share some "inside baseball" that will make my point. Clients have paid me crazy money to bring them candidates they already knew and could have hired without running employment ads and without securing the services of a headhunter. In one recent flurry of activity I was paid $12k for "finding" a marketing director my client already knew, $14k for finding a partner track architect my client already knew and $18k for a senior PE (professional engineer) my client already knew. Throughout my consulting career, I have collected sums like this for "finding" candidates my clients already knew. In the vast majority of cases, I am being paid ridiculous sums of money for "finding" candidates that my clients already knew. In the case of the senior PE, my client wasted $thousands on newspaper ads and internet ads, wasted 6 months on reading resumes and interviewing candidates and being paralyzed with indecision before he asked for my help. Right now, any headhunter who might read this is HOPING I don't tell you what I'm about to tell you but I'm going to do it. I'm going to tell you stuff HR managers, hiring managers and headhunters don't want you to know.

During those 6 months while my client was wasting precious time and money running ads, reading resumes and interviewing candidates, the job didn't remain open because he didn't know any qualified candidates. He did. The job didn't remain open because he didn't receive resumes from people who could do the job. He did. The job didn't remain open because he didn't interview any good candidates. He did. Let me stop right there to make a point. The chances are good that at some time in your career you have interviewed with an employer who was paralyzed with indecision and didn't know why. He or she described the situation by saying he couldn't find anybody good for the job but that wasn't really true. The fact was, the hiring manager had a stack of resumes from qualified candidates and had even interviewed people who would have been great in the job yet he or she kept saying  he couldn't find anyone for the job.

The problem wasn't that he didn't find somebody, the problem was that he was paralyzed with indecision because he was waiting for something he didn't even know he was waiting for. He was waiting for a social/professional co-signer to recommend someone.

And if you were a candidate who played the low percentage game of sending resumes and waiting for interviews there's a good chance that the person who ended up getting the job did so without a resume or an interview because he or she had something you didn't: a social/professional co-signer.

Get yourself some social/professional co-signers.

I didn't say "job leads". You don't want a colleague telling you about job openings, you want a colleague picking up the phone and mentioning your name to a hiring manager. You want a referral, not a lead.

Better yet, you want a colleague to arrange a coffee or lunch meeting between you and a hiring manager. When that happens, you moved to the top of the short list, the top of the pile and  you leapfrogged over other candidates who answered ads, submitted resumes and waited to be interviewed.

The best jobs I ever got in my life I got without ever submitting a resume. Why? Because I had a social/professional co-signer who ended the indecision paralysis of the employer by mentioning my name and leapfrogging me past candidates who submitted resumes and sat for interviews.

I said this to the president of a job club who later told me he thought I was wrong until he sat down and made a list of every job he'd ever had and found that, in every case, he had a relationship somewhere that caused him to get the job offer.

Now, you're supposed to ask me how to get these social and professional co-signers. And I will. And I'll do it for free.

And the answer is so obvious you're going to feel stupid when I tell you what you need to do.

And you know I'm telling you the truth because I'm not trying to sell you anything.

Read my next post to learn how to get professional co-signers.

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