05 March, 2011

Why Most Job Search Workshops Omit The Most Important Job Search Info

The guy who was leading the job search workshop started by triaging the audience.

"Hold up your hand if you send out hundreds of resume but don't get any interviews" he said. When people raised their hands he told them their resumes were no good and told them to cluster together on the left side of the room.

"By show of hands, how many of you get a first interview but then don't get second interviews" said the workshop leader. When people raised their hands he told them their interview skills were no good and asked them to cluster at the center of the room.

"How many of you get lots of interviews but no offers?" asked the workshop leader. When people raised their hands he told them their resumes were good and their interview skills were good but there was something wrong in their backgrounds or with their references that was preventing them from getting offers.

After he triaged the attendees by deficiency - bad resume, bad interview skills and bad background or references - he worked with each group on their specific job search weakness.

This was good work as far as it went but it (a) didn't go far enough and (b) started in the wrong place and (c) omitted the most important thing a job seeker needs to learn.

If you've been reading my previous posts about why your job search needs "co-signers" and how to get "co-signers" then you already know where I'm going. This workshop leader's advice to job seekers would have been terrific if the best way to hunt for a job is to send resumes to strangers, then interview with those strangers, then hope for an offer from those strangers. But, as the readers of my previous 7 posts already know, a job search workshop that only covers resumes, interviews and background problems is like a "How To Get Published" class that doesn't teach you about how to get an agent or where and how to sell your writing. Job search workshops that don't teach you how to get "co-signers" for your job search only pretend to prepare job seekers for their job search. So why are there no job seeker workshops that teach job seekers how to really find a job? It's simple. There's no money in it. Let me explain:

If you take a look at who's sponsoring or renting booth space at these job search workshops you'll see staffing companies like Adecco, Express, Randstad, Kelly and Manpower. You may even see some technical staffing firms like Aerotek. You'll see some companies that offer to write you a killer resume for about $100 - 500 bucks. You'll see companies that offer to make you a killer video resume. You'll even see vendors who offer to completely manage every aspect of your job search for about 5 thousand dollars.

You won't see any vendors or sponsors who teach you how to leverage your existing network of the hundreds or even thousands of people you already know to get that next job - even though all these vendors and sponsors know that's how most professionals get hired.

There are two reasons the people who pretend to teach you how to get a job don't tell you the whole truth, the most important truth: (1) They can't figure out how to monetize the whole truth and (2) they know that humans prefer silver bullets, myths, fairy tales and urban legends to the truth. People want to believe that there's a "secret" to weight loss that doesn't involve the proven math of burning more calories than they consume. People want to believe that if they just send $100 to the TV evangelist God will send them $1,000. My octogenarian interlocutor wants to believe there's a way to increase your chances of winning the Powerball that doesn't involve "odds" or statistics. People want to believe in snake oil so I understand how tempting it is to believe that if I just pay this woman $500 to do my resume or if I just pay this company $5k to make me a video resume and set me up with job "leads" then I'll get a job.

The truth, as readers of my previous 7 posts know, is that there are two ways to look for a job. There's the low-percentage game of sending resumes to strangers, interviewing with strangers and hoping for job offers from strangers. Then there's the high-percentage game of leveraging the professional network you already have to get you out of the stranger category and into the friend or friend of a friend category where you may get a job without even writing a resume until after you have the offer.

The truth, as readers of my "How To Get A Co-Signer" post know, looks like a lot of work but is far and away more likely to get you a new job faster. And I'm telling you the truth for free.

I don't want you to spend another day playing that low percentage game of uploading resumes to strangers who don't even know how to understand your work experience and completing online tests and tweaking your resume and sweating through window-dressing interviews. The truth is, while you wait in line for the opportunity to go to 5 interviews only to be rejected, the candidate who will get the job you interviewed for 5 times is across the street at Starbucks being introduced to his next boss by their mutual friend. That's how professional jobs are really filled about 90% of the time. HR departments spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to perpetuate the myth that their hiring processes are meritocratic but here's the truth: no matter how much they spend maintaining the illusion of a "fair" and meritocratic hiring process when the hiring manager walks into the HR office and introduces the guy he was just introduced to at Starbucks by their mutual friend, HR doesn't say "Gee, I'm sorry, Mr. Department Head, you can't hire this guy because we didn't get the chance to misunderstand and then lose his resume and then jack him around through 4 or 5 interviews."

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