13 March, 2013

Job Seekers: How To Use Linkedin To Network Your Way To A New Job

The most underused skill in modern business (including job seeking) is empathy. Without empathy for the customer, companies cannot imagine why their customers hate them and want a new supplier. Without empathy, employers can't fix whatever's causing their high turnover.

Without empathy, the job seeker cannot imagine how employers seek and find the talent they need to run their organizations, so the first step in understanding how to use Linkedin to network your way to an employer is to understand how employers use Linkedin.

Empathy doesn't come naturally to everybody. Some of my readers don't have the "empathy gene" so let me walk you through what an employer wants and how he uses Linkedin to get what he wants. if you've never done so, go to the advanced people search function in Linkedin and look at the fields that are available there. If you do this, it will quickly become obvious why employers use Linkedin and not Facebook to network their way to the candidates they want. In Linkedin an employer can search by location, by education, by job title, by keyword and more. Employers can't do that in Facebook. Don't make the mistake of creating a bare bones Linkedin profile that doesn't contain the keywords, educational facts, job experience and so on that may cause you to come up in an advanced people search.

Let's say the employer is looking for somebody who lives in Charleston, WV, knows some obscure computer programming language and belongs to a certain professional group. He can search for only those candidates by populating the appropriate fields. Candidates who appear in this advanced people search will have a little "2nd" or "3rd" next to their names if they are connected to the searcher through mutual friends or a friend of a friend. Regular readers of this blog know that employers try NOT to hire people to whom they aren't connected by a friend or a friend of a friend.

And, increasingly, hiring managers and HR people are stocking their companies with the kind of people they want to socialize with. It's not accidental that young recruiters try to screen out older job seekers or that recruiters hire people who graduated from their college or belonged to their sorority or share their interest in scuba diving.

After identifying a few candidates with the "right" credentials, the employer can ask your mutual friends about you. If one of those mutual acquaintances says good things about you, you're golden.

For more straight talk on how job seeking REALLY works and how you can network your way to a new job, go to the archive (at right) and read my last 4 posts.
Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments but only PUBLISHES those comments that are accompanied by clear ID. Anonymous and pseudonymous comments are not published.

11 March, 2013

Job Seekers: Is A Naked Man Offering You His Shirt?

Beware The Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt. It's a book by Harvey MacKay but, more importantly, it's a way to say don't follow the advice of people who can't offer the advice you need.

A so-called employment expert who can't show you how and why to use Linkedin is a naked man offering his shirt.

You wouldn't take French lessons from somebody who doesn't speak French or guitar lessons from somebody who doesn't play guitar, so why would you take career advice from somebody who isn't on Linkedin and can't show you how to use the most important job search tool there is?

Savvy HR people, recruiters and headhunters use Linkedin to network their way to job candidates they'd like to hire so if you ask for employment help from somebody who isn't on Linkedin, doesn't know how to use Linkedin, doesn't know why people should use Linkedin and can't show you how to use Linkedin, a naked man is offering you his shirt.

Learn how HR managers, recruiters and headhunters use Linkedin to network their way to the job candidates they want. If you learn that, you can learn how to use Linkedin to network your way to employers faster.

If you live in or near St. Albans, WV and you need to learn  how to use Linkedin, call me for a free tutorial. (304)550-6710 or JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.
For more straight talk on finding a job, go to my archive (at right)  and read my previous 3 posts.
Higginbotham At Large will not PUBLISH your anonymous or pseudonymous comments. If you submit a comment that doesn't clearly tell readers who you are, your comment will die in the moderation queue where I will read it but will not publish it.

07 March, 2013

Use This Top Secret Headhunter Fact To Become Your Own Headhunter, Find Your Own Job

I've been paid ridiculous sums of money to place passive jobseekers with companies who needed to hire some specific talent. No, I don't talk it about it much and I only perform such talent searches by referral. So why mention it now? Because I'm going to share a secret that will make other headhunters gnash their teeth and send me obscenity-laced, anonymous comments. I'm going to give you the anatomy of a placement, then I'm going to backward engineer it and show jobseekers how they can use this information to find a job that isn't advertised anywhere.

Oh, and, by the way, employers who have paid headhunters to find talent for them would never again need to do so if they simply believed and then acted upon the fact that I'm about to share:

Every time an employer has paid me to "find" a white collar or technical talent, they paid me to "find" somebody they could have found on their own without my help. In other words, employers paid me to "find" people to whom they were already networked.

Here, let me show you what I mean and then I'll explain how jobseekers can use this information to hire their next boss:

Some people have the idea that headhunters are paid to go out and find total strangers. Te truth is, no employer I've ever worked with has ever hired the total strangers I've brought them. They end up hiring the candidate to whom they were already networked through one of their existing employees or through some professional organization or through some college fraternity or sorority or through some other social or professional connections. I've sometimes collected 5-figure checks for bringing en employer somebody to whom they were already connected in multiple ways and could have easily found on their own if they had tried. And what this means is that if the employer was already networked to the eventual successful candidate, the same thing was true in reverse: the eventual successful job candidate was already networked to an unadvertised job.

I'm not saying there isn't some headhunter out there somewhere whose client hasn't hired a total stranger, I'm just saying it hasn't happened to me. And I'm saying that once the jobseeker understands that he or she is already networked to somebody who can offer him a job that hasn't been advertised anywhere, that jobseeker will stop sending resumes to strangers and will start figuring out who he already knows who can introduce him to his next boss.

Someone reading this post has sent out 1,000 resumes and hasn't yet found a job. To that reader I say your way isn't working, why not try my way? Start systematically asking everybody you know for help. If you have a Linkedin account, start at "A" and contact all your first level connections. Do the same thing with your Facebook friends. Tell your neighbors you're looking for a job. Don't be embarrassed. A lot of good people are out of work.

And when you ask for their help, don't ask people to tell you about job openings; ask them to introduce you to somebody who hires people like you. Ask them to make a phone call for you or send an email for you or, better yet, arrange a meeting. Coffee at Starbucks. Lunch. Tennis. Golf. Any kind of meeting will do. An introduction is a tacit endorsement and it moves you from the total stranger category to the friend-of-a-friend category. Somebody you already know can introduce you to your next boss.

06 March, 2013

I Once Thought I Got The Job Because I Was The Best Applicant

I once thought I got a job because I was the best applicant. That's what the hiring manager told me. Yep, he told me that 50 people answered his ad in the Charleston Gazette and that from that stack of 50 resumes he selected a few of the best, called those chosen few in for interviews and selected me.

Yeah, when I got the job I was feeling p-r-e-t-t-y good about myself. I thought I was a hotshot resume writer and interviewer.

Turns out, I wasn't even the most qualified candidate.

I later learned that the reason I got the job was because the hiring manager's dad worked with my dad which gave the hiring manager an irrationally warm and familiar feeling toward me. It's a good thing the better-qualified candidates' dads didn't work with the hiring manager's dad because there's no way I could have gotten that job in a fair fight.

In yesterday's lengthy post I had a lot to say about how jobseekers can benefit from life's unfairness. In future posts I'll reveal some top secret headhunter stuff that headhunters don't want you to know unless they can make money from your knowing it.

By the way, I'm not selling anything so I have no monetary incentive to lie to you about what my years as a hiring manager and headhunter have taught me about how the job market really works.
For more on how to gain an unfair advantage over other job applicants, slide over to the archive and look at YESTERDAY's post.
Higginbotham At Large reads but will not publish anonymous or pseudonymous comments. If you want your comment published you MUST properly identify yourself. An actual email address would be nice. 

05 March, 2013

Jobseeker: How To Benefit From Life's Unfairness

Job Search Hard Fact # 1: It Is Who You Know, Life Isn't A Meritocracy, Job Search Isn't Fair

Your first clue that you're not likely to get the job is that you're applying for it. 

Your second clue is that you're interviewing for it. 

Most decent jobs are filled by word-of-mouth referral, not by formal application/interview. As a jobseeker, your goal should be to get the job offer before there is an official, advertised job opening because that's how most good jobs are really filled.

HR departments don't want you to know this and they work very hard to preserve the illusion that their searches are thorough and meritocratic but they almost never are. I say this with no bitterness. I have benefited from the unfairness. Several times in my first career as a health industry manager I got jobs I didn't apply for, never wrote a resume for and never interviewed for. I was never the best candidate for the job, I was just the candidate who knew somebody, was known by somebody. Then I changed industries and found myself actually competing for jobs, filling out applications, writing resumes, interviewing. I once "interviewed" for a job while the guy who already had the job offer was literally moving into his new office just yards away from where the hiring manager was conducting our show interview so he could tell HR he'd interviewed several "candidates". Truth is, I was never a "candidate". I was window-dressing to preserve the illusion that the hiring process is meritocratic and that the best candidate wins.

I'm sure our teachers, parents and other adult authority figures thought they were doing the Lord's work when they prepared us for a meritocratic world which doesn't exist and never has, but even though I wasn't the sharpest 7th grader at St. Albans Junior High School I suspected that my home room teacher doth protest too much when, once a week or so, he climbed up on his big, hardwood, 4-pedestal banker's desk - like the kind that rich cigar-chomping fat cats sat behind in old movies - and jumped up and down preaching against the saying "it ain't what you know, it's who you know." When it comes to job-seeking, everything in my adult experience has taught me that even if a man you're supposed to trust screams it with floor-shaking, jowl-jiggling, red-faced, clenched fisted, dignity destroying drama, don't believe anybody who tells you job search is fair. There's nothing fair about it. If the best man gets the job it's only because he also knew somebody who helped him get the job.

I recently ran across a couple of quotes that all jobseekers should stick to their refrigerator doors, to the dashboards of their cars and to their computer screens:

"All I ask is an unfair advantage." - W C Fields

"If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck." - John Steinbeck

What every job seeker needs, what he or she should be seeking is to avoid being in a "fair fight". Playing by the rules, trying to write the perfect resume, learning how to interview better - these are the tactics of suckers who still live under the delusion that life is fair and job search is meritocratic. LIsten, while you're out there waiting in the lobby for your chance at a fair fight, the guy you're supposed to meet with is on the phone or at the Starbucks next door getting introduced to the guy who's going to get the job offer. What every job seeker needs and should be seeking is an unfair advantage. The unfair advantage is a relationship that your competitors don't have. Most of the time, hiring processes and interview processes are meaningless shows because in most hiring processes, there's a candidate with an unfair advantage - a relationship - and he or she is the candidate who will get the job. As a job seeker, your job is to make sure the candidate with the relationship is you.

Ask yourself this question: Suppose I offered you a choice of two envelopes. In envelope one are 100 job leads where you get to "compete" against hundreds of applicants, write 100 targeted, taylored resumes, send them out and wait for invitations to interview.

In envelope two is the name of an employer where you have a relationship that will give you the edge you need to get the offer before anybody else even knows about the job. Which envelope do you want?

That's what I'm talking about. Spend your time finding the place where you have an unfair advantage. Don't spend your time looking for a fair fight. In what's supposed to be a fair competition, there's always somebody who's not in a fair fight, somebody who's related to the hiring manager, goes to church with the hiring manager, is an old sorority sister or frat brother with the hiring manager or is the friend of the friend of the hiring manager. Unless the hiring manager is new in town, has no friends, has no network, there's always somebody in the "fair fight" who's carrying a secret weapon you don't have. So don't go to fair fights. Only go where you're the guy with the secret weapon: to your network.

No, I'm not saying education and talent and hard work aren't necessary, too. What I am saying is that a certain degree of merit is necessary but not sufficient to land you the job you want. What Harry Beckwith said about "firms" is true of job seekers, too: "Competence gets [a job seeker] into a game that relationships win." This is the whole truth. I could stop right there and a thoughtful reader could extrapolate everything that follows.

Job Search Hard Fact # 2: Trying to Get A Job By Sending Resumes, Going To Interviews and Submitting Applications By Submission "Deadline" Is A Low Percentage Game That Rarely Results In A Job Offer Unless You Already Had An Insider Advantage In The Form of Relationship

If your primary job search strategy is to send resumes to people you don't know in hopes of getting interviewed by people you don't know, you're playing a very low percentage game and you know it. Yes, it's possible this will lead to a job but probably not the job you want. Those jobs, the best jobs, go to people who didn't write a resume and didn't interview for the job. Why? A candidate with a great resume is no match for a candidate with the right relationship. First, the best jobs are hardly ever advertised and if they are they're filled before they're posted. Second, for all their talk about skills and qualifications and selection tools, hiring decisions are made by irrational creatures called people and these irrational people hire people they want to hang out with 10 hours a day, people they feel comfortable with.

I got what I call my "first real job" because the hiring manager's dad knew my dad. I got my first management job - without sending a resume- because two guys met for a beer and one of them mentioned my name. A friend of mine once went to a job interview where she was told that the President of the company, whom I barely knew, would like to talk to me. Yes, that’s right, my friend wrote a resume, went to an interview and didn't get the job. I did NONE of those things and got the job. In each of the above cases I have no doubt that I was NOT the best candidate for the job. Heck, in all but the first case, I wasn't even a candidate. But in each of the above cases I had one thing that better candidates didn’t: I had a relationship they didn't have - and a candidate with a great resume is no match for a candidate with a relationship. Oh, yes, corporate recruiters will deny it and they'll tell you to apply at their website but here's the truth: it's the hiring manager, not the HR department, that decides who gets the job.

Oh, and if you're unemployed, you're about to find out who your friends are. Your friends are the ones who are providing you with job leads, offering to introduce you to hiring managers, and mentioning your name to people who can hire you because it's through such "networking" that you're most likely to get a great job. But keep in mind that some of your friends "don't have the networking gene" and it doesn't really come naturally for them to think this way so don't hesitate to call people and ask them to introduce you to somebody who can hire you.

Job Search Hard Fact # 3: The Next Best Thing To Getting A Job For Yourself Is Getting A Job For Somebody Else

Not only does it feel good to help a deserving job seeker get a job, each time you do so you "seed" a company with someone who thinks you're great and will be there to drop your name to the appropriate person at the appropriate time.

Job Search Hard Fact #4: Statistically Speaking, Your Next Great Job Will Most Likely Be The Result Of A Weak Relationship, Not A Close Or Intimate Relationship

This final observation is not original with me, but you're more likely to get a great new job as a result of a weak friendship than as a result of a close one. Why? It's simple math. Most of us only have a handful of close friends and relatives but we may know hundreds of people a little bit. People we went to school with. People we used to work with but haven't stayed in touch with very well. People we used to go to the same church with but didn't stay in touch with. For instance, of my 700+ LinkedIn "connections" I'm only "close friends" with a few. But my universe of potential job referrals is at least 300 - and this number doesn't include the people I know who aren't members of LinkedIn. The universe of people who might potentially serve to help me find my next great job might be more like 500 or 600.

This is why professional and social networking is so important. I wasn’t close friends with the guy who mentioned my name in a hotel bar and helped me get my first management job. I hardly knew the company president who offered me the job my friend interviewed for. I once got $26k in business as a result of a phone call with a guy I’d never met in person who then passed my name to a friend who, as it turned out, needed my services.

Competence gets job seekers into a game that relationships win. All other job search truths can be deduced or extrapolated from that simple statement.
Higginbotham At Large reads but does not publish anonymous or pseudonymous comments. 

04 March, 2013

Send This Post (Not Your Resume) To Anonymous Employers

Congratulations. You ran a "blind" employment ad and now you have a short stack of resumes from people who are stupid enough to send resumes to anonymous advertisers. I said, "short stack" because not many people responded. That's because most people are smart enough not to send resumes to anonymous advertisers.

But what to do? You can't really hire any of the people who were stupid enough to answer a blind ad because that would make you an employer who's stupid enough to hire people who documented their stupidity by answering a blind ad.
But don't despair. Even though you have a stack of resumes from people who are now documented to be too stupid to hire, I have two ways for you to benefit from those stupid people resumes, so don’t throw those stupid resumes away.

First, push them to one side of your desk and label them "resumes from people who are too stupid to hire." Then, run a second ad identical to the first one except for one thing: this time identify your company. The resulting stack of resumes will be much higher and the applicants much better.

But some applicants answered both ads. Interview only those applicants who didn't answer the blind ad. The ones who answered the blind ad are too stupid to hire.

So the stupid people pile is worthless, right? Wrong. Do you have any idea how much scam artists would pay for the names and phone numbers of people who are stupid enough to answer blind ads? I mean, people who are stupid enough to answer blind ads are stupid enough to give their Social Security numbers and PIN numbers and bank account numbers to strangers on the phone or in their email inbox. Those stupid people resumes are worth their weight in gold to scam artists.
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