For Guerrilla Marketing Job Hunters, There is No Spoon

by The HeadHunter on January 24, 2010

“It is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself”

In a famous scene from the 1999 box office hit The Matrix, Neo [Keanu Reeves] encounters a young mystic guru sitting on the floor of a waiting room.  Neo curiously observes as the boy appears to bend a spoon with his mind.  The boy engages Neo in a sage-like tone:

spoonboyBoy:  Do not try and bend the spoon.  That’s impossible.  Instead, only try to realize the truth.
Neo:  What truth?
Boy:  There is no spoon.
Neo:  There is no spoon?
Boy:  Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself.

Casting deeper Cartesian implications [and creepy spoon bending paranormalists] aside, our guru boy suggests the obvious; your perception of a challenge will determine the approach you choose to overcome it. 

Obvious:                 Your approach will dictate your results
Not as obvious:      The right approach to take
Obvious:                 Take the wrong approach and it doesn’t matter how much effort you make

As a recruiter, I encounter masses of talented people who have become tragically sophomoric job seekers because they approach their search with some misconcieved notions of what should work.  From their poorly written resumes to their networking faux pas’ it is glaringly obvious that these folks may be in for a painful process.

Many struggling job seekers simply make the mistake of basing their approach on what has worked in the past.  Technology, processes, communications, information accessibility and networking channels have changed significantly in recent years.  What worked 5 or 10 years ago doesn’t necessarily work  now.  What worked 2 years ago may not work well right now. 

A short list of things that may have changed since your last job search:

  • The last time you applied for a similar job there may have been 75 resumes received by the employer.  This time there may be 750 or more.   There is likely to be a blinding deluge of applicants from which qualified candidates need to be identified. 
  • Applicant Tracking Systems [ATS], customizable software will likely be used to automatically select or de-select you based on the keyword relevance of your resume to the public job description and the undisclosed selection criteria. 
  • Chances are greater now than ever before that you could be the best candidate for the job but not have your resume read by a human being before being electronically deselected.  It is quite possible for savvy applicants to edge out better qualified candidates in the pre-selection phase.
  • Communication is free.  Email in-boxes fill quickly.  Information overload is a standard working condition.  DELETE is the rule.  Response is the exception. 
  • More online information about you is readily accessible.  Chances are, if you make it through pre-selection, you’ll be “Googled” before you’re called.
  • Expanding your professionial network, becoming visible and regularly communicating in networking channels can be done easier, faster and in larger scale than ever before.
  • “Convention” as you perceive it may no longer exist.  “There is no spoon.”

“Unconventional” is the New “Conventional”

If you are tired of staring at the spoon (so to speak) and you’re willing to bend yourself to accomodate the real (“new”) world of job search,  I recommend you read Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.   The book touts “1001 Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job” and it delivers. 

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 is different than other job search guide books.  It is creative, inspiring, thought provoking and provides practical, effective tactics to help you overcome obstacles in your job search path. 

It is based on good research, real-life examples and the expertise of industry professionals.  It is packed with actionable information. 

After reading, you may come to find that actions you once considered unconventional are indeed creative and logical adaptations to game-changing differences in corporate recruitment, selection and hiring practices ["Employment 2.0"?].

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Lost in a Crowd of Job Candidates?

by The HeadHunter on January 9, 2010

Cartoon Crowd

The first interview was a week ago. 
It’s the job you want. 
You’re anxious. 

You emailed a “Thank You”. 
You reiterated your interest. 
You’ve received no response to your “Thank You” email(s) and no call to set up a next step.
The silence is unsettling.
You want to do something but you’re not sure what to do.

What’s the likely PROBLEM? 
You’re already lost in the crowd, in the process, in the time crunch.

You don’t know for sure but there’s a good chance your problem is related to the crowd factor.  If you weren’t marked as a first choice candidate after the first interview, chances are they won’t reconnect with you.   At least, not any time soon.  They may have received hundreds of resumes for the position.  Scores of interviews may be underway.  They’re trying to determine who the best candidate for the position will be. 

How do you find out where you stand?
Maybe you think the interview went well but the communication shut-out has you thinking that you haven’t been selected.  You may be thinking you could have provided better answers to a couple of questions you weren’t expecting.  Is it possible that you could have an opportunity to clarify some answers and have another chance to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate?  How can you determine your status as a candidate?

You’re tempted to press for feedback.

Don’t press for feedback
It’s not likely that you will receive specific interview feedback.  Pressing for it is more likely to hurt your cause than help it.

If you’re a serious professional, don’t send multiple emails or make repeated calls requesting feedback.  Sending messages and pushing for answers with statements like “…this is my third email…”, “… I haven’t received a reply…”, “…I would like to know where I stand…”, “… Have you hired someone for the position…?” is wipe out proposition. 

Gain a realistic perspective on the process.  Like it or not, they won’t respond to everyone.  Never been done in the history of recruiting-selection-hiring by a corporate entity.  Ever.  Even if they claim differently.  They don’t have the time.  

Don’t concern yourself with the interviewer’s failure to meet your expectations.  Take an approach that fits with the realities of the process.  Forget about getting feedback.  Stop waiting and wondering.  Find a positive, creative way to renew your visibility.

The invisibility of same-ness
Applicants, interviewees, and others vying for the attention of interviewers generally do the same things (like a “Thank You” follow-up)  and say the same things in almost exactly the same way (like using email and snail mail), at about the same time (day of interview or next day initially, then one week later or so) using the same words (“Thank you…”, “I really appreciate…”, “..your time…”, “I am very interested…”) in the same format (style, font, standard stock, store bought “Thank You” cards, etc.).  

Doing and saying the same things the same way at the same time as everyone else just smooths you into the crowd that much more.

Stand out in the crowd
There are thousands of bits of advice out there related to post interview follow up.  My purpose here isn’t to inspire you with a magical technique guaranteed to land you a second interview.  Instead, I’ll offer a reality check, some basic logic and a few ideas to help you gain visibility.

In no particular order:

  1. Do something.  In case you were wondering, it’s better to do something than nothing when you’re faced with interview process hang-time.  Time isn’t working to your advantage.  The employer is interviewing other candidates.   After one week, you’re probably a vague recollection in the interviewer’s mind.  Take action.
  2. Stop obsessing.  Just a friendly reminder not to let your overwhelming desire for the “perfect” job  interfere with your full-out job search.  Maintain your active pursuit of every right-fit opportunity out there. 
  3. “Thank You” emails  typically get no response.  Of course it was the right thing to do but “everyone” does it.   Maybe you mailed a “Thank You” card too.   Again, the right thing to do but standard ”Thank You” emails and letters aren’t going to get you anywhere.   Drop your expectation for a reply.
  4. “Thank You” or “Follow-Up” phone calls typically get no response.  “Hi Jim, Bob Smith here.  Say,  I just wanted to thank you again for our conversation last Thursday and get an update on the status of…”  [That's probably about where your voice message was deleted - and there is nothing negative about that - it's just interview process reality.]  Again, you did the right thing by calling, but almost everyone does the same thing.  Are you really expecting a call back?
  5. Let go of your expectation of return calls and emails.  A return call or email isn’t likely to happen unless you’re already recognized as a leading candidate or you’ve said or written (or done)  something creative and attention grabbing enough to be worthy of a response.  They’re receiving dozens if not hundreds of combined emails/calls each day.  The messages all look and sound about the same.  They’re predisposed to “no reply” and the ”delete” key as a practical workload balance and focus measure.
  6. Don’t think and act as if you are the customer.  If you’re waiting for service in the form of interview feedback, an email or voicemail reply then you’re approach is really upside down.  Have you said something like this to yourself or others:  “I wouldn’t want to work for a company that doesn’t follow up?”  If so, add yourself to the ranks of frustrated  job searchers who use the “I did this… but they didn’t do that” excuse.  The healthiest, most productive view to take is the employer is your customer.  You make the next moves.  They’ll buy, or not.
  7. Understand that you’ve had only one interview.  This may have been with a hiring manager or a “screener”; a recruiter or other process agent/influencer handling the front gate.  If you think it went well, it probably did.   Was it just another one of many first interviews that “went well” in their mind.  Is there a “I liked him, but…” in the interview notes? 
  8. Negatives may have been detected since your interview.  They may have googled you and found something they didn’t like.   Make sure your personal and professional online presence is solid.
  9. Send a video email.  Why?  Because it’s likely that no other candidate will do it.  Because video is powerful if done well.  Because it’s interesting and your recipient will probably watch it.  Because when they do, they are thinking about you for the job.  Don’t know how?  Learn.  Say “thanks again”, reiterate your interest in the work to be done (not in “getting the job”), restate your value proposition and relay that you’re looking forward to next steps.   This has to be very well done.  If you’re creepy or inauthentic, a video can be disastrous.  Don’t ask for anything.   If your video is more than 1 minute long, don’t send it.   30-40 seconds may be best.
  10. Send a unique document summarizing your perspectives and ideas on the work that needs to be done.  This can be a Word doc or a PowerPoint presentation.  Engage a work-in-progress conversation.  Stand out from the crowd by focusing your attention and interests on the work that needs to be done rather than on getting the job.
  11. Make sure your resume, a link to your online resume, a link to your blog page or to a professional profile is on every communication.  This will invite a convenient second look at your qualifications.  This will help your cause much more than asking a question or making a request for return communication. 
  12. In all conversations and messages, be highly professional, personable, engaging, authentic, energetic

If you want to stand out in the crowd don’t expect the ordinary to work.  Be open to interview process realities and be willing to try something different.  Don’t wait.  Do it now.

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Job Search Tune-Up

September 17, 2009

Is your job search sluggish, sputtering?   Here’s a basic “points and plugs” checklist to help you catch a spark and get moving at full speed again.
Make sure:

You are a power user of these job boards and search aggregators: Monster, CareerBuilder(job boards) Indeed, RealMatch.com, SimplyHired.com (job posting aggregators).  You have found the best niche job board(s) for your line of work.  [...]

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Can Your Voicemail Greeting Disqualify You?

May 25, 2009

I’m a headhunter.  I make a lot of phone calls.  I reach a lot of voicemail.  
 
Voicemail greetings are an important point of communication that can tell me a lot about someone.  For me, voicemail protocol doesn’t fall into a “pet peeve” category like a candidate arriving  for an interview with bad breath or dirty fingernails. [...]

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Professional Networking is All About Guanxi

April 26, 2009

The Chinese concept of Guanxi embodies the power of real networking. 
What is Guanxi?
Guanxi (pronounced “kwan-she”) defined by Wikipedia: “… a personal connection between two people in which one is able to prevail upon another to perform a favor or service, or be prevailed upon…  Guanxi can also be used to describe a network of contacts, which [...]

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Participants Rave about Job Search Seminars!

April 19, 2009

We held the first two “Meet the Headhunter” job search seminars on March 19th and March 23rd.
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A total of 44 people attended (20+ at each).  I thought that was a pretty good turn out given that we intentionally didn’t widely publicize the first couple of events.   Our aim was to attract a group of serious professionals actively or passively [...]

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MN Job Search Seminars

March 7, 2009

March 19, 2009 at Ridgedale Library
http://jobhornet-031909.eventbrite.com 
 
March 23, 2009 at Southdale Library
http://jobhornet-032309.eventbrite.com 
 
 

The plain facts of the current Twin Cities job market and why your odds of landing a job are rapidly diminishing every day
Smart, market trend defying employment and career path choices
The Headhunter’s Secret – seatbelts will be provided, but we recommend you hold on to your [...]

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Location, Location, Location

March 5, 2009

The Geography of a Recession is an interactive map published by the New York Times.  It displays pop-ups of the current unemployment rate and one-year change for each area in the United States. 
It can be viewed by “All counties”, “Metropolitan areas”, “… with housing bubbles”, “Rural areas” and “Manufacturing Centers”.  

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Top 10 Social Sites for Finding a Job

February 25, 2009

Starting to get the idea that your great resume may not be enough?  Dan Schawbel can teach you how to market yourself and how to promote yourself into the right channels.  Schawbel  is the author of ME 2.0 and the creative force behind Personal Branding Blog.  His writings focus on the “what to use” and “how to do it” [...]

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Green Gigs Lists “101 Best Twitter Feeds for Job Hunters”

February 19, 2009

Not on Twitter yet?  Can’t figure out what all the buzz is about?
Every career coach, recruiter or other web savvy advisor will recommend adding Twitter to your job search resources.
If you need some encouragement and help getting started, read 101 Best Twitter Feeds for Job Hunters at  Green Gigs.  Sign up on Twitter.  Follow greengirl’s 100  recommended Twitter feeds for [...]

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