Finding a job is like dating. You have your one liners. You hang out where others who are looking for jobs hang out.
Your initial goal is to score a first date (interview). Eventually, when the time is right, you both want a long-term legally-binding commitment.
I’m always intrigued by the job hunting process.
Currently I’m in a search process to fill a vacancy left when one of my employees was recruited by another internal department. And I can’t help but think of the similarities between dating and landing a job.
Like dating, I’ve reviewed everyone I know, I’ve asked others who they know. I’ve reached out to my networks, and to cover all bases, I’ve had an ad placed in the help wanted (employment dating) sections of online services.
Then comes the decision making process of who the recruiter and I want to meet. A fat stack of resumes flood in. Half of them do little to nothing to demonstrate the potential candidate is capable of reading a job description because correlations are not evident. It’s like when your parents set you up with someone who was short, blonde, and hates sports when you like tall, brunette sports fanatics.
I’ve conducted probably hundreds of interviews around the world. And in a vast majority of them, I know within the first 90 seconds if the person is a fit. And many times out of pity I’ve pushed through the questions and stretched out the interview to a respectable time.
I blame it on the quality of the resumes. If I received five resumes that matched the job description verbatim, I’d interview all five and probably have a heck of a decision to make. But it is VERY rare that I can think of a situation where a resume received matched what we posted as the job description.
With the ease of submitting online, the majority of the strategy is to go for a “Hail Mary” shotgun approach and applicants apply for as many jobs as possible in hopes that luck will win out.
Tips that will get you a “first date” interview:
- NEVER send out a standard resume. Each time you find a job description you are interested in, you need to customize your resume and include specific examples of why you are the best candidate for the position.
- You wouldn’t send your eulogy to a potential first date. Don’t send a 5-page resume either. Make a one page summary of your skills and how they relate to the job description. Think movie poster. In a few seconds, you have to grab the reader and intrigue them enough to want to know more. This is called a FUNCTIONAL RESUME. When you interview, you can bring the five pager to leave after a successful interview.
- ALWAYS customize your resume to match a job description. List your skills in the order the JD lists the job requirements. Make it easy on the recruiter! (Yes, this means you will not be applying for many positions, but it does mean you will be focused on the ones you do).
- Only use want ads/online postings as 10% of your strategy. After you identify several companies you want to work for, tap your networks, search LinkedIn, find a connection and then set up a lunch or coffee date. Waiting to post your resume online is like showing up at the bridal shower and hoping to win over the bride. You need to be in charge of the search instead of waiting for them to call you back.
- Tease, then deliver. After a phone screening, email a bit more on how you can deliver specific to the questions received. After a first interview, send a writing sample, or an article you found interesting on a topic related to the job opening. Keep the information flowing, then you are not calling repeatedly to ask if they’ve made a decision, you are calling to follow up on if they received your info.
Learn: Get a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top of each write “problem” then “action,” and “result.” Fill in the paper with how you have addressed a problem, taken action, and a measurable result (increased productivity by __% – saved the company $XX). If you can get 25-30 of these, you will have a great library to customize a resume within minutes.
Act: If you are looking to “date” future employers, now is the time to be proactive and research which companies you would like to work for. Don’t go for sloppy seconds that end up in the Want Ads, find the beauty queen/football jock and create a strategy to introduce yourself.
Share: If you are gainfully employed, don’t be stingy. Allow others who are looking for positions in your company access to you. Be sure you are active in at least one industry network and local less formal networks.