All Paths to Employment are Not Equal
By Roland Vendeland
My friend, Craig, an unemployed manager, complained, “I can’t believe my former employee got that job. When I applied for the same position, I didn’t even get a call. I taught him everything he knows; he can’t hold a candle to me.”
“How did you apply?” I asked Craig.
“I e-mailed a resume to ‘whom it may concern.’”
“How did he get the job?”
“He talked to some guy whom we both knew who put him in touch with someone in the company who introduced him to his future boss.”
Craig had just confirmed that all job search approaches are not equal. A particular approach may work in one situation, but not in another. Let’s see why, by exploring the advantages and limitations of searching for a job through three different methods: engaging executive recruiters, applying to advertised positions and networking.
Recruiters post actual jobs. The employer may remove the job from the market prior to placement, but in all likelihood the position will be filled. The client (employer) contracts to pay a fee to the recruiter equivalent to 30%+ of the annual salary. For this investment, he expects the recruiter to supply candidates who are Nobel laureates, nominated for sainthood and able to walk on water. If you fall short on credentials, you will not be considered for a position via a recruiter. Because of their clients’ rigorous demands, recruiters often seek applicants whose skills, experience and education match at least 90% of the job’s requirements. To better understand this scenario, imagine paying $15.00 for lunch and being served pizza and beer. Now imagine paying $150.00 for lunch and being served pizza and beer. Executive recruiters best serve those who seek the same job, in which, they are currently employed.
Advertised positions are plentiful and easy to apply to, but may or may not be real jobs. The jobs may be posted merely to secure information or give an image of growth or satisfy regulatory compliance. In applying to a position advertised by a company, you need not satisfy qualifications as closely as you would applying through a recruiter. Nevertheless, you should match with at least 75% of the posted requirements to be considered seriously. Employers often receive hundreds of responses through advertisements, therefore they seek to rule out applicants before they select candidates. To appreciate this phenomenon, visualize returning home from vacation to find hundreds of pieces of mail awaiting you. Rather than open and attend to each piece, you begin to sort them according to perceived importance, read some, stack others to look at later and discard the junk mail. When applying through advertisements, be sure to target your positions, send quality cover letters and resumes and follow up with a phone call.
Networking is the most personalized and productive approach to finding a job, but also the most time-consuming. Many employers select employees according to the dictum, “Hire for attitude, train for skills.” Through networking the prospective employer gets to know you as a person first and your skills afterwards. His first impression is whether or not you would fit into his operation. If he sees you as a good fit, your skills may need to match a current or future position by as little as 50% to gain consideration for a job. Networking is particularly effective for those seeking to change careers.
When the actor Don Ameche was offered a starring role in the movie Cocoon, he had doubts about accepting the part because Ron Howard, the former child actor, was debuting as the movie’s director. Ameche knew Howard personally, assessed Howard’s integrity and realized that he would never accept a task for which he was not competent. Ameche accepted the role based upon his assessment of Howard as a person and not based upon his skills which at that point were unproved. Ameche’s performance and Howard’s directorship were both successes. The best approach to a job search is to use multiple approaches to search for a job.