Everything You Know About Job Hunting Is Wrong
America's employment system is broken. It doesn't work.
If it did, you'd be able to find a new job without too much trouble. Unfortunately,
nowadays it's common to hear job hunting horror stories. There's the fellow who paid a
Kansas firm to mass-mail his resume to 3,000 different companies. He's still wondering why
he hasn't gotten one reply. Another poor soul has been getting turned down everywhere --
employers tell her she's overqualified because they're afraid she'll leave for a better
job when one comes along. Then there's the insurance executive who has been on over a
dozen interviews. His goal is three interviews per week. Not one offer yet.
Pretty dismal, isn't it? But look closer. These people
all have something in common, something they share with most job hunters. They're
following the traditional approach to job hunting. They're playing the numbers. Even the
most aggressive of these, the insurance executive who is bulldozing his way into
corporations for interviews, is really just gambling. He believes he has to have lots
of interviews before anyone will hire him, as though there's a magic number he has not yet
There is only one job description: Produce profit.
America's Employment System is failing at its mission
because American business is focused, more than ever, on work as opposed to
traditional jobs. Meanwhile, the Employment System continues to choke itself on the
traditional job -- spitting out millions of classified ad pages and
online job postings every week, and right
behind them the millions of rejected applicants whom they encourage to participate in this
insensate feeding frenzy.
Is corporate America's hunger for workers satisfied? Is
it done hiring? Many companies in fact aren't looking to fill empty jobs. They are leaving
lots of positions unfilled -- attrition -- in an effort to reduce costs.
But don't confuse these "traditional jobs" with
work. At the same time that companies are reducing their headcount they are hiring more
consultants and more part time workers, and they are farming more work out to
subcontractors who operate from home. What companies care about nowadays is getting the work
done profitably, whether that means hiring full time workers or using robots.
Understand what managers need.
Managers want one kind of worker: the person who can
solve problems and have a positive impact on the bottom line. Managers have less to spend
on the resources they need, and they are increasingly measured on how successfully they
(a) reduce costs, and (b) increase profits. Is it any wonder managers expect a lot from
job candidates? They need workers who can help them address these two problems.
As a job hunter, is it possible to step up to this
challenge? Certainly, but you can't offer the value employers need by sending them a
cookie-cutter resume that focuses on your history. What a manager needs to know is how
you're going to tackle the specific work he (or she) needs to have done. Job
hunters on the whole do a terrible job of offering solutions to hiring managers. The most
sophisticated workers, who ordinarily produce powerful solutions to problems they face
every day on the job, present potential employers with a lame collection of jargon-filled
historical data about themselves rather than with real help. Then they puzzle over why a
particular manager hasn't extracted from their resumes the justification to hire them.
Personnel jockeys have brainwashed you.
But job hunters aren't all to blame for their zombie-like
foraging for work. So-called "human resources experts" and corporate personnel
departments spend billions of overhead dollars annually to promote a useless system of
attracting, evaluating, and hiring people. They run want ads, solicit resumes, conduct
endless man-hours' worth of screening interviews, and pretty much control a company's
interaction with its professional community. These personnel jockeys have structured a
system that encourages you -- the job hunter -- to keep your eye on the wrong ball. At a
time in your life when you should be focused on showing an employer how your considerable
talents can profit his company, personnel jockeys guide you into a maze of
forms and data bases and
meaningless interaction with everyone but the person who needs to hire you.
What does this mean to the job hunter? It means you're
dancing to the tune of the wrong piper. Forget everything the personnel jockeys have
drilled into your brain about job hunting. Ignore the "rules". They don't
work. (If they did, companies wouldn't turn to expensive headhunters for help filling
jobs.) Stop posting resumes and wasting hours scrolling through job
postings. Ignore the weekly federal
jobless claims statistics. Don't go on lots of interviews. Refuse to talk with humps whose
job is to tag and file you. Refuse to answer questions like, "So, where do you see
yourself in five years?" from clerks who represent companies that don't keep
workers for five years.
When you start searching for a new job, place a renewed
emphasis on your work and your ability to do it. That's what yields a job offer
-- not your resume or clever answers to the Top Ten Stupid Interview Questions.
It's the work, Stupid.
Machiavelli once suggested that the way to succeed in any
endeavor is to rely only on those resources over which you have control, and not to count
on those over which you don't have control. When you send out 100 resumes, you have no
control over who actually reads them (if anyone), who you will eventually meet (if
anyone), or about what. That essentially random first step starts you down the road to
your own interview funeral.
So what does a serious job hunter do? Start your job
search the same way you start your work day: with an assessment of what work (the
prospective employer's) needs to be done and with a decision about how best to apply
your considerable skills and talents to getting it done profitably.
You win a job the way you do a job: by applying your work
The personnel expert vs. The
Most advice that's available to job hunters comes from
so-called "human resources experts" and "career counselors". Their
advice is academic; they have never earned a nickel that was contingent on winning a job
offer for anyone. Whether you win a job offer or not, they collect their counseling fee,
and in most cases a salary from their corporate human resources job.
Headhunters earn their fees only when they have
successfully won a job offer for the candidate they have presented to the client, and
after the candidate accepts the position and starts work. Headhunters' methods must work;
if they don't, headhunters don't eat. It's as simple as that.
Time to enter the forest primeval. Whose advice would you
rather have along?
Next: The $30,000 Strategy
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