In an edition of my syndicated column, I ran a poll in The Seattle Times. I asked readers to pick from four methods they’d use to get in the door at a company. In other words, how would you apply for a job?
77% responded that they would pursue the channel that is most closed to them — the HR department. Even though they know that the line is long and the competition is stiff, people still take this path. Something like 40%-70% of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts. I don’t think that surprises anyone, and most people know in their gut that “it’s who you know.”
So, why do people go through HR?
Let’s see if I can help you view this from another perspective. Suppose your boss gave you an important project, and you realized it could not be accomplished by conventional means. In other words, the way it’s always been done ain’t gonna cut it. Your boss just wants the job done. Would you continue applying the same-old methods? Or, would you demonstrate creativity and try something new? (Your boss is watching.)
Hold that thought.
Now, let’s cut back to applying for a job. What’s the difference between how you’d behave on the job if you faced obstacles, and how you’d pursue that same job? Do you follow the same-old path to the HR department, or do you apply the skills you use at work to job hunting? Do you trust a dead old process that doesn’t work well, or do you come up with new methods that might improve your chance of success?
Okay, let’s turn back to your job.
Would you use the same “wait and see” strategy most people use when they submit a resume to HR to do your job and satisfy your boss?
Ben Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
What’s the difference between doing your job, and pursuing a new one? If you create smart new methods at work, why use dumb methods on the job hunt?
It seems the job market is tuned for insanity. Even The New York Times can’t buck its neural confusion. In Job Hunting Is, and Isn’t, What It Used to Be, the paper can’t decide what is sane and insane. So its conclusion is, just keep trying everything, because who knows?
Maybe the problem is with employers. Many claim in their public relations materials that they want creative workers who “think out of the box.” Yet, when those kinds of people apply for jobs using creative approaches, they are often locked out by the HR department “because they are breaking the rules” by approaching managers directly, or by using unconventional means to get the job. Sometimes, even managers lock the door.
Maybe what the world needs is a college curriculum in hiring and job hunting, eh? We could call it, Use Your Brain 101: On-the-job techniques to win the job.
Now, please tell me you’re not one of the 77% who wait in line. If you’re one of those who use their brain on the job hunt like they do at work, then please tell me how you won a job by going around the HR department.