When I give a presentation, the first thing I tell the audience — whether they’re job hunters or hiring managers — is, “Everything you know about job hunting (or hiring) is wrong.” Shoulders relax. People giggle nervously. They are so relieved to hear they’re not crazy. They know the conventional wisdom is wrong.
Then I tell them that a mistake everyone makes when job hunting or hiring is volume. We are all taught that it’s a numbers game. You have to wake up every morning and get 50 resumes out before breakfast. Apply to as many jobs online as you can. Then you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something before lunchtime! Or if you work in HR, keep your pipeline full of candidates so you’ll have a lot to choose from.
Let me give you a specific counter-example that blows the fallacy of “volume” out of the water.
I had lunch with John, a client, to discuss a position he wanted me to fill. It was a $125,000 marketing job. We spent two hours talking. For the next two weeks, I talked to several people who worked for John, and to others at his company who knew him. John had no idea I was doing this. I learned a lot about what his operation was like and about how his staff worked.
Then I talked to a handful of people around the country — a handful — who are experts in marketing and who work with experts in marketing. I didn’t run any ads. I didn’t solicit any resumes. I conducted no in-person interviews. I called John back and gave him a name and a phone number. I told him to call Joe, the guy who could do the job.
John and Joe talked and scheduled a face-to-face meeting. In the meantime, I put together a very simple resume on Joe using information he had given me and information I gathered from his references. I sent it to John so he’d have some background on Joe, to fill in the blanks.
They met. John offered Joe a job and Joe accepted it.
One job, one meeting, one candidate.
The resume was superfluous in the equation. John called me for help to fill the job because he didn’t want five candidates and he didn’t want 2,000 resumes. He wanted a guy to hire who could do the job profitably.
John could have done this himself, if he’d just sat down and called a few people — just like I did. Was this just a “lucky hit” for me? No. It just looks that way. I spoke to severak people who would have made decent candidates and John would have interviewed all of them, because he’s accustomed to hiring that way.
I put all those people aside. I knew none of them were right. Too many interviews today are done for their own sake.
Job hunter says: “I didn’t really want the job but I went on the interview because it’s good experience.”
Headhunter says: “The first three candidates I sent to my client weren’t so great, but I wanted my client to see the contrast between mediocre candidates and the one really good one.”
Hiring manager says: “I want to see a lot of candidates, because otherwise I won’t know who the best one is.”
What’s the point? The point is the parts of this story in red. The point is what happened during those parts of the process.
What do you think happened? What was that all about? And how did I avoid “volume?”