Ask The Headhunter®

the insider's edge on job search & hiring™
December 21, 2010
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Who is Nick

This week's Q&A

The Short Course: ATH in a nutshell

Talk to Nick
: For job hunters, managers, HR
Reader's Forum: What more do you want to know?


Can you please summarize the Ask The Headhunter strategy and explain the main differences between ATH and the traditional approach to job hunting? Thanks.

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Readers' Forum

What more do you need?

All through the year, I try to teach the nuts and bolts behind the four main ideas in today's newsletter. Your questions help me flesh out the details -- and that's what every edition of the newsletter is about!

In this week's Readers' Forum, The Headhunter Asks You: What more do you need to be successful at job hunting and hiring? What daunting problems or challenges can I help you deal with in your job search (or if you're a manager, when hiring)?

Come to The Blog and tell me, and I'll do my best to help, both in our blog discussion, and in next year's newsletters. I welcome you to pile on -- please tell me where I can help!

-- Nick

Nick's Reply

I love pop quizzes, and this is a good end-of-year question. (This is the last issue of the newsletter for 2010. After a 2-week holiday break, delivery will resume on January 11, 2011.) Here's ATH in a nutshell:

1. The best way to find a good job opportunity is to go hang out with people who do the work you want to do -- people who are very good at it. Insiders are the first to know about good opportunities, but they only tell other insiders. To get into an inside circle of people, you must earn your way. It takes time. You can't fake it, and that's good, because who wants to promote (or hire) the unknown?

2. The best way to get a job interview is to be referred by someone the manager trusts. Between 40-70% of jobs are filled that way. Yet people and employers fail to capitalize on this simple employment channel. They pretend there's some better system -- like job boards. That's bunk. If companies took more of the money they waste on and CareerBuilder and spent it to cultivate personal contacts, they'd fill more jobs faster with better hires. When a respected peer puts her good name on the line to recommend you, there is nothing more powerful. Deals close faster when the quality of information is high and the source of information is trusted. That's why it takes forever to get a response when you apply "blind" to a job listing.

3. The best way to do well in an interview is to walk in and demonstrate to the manager how you will do the job profitably for him and for you. Everything else is stuff and nonsense and a bureaucratic waste of time. Don't believe me? Ask any good manager, Would you rather talk to 10 job applicants, or meet just one person who explains how she will boost your company's profitability? I have no doubt what the answer is.

4. The best way to get a headhunter's help is to manage your interaction for mutual profit from the start. Hang up on the unsavory charlatans and work only with headhunters who treat you with respect from the start. Instead of "pitching" yourself, shush and listen patiently to understand the headhunter's objective. Proceed only if you really believe you're a match. Then show why you're the headhunter's #1 candidate by outlining how you will do the job profitably for his client. Headhunters adopt candidates who make the headhunter's job easier, and who help the headhunter fill the assignment quickly. (Coda: If you follow suggestions 1-3 carefully, you won't need to rely on a headhunter.)

That's Ask The Headhunter in a nutshell. If you wonder whether it really works, take a look at comments from people who've tried it: Thank You, Masked Man.

What's the main difference between ATH and the traditional approach? It's pretty simple. The traditional approach is "shotgun." You blast away at companies with your resume and wait to hear from someone you don't know who doesn't know you. Lotsa luck. (ATH regulars know that I never actually wish anyone luck, because I don't believe in it. I believe in doing the work required to succeed.)

ATH is a "rifle" approach. You must carefully select and target the companies and jobs you want. It takes a lot of work and thought to accomplish the simple task in item (3). There are no shortcuts. No one can do it for you. If you aren't prepared to do it right, then you have no business applying for the job, and the manager would be a fool to hire you. (This "rifle" approach is detailed in How Can I Change Careers?, which does double-duty for anyone who wants to stand out in the job interview.)

I'll leave you with a scenario that illustrates why the traditional methods don't work well. You walk up to a manager. You hand him your resume -- your credentials, your experience, your accomplishments, your keywords, your carefully crafted "marketing piece." Now, what are you really saying to that manager? "Here. Read this. Then you go figure out what the heck to do with me."

Managers suck at figuring that out. You have to explain it to them, if you expect to stand out and to get hired. Do you really expect someone to decipher your resume and figure out what to do with you? America's entire employment system fails you every day because it's based on that passive mindset.

The job candidate who uses the Ask The Headhunter approach keeps the resume in her pocket and says to the manager, "Let me show you what I'm going to do to make your business more successful and more profitable." Then she outlines her plan -- without giving away too much.

That candidate is who you're competing with, whether she learned this approach from me or whether it's just her common sense. Long-time ATH subscriber Ray Stoddard puts it like this: "The great news about your recommendations is that they work. The good news for those of us who use them is that few people are really willing to implement what you recommend, giving those of us who do an edge."

I hope Ask The Headhunter helped you get an edge in 2010. We will continue to discuss the details of the methods outlined above in upcoming issues of this newsletter. Meanwhile, here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays (no matter what holidays you celebrate or where you celebrate them), and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!


Nick Corcodilos
Ask The Headhunter®

Have a question? Ask away. Each week I'll publish a Q&A that I think readers will find helpful. I will not publish your name if you submit a question through this link. Please see terms of submission below. Sorry, I cannot answer questions privately. Please do not send me resumes; I won't read them.

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This popular new feature is a way to talk with me directly. Are you job hunting? Are you a manager trying to hire more effectively? Maybe you work in HR and would like new perspectives on recruiting and hiring.

Sometimes you have a question too detailed for the newsletter, or it's confidential. I'm not a counselor, nor do I want to be. I will not hold your hand through a job search or consult to you for a year. Talk to Nick enables you to ask me specific questions in short conversations privately via telephone.

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Readers' Comments

"I count Ask The Headhunter as the very best and most useful subscription I have."

Jim Haake

Oh, Yeah! I love success stories, thank you's, examples of how Ask The Headhunter worked for you. Don't hold back: Please share your comments.

Find out more...
How to Work with Headhunters

"I just downloaded How to Work with Headhunters. Excellent! I will recommend that each of our Executive MBAs get this book. It's a very comprehensive treatment of every aspect of recruiting, search firms, career management firms and more. I especially like the Back of the Napkin section at the end. Looks like you thought of everything!"

Susan Dearing
Director, ProMBA
Career Management Center
UCLA Anderson School
of Management

Find out more...
How Can I Change Careers?

"A new book chock full of tips for the thorniest of job-hunting problems."



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