For less job competition, avoid Fisherman’s Wharf

For less job competition, avoid Fisherman’s Wharf

Question

I’ve been applying to job postings for which I meet all the criteria, and I mean all of them. I figure that’s one way to beat my competition — to really stand out. How much job competition am I likely to have if I do that? I was one of over 70 people they screened and one of 16 they interviewed. And it happened again, I didn’t get an offer. I wasn’t even a finalist. There has to be a way to minimize competition from the start, I just haven’t figured it out. Is it really possible that 70 other applicants met all the criteria? I doubt it, so why do companies entertain so many candidates? How do I improve my odds from the start?

Nick’s Reply

job competitionEmployers complain they can’t find the right people to hire and I think it’s because their recruiting is a herding task. They solicit too widely. This yields a preponderance of undistinguished candidates with a low probability of finding anyone that stands out.

Recruiting job applicants: More is not better

When employers post a job online, they’re casting a wide net. But more is not better. And it’s even worse because cattle-call “recruiting technology” makes it so easy to invite loads of marginal or even totally wrong applicants. It yields more of the same.

Look at the math. In your case 70 applicants were screened and 16 interviewed. HR will tell us “We got a lot of candidates to pick from!” This means they made 70-16=54 errors. That’s a lot of wasted overhead. Imagine how often this plays out. Employers will routinely sort through thousands of applications, whether manually or via software. They believe (irrationally) that the more candidates they have to choose from, the better the hire they will eventually make. (See  Reductionist Recruiting: A short history of why you can’t get hired.)

Your competition is loads of wrong applicants

I believe this approach is actually likely to diminish the quality of hire they make, simply because they are sorting and interviewing many more wrong candidates than necessary. Often, the result is that they hire none and are mystified about why.

When a company hires the best of a large number of candidates, most of whom are disqualified, it is gambling, not really selecting. If the best hire it could possibly make is among loads of “noise” — dozens or hundreds of wrong applicants — what goes up is not the chances of making the right hire, but of missing the best hire among the noise.

Avoid job competition

What does all this have to do with the job competition you face, and how can you avoid it to increase your chances of really matching a job and getting an offer? This “more is better” fallacy reveals a really straightforward alternative that you can immediately use to diminish your competition and increase your chances of getting hired: The best way to avoid competition is to not go near it. That is, stay away from the databases full of applicants that are stocked by online job postings and job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed.

Fisherman’s Wharf

When I lived in Palo Alto, California, I often had guests from the east coast. I’d take them touring around the Bay Area. When we got to San Francisco, everyone wanted to go to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was all I could do to dissuade them: “Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist trap.”

“No, no — we heard it’s great! Everyone told us to go there! We want to see Pier 39! We want to eat crabs and sourdough bread!”

Of course everyone told them to go there. That’s San Francisco’s crowd-management marketing at work.

The HR Corral: Where the cattle go

San Francisco is a small city, surrounded by water on three sides, with no possibility of sprawling out. Residents and people that work in the city suffer enormous congestion on streets and sidewalks. I’ve always surmised that the city intentionally drives visitors to aggregate in and around Fisherman’s Wharf. The city’s marketing seems to keep visitors corralled there, offering many distractions that attract tourist dollars and time — while keeping those teeming hordes out of everyone else’s way.

The job boards and databases serve the same purpose, if unintentionally. They are a corral not unlike Fisherman’s Wharf. Job seekers flock to them because HR tells them to gather there, stand and wait, like tourists eager to be fleeced, like cattle to the slaughter. “Jobs websites” are designed and marketed to make them seem the best way to apply for jobs. Even HR believes they are the easiest way to recruit and hire.

Steer away from job competition

If you steer away from the madding crowds of Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll find a lovely city with interesting things to do and people to meet. Every city dweller has a tip about the best restaurants, the hippest bars, the best neighborhood shopping and the coolest little-known sights. All you have to do is circulate solo, without a frightening horde surrounding you. You’ll find all kinds of wonderful experiences in San Francisco — and little interference from competition.

This is why you can’t seem to beat the odds: you’re allowing yourself to be corralled with all your competition. It’s easy to avoid the competition. Don’t go where the competition accumulates. Reduce your competition and increase your chances of getting hired.

5 tips for less job competition

Skip any gate or doorway to job-database corrals. Go where “the locals” hang out. Managers with hidden job needs, and people that can introduce you to their managers, hang out in accessible places that aren’t crowded with your competitors.

  1. Attend continuing education and training programs where you’ll find people that do the work you want to do.
  2. Participate in professional events where your future colleagues gather. It’s a low-pressure, fun way to meet insiders that can help you.
  3. Go have a drink or a meal where employees of your target companies socialize.
  4. Join in and contribute to the online work-related forums frequented by professionals you’d like to work with.
  5. Study the business media that cover the people, work, products, technologies and business dealings of companies you’d like to work for. Make it a game or puzzle: Try to suss out what jobs may be opening up based on news about a company. Contact the movers and shakers you read about, ask about their work and ask for advice.

Avoid Fisherman’s Wharf. Avoid corrals where your competition is penned up — but be grateful for them! Less competition means more high quality professional contacts for you. To improve your odds from the start, go where the insiders are more likely to welcome you because you’re not part of a cattle drive.

What’s the best way to avoid the herd (and job competition) when looking for work? Or, is it better to “play the numbers” and apply to job postings everyone else uses?

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Edition #900: The single best interview question (and answer)

Edition #900: The single best interview question (and answer)

Ask The Headhunter online began publication a long time ago. The newsletter launched soon after. This Q&A column marks the 900th edition of the newsletter — that’s 900 weeks of free advice inspired by the best questions asked by the Ask The Headhunter community. To mark the occasion, I’m reprinting a column from 2003 about the best interview question ever. It has withstood the test of time, and it could not be more relevant or applicable today. I hope you find it as helpful as many others have.

Question

What is the single best interview question ever — and the best answer?

Nick’s Reply

best interview questionThere used to be a book titled something like 2,800 Interview Questions & Answers. Even today, you can find books that will automate your job interviews with canned repartee. These books feature 701 interview questions (and “best answers), or 201, or 189, 101 — or, How many interview questions you got???

All the interview questions

I’ve always had a fantasy about these books. You walk into the interviewer’s office. You smile broadly and shake hands:

“Glad to meet you! Let’s get down to business and have an interview!”

Then you slide one of those babies across the desk.

“Here are all the questions you’re going to ask me… and the answers! Now you know what they are, and I know what they are, and we don’t need to waste our time. So we can do something useful, and talk about the work you need to have done!”

Instead of teaching job candidates and hiring managers to talk shop —  that is, about the job — career experts outdo themselves regurgitating job-interview scripts.

The silly answers they offer are rehashed and marinated in expired creative juices, and about as satisfying as a bolus coughed up by the last person who interviewed with the manager.

One Interview Question

Then there’s the “one, the only, the best interview question” designed to be so clever that you must think it’s also smart. The trouble is, these click-bait offerings have nothing to do with the job you’re interviewing for!

Lately, these include (on LinkedIn) Lou Adler’sWhat single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far? and (on Inc.com) economist Tyler Cowen’s “What are the open tabs in your browser right now?” (We won’t even get into the perennial “What’s your greatest weakness?” or ” How many golf balls would fit in the Empire State Building?”)

In 2003, the editors of Fast Company magazine put together a cover story titled, “All The Right Moves: A guide for the perplexed exec.” It was a collection of 21 Q&As for managers covering everything from how to be a star at work, how to be an effective leader and how to dress for success.

Editor Bill Breen asked me to write a “memo” to managers about Question #16: What is the single best interview question ever — and the best answer?

The best interview question

Here’s the memo I sent to Breen as it appeared in the July 2003 edition of Fast Company. Almost 20 years later, I’ll still put this question up against any list of interview questions (whether it includes 50, 200, or 2,800), or against any other “best, most important question” anyone has ever come up with. I think proof of its power is that job candidates can — and should — raise the question themselves and answer it to prove they’re worth hiring.


Memo From: Nick Corcodilos
To: Hiring managers everywhere
Re: Reinventing the job interview

The purpose of any interview is simple: to determine whether the candidate can do the job profitably. A smart interview is not an interrogation. It’s not a series of canned questions or a set of scripted tests that have been ginned up by HR. An interview should be a roll-up-your-sleeves, hands-on meeting between you and the candidate, where all of the focus is on the job.

Think of the interview as the candidate’s first day at work, with the only question that matters being this:

“What’s your business plan for doing this job?”

To successfully answer that, the candidate must first demonstrate an understanding of the company’s problems, challenges, and goals — not an easy thing to do. But since you desperately want to make a great hire and get back to work, why don’t you help the best candidate succeed? Two weeks before the interview, call up the candidate and say the following:

“We want you to show us how you’re going to do this job. That’s going to take a lot of homework. I suggest that you read through these 10 pages on our Web site, review these publications from our marketing and investor-relations departments, and speak with these three people on my team. When you’re done, you should have something useful to tell us.”

This will eliminate 9 out of 10 candidates. Only those who really want the job will put in the effort to research the job.

At the interview, you should expect (or hope) to hear the most compelling question that any candidate can ask:

“Would you like me to show how your company will profit from hiring me?”

The candidate should be prepared to do the job in the interview. That means walking up to the whiteboard and outlining the steps that he or she would take to solve your company’s problems. The numbers don’t have to be right, but the candidate should be able to defend them intelligently. If the candidate demonstrates an understanding of your culture and competitors — and lays out a plan of attack for solving your problems and adding something to your bottom line — you have some awfully compelling reasons to make the hire.

But if you trust only a candidate’s past accomplishments, references, credentials, or test results, you still won’t know whether the candidate can do the job.


Recruiting is still — and always has been — about finding the best candidates. But the best candidate isn’t just the one who can answer that question. The best candidate is the person who brings it up and volunteers to answer it — and is ready to show you how they will do the job profitably.

Do the job in the interview

If you cannot do the job to win the job, then it doesn’t matter what tabs are open on your browser, what animal you’d be if you could be any animal, what your greatest accomplishment was, or where you see yourself in five years. There is certainly more to do in a job interview, and we can have a lot of fun with clever questions and rejoinders. But, if you cannot demonstrate, right there in the meeting, your business plan for how you will do the work, then you will not stand out — and you have no business in that job interview.


How Can I Change Careers? picks up where that Fast Company column leaves off. And it’s not just for career changers. It’s for anyone who wants to stand out in the job interview. The book explains why this “single best interview question ever” for hiring managers is also the single best question for candidates to bring up in the interview — and how to do it. (Fast Company says it’s “chock full of tips for the thorniest of job-hunting problems.”)


You be the judge of what counts in your job interviews: Does anything matter more than showing you can do the job? What are the best and worst questions you’ve asked or been asked?

Thanks to all in the Ask The Headhunter community for assembling here every week, and especially to those who have contributed questions and comments over the years! This website and the newsletter are successful because of the quality of discourse you bring every week! How long have you been a subscriber? If you don’t get the free weekly newsletter, please sign up for edition #901 and share this link with friends!

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6 hoops to make recruiters jump through

6 hoops to make recruiters jump through

In the January 28, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter 20 recruiters contact a reader — from just one company.

Question

recruiters20 HR recruiters from one [big-name defense contractor] contacted me via LinkedIn during 2019. One of them contacted me twice in two weeks, with the exact same message: Send me your most recent resume. She clearly didn’t know she had contacted me already. Others used the same message. I never heard from 19 of them again.

With recruiter #20, I blew back and told him [the company’s] recruiters are burning their reputation with me. He called, said he was impressed with my experience, that he’d get back after circulating my resume, and never did. I sent a brief “Hello?” on the LinkedIn message thread he started. I got no response.

Is this HR “ghosting” new? I recognized years back that most employers aren’t sending even automated responses to online applicants, but I never expected they’d drop the ball when they initiate the contact! I’d appreciate any theories you have on why this is occurring.

Nick’s Reply

Ghosting by HR is nothing new. Now, do you want to save 95% of your time that phony recruiters waste?

Recruiting or advertising?

20 different people contacting you from that defense contractor are not recruiting you. They are advertising. They know nothing about the jobs they’re advertising and nothing about the people they are soliciting. Sending out job spam through LinkedIn is not recruiting.

A real recruiter knows all about you before they contact you. They already know that you’re a pretty good fit for the job. They court and pursue you — you’ll be able to tell instantly. A phony recruiter turns the knobs on the LinkedIn machine and sends a bunch of job descriptions to thousands of people and tells you all to apply for them. Welcome to automated, phony recruiting.

HR: High tech, no metrics

As long as Human Resources can maintain an image of being high-tech, the board of directors at companies like this one gratefully relinquishes the icky task of recruiting to HR.

HR shovels billions of dollars into “HR technology” — automated job sites and keyword-based Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSes). These are nothing more than keyword crunchers and spam generators that unskilled keyboard punchers can operate. It doesn’t matter that the HR tech doesn’t really work, or that HR is failing miserably at hiring, because there are virtually no meaningful metrics in HR departments. (Check this Harvard Business Review report: Employers are hiring all wrong.)

Likewise, because there are no meaningful metrics, a “recruiter” at this company doesn’t know that 19 others already contacted you.

You ask why this is occurring. Why doesn’t the C-suite or the board of directors take notice?

Recruiters pass the buck

Every top executive reads the same news every day: There’s a “talent shortage” and a “skills shortage!” It’s become impossible to find good people! Never mind that employers have access to every resume, every person on the planet.

This “news” exculpates HR — so HR can plausibly deny accountability. When HR fails to fill jobs, someone and something else are to blame: schools, the labor market, unskilled workers, the economy.

Why, it’s right there in the business media!

This leaves HR free to buy and deploy even more HR technology, to outsource recruiting to boiler-rooms of telemarketers and spammers, to pass the buck, and to wash its hands of frustrated people like you. The board of directors doesn’t bat an eyelash.

What can you do?

What good does my explanation (or my rant) do you? Understanding that most “recruiters” don’t recruit is the first step toward fixing this broken employment system.

You have already wasted hours of time fielding, responding to, and fretting over phony “recruiting” contacts. I get it — you’re concerned that one of them might be a real opportunity (even though you’re 0 for 20). There’s a way to handle automated recruiting advertising and seemingly legit solicitations. Respond with an automated reply of your own.

Ask the recruiter what specific job they think “you would be a great fit” for, the salary, and the name and contact information of the hiring manager. If you’re really being recruited — rather than advertised to — the recruiter will call you (or request your phone number) immediately for fear of losing “a great fit.” Phony recruiters won’t bother.

6 hoops for recruiters

But there’s another way to test any recruiter before you go to the trouble to respond. Ask yourself these six questions about the solicitation and, if you like, ask the “recruiter,” too:

  1. Is this solicitation really addressed to me personally, or is it boilerplate that was mass-mailed to a list?
  2. Am I being recruited for a specific position, or is this an advertisement inviting me to read a bunch of job postings?
  3. Is there any evidence that the “recruiter” knows enough about me to know whether I’m really “a great fit” for this job?
  4. Did the “recruiter” mention the name of someone that recommended me, or am I just one of 14,000 matching profiles turned up by an algorithm?
  5. Does the “recruiter” reveal that they understand what this job is about?
  6. If I’m really the “great fit” they say I am, why isn’t this a request for an in-person job interview?

A good job candidate is worth a lot to a real recruiter, who will take your questions seriously. If you don’t get good answers to those six questions, you’re not being recruited. 95% or more of solicitations are not from real recruiters. They’re from job spammers paid to force feed you job postings. Beware what you swallow.

Make recruiters jump through hoops

The bottom line is, those 20 “recruiters” that contacted you are actually bots deployed by inept personnel jockeys who work for executives and boards of directors that believe what they read online and hear on the radio – that Indeed and ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn have figured it all out.

“HR says we don’t have to waste money on skilled recruiters because LinkedIn does all the hard work! Let’s buy more HR technology!”

You know better. You just need to trust your judgment. If the employer contacts you then drops the ball, don’t pick it up — certainly not 20 times! Don’t get hurt by a broken system. Do something smarter. Learn how to vet those solicitations. 95% of them are not pursuing you. They’re advertising jobs to you. Make recruiters jump through hoops before you give them your valuable time.

Invest your time talking only to real recruiters, real employers and real hiring managers that are ready to talk to you about real jobs. If only HR were to invest those billions in hiring real recruiters.

Which of the six hoops do you rely on to test recruiters? What other hoops do you make recruiters jump through — before you’ll jump through any hoops for them?

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Will publishing on LinkedIn make me look like an expert?

Will publishing on LinkedIn make me look like an expert?

In the January 21, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader wants to be an expert.

Question

expertIn your previous postings, you suggest that LinkedIn is a poor medium for applying to companies. (See LinkedIn Payola: Selling out employers and job hunters.) At the same time, building one’s reputation as an expert in their profession is a big competitive advantage while finding a professional home.

Is LinkedIn an appropriate and productive medium to build one’s professional “brand” by publishing articles and making intelligent comments? Or do you recommend other media for this purpose?

By the way, after reading your articles, I will never search for work like one of the “herd” again. The headhunter tactics that you talk about are very similar to what a consultative seller does: Ask a bunch of questions to key stakeholders, observe, design a solution, and present why it is the right solution for them. Thank you.

Nick’s Reply

What I teach about job hunting is very similar to how good consultants sell their services – it’s all about the client, not me. If I don’t have a dead-on relevant solution for the employer, I have no business in the job interview.

A job seeker, like a consultant looking for a new client, needs to walk into the employer’s office with a proposal that focuses on the problems and challenges that particular manager is facing. Job interviews fail when applicants talk primarily about themselves and about their history. What gets you hired is proof that you understand the employer — and that you have a plan to help the business. (See Stand Out: How to be the profitable hire.) My compliments on how you interview and thank you for your kind words.

Now let’s get on to your question.

Does LinkedIn make you an expert?

I think the value of publishing on LinkedIn is at best questionable. It doesn’t make you an expert to publish on a website that doesn’t seem to edit or vet user-created content. You might agree with me that there’s plenty of tripe on LinkedIn, then argue that “there’s good stuff if you look for it.” We could say the same about any dumpster, but that doesn’t make it Trader Joe’s.

LinkedIn stopped pretending long ago that it cultivates high quality relationships or selective “professional networks.” (See LinkedIn: Just another job board.) I believe the same is true of user-created content on LinkedIn.

Expert publication or fish wrap?

I’ve read some good articles on LinkedIn, but most are fluff and PR. The entire purpose of LinkedIn’s publishing platform seems to be building its page count and page views by driving comments – not to create an expert arena. It’s what we used to call a fish wrap — a free “newspaper” loaded with paid advertising that includes a few articles to appear legitimate.

There’s nothing wrong with a fish wrap if you’re, say, looking for a used car or if you want to advertise your furniture store. But in that regard, LinkedIn is lower than a fish wrap because, for people like you and me, it’s free advertising.

You post your resume on LinkedIn as a profile, and I use LinkedIn as a way to promote Ask The Headhunter, because it’s free. Every week I post a short announcement about my newest weekly column on LinkedIn, just as I do on Twitter and Facebook — purely to let people know about it. It drives traffic to asktheheadhunter.com. Why don’t I just post the entire weekly Ask The Headhunter column on LinkedIn? Because LinkedIn doesn’t pay me for it. That’s why LinkedIn isn’t a real publisher. I don’t want my expert content on a site that doesn’t value expert content enough to pay for it.

Experts are in expert communities

When you post your profile on LinkedIn, you’re doing the same thing — taking advantage of the exposure. But if you want to engage in really useful dialogue with people in your professional community, you must go where they hang out. That’s where you need to be seen.

If I’m looking for a good job candidate for a client company, I’m not going to search LinkedIn articles. There are better places to do that, where real experts hang out — expert communities.

I think it’s critical to establish a strong reputation for expertise where the professional community that you want to work with congregates; where your peers (and the peers you want to join) talk shop.

I like vertical publications more than general platforms. It’s harder to get an article published in such professional hubs. Even if they don’t  pay you for your content, they have a strong vetting process – and that’s good. It keeps the standard high, and it earns you a meaningful reputation if you’re the writer.

Expert content

You don’t have to write articles to build a reputation in your professional community. You might volunteer to speak at a professional or industry event, or participate in a panel discussion. Even if you only help organize such an event, you’ll rub elbows with real experts who can help you on your next steps toward a strong reputation of your own.

You can also demonstrate expertise by regularly posting thoughtful comments on the right professional forums. That’s how you become a go-to expert that others rely on. I know recruiters who lurk on highly specialized technical and scientific discussion communities online. That’s where they find opinion makers discussing the ins and outs of their work — then they recruit them or get referrals from them.

No one develops an expert reputation overnight. It takes time and very dedicated effort. Real expertise is earned while one is vetted by other experts in their field — and LinkedIn is hardly an expert community! So, no, I don’t think that writing articles on LinkedIn will make you look like an expert. It will make more money for LinkedIn.

Expert status requires a long-term investment

What people find hard to accept is that you can’t just submit or post something now and then and expect results. You must participate long-term and be an active member of a professional community. There is no easy way to a great reputation. It grows from posting good stuff and from being a “regular.” (For some tips about building a solid reputation, see Branding yourself suggests you’re clueless.)

I think LinkedIn has become just another Internet fish wrap. At best, it’s a souped-up telephone directory — everyone is in it. If it’s an expert reputation you want, find niche sites where others in your field gather. Publish there. That’s my advice.

What’s your expert community site or publication?

I didn’t suggest any specific expert websites (or print publications) that are good places to publish because there are so many. Almost every area of work has such professional community hubs. This is where up and coming experts breed!

So here’s my request to Ask The Headhunter readers:

What’s your field of work, and what’s the best niche publication or online community for it? Where do you hang out for expert discussion? Please share your list of expert content outlets!

How do you promote your expertise? Do you find LinkedIn to be a credible “expert forum?” What online venues do you use to demonstrate your acumen?

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Unemployment 3.7%, slow-down in hiring up 84%

Unemployment 3.7%, slow-down in hiring up 84%

hiring

For a flat fee, an employer that’s hiring can get over 9 million resumes from ZipRecruiter. That’s great news, because with unemployment in the U.S. at record lows (3.7% in July 2019), employers need more job applicants!

Not. Actually, employers are drowning in resumes and job applicants.

News I want you to use

The HCM Technology Report says Indecisive Hiring Managers Cause Employers to Lose Talent. Do ya think???

“In 2018, hiring managers took 33 days to make an offer after interviewing a candidate. That’s an 84 percent increase compared to 2010. The extended timeframe led to a 16 percent reduction in accepted offers.”

What changed in 8 years? An employer can get over 9 million resumes for a few bucks.

And you wonder why hiring managers take forever to decide whether to hire you? More jobs stay vacant longer because HR and hiring managers are so overwhelmed with wrong job applicants that they can’t decide who are the good ones.

What hiring slow-down means to job seekers

  • You need to account for poor management when you interview for a job.
  • You should avoid the cattle call of the job boards.

What this means to employers

HCM says:

“Companies that encourage decisive behavior by hiring managers reduce time-to-fill by 17 percent.”

“Hiring managers should spend more time engaging with candidates. This is critical… because candidates trust hiring managers four times as much as they trust recruiters.”

Maybe HR departments should turn off the fire hose of resumes and teach hiring managers how to hire.

There’s lots more news you can use in the HCM Technology Report.

How long did it take to get hired or rejected by the last employer that interviewed you? Did the hiring manager seem to know what they were doing?

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Why do headhunters act like this?

In the May 14, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter some readers get fed up with headhunters who waste their time.

Question

headhuntersMy friends and I are successful IT (information technology) types and receive calls about positions from headhunters often. We are all experiencing the following:

  1. The initial salary range presented is higher than what the employer discusses or offers and thus, everyone’s time is wasted. The recruiter then weasels out of the lie.
  2. The headhunter calls with a “hot” opportunity, gives us the details, finds out if we’re interested and then tells us that interviews will be conducted very soon. We never hear from the headhunter about that particular position after that and our phone calls go unanswered, until another opportunity comes up and the process starts all over again.
  3. The headhunter asks if we will interview but he doesn’t know any specifics about the job, like what the company specializes in or what technologies they use.

Are these really legitimate positions? Why don’t headhunters take the time to research the position in order to convince the candidate to pursue the opportunity? Why don’t they return our calls or explain what happened to the “hot” position? Do they really think we will recommend potential candidates when they are so unreliable and inconsistent with their stories? (We are called upon to refer candidates to fit entry level and lateral positions.)

What’s going on? We don’t have time to waste talking about positions that don’t exist, or to interview for positions not in our specified salary range. Many thanks for your input!

Nick’s Reply

Most “headhunters” are no better than most personnel jockeys. They’re ignorant of their own business, they have no clear business goals (other than to make money), they don’t understand the jobs they’re trying to fill, their strategy is to “dial for dollars,” and they lose their credibility quickly.

The problems with headhunters

You must understand two things.

First, the cost of entry into the headhunting business is so low that anyone (and I mean anyone) can give it a shot. All it takes is a cell phone and a free LinkedIn account.

Second, turnover in most of these firms is very high because they do next to nothing to train new headhunters (I shiver to even call them that) properly. The result: the experiences you describe.

You hit the nail on the head. Refuse to have your time wasted.

Play hardball

The solution is to grill the headhunter. Play hardball.

Get references: Ask to talk with three people in your field that the headhunter has placed and three managers that have hired the headhunter’s candidates.

Issue a warning: Assuming you get those names, tell the headhunter that if she doesn’t call you back when she says she will, her name will be mud among your associates.

Know headhunters from telemarketers

Fast-buck artists who talk a good line, make little sense, and don’t keep promises aren’t headhunters. They’re telemarketers playing long odds to get a fee every now and then. Most of them don’t know the first thing about dealing with the professional community they recruit in. If they sound like they don’t know anything about your work, it’s because they don’t. Heck, most don’t even recruit — they copy and paste keywords, job descriptions and resumes.

Make them earn their money.

(To any “headhunters” reading this, if this describes you, don’t send me your complaints. You get no sympathy from me for treating candidates like this.)

Good headhunters

Should I give a headhunter my references?

If a headhunter presses you too soon for the names of references, politely take control of the discussion.

How to say it: “I think you’ll enjoy talking with my references — have you already talked with people who know my work? If not, then first we need to talk about the position you’re working on. If you decide I’m a viable candidate, and if I decide I want to pursue it, then we can talk about my references. So, tell me more about the position. Who is the manager?”

From How To Work With Headhunters, p. 84

Good headhunters are few and far between. Remember my advice to ask for references? The “headhunter” who contacts you is very unlikely to give you any because he doesn’t have any. That’s the first sign you’re going to waste your time.

  • Good headhunters will share references.
  • Because they circulate in your professional community, they probably know people whose names you will recognize.
  • They will treat you with respect, and they will do what they say they’re going to do.
  • They will also instantly reveal that they know a lot about the work you do.
  • They will ask intelligent questions, and they can answer yours.

It really is that simple. For a good primer about headhunters, please read Joe Borer’s How to Judge a Headhunter. Joe is a good headhunter, but please don’t try to contact him. Good headhunters don’t field unsolicited calls from job seekers. (See Headhunters find people, not jobs.)

Be your own headhunter

The purpose of Ask The Headhunter is to teach you how to be your own headhunter — even when you’re not actively seeking a job. Cut out the middle man when necessary. But when you meet a good headhunter, you’ll know it – they’re worth your patience and your attention, because they’ll treat you with respect and negotiate a deal like you never could on your own.

I usually rant about personnel jockeys and career counselors and coaches. Did I ever tell you the one about the inept headhunter…?

How do you judge headhunters? Give us three signs that quickly tell you who’s for real and who’s going to waste your time. Let’s compile a list everyone can use.

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10 reasons your company’s HR can’t fill jobs

In the April 16, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a job seeker exposes rude HR recruiting practices and 319,000 people take notice.

HRQuestion

Hundreds of LinkedIn users have commented on a clever cover letter someone sent to a company about a job. The reply he got was an unsigned e-mail blast the company sends to all rejects, suggesting his application wasn’t even read. But he got the last laugh. His cover letter was a series of “Arfs.” He posted it and their canned reply. How embarrassing for the employer to be exposed like that! This is yet another example of how employers treat job applicants. They solicit us then ignore us! What’s the solution to this?

Nick’s Reply

Shawn Gauthier (shawngauthier.com) is a copywriter and creative director in the advertising industry. He’s one of the 155 million members of LinkedIn in the U.S. who turn to this “professional networking service” to find a good job match. But, like many frustrated LinkedIn users, Gauthier finds that this jobs-and-people database is more about robots than true networking.

Fed up with employers who solicit job applicants but then don’t read their applications, Gauthier applied his considerable writing skills to create a compelling cover letter to apply for a job at Chewy.com, an online pet store:

The links are to his website and profile. After Gauthier received the reply below, he posted both to his LinkedIn page:

The lesson Gauthier learned is trivial — that this “boilerplate rejection” practice is pervasive. LinkedIn’s 155 million members have all been treated to such robo-rejections more times than they can bark. I mean count. And they’re talking about it. There are over 440 comments on Gauthier’s post.

Who let the dogs out?

Employers are increasingly complaining that they can’t fill critical jobs because of a low unemployment rate coupled with an inadequately trained workforce. In other words, employers claim the right talent just doesn’t exist.

Comments from hundreds of job seekers on this LinkedIn thread, however, suggest the talent problem is in the Human Resources suite, where a troubling brand of clueless disdain for job applicants seems to destroy companies’ ability to recruit the workers they need.

HR bites back on LinkedIn

“Wrong, Shawn. I’m sorry that you feel so entitled to a lengthy and witty response telling you how immature and childish you are…It’s in the company’s best interest to send you the formal, pre-written rejection rather than, again, telling you how moronic you are.”

“why do you assume they didn’t read your letter? They are just more professional then you. So they rejected you on a correct way. And i feel you need to do some growing up in this matter.” [sic]

“Maybe they don’t have a letter crafted in their ATS that would be appropriate to address a nonsensical cover letter. It appears that you tried to set yourself apart as a candidate and it didn’t work. Don’t blame the company…maybe you just weren’t a good fit.”

“HR departments are required by their companies not to give an applicant any reason to sue them for discrimination. Particularly if they aren’t selected. It’s easier to be completely neutral than to respond with humor or give the writer honest feedback.”

Despite the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm in his cover letter, Gauthier continues to maintain an incredibly high level of professional conduct in his many replies to the hundreds of comments he received on his LinkedIn post — even when the commenters are HR managers out to shame him by rationalizing Chewy’s behavior. This has become the mark of clueless personnel jockeys. They don’t seem to realize that their disdain for job applicants destroys their companies’ reputations in the professional communities they need to recruit from.

10 reasons your company’s HR can’t fill jobs

The problem is not a talent shortage. HR itself is the reason so many companies can’t fill jobs.

What’s the solution?

  1. HR should stop posting jobs on cattle-call websites that generate 100s or 1000s of applicants. You want only a handful of the right ones. The job boards are not designed to do that, so stop using them. To ensure you can send personal letters to every applicant you reject, learn how to recruit fewer people by recruiting only the right people. This is not a numbers game unless you’re gambling. (See Why cattle-call recruiting doesn’t work.)
  2. Stop relying on keyword job descriptions. Ever have a job that six months into it matched the job description you were hired for? I ask this question at workshops I do for Executive MBA programs at Wharton, UCLA, Northwestern, Cornell and other top business schools. Everyone laughs. The answer is always Never! — because job descriptions are fabrications of HR. So stop relying on keywords and on any kinds of job descriptions. Move on to #3.
  3. If you’re going to recruit, then become expert in the work of the company teams you recruit for. Be able to mix it up with engineers, marketers, finance people, programmers and production line workers. Understand their work. Asking job candidates what’s their greatest weakness and how they handled a difficult situation isn’t interviewing. It’s fake.
  4. Recruiting means going out into the professional community where the people that you need to hire hang out, talk shop, learn, and teach one another. Everything else is B.S. I know you know that. So stop pretending because some whitepaper published by some HR Consulting Shop told you to waste your time and money on Indeed or LinkedIn. Go out into the world and participate in the professional community you need to recruit from.
  5. Make your hiring managers spend 20% of their time each week recruiting. If it’s not worth it to them, then they’re not managers. They’re individual contributors. A manager’s job is to recruit, hire, train, cultivate, enable, mentor and manage the people who do the work.
  6. No matter who’s doing the recruiting, do it all the time. Those EMBAs always ask me, “My company’s going to merge or get acquired in 6-18 months. My job may be at risk. When should I start job hunting?” I give them a long pregnant pause, then I tell them, “Two years ago.” After they’re done laughing nervously, every single one of them gets it. Likewise, you and your managers must be recruiting all the time. Posting jobs and waiting for “who comes along” isn’t recruiting. It’s lazy.
  7. Do you believe job applicants are too much trouble? Then you’re doing it wrong. You’re not your company’s solution to its problems and challenges. The people you’re trying to hire are. Start treating them with respect all the time.
  8. If you believe it’s okay to insult and talk smack to job applicants, then get out of HR. The next time you feel like being snarky with a job applicant, quit your job.
  9. You don’t need headhunters like me to fill jobs. You need to be an active part of the professional community you need to recruit from and to cultivate sources and friends who trust you and that you trust. NEWS FLASH! We all know how most jobs are found and filled: Personal contacts. So stop spending 99% of your recruiting budget on job postings. Start spending it taking great candidates to dinner.
  10. Please — stop pretending! It looks very bad to those people your company desperately needs to hire. They tell their friends.

It doesn’t sink in

Shawn Gauthier noticed in his LinkedIn dashboard that lots of people at Chewy were viewing his post — and that a lot of other LinkedIn users were sending the link to Chewy employees. So he decided to reach out to Chewy’s HR department directly for a second chance at a job. The best the recruiter could do was “explain” the excuse for why he was treated impersonally:

“…the role had been filled and there were 670 applicants that needed to be rejected. So as you can imagine, it would be a little difficult for our team to send out 670 personalized rejection letters.”

It still doesn’t sink in at Chewy — or in most HR organizations. If you’ve got too many applicants that “need to be rejected,” then you’re soliciting too many of the wrong people — which means you are the problem and your recruiting methods are the problem.

There is no talent shortage except in HR, where it’s “a little difficult” to let the truth sink in. Your team should not need to send out 670 rejection letters to anyone!

I asked Gauthier what this suggests to him. He replied:

“The response from fellow LinkedIn members suggests that this isn’t limited to Chewy. It doesn’t help Chewy’s image for sure… but if it is standard practice (as it seems), they will not stand out for the thoughtlessness. It does demonstrate that there is an opportunity for a business to stand out and win brand ambassadors through an extensive overhaul of hiring and rejection practices.”

Message to Chewy’s Public Relations department: Shawn Gauthier’s LinkedIn post has 319,381 views and counting. Do you know what the world thinks of your HR department and your company? (Hint: 68% of job seekers own pets. How many customers can you afford to lose?)

Why can’t HR fill jobs? Is it because of a talent shortage? I offered up 10 suggestions to help HR fix HR. What else is HR doing that hinders recruiting and hiring? What else should HR do so companies can fill jobs?

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Shared Experiences: The key to good networking

In the April 10, 2018 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader seeks the keys to good networking.

networking

Question

Everyone talks about networking as the best way to find the right job. There must be a key to this approach beyond just going to networking meetings and signing up with one of the online social networks. What advice can you give me about how to do it right?

Nick’s Reply

You may have been to networking events where people spend a minute apiece with you after cycling through several other new “contacts,” and then expect that you will introduce them to your closest business buddies. Such gatherings have gotten a bad reputation because they can be mercenary and impersonal. You’ve met, but have no real common ground, and there’s no value in your new connections because they are ephemeral and because there are no shared experiences between you. (See Please! Stop Networking!)

The online social networks are even more problematic. You sign up, add the names of your co-workers, former employers and friends, and the network links you to other members with similar backgrounds. Everyone is encouraged to dump names into the system, then to collect contacts. But while these networks create lots of connections, there is little emphasis on the quality of those links.

Networking: the quality of the connections

And that’s the key: The quality of connections is in relationships.

From Shared Experiences: The path to success (p. 12)

Don’t squander a good contact because you didn’t cultivate it carefully, personally, and intelligently. No one can afford to waste good contacts. But don’t try to force a contact to produce results all at once. Go slowly, and let the contact blossom for you through shared experiences.

Fearless Job Hunting, Book 3: Get in The Door (way ahead of your competition) 

Social networks like LinkedIn suggest that quality of contacts is important, but the mechanics of how that network operates reveal that having lots of contacts is more important to LinkedIn than having good contacts or in doing things with the people you meet.

That’s why LinkedIn (and other networks, like Facebook or Twitter) help you highlight your number of links. Why? Because the networks themselves profit mainly from their size. It’s an inherent contradiction and even a conflict of interest.

But the people who actually benefit from online social networks are the same people who know how to turn a first meeting into a healthy, long-term relationship. They know it requires a considerable investment; there’s nothing automated about it. Nor is there anything phony.

Quality Networking: Common ground

I think good networking has three key ingredients. First, it requires common ground. People must have something to share that is useful to others. The best place to start is with your work. Identify people who do the work you do (or want to do), then e-mail them, call them, meet them and talk shop with them. (Not about jobs.)

Quality Networking: Value

Second, good networking is sustained by value. What can you do to either help or genuinely engage another person? How about a tip that will enable her to be more productive? Or you can ask honest, sincere questions about the work she does, to educate yourself and to draw her out. That creates more common ground. And that requires an honest, willing investment. If you’re not truly interested in someone, leave them alone.

Quality Networking: Sharing time

Third, good networking takes time. Trust grows between people through repeated good experiences. Sharing takes time.

From Shared Experiences: The path to success (p. 13)

Be likeable: Talk shop. When you talk to people about the work they do, they perceive you as likeable because you exhibit interest in them. It’s a basic human reaction. Talking shop with people makes them remember you positively. When you meet again to talk about a job, you’re the likeable candidate. And, right or wrong, people recommend who they like, and managers tend to hire people they like.

Fearless Job Hunting, Book 3: Get in The Door (way ahead of your competition) 

Once I trust you, I’ll draw you into my circle of friends—and that’s where valuable job referrals come from. Lazy, self-centered people have lousy networks and scant, weak relationships, and they’re the first to complain that networking is icky and that networking is phony. “Besides, who has time?” (See Networking For Introverts: How to say it.)

The best way to become well-connected is to meet and stay in touch with people who do the work you’re interested in and who are good at what they do. Don’t go to them when you’re job hunting. Go to them to share experiences that are meaningful to you both. Establish the kinds of relationships—and a reputation—that makes people want to come to you when they learn about a great job.

Friends share experiences

In a nutshell, I think networking is really about making friends. It’s about doing stuff together.

It’s got virtually nothing to do with getting a job or with any other kind of “payoff.” You do it because it makes life and work more enjoyable—and because giving something back makes your professional community (and the world) a better place. And when you live in a better place, somehow your life becomes better, too.

What’s your experience with networking? What are the keys? What do you look for in a healthy professional connection or relationship? What makes you want to refer someone for a job?

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Why cattle-call recruiting doesn’t work

In the February 6, 2018 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a manager who complains about irresponsible job applicants gets a lesson on the recruiting problem employers create.

recruitingQuestion

I am a manager looking for reasons why candidates that apply for my jobs either:

  1. Don’t respond when I reach out to schedule an interview, or
  2. Don’t show up for an interview.


You often write about how irresponsibly employers, HR and recruiters behave toward job applicants. [See
How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants.] I don’t disagree, but it appears that there’s some fishiness happening on both sides of this. Why do you think candidates don’t respond and don’t show up? Aren’t they just hurting themselves?

Nick’s Reply

I agree with you. Candidates hurt themselves when they apply to jobs or when you reach out to them, but then fail to follow up or show up. But often they’re not hurting themselves for the reasons you think.

Their real mistake is applying for jobs they don’t really want or care about. The people who are ignoring you have responded to cattle-call recruiting, and I’m afraid that’s on you — and on all employers that rely on it.

The problem with recruiting via job boards

The way the employment system works encourages people to apply for virtually any job that pops up in front of them. That’s the behavior you’re encouraging when you — as an employer — post your jobs on huge job boards where anyone and everyone can easily click and gamble. The system encourages people to apply to all the jobs they can. That’s how job boards like CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Indeed and others make money.

Then recruiters and employers waste job seekers’ time with demands for resumes, more application forms, online video interviews by robots, silly phone and e-mail screenings, and instructions to “wait until we get back to you.” (See this oldie-but-goodie NewsHour article: Is Applying for Jobs Online Not an Effective Way to Find Work?)

Is it any wonder the job applicants you’re puzzled about get fed up? The system dulls their motivation because it conditions them to a 99.9% failure rate. And if the job you’re contacting them about is a marginal one anyway — one they just clicked on for the heck of it — then if they’ve got a really interesting opportunity cooking, you’re just a bother.

How the system fails employers and job seekers

If you’re using job boards to solicit applicants, most of them are probably applying blindly, just because they saw the posting, not because it’s a job they really want. They apply to so many jobs this way that they just can’t keep up — or, by the time you get in touch, they’ve moved on. That’s why many are ignoring you. This is how the employment system fails you.

The problem is that when employers solicit so broadly from the pool of “everyone out there,” the rate of failure is virtually guaranteed to be huge.

Recruiting right requires work

My suggestion is, don’t solicit widely by using job boards. Figure out where the best potential candidates hang out. Carefully identify the people you’d really like to interview — and go look for them in those narrow hangouts. I think your hit rate will go up dramatically. Do the work to recruit right. (See Recruiting: How to get your hands dirty and hire.)

For example, if you’re recruiting programmers, go to a conference or training program where the kinds of specialized programmers you want congregate. This takes work, but of course it does. The automated method you’re using takes almost no work — and that’s why it doesn’t work.

I know that posting on job boards is what employers do. LinkedIn, Indeed, Zip make it seem so easy and they promise they will take care of everything. That’s nonsense. Please consider this: Job boards make money only when job seekers keep job hunting and when employers do not fill jobs. Everyone keeps spinning the roulette wheel. Only “the house” wins.

People who respond to cattle calls are not likely to be the people you want to hire. So please, employers — stop issuing cattle calls!

Do you ever ignore employers or blow off job interviews? Does the system dull your motivation? What can employers do better to hire the right people?

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LinkedIn Job Roulette: A career suicide game?

In the July 18, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, LinkedIn members reveal how they use the network to commit career suicide.

Question

Do you think LinkedIn has lost whatever promise it once had for people hoping participation would lead to job leads and better positions? Does it have any value now to the job seeker, or to the person seeking a better position than the one they currently have? Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

LinkedInNick’s Reply

LinkedIn once showed promise as the leading professional network. Sadly, today it is at best merely an online directory. I think CEO Jeff Weiner sold out LinkedIn’s original mission when he first hired a boiler room of phone jockeys to sell “seats” to recruiters. This instantly turned LinkedIn into just another job board. The Microsoft acquisition seems to have had no meaningful impact on LinkedIn’s business model.

LinkedIn sells dope to dopes

When it told members to upload their contacts and tacitly encouraged them to connect to every connection of everyone they knew, LinkedIn devalued all those professional relationships. In generating every meaningless “contact” possible, LinkedIn could claim that every person and employer could make every possible job match. All its members had to do was ask.

And ask they did — and ask they do. You and I get their requests every day.

LinkedIn turned the delicate matter of approaching the right employer about the right job into a game of roulette. Every spin through millions of “contacts” leads to a beggar’s banquet at the world’s biggest professional-data dumpster, where everyone gambles for scraps.

Job search as gambling addiction is now the preferred way to commit career suicide. While publishing “career content” that urges members to make only quality connections (wink, wink), LinkedIn’s system facilitates and speeds up random, stupid, embarrassing and potentially self-destructive begging for jobs.

LinkedIn’s connection engine — LinkedIn messaging — is the new mail merge. It makes otherwise intelligent, capable, respectful people look like idiots. LinkedIn sells dope to people it turns into dopes. Every time I get a LinkedIn message announcing that someone I don’t know wants me to read their profile and lead them to “an opportunity,” I want to connect them to an addiction clinic. They’re not looking for jobs — they’re avoiding talking to employers.

Do you know what you look like?

Long ago, most LinkedIn users stopped being selective about accepting connection requests (see Join My LinkedIn Gang-Bang) because more connections meant higher status. Now the value of your n-th connection is probably zero. LinkedIn is a useful research tool, but forget about it as a networking tool. Look up people you want to do business with, but make contact with them the old fashioned way: through trusted referrals that actually know you. That still works best.

A person panhandling on a city street corner knows what they look like. Does this LinkedIn member who contacted me through LinkedIn Messenger know what he looks like?

Nick, My name is [Name]. I am looking for a position in healthcare. Do you know of/have any openings? Thank you.

He looks desperate and clueless — lost in the job market. Why would I recommend or hire someone who doesn’t know how to approach the right employer? Why would I want a healthcare worker who gambles with his reputation? Why would I want him working with my patients or customers?

Job panhandling

Let’s take a look at some of the panhandling requests I get via LinkedIn from people I don’t know who don’t know me. I don’t respond to most of these, but I sometimes fantasize about the snarky replies I’d send them.

Hello Nick, I’m currently looking for a full time job as an analyst or client/project manager. Please take a look at my professional and education background on my LinkedIn page. Kindly consider my application for any current or future employment opportunities. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks, [Name and cellphone number]

Nicks’ Snarky Reply

My responses to each sentence of that query, respectively:

  1. Who cares?
  2. How will looking at your LinkedIn page pay off for me?
  3. No.
  4. Don’t bother.
Hi Nick, I hope you’re well. I am interested in learning if we can work together. I am an MIT alum with 4 yrs experience running a startup in Silicon Valley, and am currently looking for a FT role (open to industries). Is this something you specialize in? Thank you. [Name and cellphone number]

Nick’s Snarky Reply

You went to MIT and you’re panhandling strangers for a job? Is this how you got your startup funding, by spamming venture capitalists? If you don’t know what I specialize in, why did you contact me?

Hello Nick, Thank you for Linking. I am currently seeking the next chapter of my 20-year marketing career. Throughout my career, I have established a reputation as a leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to furthering standards of excellence. My expertise encompasses business development and marketing administration, from controlling costs and maximizing revenues to harnessing team strengths to improve brand awareness, client service, and project performance. Further, my ability to build consensus among executive teams and stakeholders to promote transparency and influence positive change has been repeatedly proven. I have attached my resume for review and am excited about this next chapter of my career and hearing about any new opportunities that are out there. Sincerely, [Name and telephone number]

Nick’s Snarky Reply

You work in marketing and you can’t write a note that instantly makes me want to call you? You want to hear about “any” opportunity? Paint my house.

Hi Nick, hope you doing great. we specialize in IT consulting and provide manpower ,if you have any open position you can contact me on [telephone number] or email me your requirement details at [e-mail address]. Regards, [Name] Business development Executive [Company]

Nick’s Snarky Reply

How’d you sneak in among job seekers? You specialize in IT consulting? Everybody specializes in IT consulting! Do you paint houses?

Nick, do you headhunt now? I need a job! Sorry to be so dense. I could really use someone to help me get my next great job in the greater NYC area. Thanks so much! [Name]

Nick’s Actual Reply

Please check these two articles:

Headhunters find people, not jobs

They’re not headhunters

You have a common misconception. It doesn’t matter how much you need a job. The best headhunters will not help you find a job. They focus on the assignments their client companies give them — and they go looking for the people their clients need.

Do not rely on headhunters in any way. If one finds you, great — but that’s like counting on lottery winnings to pay your mortgage.

Hi Nick, Thanks for connect. I am looking for Job change, would you dont mind to help me with relevant job opening matching my current job role pls. Currently working with [Company] as Sr Manager content/ OTT domain responsible for EMEA and India markets distribution across digital channels, formats & screens, managing annual revenue portfolio of $ 10 MN. Shall remain at your disposal. Regards, [Name]

Nick’s Snarky Reply

Yes, you shall remain in my disposal! Regards!

How to search for a job

You search for a job by identifying companies that make products or deliver services you’d like to work on. (See Pursue Companies, Not Jobs.) Then you figure out — figure out — what problems and challenges those companies face in running their business.

Most important, you carefully and thoughtfully pick a handful of your skills that you could apply to those problems and challenges, and you prepare a brief business plan showing how you’d use those skills to make the business more successful.

(Note that this does not involve reading job postings.)

Then you hang out with people who have business with the company, for as long as it takes to make friends with them, until they get to know you well enough that they’re happy to refer and recommend you personally to the manager whose department you could clearly help.

That’s how you connect with a job. You don’t ask someone else to do the work. Because they won’t.

How to commit career suicide

When you hang out on an online street corner (LinkedIn is just a street corner), throwing handbills (your profile) at passersby you don’t know who don’t know you — and expect one of them might take you by the hand and lead you to a good, well-paying job — you commit career suicide.

When people in your line of work recognize you on that street corner — or meet you later — they realize you’re undisciplined, lost, thoughtless, and incapable of demonstrating your value to the handful of employers that would really benefit from working with you.

I want to ask those who sent me the above requests, did you calculate what happens when all of my (or anyone’s) LinkedIn contacts send such queries to all their connections? LinkedIn makes money! But you kill your career. Your blind solicitations make you a dead man walking.

It’s embarrassing. Begging opportunities from people you don’t know that don’t know you reveals that your judgment stinks. Playing LinkedIn job roulette is a sign that you’re addicted to gambling. And people who gamble are bad risks in anyone’s business — or professional circle.

What kinds of LinkedIn solicitations do you get from people you don’t really know? Is LinkedIn a job hunting tool? Or an excuse for not job hunting?

ADDENDUM

In the comments section below, reader Cynthia Wharton, a headhunter, explains better than I have how LinkedIn has become the career suicide game de rigeur. When they use the tools LinkedIn conveniently provides to easily spam all of kingdom come with “requests” for job leads and introductions to employers, users kill any interest a good headhunter or employer might have in them.

Says Wharton:

I steer a wide birth away from Linked In candidates and resort to what I do best, headhunting the perfect fit via my own network and other avenues that have been successful in my career.

She steers away because over-exposed LinkedIn candidates appear desperate and undesirable:

…candidates have over saturated their resumes out via Linked In and I cannot consider them if they have already sent their details to the employer I have in mind for them…

And it’s not only headhunters who don’t want sloppy seconds. Wharton notes that employers steer away, too:

I am finding many of the companies I do placements for, have indicated they are exceptionally frustrated by the daily inundation of unsolicited applicants. I’ve had several tell me that when they see a resume come in from the site, they instantly drag it into their trash folder. They know full well that every one of their industry competitors more than likely also has it as well. Why would they hire someone who may be constantly contacted by other employers?

That’s what I mean when I suggest LinkedIn is a game of career suicide. Thanks to Wharton for explaining it better than I did. Please read the rest of her comments below.

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