Job search, like it’s counterpart, recruitment, is both an art and a science. It needs to be a successful combination of the strategic leveraging of technology (the science,) with advanced influencing skills, via personal branding and networking (the art.) Like the planets, when these elements are in perfect alignment, then hey-ho mission accomplished for both sides.
The universe can’t help you
But neither end of the spectrum can work on a one-off opportunistic basis. If recruiters invest time and energy learning their craft and developing both deep and wide networks, it makes sense that a job seeker would need to do the same. But in so doing, it means that job seekers have to actually stop being one-off job seekers and shift to becoming longer term career managers. Most job seekers seem to trust the universe to kick in. If a job seeker is sending out 100s of CVs with no response, the answer is that they will certainly be doing almost everything wrong.
Today’s career managers, like recruiters, have to be sophisticated influencers, with more than decent levels of digital and social savvy. This is why many job seekers struggle and some fail. It’s also why career managers rarely need to become job seekers and when they do it’s generally easier for them.
The art of career management is rooted in soft skills, in those intangibles that are the cement to the hard skill bricks. It’s about relationship building and branding both on and off-line.
Career managers are on the ball. He/she will have and understanding of at least their medium term goals and their strengths and personal development needs. Plus, they will have a complete and even strong online presence, an updated CV ready to go on their smart phone and be an active and skilled on-going networker, both on-line and actually. Yes, this will mean going to events and interacting with network connections. They will have their 30 second commercial and 15 word intro practised to perfection, suitable for use in a wide range of different situations.
Career managers will not be panicked into spamming total strangers in desperation telling them they are now on the market. They will already have a good reputation and high visibility in their network and a few well placed calls or mails will suffice.
Recruitment assignments are usually set up and structured on the basis of hard skills and key words. I have personally never worked on a search where the preliminary triage is based on soft skills. They tend to come in later down the line. After a sweep through an immediate and known network, candidates are identified via tech-based online searches, including LinkedIn and other professional and social platforms, using complex Boolean search strings. Key words would include education, professional, and sector skills and terms, plus location. In addition we look for the scope of a job, so metrics are important, budget and team size are helpful, plus the scale of any big wins.
If job seekers fit a very specific profile then the chances of appearing in searches for their industry, sector and location are high. If they have a hybrid background, or are career changers, then it’s going to be more challenging. This is when the science really kicks in and job seekers will need to position themselves for a specific type of opening, using transferable skills.
Career managers will have been situating themselves strategically over time and in advance, with network connections in their targeted field. They may even have worked with a coach.
Wheat and chaff
With millions of job search tips on the internet it is easy for job seekers to get confused. Some of it is misleading and other stuff is truthfully just complete nonsense, written using click bait headlines. If a job seeker has the right skill set, trust me, a career will not tank because of certain vocabulary choices on a CV or LinkedIn profile, provided they are spelt correctly. CVs don’t get people jobs, but they do get interviews.
If job seekers are competing against career managers, candidates who have better resumes or a stronger online presence, then the likelihood of the hiring manager having an unconscious preference (in addition to any pre-existing unconscious biases) are stronger. This means the interview performance has to be spot on, which is a pressure a job seeker could avoid. Career managers understand this, and have it in hand. Why make a difficult life, even more difficult?
To shift from being a job seeker to a career manager, means taking a longer term view and combining the art and science of career management to meet individual goals.
The less that is left to chance the better.