Tuesday, November 24, 2009
When the Department of Labor reports there are 6 times more unemployed workers than advertised jobs, you’ve got to approach job search differently than your competitors in order to get noticed.
Most candidates spend the majority of their job search efforts replying to ads, company websites, and calling/emailing their contacts, asking about available jobs, or to pass a resume along.
These tactics have an unfortunately low response rate, yet the majority of candidates use them as primary search tools. Why? Because it’s what they know…it’s in their comfort level. Plus it’s simple – it may not be effective, but it’s easy to execute.
What if there was a more effective way? Would you incorporate more effective tactics, even if they weren’t as simple?
One way is to adopt a guerrilla job hunting approach. In your job search, Information Is Power. Yet most job seekers don’t invest the time to gain an advantage by gaining better information.
Most candidates, if they do much research at all prior to applying for a job, find out little information other than what they might find in a job ad. Candidates who spend a little more time might review a company’s website … or if they’re investing a LOT of time, might search Google or business portals like Yahoo Finance. Do you think that information gives you much of an edge over other candidates? Doubtful – when your competitors can find the same information, how can it give you an advantage?
Why won’t job seekers go beyond basic publicly available information in their search? Going farther is difficult, time consuming, and outside most job seekers’ comfort zones.
Becoming a Job Search Guerrilla
Job search is a war, and you have thousands of competitors. Your primary weapons are marketing materials, contacts, and information. Guerillas don’t play by the standard rules…Guerrillas push the envelope to gain an advantage over their competition.
Many candidates focus just on marketing materials – something tangible that they can see. Marketing materials are important, but contacts and information are just as important to gain an edge.
Your best way to push the envelope is to gain an information advantage over your competitors. But how can you gain an information advantage? The same information is available to everyone on a company’s website, on Yahoo Finance, on Google.
How to become a Job Search Guerrilla:
1) Find other sources of information - Your most valuable information about a target company will come from non-public sources. How could you gain insight about what’s going on within a company beyond company websites, Google, Yahoo Finance, and the business press?
2) Maximize use of contacts – Most candidates misuse their contacts by spamming their resume, asking them for work, or to keep an eye out for openings. Using your contacts insight just as a resume conduit creates a huge missed opportunity and may result in undermining your relationship.
Instead, ask for insight and gather data. Your contacts have a wealth of information of what’s going on within your target companies. Why not learn from them? Ask what their department is working on, what business opportunities their company is focused on, how they interface with the department you’re interested in, what are the top corporate initiatives, and company concerns/risks? Ask what bothers your contact about their company, what’s bugging their boss?
If your contact can’t or won’t answer these questions, talk to someone else in the company. It doesn’t have to be the CEO, but a Mail room clerk might not be so helpful either (unless you’re looking for a job in the mail room). Of course, the closer your contact is to your desired department and hiring manager, the better.
3) Build intelligence – Evaluate the data you’ve gotten from a number of sources within the company. What does it tell you about the issues that affect your target department and it’s manager? Is the company cutting costs? Is it expanding products or locations? Is it focused on customer retention, developing new customers, or lowering the cost per customer?
How does this information translate to pain? Do you have a track record solving any of this pain? (If you don’t have experience solving your target company’s identified pain, keep looking or choose a different target).
4) Gather more data to find more pain – Hang out at the water cooler. Since you may not be able to loiter inside the company or hide behind potted plants, do the next best thing. Hang out where employees have lunch or go to a nearby happy hour. Make it a point to spend a few early Friday evenings at the closest bars around your target company and make some new friends. You’ll be amazed at the information you can gather and the additional informational assistance you can gain just by buying a few drinks.
5) Be selective – Guerrilla job search takes time. You can’t scatter-shot this strategy. Pick a small handful of your top targets for Guerrilla tactics.
This is exactly how the folks on Wall Street make extraordinary returns – it's legal to use use inside information to gain an unfair advantage in the job market and an incredibly effective strategy. Just don’t buy investments from this information.
One of the best times to gather this information is during the holiday season. How will you use the next 6 weeks to advance your job search?
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