“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” In the 1800’s when Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that quote, things were a lot different. If you created something innovative, it was a special event, rare and worth talking about. Rumors of your accomplishment traveled by word of mouth, eventually getting written about in newspapers and magazines. Information traveled at a snail’s pace compared to today, when the world can hear about something in the time it takes to blink.
Today, you can’t wait for the rumors of your achievements, no matter how big or small, to reach those for whom your efforts matter. Even though news travels at the speed of light, if you’re creating something, or want to be a part of something (working for a particular company, for example), you need to make your target audience aware of what you’ve done and its value to them. You can’t wait for the perceived value of what you do and what you know to strike the radar of your audience then wait for them to reach out to you. It just doesn’t work that way now!
When classified print ads in newspapers and magazines were the norm, it was easy to find listings of available jobs. That same section frequently listed “Positions Wanted,” where those seeking a particular kind of job could post a few lines about what they were looking for and a little about their qualifications. Recruiters and employment agents, along with in-house hiring managers would scour these listings in the hopes of finding qualified candidates to fill their openings and they would seek you out. The latter part of this equation is still an active part of the recruitment process, but the listings today are almost all online, and one can just as easily reach employers on the other side of the world with the same effort it takes to reach someone across town.
Posting your resume, CV or qualifications online is only the start of what it takes to get hired today. Sadly, and ineffectively, too many people post their documents, then sit back and wait to hear from someone. These people are going to be waiting a lot longer than those who take assertive actions. Posting your materials where they will do you the most good is the best place to start.
If your career goals are built around a specialized skillset best utilized in a particular industry, find a job board that specifically covers that industry and its relevant professionals. If you can’t find a specialty site, then research the companies that interest you and find out – in addition to their corporate site – where they post their job listings. This strategy is relevant to every job seeker; if the company you want to work for doesn’t post jobs on one of the big. national sites like Monster or Career Builder, it behooves you to find out where they announce their openings. Check their corporate site, LinkedIn, Twitter feeds, Facebook, etc., or any other place they could be posting job announcements.
The next steps are as critical as crafting an effective resume. Read and follow the specific instructions provided with the job announcement. If it tells you how to submit your documents and credentials, follow those instructions. If it says “don’t send attachments,” sending your resume as an attachment will get you ignored. If the company asks for references to be included with your submission and you don’t include them, you will not be considered. If they say “send your materials as text only,” don’t send a highly formatted document.
These simple criteria are employers’ first opportunity to see if applicants can read and follow instructions. They are not likely to invest their time and money with people who don’t do as they are asked at this early stage. Employers choose to make this part of the hiring process deliberately “difficult” to help weed out less desirable hopefuls.
Now that you’ve submitted your materials to the employer, how can you best toot your own horn? Resumes can only go so far in promoting you, your skills, qualifications and accomplishments necessitating you do some more digging. Whether via general social media, industry related sites or corporate website, try to find the names of people to whom you can reach out directly. If your search is fruitful, send those people a personal note with some added details about you and your relevant qualifications that may not be on your resume, or not detailed enough to have the impact you want. Make your communication, short, sweet, and concise. Do you have any press clippings or photos regarding awards or accolades you’ve received? Get these into the hands of the decision makers.
Reach out to the folks in your professional network to see if anyone you know has a personal, direct contact with the company you are targeting, and ask if they can put in a good word for you. A personal reference is probably the singular most effective way to get noticed. You’ve been building your network for just such an occasion as this, so take advantage of it and ask for the help.
The major point of all this over-simplified job search activity is to get recognized by decision makers. It takes your active participation through research and personal contact to reach the right people so that you can make a good impression and convince those decision makers to hire you. Don’t waste your time inefficiently taking stabs at ineffective and incomplete efforts. Read and follow instructions in every job announcement you pursue. Get someone else from your network to sing your praises too. With a lot of hiring going on right now, in almost every segment, making the right moves is your primary responsibility. Don’t get passive about your search.
Take action. Make it so!