Companies looking to hire have created protocols that suit them. It usually works like this:
- Advertise the position
- Tell the candidate proper response methods. (phone, online, job fair)
- Respond to the candidate in a timely manner… (that’s more of a wish-list item than an in-stone commitment)
- Interview the short-list
- Appoint the lucky candidate
With this information, you will likely send in your resume per the instructions of the company and then simply wait, and all too often, wait some more. This is how the ‘system’ works. (And it works terrifically well for the employer. Not so well for you though!).
Use Your Strengths and Choose the Strategy to Get Noticed
By identifying your key strengths, weaknesses and unique offerings for any role, you are better positioned to understand the way you perform best and capitalise on those strategies to get noticed. The following is a simple exercise that helps you identify the method of job search that works best for you. As simple as it is, many people have never given thought to how they perform best.
Put your resume aside for the moment and grab a clean sheet of paper. Here is where you will provide yourself with a frank and honest analysis of key strengths that will complement your job search style.
In each corner, write the following words/phrases:
- Credible References
(These are generally, the four broad categories, available to job seekers).
In the middle of the page, draw a square and inside that, write your key strengths in one column and your weaknesses (as you see them) in a second column. These can be so-called ‘soft skills’ and aren’t necessarily work-related. Perhaps you’re a great communicator, or you have a nice smile, or you are a fabulous report writer; maybe you have the perfect career chronology that looks wonderful on paper. You may have a heavy accent that you feel gets in the way of what you want to offer.
Next, draw arrows from each strength and weakness to a corner where your weaknesses will not be so obvious and your skills will be best leveraged.
For example: If you have written down skills such as: warm demeanour, nice smile, good looking and that you make friends easily, then person-to-person meetings or networking with your references is the ideal mechanism for you to communicate your value. It’s a common refrain to hear: “If only I could get before these people I could convince them“. Casual, informal get togethers with people you know, those you want to know, and people who know your references will undoubtedly work best for you and can serve to leverage information about up-coming jobs (the hidden job market).
Another example: If your “weakness” column indicates that you are nervous about meeting people and reluctant to network, then “online” is a good choice. Same as if you have a heavy accent that hinders your communications. Getting active on LinkedIn for instance, will help you source the right people and hidden job market while “protecting” you from those more ‘up front and personal’ networking techniques that you fear (at least for a while).
A perfect career chronology—no gaps, right industry, right job advancement—is likely to work well with the traditional online resume submission process; backed by credible references, this can be an unbeatable fast track to interview.
Some of these categories may overlap and may not be mutually exclusive. In other words, your strengths may lend themselves to more than one of the four categories and that’s a great thing too as it gives you more options to pursue!
After you have finished, a visual review will show you arrows pointing to each category—the most arrows will tell you what job search avenue you should pursue.
By analysing where your skills, personality and attributes can be best utilised, you can discover how to make the job search work for you, rather than slavishly following an employer-focused system that is really there to screen out candidates.
You will likely need to employ all four corners of the exercise at some point in your process, and to play the game you are likely to need to comply with the “system.” However, instead of the employer’s preferred method being your only option, you can now complement their system with your own strategies where you shine. Working towards your goal from two or more corners will certainly increase your odds of being seen and getting noticed.
Imagine the power of having a coffee with a key influencer, while your resume is making its way through his company’s HR system, in time for your reference to attest to your talents! What an unstoppable combination!