Picture a person looking for a job. What first comes to mind? Writing a CV, a cover letter, browsing job boards and the dreaded hope of an employer calling you back. Pretty passive, right? Well, no, not to an average person looking for a job. An average person thinks this is them taking action, being assertive and showing initiative. Not to me though, far from it. To me, this almost looks like a person is trying to find a job in hopes of no one calling. This is the (in)action of most people I talk to while advising on what to do if they’re looking for a job or a change in career. Let’s simulate a conversation I had recently with an acquaintance of mine and see what you think:
Job seeker: Hey man, I’d like some advice. I’ve been looking actively for a job the last couple of months but luck just doesn’t seem to favor me in any way.
Me: Well, first of all, what does actively to you mean?
Job seeker: You know, I updated my CV and applied to 3-4 vacancies on a job board. Did I do something wrong or?
Me: (takes a deep breath) No, you didn’t do anything wrong, but you also didn’t do much to influence your potential success. First, you applied only to a couple of vacancies in the span of couple of months. Since you’re looking for an admin position (a classic operational position pretty common on job boards), those numbers should be multiplied by 10 times over. Why? A multitude of reasons why you weren’t contacted. Not having enough experience, too many applications and yours is on the bottom of the list, a recruiter being lazy and overlooking your CV, slow reaction time or not providing feedback at all etc. You don’t have control of most of those, but you do have control of being assertive and almost aggressive in your job search, or should I say, job HUNT.
The conversation above is one I have too often and that’s not a good thing. It would seem like I gave a solution and an answer to that person on why he didn’t have any success, but to me, that’s just scratching the surface of possibilities you have to throw yourself out there and get the job you want. I’ll be sharing some of the job hunting strategies I personally used with success. Some of those might seem impossible to many people but the first key to any success is getting out of your comfort zone and that’s exactly what we will do below.
The old-school approach
Ever heard about door-to-door sales? Yeah, exactly. Go from company to company, knock on doors and sell yourself. This is what real assertiveness and aggression look like in a positive light. How is it different than the classic, passive approach? It shows and builds character simultaneously, you stand out from the usual way things work in the job seeking market, out of the box application makes companies remember you regardless of the outcome. The ultimate escape from the comfort zone gives you the sense of increasing your self-confidence even if you face rejection.
Granted, not many people can do this. Specific type of people (think ENTJ/ESTJ – more on MBTI later) will have no problem doing this, the ones who thrive in the face of challenge and taking the lead. I personally did try this a couple of times. Didn’t work for me, but I did feel the rush of conquering the world after taking that type of action. Some people I know successfully pulled this strategy and opened new doors for themselves. Try it, you never know what might come out of it.
This strategy is my favorite one because it landed me so many interviews I lost count. Did you ever see a job description with the person/contact available on the bottom? If you did, you missed the opportunity right there because you didn’t pick up your phone and dialed that number. Yeah, you don’t apply, you simply call the person responsible for that vacancy and have a conversation. How is that benefiting you? Well, in a number of ways:
- You show character, assertiveness and ambition
- You “skip” the bottom part of the barrel for your CV
- You instantly leave an everlasting impression because you stand out (almost no one does this)
- You basically do the pre-screen part of the recruitment process for recruiters or hiring managers
- You practice the art of selling yourself and your skills
9 times out 10, I landed the interview that way. A hiring manager once told me that action alone was enough to land me the job (too bad I got a different offer). It is that powerful.
Even if the job description doesn’t have any phone contact, do the research, get the number and call them. Many of them will probably tell you to just apply the old-fashion way but there is a good chance they will remember that you called. Again, this is a bold action, but quantity over quality might benefit you in this instance.
Social media Job Hunting
This type is probably the easiest of the Holy Trinity, but still noteworthy nonetheless. It landed me a job when I needed it the most, so go figure. We’re going to talk about LinkedIn – the greatest invention for professional interaction to date, in my opinion. Not only is it full of recruiters who can make you an offer even if you’re passive, you can also search for worldwide opportunities. How do you use it to full potential even if there are no opened vacancies for your niche or industry? Here is what you should do:
- Make a list of 10 companies you want to work for
- Search for managers or C-level execs of the department (preferably HR obviously) and skip recruiters (nothing against them, you just want a quick response in full)
- Before you send them a connection request, be sure to have an eloquent, quick, precise, to-the-point note (who you are, why you want to work for them and being open for opportunities)
- Sit back and relax
What’s the worst that could happen? No open vacancies at the moment. What’s the second best thing (the first being getting an interview) that could happen? Managers from different companies connected with you, you grew your network and expanded the chance of someone contacting you for a position in the future. The endgame here is to get the job but you can be far from discouraged if you don’t succeed instantly. You’re building both your brand and character.
Oh the joys of being an introvert… Ah, just kidding. So what do these job hunting strategies have in common?
They make you stand out of the crowd. They make you someone out of the ordinary. They make you unique.
This is what most nowadays employers want, anyway. They want you to be competent in your own, unique way. Oftentimes you can’t show how unique you are until you’re already inside the organization. This is why thinking outside the box and getting yourself out of the comfort zone can skyrocket you to the job you want. Give it a try and let me know in the comments how it went. Even better if you had a similar experience, please share it, I’d love to hear about it.