The last time I looked for a job, a Democrat was President and Al Gore had just invented the Internet. It was 1996. The economy was on the upswing and the unemployment rate was running around 5.5%. Monsters lived under your kid's bed. Newspapers were still king when it came to finding a job. It was right around Halloween 1996 that I opened the classified ads in the Orange County Register, browsed the four or five dozen ads and sent out eight or nine resumes. A couple weeks later I started a job running a System Integration practice.
Fast forward 15 years. About the only thing that is the same is a Democrat is President. We are coming out of the worst economic downturn in a couple generations and the unemployment rate is close to double what it was the last time I looked for a job. But the biggest change to the job search these days is the Internet. The job boards like Dice and Monster allow access to scarce jobs evenly across the board. That "perfect job" you are eyeing is open to all comers - recruiters from the opposite coast with clients who want to move, over qualified candidates, under qualified candidates, etc. I can only imagine how many applicants must submit their resumes for that one job posted on Monster. And have you looked in a newspaper for serious job ads lately? They are non-existent.
Not only have the times changed, but so have the rules. it's no longer possible to reply to classified ads and expect to get a call. After consulting a couple of "career coaches" recently (i.e., out of work HR professionals who have figured out how to make a living providing advice and counseling), i found out that only about 20% of their clients find jobs through job postings. And much of that relies on luck - being in the right place (in front of your computer) at the right time (the day the job is posted) with the right resume (includes the key words that make it through the scanning software).
In today's market, even with the economy looking up, we need to rely on two other things to be effective in our job search:
() Our Networks, and
() Our Personal Brand
Let's start with the whole area of networking. The reality is that the majority of jobs out there as the economy starts making it's way out of the doldrums will be in small businesses. The same ones that were hit pretty hard when credit was rolled back and profits were squeezed. These are the businesses that were sensitive about spending a buck foolishly even before the recession. Many have some pretty critical needs that they would like to hire to fill, but they lack the time and dollars to post their jobs. And then, even if they post the job, the hiring manager will not have the time to read through the thousands of responses they will receive from a job board posting.
This means that if you want that job, you need to find it. How? By knowing someone who knows about the position. The only way to do that is through your network of friends and acquaintances. And here is where things start becoming uncomfortable for most people. How many people are comfortable asking people for "stuff"? Well - if you are a successful sales professional maybe not, but for the vast majority of people, asking others for "stuff" without anything apparent to give in return is not a comfortable thing to do. But (coming back to the running motif now) - was training for and running your first half/full/ultra comfortable? Success is about forcing yourself out of your area of comfort and taking a risk or two. You know - nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that stuff.
Seriously though, establishing and maintaining your network is more important than ever in today's job search. The good news is we have the tools for this at our fingertips. If you stop and think about it, our running groups, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook provide us a wealth of contacts that would have taken a lifetime to amass back in 1996. And when it comes to a successful job search, the grandaddy of all networking social media, LinkedIn comes to the rescue.
Tomorrow, I'll talk about how I am using LinkedIn. In the meantime, if you have a LinkedIn profile, please connect to me! In fact - let's do a little experiment. Bop over to LinkedIn. If you don't have a presence, go ahead and create a profile. It's free and far more secure than Facebook. Then, connect with me! Just search "people" for Glenn Jones. You'll see my smiling face. I'll report back tomorrow on how many new connections I make today. Don't be bashful! (Back to the running motif) Just do it!
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