Eighty percent of job search work is targeting the right job. Employers look every day for people who are targeted, knowing what type of work they should be doing. They can find lots of people who are competent and will show up for a paycheck, but it is much more difficult to find candidates who are motivated and know what kind of work they should be doing. (If you are not sure that you are seeking work that fits who you are, read the article "Discover The Right Career For You".) The other twenty percent of job search work is learning and implementing the most effective job search strategies for today's job market.
One study found that ninety-five percent of job hunters make mistakes that significantly delay their employment! These mistakes fall into two categories: (1) unproductive methods of finding job openings and (2) ineffective interviewing skills. On average, people change jobs eight to ten times (or more!) in their lifetimes, so it makes sense to learn how to use the very best job search strategies that can substantially reduce the time it takes you to find your next job.
There are two different job markets: the advertised (or organized) job market and the hidden (or disorganized) job market. Understanding and utilizing both of these job markets will allow you to find job openings much more expediently and efficiently.
The advertised job market is the one that is most familiar. It includes jobs that are found on the Internet, in classified ads, and through employment agencies. The jobs are organized and readily accessible. It is the most popular job market because it is the easiest to access. Click here for a list of some of the best recommend job listing sites.
While 95% of job hunters rely on the advertised job market to find employment, only 15-20% of the available jobs are represented. As you can imagine, only using the advertised job market makes the job search process slower and more frustrating. Not only is there only a small percentage of actual job openings listed, but applicants will find more intense competition because of the large number of job hunters who use the classified ads on the Internet and other sources. Some job hunters even give up their search for a particular job because they either see no openings in the classified ads for that type of work, or they get no responses to the resumes they have sent.
The majority of jobs that are available at any given time are found in the so-called hidden job market. The jobs are "hidden" because they are filled without employers advertising them on the Internet or in newspapers. Finding these jobs involves a more proactive and strategic approach. Job seekers find out about job opening through developing personal contacts and contacting employers directly (whether or not an employer is advertising job openings). Phone calls, referrals and interviews are the keys. This market is more difficult to access, but tends to yield much more fulfilling and rewarding work.
Are you wondering why most job openings are found in the hidden job market? It is because many companies have found that advertising a position is unproductive. Besides the expense of advertising a position, a classified ad can bring in hundreds of resumes from unqualified people. It takes a lot of staff time to go through these resumes and, even then, the hiring manager knows very little about the candidates who are brought in for an interview. One study found that 85% of all employers don't advertise job openings at all!
Instead of sifting through resumes and spending hours interviewing unqualified candidates, hiring managers more typically hire people they already know, or those who find out about the job openings and contact the organization. Therefore, if you contact a company that has an unadvertised opening, you could end up being the only candidate they interview for the position. The odds are certainly more in your favor than if yours is one resume among hundreds that is received in response to a classified ad!
Does this mean you should avoid using the advertised job market? Of course not! The advertised job market does contain approximately 15-20% of available job openings, and they are organized so that it is easier to find positions for which you qualify. What it does mean, however, is that you should organize your job search work so that you are investing no more than 25-30% of your job search time in pursuing possibilities in the advertised job market, and 70-75% of your time using strategies to tap into the hidden job market. By thus dividing your job search time, you will greatly increase your chances of finding employment quickly.
An interview is any situation in which you have a face-to-face meeting with a person who has the power to hire you-even if he or she does not currently have a job opening. Even talking to an employer who doesn't have a current opening can be immensely helpful. As one Harvard study found, of the people who found jobs through personal contacts, 43.8% had new positions created for them! Jobs are created every day for people who can prove they can meet an employer's needs.
When you think of any conversation with a prospective employer as an interview, you will be better prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may arise as you follow up on leads from your personal contacts and as you contact employers directly. You will be hired when you can prove to the employer that you can meet their needs (i.e., save them money, make a job more efficient, etc.) better than the other candidates. The key is being able to communicate effectively what you can do for the employer.
One study showed that 80% of job hunters couldn't "prove" their top ten skills for the jobs for which they are interviewing. ("Proving" your skills means that you can give specific examples that illustrate that you do, indeed, have the needed skills for the position in question. For example, a secretary might prove she has the skill of organizing systems by saying, "Mr. Employer, recently I organized our filing system which allowed our staff to find files in half the time it used to take.") In order to prove that you are the applicant who should be selected, you need to first know what relevant skills you possess and then be able to cite compelling examples of how you have used those skills.
Communicating effectively also means being able to answer the frequently asked interview questions like a pro. Practice answering interview questions with a friend or family member until you feel you could confidently answer most questions in your sleep! And, for the best possible practice, work with a career counselor who can coach you on how to answer each question most strategically. Remember that it is not necessarily the most qualified person who gets the job, but rather, the person who can most convincingly communicate in the interview that he or she can do the job.
If you have time to practice answering only one interview question, craft a compelling response to the question: Why should I hire you? This question underlies almost all other interview questions. Listed below is an example of how a person applying for a graphic artist position might answer this question:
"Mr. Employer, I've had two years of work experience designing and producing brochures, newsletters and training materials. I saved my employer $6,000 this past year by doing the work he'd previously hired out to a graphic artist. I am skilled in providing good customer service, handling pressure and meeting deadlines. Mr. Employer, I believe you'll never regret making a decision to hire me."
Take time to write out and then memorize your own answer to this key question. This "30-second commercial" about you can then be used in talking with your personal contacts or potential employers.
Using the techniques to find job openings and interview effectively can maximize your efforts in finding a job in less time. But remember--knowing this information is not enough; you also need to be persistent in implementing what you have learned. Finding a new job is not easy; most people need support, encouragement, and accountability as they search. Create your own support network of friends, family, and of course the staff of the Center for Career and Life Calling.