#1 Thing Job Seekers Do Wrong

I was asked recently by a job seeker: “How do I zero in positions that I’m qualified for and, those that I will be challenged by?” (shout out to Michael Kubica, MBA for the question)  After going back and forth with Mike I think the question is really: “How do I get a job that will use my skills and that I will actually find interesting?”   Most people don’t really want to be ‘challenged’ – they use the word ‘challenged’ or ‘challenging’, but when push comes to shove what most people want is a job where they feel like their contributions are valuable to the organization and their using the skills they are best at.  People want to feel successful – not challenged.  Many times when you’re challenged, you fail – most people don’t like to fail – and will quit.  But job seekers know that hiring managers and HR folks to hear the “challenge” word!

It boils down to what are failed job seekers doing wrong?

The #1 thing that job seekers are doing wrong is only looking for jobs, of jobs that are posted!

I hear it constantly. “I’ve been applying to jobs constantly”, “I’m on the job boards, Indeed, directly to company pages, etc. There isn’t a job posted that I haven’t applied to – there’s nothing left I can do…”  The reality is, HR and Talent Pros know this, most jobs that you want never really get posted.  Here’s how a vast majority of jobs get filled today:

Step 1: Need for a position is Identified in an organization. This might be for a new position being created, a person who resigned, termination, etc. – but now we know we need a body.

Step 2:  The hiring manager, or person who knows of the need first, has one thought – “who do I know, right now, that would fit this position?”

Step 3: If there is an answer to the question in Step 2 – that person is contacted.

(Realize – never in the first 3 steps was there any mention of “Oh, we better post that position quickly!” This all happens before any of that talk)

Step 4:  If there is a viable candidate to fill the need of the organization – that position is filled with that need – the position is never posted.

I say ‘it’s never posted’, but we all know that’s not true – it gets ‘posted’ but it really doesn’t get posted.  It only gets posted to close the loop on the recruiting process – but the resource to fill the need has already been identified – so you applying to that posting is an exercise futility. So many of the positions that get filled in our organizations, are filled like this. Who do you know?  I know someone. Bam! Filled. Job seeker – you’ve got know shot at these ‘prime’ positions.  That’s something behind the curtain that HR/Talent Pros don’t want you to know.

So, what can Job Seekers do to combat this?

Simple.  Network.  Connect with people in your expertise in the companies you want to work. With the people at companies in the area you want to work.  As a job seeker you want to put yourself into the minds of those individuals who when they find out they’re going to have a need – your name comes up in that conversation.  Keep posting – but spend at least double the time you do posting – networking and meeting those who will be in those conversations.  You’ll open yourself up to an entire other bucket of potential openings!


5 thoughts on “#1 Thing Job Seekers Do Wrong

  1. As a job seeker myself I feel for Jacob (I really do I have been looking for a *long* time), but Tim is right. Job seekers must arm themselves with the proper ways in which to build a network. Understand that networking can be very valuable but don’t expect to see results right away. Also, we must bring an attitude of “I am connecting with you because I like *you*, maybe want to get to know *you* a little better, and perhaps in the future who knows maybe I can help *you* or you can help *me* (notice all the you’s)”, not “Hey I am a job seeker do you know of any leads?”. This is the one thing job seekers must never do is ask for a job lead. Most likely when we meet someone we will give them our so called elevator speech, “Hi I am Cara. I am an HR Representative for a small software firm, but am looking for a new opportunity.” I have now let the person know that I am open to new opportunities. If the person would like to speak to me further, which by the way they almost always do (they will then say “What is it that you are looking for?”, then I let them make that move. I am also in HR and just a few weeks ago I went to an IT job seeker group, remember I am a job seeker too. As soon as I said what my company did and that I was in HR I got a line of people just assuming I was there to hand out jobs, which I wasn’t and never am when I network. I network with many different groups in different fields, I genuinely love meeting people. But if the person is just assuming I have job openings in their field because I do recruiting, and never even asks about my job search or for that matter anything else about me, it is rude in my opinion. Jacob trust that there is a plan for you, keep your spirits up, from the sounds of it you are doing everything right. Some tips if you aren’t doing them already are, to always thank people for their time after meeting them (as soon as I get home from an event I connect with the people I met and thank them), volunteer in organizations that matter to your industry, and then you can put that on your resume. In my area I like to attend the faith based job seeker organizations. They provide some wonderful advice, speakers and resources, and it helps to know you are not on this journey alone. Good luck to you Jacob and all the job seekers!

  2. As much as I think the content of this relevant and understand it better than most (job seeking senior corporate / internal recruiter ) the advice on ‘just go out there and network’ infuriates the h.. Out of me. See there is a huge difference between writing about this stuff on paper and then converting that to actions that lead to something. For every 1 success story on this there are 100 failed ones as networking is n o t the wholy grail or answer and only works for some and in certain instances. I have networked, grouped,mparticipated, shared,reached out to, connected with, spoken to more than can be imagined for a period of 10 months, I know every trick in the book, and I have used it, yet one thing that no networking can do is stump roles out of the ground if they are not there. So great theory and makes for good writing, but reality, …. A whole different story

    • Jacob –

      I hear your frustration – but this isn’t theory – this is 20 years in the trenches of corporate HR and recruiting and knowing exactly how people get jobs in this country. This larger issue I see is so many job seekers lack networking skills and come across salesy and/or desperate – they give no WIIFM to the other party.


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