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Job Search Misconceptions

In my last post I talked about job search mistakes that may be hampering your job search efforts.  This time, I’d like to review some common misconceptions that may appear to be good advice but in reality may be leading you in wrong direction.

Many of these misconceptions are the result of well-intentioned “headhunter” advice articles.  While headhunters certainly have a place in the employment market, I find that their advice is frequently taken from textbooks and/or outdated concepts that don’t apply in today’s job market.  Here are two misconceptions that frequently masquerade as good advice, so beware!

By-Pass HR and Go Straight to the Hiring Manager

This advice frequently takes the form of advising you to target a hiring manager in a company for which you want to work.  Then, call that person, explain who you are, what you know about that company and how you can help with some of the challenges being faced.  Ask for a 15 minute meeting at which you’ll demonstrate how you can add value to their bottom line.

What hiring manager could resist a pitch like this, right?  Well, the answer is practically all of them.  Hiring managers in the current tight job market usually have no difficulty finding qualified candidates by simply posting their job openings and are far too busy to consider cold calls from complete strangers.  You success rate using this strategy will be close to zero.

That said, there is a correct way to connect directly with a hiring manager: through a mutual acquaintance.  If you know someone who knows the hiring manager (or at least works at that company) and can give you a referral, that’s gold.  Then, you’re not a complete stranger – you’re a good candidate who’s been referred.  Personally, I will always consider candidates who are known to people who know me or work in my organization.

Networking is the Only Way to Find a Job Because 80% of Jobs Aren’t Advertised

I see this misconception time and time again and it’s something with which I strongly disagree, primarily because I consider it outdated advice.  Today, almost every company of any size has a web site and almost all of them post most of their job openings on that web site.  And why not?  The web site is already there and it’s very little extra effort to add their job postings.  If fact, they’d be foolish if they didn’t.

Additionally, the public sector counts for quite a few job openings and almost 100% of all job openings in the public sector are posted, mainly because they have to be opened up to the general public.

Further, if employers rely mostly on networking and word of mouth, they won’t always find the best candidates – just the ones who network well!

Yes, networking is an important part of your job search technique and can frequently alert you to jobs before they are posted and give you an inside track with the hiring manager.  But it should not occupy your time to the extent that you ignore all the other methods that should be used in a good job search.

Actually, there is one area of the job market for which it’s probably true that 80% or even more of the job openings are not posted.  For senior-level positions, usually the vice-president level and higher (in the private sector of course), most job openings are not posted.  This is because the requirements are high and there is a limited market of qualified individuals, many of whom are known.  Headhunters are frequently used at this level and confidentiality is important.

But the vast majority of job openings are not at the senior level and thus will in all likelihood be posted either on the company web sites, in the newspaper, or at the major online job sites.  For most job seekers, the challenge is not finding job openings, but rather finding job openings for which they are qualified and applying in a way that gives the greatest chance of being considered.

In my next post, I’ll discuss job fairs – as one important way of finding job opening – and how to work them for maximum results.

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