In our experience, “standing out” for the right reasons is never on account of one thing done right by a candidate. It is the complete package. However, when I am asked by one of our candidates how to best job hunt, my answers can sometimes be met with surprise:
- Know Thyself
- It’s Who you Know
- Get Personal, Stay Memorable
TIP NUMBER 1: KNOW THYSELF!
Be clear on these two things, they will help you in every step of the recruitment process
- What are the five things in professional life I am passionate about?
- What are the five things in professional life I excel at?
Think about it. If you write these down, ponder them, re-articulate them and become fluent in them, you will
- Know what roles to apply for;
- Know why you are applying;
- Know why you could be excellent at the role;
- Know how to answer over 70% of all interview questions.
At Briscoe Search over the last 13 years (we opened 13 years ago this week actually) we have trained thousands of candidates in the art of interviewing and the body of work we focus on this “Your 5 Passions and 5 Skills”. It is extraordinary how many interview questions get answered with these 10 things as the genesis. I would advise you work on these before you have a single conversation with anyone about your next move.
Candidates who are clear on what they love, and humble but confident on their skill set stand out like a lighthouse. Why? Because the majority of candidates have not taken the time to figure this out.
TIP NUMBER 2:
The best source of career opportunities comes from people you know, not from online adverts.
Think about it, if you are to sit down and work through your professional network of trusted contacts, does it stand to reason that at least a handful of them could be in the market for candidates in the near term? I don’t mean the 1853 people you are “Linked In” to online. They don’t know how good you are at your job. I am referring to the people who have benefited from your work in the past, who know what you are capable of, and who trust your character. If you don’t have people like this in your life, you will definitely find it a lot harder to find your next position. So I am hoping that your list has more than a blank page. Now do this:
- List them (on paper, in a spreadsheet or whatever you are going to be in action)
- Work the list. Contact each person by phone, even better, ask to catch up for 20 minutes. Avoid email or messages. It is far less effective, unless the message is “Can I buy you a coffee next Wednesday at 10a.m. to let you know what I am up to?”, or something similarly confirmatory.
- Follow Up! Meeting one of your trusted network once is only your job starting, not ending. People are busy, and overwhelmed, and forgetful. They say in Sales that you must get in front of a prospect 8-9 times in some way, for them to remember your brand. Why would job hunting only take 1? Don’t hassle or harass, but be convenient and memorable in staying “top of mind” with your contacts.
- Record what you do. Remember Point 1 above? List your targets, then record what you are doing. This is what all great business development professionals do, and sorry, you are now the only Business Development Manager of a company called YOUR CAREER. So this company will only succeed if the B.D.M. is doing his / her job.
- And on that, finally, set yourself a target each week as to how many approaches, conversations and follow ups you intend to achieve. Then monitor achievement of these measures weekly. It is what you would expect your B.D.M. to do!
TIP NUMBER 3:
Take the discipline of TIP 2 into every avenue of Job Hunting you Have.
Remember I mentioned we get over 100 applicants for a role? On average, only 10% of those applicants actually pick up the phone and call us to introduce themselves. I get that a lot of applicants have become disillusioned on this given my industry sector is hopeless for returning candidate calls, but that should not stop you. I am MD of the company but when I am recruiting a senior role, I speak with every candidate that calls through. Plus, I take notes on their approach, their personality, their passion whilst I am talking with them. I would almost venture as far as saying that my initial longlist of candidates (i.e. when I cull the 100 to 20) features a high percentage of the “callers”.
It will take you 1 minute if they take a message, and 5 minutes if you get to chat to the decision maker. What a great investment in your application.
There is no magic bullet that gets you a great career in tough times, but there are certainly lots of small focus areas you can laser into that will greatly enhance your chances of separating yourself from the herd and ensure you are “seen” by your ideal employers. Go get em, and don’t give up!