Two Clichés stand out in my head. First, “doing the same things repeatedly – anticipating a different outcome – is the concept of insanity. Second one is “thinking beyond the box.” We exist in-universe of clichés and acronyms. So, I’ve been trying to cut back on using them, but these two do resonate with me. So, I thought I’d talk about these two sayings for a bit and how it applies to job search strategies.
Most folks, I suppose, prefer to approach the job search with two simple strategic thoughts:
Offline: Use the Sunday Support Wanted as a start point. Respond to advertising, attend job fairs, and wait. To substitute, check out career centers or local/state jobs offices for job listings or vacancies. Take night courses maybe, build on some skills or add new ones. Go to a local chamber of commerce, try to source out any new leads. Contact alumni, if appropriate, and attend networking activities, if available. So, these are some of what work seekers do offline (that’s without internet for the tech disabled among us)
Online – Monster.com, career.com, and the rest of the “any job portal.com.” Post resumes, post more resumes, wait, wait, post more resumes. I recognize that people do get work across the internet; I just have not met a whole lot of them.
Interesting detour, read an article on CNN-Money about resumes vanishing into a black hole. One of the people interviewed said she sent out over 500 resumes with no response. She was desperate for an answer, positive, week, or indifferent. She will wait a bit longer, I suppose. One of the “experts” thought the issue was the enormous availability of resume producers and online mechanisms that allow people to overwhelm recruiters and HR folks with hundreds of more resumes per posting than in the past. Makes sense with a click of a button, not irrational to think that one could send out hundreds of resumes quickly via email or work portal. Beats licking stamps, I guess.
Are we crazy yet? Time to think beyond the box? Tired of becoming a cliché?
I’m going to share with you some of what I’ve done in the past that were good. I essentially took a traditional approach and only went deeper.
Doing the same thing inside a box will be going to any job fair that rolls into town and handing out a stack of resumes. This is a step better than mailing out or blasting hundreds emails to any organization via the help needed, offline or online. Even you do get to see a human being. Nevertheless, the chances of success are slim. See my first ezine. But that said, job fairs can be most successful!
So, the last work fair (and it was the last) I went to – went like this. I have previous military experience. This is important for me because it’s my alumni. You have yours, be college, high school, trade school, guys you hang out with at the street corner, mechanic, any party or organization that you are loosely related to, can be your alumni. And some fairs target those alumni. And that is massive. Not a generic work fair advertised in the Sunday paper. Not a shopping giant’s grand opening work fair. But a piece fair for experienced nurses, a job fair for HVAC engineers.
Recruiters at generic job fairs are fishing, gathering resumes, hoping for the best. Recruiters at an alumni job fair are centered. This is the underlying difference. What am I talking about? Really, I’m talking about working your niche. Are you working your niche right now? That these fairs may or may not be in the magazine. You have to find them in technical journals, societies, online, and so forth.
So, my niche was military. So, I began sourcing every military job fair in the US. That’s right, I lived in Florida at the time, and I sourced every job fair targeting the US military. And of course, this is the unprecedented value of the internet. This kind of study was just not possible 20 years ago when I left the army. Use the internet for analysis and leave the broadcasting of resumes to others.
Once I had every military job fair several months into the future, I made a list of all the companies participating plus where same companies were attending multiple events.
I studied every organization, division inside businesses, branches, names where I could. When I began the study, it became obvious that the companies that concerned me the most were attending the fairs’ farthest away. Ain’t that always the case. The theoretically lucrative fairs were held in locations like DC, Boston, and San Diego. But really, the locations were not significant. What was relevant were the companies that attracted me and where the research was taking me.
My study actually led me to a potentially good work fair in Austin, Texas. Living in Orlando, Florida, for me to go to a work fair in the center of Texas to drop off a few resumes did not seem like a brilliant idea at first glance. At second blush, tight on money – with a one-and-a-half-year-old rising quick – the thought was just plain nutty.
Still, the regular job fair, the online applications, the Sunday aid needed, the yellow pages, and the rest were not working me (do they work for you?), so after much debate with my wife, we agreed to give going to Austin a shot. Even after paying the registration fee and putting some money aside, the closer the date came, the greater and more serious the doubts became. On budget, a tight budget, I wanted to drive to Austin. 1,100 plus miles. The thought I would drive 20 hours to drop off a few resumes and drive back home was torture for me.
But for me, thinking beyond the box was science and study. Knowing why I was doing it vs., hey, wow, a work fair at the convention, let’s go. And it was not succumbing to paralysis by examination. It meant having confidence in the study; it means having trust in the planning and then making a decision and sticking to it.
To cut to the chase, turned up at the job fair with resumes in hand, backed by solid analysis and review about which companies I wanted to meet. Saw 5 or so onsite interviews (approached 8 companies I think) (approached 8 companies I think) (approached 8 companies I think). Went back the following morning for follow-up interviews. After I got home, a couple days later, I spoke with them again. Two of corporations invited to speak with them again, one flying me to Chicago and the other to Maryland. The work fair was November 8th, by mid-December, I got a written job offer from the business in Maryland, which I took. Turned out fine.
Gotta warn you, though, on the way home, I was sleepy. Pulled over at a rest area on the Louisiana and Mississippi boundary about 1am and snoozed in my car for about 5 hours. Woke up, got out, stretched, glanced around, and noticed about three dozen other folks doing the same thing. We all chuckled and waved, seemed funny at the moment.
1. Specialty, niche, niche
2. Research and Analysis
3. Go where it leads you \s4. Settle on the merits of your thesis and analysis
5. Believe in your judgment ability and hold to your decision
6. Go and take the best shot, knowing you learned well.
This, for me, is looking inside the frame. And if you keep moving to the next career fair at the closest conference or hotel with a stack of resumes, the outcome really won’t be any different.