Debra Feldman
Debra Feldman

Why your job-hunting techniques are failing you

How to employ purposeful networking in your job hunt. Plus, six steps to building career insurance while seeking a new opportunity.

November 21, 2013
By Debra Feldman

Executives who land a new position are purposeful, persistent, and focused. Their job search did not start with creating a carefully formatted, achievements-filled résumé; they first developed and then implemented an effective, efficient plan to promote their abilities via traditional and virtual networking. 

They put most of their time and almost all of their efforts into selectively establishing new and maintaining existing one-to-one meaningful relationships. They devote themselves to networking purposefully, which puts them on the radar and keeps them top-of-mind among an inner circle of decision-makers, academic thought leaders, trusted industry advisers, authors, and others—the kinds of people who source job leads for them, provide recommendations, and open doors to hiring authorities who can appreciate their potential contribution and like initiating contact.

Traditional job searching methods, such as responding to advertised postings, filing applications, submitting résumés online, blasting résumés to recruiters, etc., can no longer be relied on to generate responses from employers—even when a résumé matches specific qualifications and requirements.  Success in today’s job market is less about getting a résumé to “hit” and more about cultivating productive, mutually rewarding relationships to source job leads. Networking, specifically with hiring authorities who appreciate your value and then remember to reach out to you first, is the most effective job search technique.

It’s a frustrating situation for naïve job hunters who think that the job market should operate rationally with employers selecting the most impressive résumés for further consideration.

Individuals can improve their chances for success in today’s job market if they rely on connections to get introduced to hiring authorities—not HR or external recruiters—before an official hiring announcement when there is less competition and a personal referral can be employed to greatest advantage. This is how to access the hidden jobs in the unadvertised job market.

You may be wondering how to look for a job if the first step is not drafting/polishing/improving your résumé. The solution is priming a purposefully designed network to help you identify a new position, which means more work and personal interactions than electronic job-hunting.

The networking investment pays generous lifetime dividends: Your connections are like career insurance. Your network contacts not only support, guide, and mentor you, but they also can be counted on for referrals now and in the future. In addition, you and your connections can rely on one another for recommendations even when neither of you is an active candidate. Having a devoted network that knows, likes, and appreciates you means there will be a continual flow of unsolicited potential new opportunities, which gives you more control over your career direction, choices, and timing as an in-demand recruit or expert adviser.

Here’s how to start building your own invaluable career insurance while seeking a new opportunity now:

  • Define and describe what differentiates you from your competition. Your elevator pitch, personal introduction, or electronic profile must deliver a positive first impression; be consistent with your short- and long-term career goals; clearly demonstrate who you are, what you do, and how you get it done; and display your personal brand. Be remarkable and memorable enough to be recalled and then passed along throughout your network and their connections.
  • Identify who needs you, including individuals by name and specific organizations. These are your target job lead contacts and the source of new career opportunities and future hiring offers.
  • Tailor your pitch to meet your targets’ needs and satisfy their expectations. Use their language, adapt to their culture, and be friendly, cooperative, and enthusiastic. For instance, make it easy to schedule a get-together and send thank-you notes.
  • Create messaging that clearly and compellingly communicates your potential value to specific targets. Yes, it is worth the effort to customize a résumé or write individual introductions. Relevant success stories illustrate the problem-solving context along with your responsibilities, skills, and results in quantifiable terms expressed as increasing revenues/profits, reducing costs, or improving process in dollars or percentage change.
  • Deliver your value proposition to those who are most likely to appreciate you, those who can comprehend your talent and skills and will be strong supporters promoting you as a trustworthy, capable professional. Get your information out by direct and indirect channels including one-on-one conversations in person, virtually, or on the telephone. Share ideas with peers online and have respected people vouch for you and distribute your message among their own connections
  • Be patient and persistent. Follow-up is key to developing relationships, not just scoring transactions. Not only do you have to stand out and distinguish yourself as the go-to expert, you have to continuously remind people in a polite way—just often enough and with the correct tone and attitude—to stay on their radar as the resource they want to recommend and the person they rely on to help them.

More than ever, it is not only about what you know or even who you know, but who with hiring authority knows remembers, likes, and trusts you.

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Debra Feldman is an executive talent agent and networking expert who specializes in unadvertised career opportunities. For more information, visit jobwhiz.com.