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Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

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Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Nate W. » Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:13 am

Dear Forum,

Recently, I read an excellent Science Careers advice pamphlet. This pamphlet gave some excellent advice. One bit of wisdom that I took away is that candidates must be creative when trying to get the attention of hiring managers, especially when trying to land a job in industry. When I focused more on networking with managers and ditched the "conventional wisdom" being espoused by coaches, HR, recruiters, resume writers, or so-called published experts, I got much better results. What I mean by "conventional wisdom" is the idea that candidates should focus on resume presentation, tailoring job search documents, going through formal channels, and trying to understand your goals/skills.

Frankly, I find this conventional wisdom to be well intended but a complete time waster for most candidates. The real challenge is more about marketing and engaging hiring managers. However, these experts will rarely admit this. Often these experts have ulterior (or trolling) motives for giving this advice; selling a book, increasing coaching fees, selling a certificate or academic program, or protecting their turf. So, I agree with the advice in this pamphlet that candidates should try any way to get their foot in the door and get the attention of the hiring managers.

There are two ideas that are being espoused by these so called experts:

1) Candidates should only submit their resumes and job inquiries through formal channels (i.e. via the HR online tracking system).

2) Candidates should never ask about jobs in an informational interview even when one has a good rapport with the manager.

Based on my experiences and the advice of managers, I have found that candidates should focus more on building relationships and increasing one's visibility in the field rather than worrying about these issues.
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Re: Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Dave Jensen » Sat Sep 05, 2015 1:21 pm

Nate W. wrote: Based on my experiences and the advice of managers, I have found that candidates should focus more on building relationships and increasing one's visibility in the field rather than worrying about these issues.


Nate, I agree wholeheartedly.

Two things come to mind that we have hopefully "debunked" here on the forum often, but it doesn't hurt to do so again:

- That people without industry experience should submit one or two page "resume" style applications to companies. [What hogwash that is!]

and,

- That the "apply at our web portal" advice of companies is the only, or best way, to get your credentials seen. [That's probably at the bottom of the list as to effective methods to find work.]

Anyone else have any myths you want to bust?

Dave
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Re: Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Nate W. » Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:10 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Two things come to mind that we have hopefully "debunked" here on the forum often, but it doesn't hurt to do so again:

- That people without industry experience should submit one or two page "resume" style applications to companies. [What hogwash that is!]

and,

- That the "apply at our web portal" advice of companies is the only, or best way, to get your credentials seen. [That's probably at the bottom of the list as to effective methods to find work.]


Thanks Dave for your response. Often candidates are afraid to use the networking approach because they fear HR or internal recruiters will get upset at candidates or even worse block their application. Most candidates want to do the right thing (i.e. go through the proper channels) but these so called experts put out these silly notions. Once I said this on LinkedIn and I was verbally attack by several internal recruiters and HR folks. However, when I privately talk with recruiters and HR folks that I know they will agree that the most effective way in is to network with managers directly; candidates get lost in the shuffle when applying online. So, why do these so called experts put out these silly notions?

My feeling is just to ignore these guys and do what it takes to get in even if HR gets bent out of shape. Managers often tell me that HR can't say no to a candidate that a manager wants to hire. So, who cares what the HR department thinks; the manager's opinion is the only one that candidates should care about.

It is not proper to ask about jobs on an informational interview after you have established a good rapport with the manager?

Lower level managers or colleagues are less likely to refer a candidate up the chain of command; so start networking several positions above where you should be or close to the top?
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Re: Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Yandorio » Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:13 am

After months and months of failure to get a position, I almost had a nervous breakdown due to the cognitive dissonance. You had industry and academic institutions telling me the HR/resume route was the only way and then online and through friends it was "no,no,no--that route is so old
school and doesn't work anymore--you need to network."
If it is old school and fruitless boy oh boy there are
thousands of people wasting thousands of hours on it.
Hate to see that kind of thing...
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Re: Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Dick Woodward » Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:23 am

Yandorio:

Part of the point of this forum is that there are lots and lots of people doing the "old school" method and it just doesn't work very well - maybe a small fraction of the time. Then you have the small fraction saying that this is the way to go. Likewise, HR departments would like to maintain as much control as possible.

I just dug out my resume, and looked at the positions that I have held. Excluding a few promotions and a company that I helped found, there is one position (including major career shifts within a company) out of 8 that I did not get through identifiable networking. Throw in my graduate studies (I got my mentor through the network of my undergraduate mentor), and that is quite a testament to the power of networking. Actually, the one position that did not come as a result of direct networking came through an executive recruiter, so I probably got on her radar screen through where her network and mine overlapped.

I am certain that the moderator and advisors to this forum will continue to promote the power of networking. We are all pretty experienced and know that it works. Unfortunately, there is that old proverb about leading a horse to water...

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Re: Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:37 am

Yandorio wrote:After months and months of failure to get a position, I almost had a nervous breakdown due to the cognitive dissonance. You had industry and academic institutions telling me the HR/resume route was the only way and then online and through friends it was "no,no,no--that route is so old
school and doesn't work anymore--you need to network."
If it is old school and fruitless boy oh boy there are
thousands of people wasting thousands of hours on it.
Hate to see that kind of thing...


Imagine that you had a rich uncle who dies and leaves you a million dollars. (Wouldn't that be a surprise). You'd want to preserve as much of your money as possible, so you'd go to a professional money-manager and ask him or her for advice on how to invest it safely.

The answer would be a great deal like the approach you should take in looking for a job. You would hear, "Spread it around." No, you're not going to hear them tell you to put 100% of it into energy stocks, and you're not going to hear them tell you to buy real estate with all of it. They'll tell you to take a percentage and put it in stocks, a percentage to put into a liquid money market, some to invest in real estate, and so on.

Here, you put some time into looking at ads in journals and online, responding to those the way the ad suggests, perhaps some additional time just reading about companies and then when you spot an interesting position you put something on their job application portal. And, you'll be networking along the way, building your contact database, talking to people at your level, introducing yourself to hiring managers, going to meetings and attending social functions, and doing all the things we talk about on this forum. The most "action" will come from your own networking efforts, and NOT the "apply here" websites. But, we're not telling you to toss that out the window, either. Just monitor your time invested, make sure you are "spreading it around" and that the real attention is paid to the activities that are more likely to earn you a job.

Good luck. After 15+ years of saying these things over and over, I'm so surprised when I read a post like yours that seems to indicate people are telling you something different.

Dave
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Re: Confirming or Debunking Job Search Myths

Postby Nate W. » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:24 pm

Yandorio wrote:After months and months of failure to get a position, I almost had a nervous breakdown due to the cognitive dissonance. You had industry and academic institutions telling me the HR/resume route was the only way and then online and through friends it was "no,no,no--that route is so old
school and doesn't work anymore--you need to network."
If it is old school and fruitless boy oh boy there are
thousands of people wasting thousands of hours on it.
Hate to see that kind of thing...


Yandorio,

This reminds me of a episode of Seinfeld:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKUvKE3bQlY

I feel for you. There are many out in HR and coaching that promote these flawed approaches. Dave and Dick are right about the importance of networking. Read the book "Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters." I would also recommend spending a majority of your time networking, not dealing with online ads. Maybe I am answering my own question here; many career advice experts promote these flawed approaches to protect their jobs or turf. There are many articles out there which espouse that HR and typical recruiting methods are dispensable, especially with the advent of LinkedIn and the outsourcing of HR functions.

Online ads will only led to a 1-5% response rate regardless of one's qualifications and the positions applied for. This number is based on my experiences and several surveys of large networking groups in Dallas. Try the networking approach and be bold with your approaches. Right now, I am working a job proposal which I am making to a board member of a company. This would have never happened if I had gone through HR.
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