(Okay, first I have to give you the not-so-good news: the job market is highly competitive out there!)
Good News #1: Jobs ARE still being filled in the public job market, meaning those positions posted publicly: on a company website, on job boards, or as social media postings on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. They take longer to fill and candidates will most likely not hear back unless they are seriously being considered. The key to success: these positions are filled by matching the skills listed in the job posting with those on your résumé.
In kindergarten, did you ever have an assignment to draw lines matching an object in column A with an object in column B? Either the letter “C” and car or a sheep and a lamb? Well, job seekers need to “draw pictures” for hiring managers too, in a much more powerful way. Even the best résumé doesn’t do this. Far from it!
Tricks for Good News #1:
- Add this innovative – yet professional – technique. Create a one page “Job Description Profile” to be included as the summary and top page of your résumé, in the same Word or PDF document. In a two-column table, list the key requirements or specifications of the job – one per row – in the left column. Then in the right column, match your skills, experiences, and training to the requirements. Note: There is an entire chapter in my book devoted to this technique and a free download of a template to copy.
- In your cover letter – required for every application – do NOT simply regurgitate your résumé. DO pull out 3 reasons why you are an excellent fit for their position, from your Job Description Profile. Subtlety is not necessary; punch the reader between the eyes! Show them that you are not only a good fit, but that you have carefully studied the specifications in the job description.
Good News #2: The hidden job market is still vibrant and important. NOTE: These jobs are often the same jobs posted on the public market, but the way they are filled is “hidden.” Most companies are required or have the desire to post all of their positions publicly. However, the decision-making process may be heavily weighted toward the hidden job process. In this case, jobs are filled based on internal/employee referral programs, internal promotions or lateral moves to develop an existing employee, or some other process.
Good news to job seekers who are actively networking within their company or community! It is also good news for those candidates who are not exact skills matches because they have the chance to be evaluated or interviewed based on a recommendation.
Maria, whom I met recently at a networking event, has a clear job goal and has been job searching for 6 months. However she said, “I don’t apply on job boards or company sites since I don’t believe I will ever find a job that way.” She IS networking and having many meetings with people who could influence an interviewing or hiring decision. Maria is missing a key fact: she needs to do both. When she sees a position posted on Company XYZ’s website or on a job board, she needs to submit a GREAT application (the public market). AND (not or!) she should work her network to find somebody who can do two things: get Maria’s candidate packet on the hiring manager’s desk and recommend her.
Job seekers, whether you are looking within your company or externally, broaden your “mix” of job search activities to include the attributes of both the public and hidden job markets.