et me get right to the central premise of this guide because it’s a theme we’re going to return to again and again: Most people get it all wrong when looking for a new job.
They approach it the wrong way, they use the wrong strategies, they all make the same mistakes, and then they wonder why they’re not successful. And when I say “most people” I mean people at all levels and ages, from the most recent graduate to the highest-level executive. Surprisingly, length of work experience and seniority often don’t seem to make any difference when it comes to knowing how to conduct an effective job search. This applies to people in all countries—all over the world, people get it wrong. Chances are that you’ve been one of these people in the past. I know I certainly have. After all, finding work is not something we ever train for. As a result, for most of us the process of looking for a new job is akin to getting lost in the jungle without a compass. We have no idea where we’re going and no idea which way to turn. All we know is that we have to keep moving until we find civilization. So we apply to every vaguely suitable job we hear about, sign up for websites mentioned by our friends, follow tips we stumbled across in articles or blog posts … and if we’re lucky, eventually someone offers us a job. But imagine that you did have a compass and that you knew your desired destination. All of a sudden, your actions would be purposeful. You would know exactly which turns to take, and if you accidentally veered off course, getting back on track would be easy enough. That’s what this guide is all about. It will be your compass, guiding you through the confusing and complicated process of looking for work all the way from beginning to end. As you work through the modules, you’ll learn new strategies, methods, and tools that will revolutionize the way you approach your search. By understanding the mistakes others are making and learning alternative approaches, you will give yourself a huge advantage over all those people stumbling around without a sense of direction.
The jobs are out there No matter whether we’re in boom times or an economic downturn, there are always opportunities. In 2009—a terrible year economically—the US Department of Labor reported over 48 million hires in the US. Average employee turnover (meaning the number of people leaving their positions) in the UK has been around 13% for the last few years. Similar stats apply in other countries too. There are always lots of people resigning from their jobs and there are always lots of people being hired. That might be hard to believe if you’ve been unemployed for any length of time—after all, you keep sending in your resume and no one ever responds. If there are so many jobs, why aren’t you getting any of them? Simple—it’s because most of those vacancies are never advertised. You won’t find them on Monster.com, or on an industry-specific job board, or in the local paper. The truth is, most of those jobs were filled before most job seekers had a chance to hear about them. There are all kinds of reasons why most vacancies are never advertised and I couldn’t hope to capture them all here, but they include: The company is using an executive recruiter or agency to fill the position. The company always posts internally before HR advertises externally. The vacancy just opened up and no one has written the job posting yet. The company already has a database of resumes that are used to fill positions. The manager is trying to save money by not hiring for a few months. There is an internal debate about whether to fill the position. The hiring manager can’t decide what kind of person he needs. The company is reorganizing and hasn’t defined the new roles yet. The company runs an employee referral program and gets most candidates that way. The HR department is slow and inefficient and is way behind on filling positions. HR budget cuts mean they don’t have enough staff to go through thousands of job board responses. If you’ve ever been in a position to hire others, I’m sure you can come up with more possibilities. The reasons are not even all that important—what matters is
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to understand three things:
1 . There are a lot of vacancies even in a bad economy. 2 . The vast majority of them will never be advertised. 3 . This means that the usual job search strategy of looking on job boards and answering advertisements is extremely limiting.
Therefore, the secret to your success is learning how to find these unadvertised jobs, because when you do, you cut the competition down dramatically. While everyone else is out there applying for the same few positions, their resumes lost among the thousands of others arriving at Human Resources for every position, you can take a different path—one that leads you to those unadvertised jobs.
About me I speak from experience when I say these things. I’ve been on both sides of the hiring process, as a job seeker looking for work and as an HR executive leading the recruitment process for employees at all levels, from entry-level graduates to company Presidents. I spent 15 years running HR departments before cofounding Blue Sky Resumes with my husband Phil, also a former corporate executive who has hired hundreds of people during his career. Initially we specialized in writing resumes—something we still do—but as we grew our business, we realized that many of our clients were lost once the resume writing process was done. They actually didn’t know what to do next, and as a result, many of them simply posted their new resume on job boards and waited for the calls to come in. Like everyone else, we had started our careers looking for work this way too. But as we moved into leadership roles, we realized just how ineffective it was. When we hired employees, we rarely relied on job boards, so we knew that using them to look for work ourselves would be fruitless. So as we developed our careers, we began to take a very different approach to finding work. In the 10 years before leaving corporate life to start our business, neither of us found new jobs by applying for advertised positions, but both of us successfully advanced our careers. Now that we run this business, we meet those people lost in the jungle without a compass every day. Sometimes they are recent graduates, fresh out of college
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and wondering how to get a foot in the door. Sometimes they are very senior executives who have never had to look for work in their lives and don’t know where to begin. But no matter what age or level of experience, these people all share the understandable feeling of fear and stress at having to look for a new job while not really knowing how to do it effectively—a feeling that is obviously increased 100-fold for those who are out of work currently and need to earn money quickly. And that’s why I decided to develop this guide. I want to share with you everything I know about looking for a job the right way and teach you how to beat all those people who are doing it wrong.
The lessons in this guide apply to everyone, from mailroom assistant to CEO
Who is the guide for? The lessons in this guide apply to everyone, from mailroom assistant to CEO. In some cases, a particular strategy may be more suited to one type of person than another and when that is the case, I will let you know. But for the most part, everything I teach works for all job seekers regardless of their level or years of experience. It is also for anyone in any country. These strategies work just as well in the US as they do in the UK, and just as well in Europe as they do in Australia.
Making a Career Change? If you plan to move into a different type of work, many of the strategies in this guide will be vital to your success. But some won’t work as well. As we go through the guide, I’ll highlight which is which. There are detailed instructions and lots of examples to help you as you make this exciting change.
The philosophy behind the program As you work through the modules, you’ll be challenged to rethink your approach to looking for a job and to take a far more proactive approach than your competitors.
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The main shift in perspective that I want you to make is this: stop thinking about applying for jobs and start thinking in terms of a marketing campaign. Think for a second about politicians and the way they go about securing their jobs. They don’t “apply” to be President or Senator. They campaign. When a politician runs a campaign, he is engaged in the act of marketing. He is deploying a variety of strategies in order to communicate his value. He is being creative. He is engaging other people. He is offering solutions. That is worlds apart from “applying” for the job. Similarly, when a marketer sells a new product, she doesn’t apply for sales – she runs a campaign. She defines her target audience, develops messaging to appeal to them, finds out how to reach them and then executes her campaign. My job search strategy will help you do the same. It’s time to stop applying for jobs and start taking charge of your future.
What you will learn As you work through the guide, you’ll learn specific strategies that very few of your competitors are using. Some of them will be familiar and some will be brand new to you—but all of them will act as that compass for your journey through the job search. As you go through the guide, we’ll keep the focus on avoiding the mistakes other people are making and teach you how to take control of your future by being creative, proactive, and strategic. Here are just some of the things you’ll learn: How to circumvent the usual hiring processes and get your resume directly into the hands of the person with the power to hire you. How recruiters really work and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. The free and easy-to-use web tools that make it easy for anyone to build a positive online presence. Why you should spend no more than 10% of your time on job boards and how to make the most of that time.
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Why LinkedIn is a crucial element of any job search—and how to get the most out of it—even when you don’t want anyone to know that you’re looking. The secret of successful networking that means you’ll never have to ask anyone to help you find a job. Easy strategies to quickly establish yourself as an expert in your field— whether you have 30 years’ experience or are fresh out of college. How to use free Internet tools to research potential employers and approach them before they advertise a position. The one statement you can make during a job search that is guaranteed to grab the interest of employers and recruiters.
How it works Each module of the guide covers a different job search strategy in depth, and each one is broken into the sections to make it easy to digest all the information (I’ll be giving you a lot of it!). The format for each module is as follows:
You’ll discover what most job seekers are doing wrong and why this gives you an opportunity to shine.
How to Succeed:
I’ll explain my secret to success and you’ll get detailed instructions on exactly what to do and when to do it.
Why it Matters:
You’ll learn why a particular strategy is effective (and, when applicable, who it may not work for).
Each module will provide a clear list of concrete steps to take next.
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Customizing the program to suit your style As you follow the guide and learn about the various strategies available to you, you may find that some appeal more than others. That’s OK. The bottom line is that doing everything in this guide will give you the optimum chance of finding your next opportunity—but even if you employ only one or two of the strategies I’ve outlined, you will be uncovering opportunities that others are missing. This is so important. If you’re an introvert who hates the idea of networking, I don’t want you to be put off everything else in the guide just because of that one thing. If you’re a technophobe who dislikes being on the computer, I don’t want you to give up on the whole guide just because you’re not keen on social networking. Using any one of the strategies in this book will improve your job search results. Using two will increase the odds of success even further. Using three or four will make those odds even better. So do what you can, what you’re comfortable with, and what suits your personal style. Don’t get stuck if there are one or two things you just can’t do—just move on to the next module.
The modules The guide is broken up into 9 modules, each one covering a different aspect of looking for a job. They are as follows:
Module 1: Defining Your Target Positions
You’ll start by defining your destination. After all, if you don’t know where you’re headed, the compass won’t be much help. The work you do in this module will form the foundation for much of the rest of the guide, so take the time to get it right.
A Quick Note About Resumes
While this guide is primarily focused on the process of going out and finding job opportunities, a good resume is crucial to your success. In this section, I’ll give you a quick overview of what makes a great resume and point you to more resources if you need them.
Module 2: Building a professional online presence
More and more recruiting occurs online—not on the job boards that we all know
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so well, but on sites such as LinkedIn, which is now used by most recruiters to find and research ideal candidates. You’ll learn how to audit, clean up, and improve your online presence to ensure that these opportunities are available to you.
Module 3: How to work with headhunters and recruiting agencies
For many people, an effective strategy for working with recruiters can open up a world of opportunities, not just now but for years into the future. But to optimize your success you need to understand exactly how recruiters work, how to find them, and what they want from you. That’s what you’ll learn in Module 3.
Module 4: How to network your way to a new job (online and offline)
Networking successfully is key to finding new opportunities, but most people misunderstand what is meant by networking. As a result, some avoid it and others just do it badly. In this module, you’ll learn how to leverage your friends, work colleagues, and online contacts to open up new opportunities—without feeling like a nuisance.
Module 5: Directly approaching target companies
In Module 5, I’ll talk about how you can tap into all those unadvertised positions by going direct to the source. You’ll learn how to develop a list of target companies, why it’s important to bypass HR, how to find the names of hiring managers, and what to say when you send your resume.
Module 6: Using job boards effectively
Of course, some positions are advertised and I don’t want you to miss out on those. However, you’ll learn three strategies that will set you apart from the thousands of other people applying for the same job. Even if you do nothing else, applying these three principles will increase your response rate.
Module 7: Advanced online presence building
Spending a lot of time online isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to do the work, this module might be the most effective of them all. You’ll learn how to use free, easy web tools to establish yourself as a well-known expert in your industry or profession—someone whom recruiters and hiring managers approach about vacancies, rather than the other way round.
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Module 8: How to ace your interviews
This section covers simple techniques for making a strong impression at every interview. You’ll learn how to prepare stories and conversation points in advance of your meetings and how to turn any question into an opportunity to communicate your value.
Module 9: After the search—You have a new job, now what?
I know you’ll be successful in finding a great new job, but once you’ve done that it’s important to stay proactive. You don’t want to have to follow a guide like this again, and with my strategies, you can ensure that you won’t have to.
Following this system means your job search doesn’t have to be a mystery anymore. You will no longer feel at the mercy of faceless recruiters and nameless HR folks. Nor will you be dependent on job postings. Instead, you’ll be running the show. You’ll wake up each day knowing exactly what you have to do and how to do it. And best of all, if you stick to the system you’ll see results. You’ll have a clearer sense of where you want to go, you’ll secure more interviews, and you’ll have the confidence to excel when you go for those meetings. Let’s get started!
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