More than twenty million Americans attempt to change jobs, industries or careers each year. Many more will attempt to start or buy businesses. They will do so in one of the most competitive job markets in memory. Management-level cutbacks in many major industries, coupled with increasingly large numbers of post graduate and college-educated professionals entering the work force have heightened the level of effort required to effect a career transition.
Most people will take a traditional and ultimately frustrating approach to changing jobs or seeking entrepreneurial ventures. After preparing a resume, they will usually answer several advertisements, contact a few agencies and recruiters, and ask their friends to “keep their eyes and ears open.” Others will write directly to companies or “knock on doors” and then wonder why nothing happened. Most people seriously over estimate their knowledge of job changing, and few subjects are more vital to a person’s livelihood and overall quality of life.
To understand why these approaches fail, it is necessary to have a real sense of the hiring process and the nature of the job market. A look at two “traditional” approaches will provide you with that understanding.
For most job seekers, job ads and postings seem to represent the largest single source of job opportunities available. The reality is quite different. Only a very small percentage of executive and professional positions are filled through ads and postings.
Why is responding to ads unproductive for most job seekers? Essentially, it is a numbers game. In most cases, job postings will generate hundreds of responses, all but one of which is destined to be losers. If there is one candidate who has a more “directly transferable experience base” than you, he/she will be the winner and you the loser.
Agencies and Search Firms
A major misconception exists in the minds of most job hunters regarding the role of employment agencies and executive search firms. In his book, “Executive Search: Gateway to the Best Talent for Your Business,” Charles Polachi sums it up this way: “We don’t find jobs for people, we find people for companies. People think I’m in the business of making their next job change; I'm not."
Forbes Magazine asked a major New York search firm what was done with the approximately 40,000 resumes that arrive annually. One of the principles replied, “We destroy them periodically.” He went on to say that he has neither the personnel nor the time to acknowledge many of the unsolicited contacts.
A job hunter should not ignore employment agencies or search firms, but should put their role in the proper perspective. Their real job is to help companies find people.
Most people do best in the employment markets by finding what are referred to as private openings, positions that are about to become available or positions that could be created. The rewards are great for the job hunter who can find these private openings. Here are the reasons: