Monday, March 7, 2011

Some Advanced Strategies for Job Seekers

Today, I gave my presentation for job seekers to a, sadly, very full house at Grace Cathedral.

Beyond what I wrote in the handout I posted on this blog Saturday, a few other ideas of interest emerged during the presentation:

In giving my mini-lecture on how to procrastinate less, I came up with a formulation I like. Procrastinators operate from "What's the least amount of work I can get away with." Other people, generally more successful people, operate from "How can I get as much done as possible." What drives the latter people, consciously or unconsciously, is a belief that their life's worth is defined largely on how much they contribute.

I had suggested that applicants for sales positions might impress a potential employer by including a list of under-the-radar sales prospects s/he'd call if hired. An audience member asked, "But won't he just steal the list and hire someone else?" I responded by saying, "True, that will often occur. And indeed some employers who have no intention of hiring, post a job opening just so they can pick the brains of the applicants. But when day is done, the candidate that is generous with ideas (and everything else) will prevail more often than others.

I suggested that a winning resume often contains few-line stories explaining their accomplishments. For example, standard resume advice is to list quantitative accomplishments such as "Saved the company $46 million." That is often viewed dubiously. It's more credible to include a story that explains the details. For example, "My company had long bought its circuit boards from a Japanese supplier but after I assessed manufacturers in Thailand, Viet Nam, and inland China, I was able to find a a supplier that could produce the boards 40% less expensively yet with the same specifications, including a 10,000-hour MTBF." An audience member asked, "But won't that make the resume too long?" I explained that the only thing that counts is that everything on the resume makes the employer more likely to move your resume to the top of the stack. Whether that ends up yielding a one-page or a four-page resume is irrelevant.

An audience member signs his cover letters, "Have an awesome day." I stressed that, in today's era of rampant dishonesty, hyperbole in a resume, cover letter, or interview can be the kiss of death. Those canned phrases in job-seeker books like, "I delight in exceeding customer expectations" are atavisms from the 1980s. Today, except when pitching unsophisticated or sleazy employers, candor sells far better than hype or cliche.

Many people try to get hired based on soft skills: organization, time management, big-picture thinking, people skills, etc. In today's job market, except perhaps at the CEO level, most employers want soft skills plus technical skills. If you don't have the latter, you may do better starting your own business, being your own CEO, being the glue that brings and keeps together talent around a solid business idea. You hire, motivate, lead the problem solving effort, and perhaps sell. Being self-employed enables you to instantly rise from unemployed to CEO.

Of course, most people who start businesses soon go out of business. So per the previous post, I spent significant time in my presentation on how to up the odds of your being successfully self-employed.


Grace said...

Once again, good advice.
There are no hard and fast rules anymore about networking or resumes or any job search techniques. And yet my clients often say, "But a resume is supposed to only be one page long!" or some other such thing. In my job search workshops, I show clips from "The Pursuit of Happyness". In this movie, it was a rubik's cube that gave Will Smith's character the foot in the door. Do whatever you have to do to let you skills shine.

Anonymous said...

Software is now replacing lawyers.


blogger templates | Make Money Online