Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.
Let’s get you inside the business manager’s frame of mind. You need to understand s how the world looks from a hiring manager’s perspective.
We’ll work backwards from there to understand (1) what problem a company is trying to solve when it hires someone; (2) the new problems a company assumes when hiring someone new; and (3) what this means for how you should approach your job search.
This is where we take the Clarifying Event and start to bring it to light… we’ll look at the manager’s problem and invert it into an “I” based problem statement so you can act on it.
The hiring manager doesn’t care about you. It’s not personal; she doesn’t know you. What the hiring manager cares about is keeping her own job, and maybe getting her bonus. To her, hiring a new employee means training expenses, reduced productivity, time away from business to write job descriptions, conduct interviews, and interact with HR, and additional prep in case she’s called in by Accounting to justify the expense of a new hire. There is also the stress of knowing that these interactions with HR and finance could easily spin out of control into compliance requests, team development requests, or worse.
The hiring manager, therefore, would like for the whole process to just go away. In fact, if she could muscle through for awhile, until the problem disappears, that would be ideal.
In the meantime, the hiring manager is going to look for ways to get through the steps laid out above as quickly and painlessly as possible.
This is the context in which many job descriptions – the 2nd greatest pieces of fiction ever written after resumes – are written.
The Job Description: The [Daytime. Hallway outside the HR Person’s office. Posters of rowboats and eagles line the walls.]
Hiring Mgr: Hey, HR person, we need a new accountant. Bob can’t handle the 85 hour weeks, so he quit.
HR Person: Ok, send me a job description, and I’ll see whom I can find.
Hiring Mgr: Job description? Don’t you already have it from when we hired Bob?
HR Person: No, my computer crashed and I only have job descriptions from more than 3 years ago.
Hiring Mgr: Well use one of those.
HR Person: Can’t you just take half an hour to write one up and e-mail it to me, I don’t want to have to hire someone again in 18 months?
Hiring Mgr: No, I’m swamped. We actually have real work to do in the Accounting department.
HR Person: [stares at Hiring Manager with clear disgust] Fine! I’ll write it up. Tell me what you’re looking for.
Hiring Mgr: Yeah, I’ll e-mail it to you.
The HR person never gets sent an e-mail. Instead of writing a new job description, he posts the job using the description from 3 years ago. Of course, since then, the Accounting department has been revamped and reorganized, but the HR person has his own pressures, and fixing the Hiring Manager’s problem doesn’t rank too high on his list.
And there’s you, fretting endlessly over your résumé, tweaking it so that HR will clearly see that you’re the obvious choice given the perfect match between your skills, experience, and the posted job description.
You call your friend and ask for advice: “The posting says 4 years experience, but I just graduated. What do you think?”
You have no idea that HR is willing to count your summer internships as a year of experience each, and will even count your experience as club president toward the experience requirement. Or that the Hiring Manager could not care less how old you are; she wants someone who can do the job, who will get up to speed quickly, and will show initiative and not waste her time with too many questions… and that’s it.
So you spend hours soliciting advice from friends and family, tweak your résumé four more times, write a clever cover letter, and hit send with baited breath.
We’ll spare you the details of what happens to your information at that point; suffice it to say, it involves a special folder on the network drive, a manila folder, a rubber band, maybe an intern who types a bunch of information into a database, some arguments between HR and the Hiring Manager, a chat with someone from finance, a budget reforecast, org charts, and meetings that end with neither a “yes” nor a “no.”
That’s the optimistic outlook. If the company is using some sort of resume parsing software and you don’t have the right keywords in the right places, your resume will head straight to the trash.
There’s a reason that most companies say that they’ll only contact applicants whom they’re interested in.
It’s OK to shiver in fear at this point, this is scary stuff. It’s also OK, if you were riding in the hardcore moral/ethical bandwagon earlier, to look down and realize your carriage is a mess.
Trying to match yourself to a job description is a futile exercise. If you find a job through this method, there is a good chance that you will be — what’s that word we’re looking for here… oh yeah! — unhappy in your new position.
Don’t believe us? Go try it.
(Seriously, have fun working for that Hiring Manager, she sounds swell.)
Look: if you are looking for a job, you will find… a job. And probably not a great one. Using job boards to find a job is like trying to find your future spouse at 2 AM at the bar. After the lights have been turned on. Chances are good that you’ll find something, but something lasting? Not so much.
In short, searching for jobs the old way is the wrong way to go – for many reasons. To do this right, you need to know the employer’s story… at every level.
Actually, knowing the employer’s story is a great first step, but what you really want to be doing is finding potential employers who have stories that you want to become a part of. Finding those employers and selling them on how you can become part of their story takes a lot of creativity.
If you think that being creative means stretching your accomplishments on your résumé to fit a job description, then you’re just not getting it.
Let’s see what happens when you respond to a “need” as defined by an employer and posted on a major job board.
ADVERTISING / MARKETING – Full Time and Part Time
Who We Are: Sports Marketing International is an outsourced marketing company for the Sports and Entertainment community. Our clients hire us as a satellite marketing, promotions, and sales office without the headaches, expenses, and overhead that come with doing it themselves. We guarantee results and deliver them with efficiency and integrity. Our company holds itself to the highest standards, working only with industry leaders who share our values.
The Personal Approach: Our method is simple: we apply a customer friendly, face-to-face approach to our marketing promotions and sales strategies. By directly meeting with business customers we can dramatically increase our clients’ sales without increasing their budget. Our technique is proven to be the most effective way to penetrate a target market and acquire new, profitable customers. What does this mean? At this moment, we are looking for energetic, career minded individuals to aid us with our expansion goal. These candidates will be placed as entry level marketing representatives for the Los Angeles area with rapid advancement opportunities in management. Our training program is designed to cross-train the right candidate in all aspects of business and marketing as well as in corporate communication and team leadership. The focus is to prepare them for a position as the general manager of a location, overseeing a variety of campaigns and supervising a team of 20 representatives.
Sounds great, right? Jobs in sports marketing are in extremely high demand, so you should apply now and research later.
Not so fast.
This is what will probably happen after you submit your resume.
It’s relatively likely that your “interview” with this company might be your first ever job interview. Whether you realize that something’s fishy depends on how perceptive you are. We’ve heard that their secretary will not refer to the company by name, probably because they operate under multiple names and don’t want you to realize it. Your first interview will most likely be informational, where they’ll continue the pitch that they started in the job posting. Any questions about what the company actually does or what their entry-level jobs are like will probably get a vague response. You’re also likely to hear, “You’ll have to see it to believe it.” Since scammers usually don’t turn away people, we’re going to guess that you’ll get asked back for a second interview too.
The second interview is where you’ll really get to see the company in action. You will be tagging along with one of the company’s employees. The story usually goes that you end up in a sketchy car with a sketchy person going to a sketchy neighborhood. Once you get there, you find out what The Landers Group does. They sell coupons door to door. Remember that amazing client list? That’s whose coupons you will be selling. You’ll be given one side of the street, and the employee will take the other. You’ll essentially spend the day working for free. How do we know? We’ve found stories from people who have done it like this and this. If you’re lucky, you’ll just end up having wasted a day. If you’re not, you may end up stranded many miles from home or having had a gun pointed at you and with mud all over your only suit.
You’ve been duped.
Why? Because you obeyed the rules and lacked the ability to think creatively.
Instead of working to find a company with a compelling story, you responded to the first job listing that matched your keyword search. You conformed to the need as defined by the company, and you got burned.
If you had a better understanding of how the hiring process works and how you can use creative thinking within the constraints of the process, you wouldn’t have wasted all that time with the scammers.
Instacart Potomac, MD
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