Wacky Job Market

I have to say that this may be the strangest job market I’ve ever seen.  We are coming out of the pandemic (hopefully) and businesses are doing well.  Unemployment is almost gone, yet through pandemic over 4,000,000 people left the job market and now we have critical labor shortages.  In my area many restaurants are offering only take-out service because they are unable to find enough wait-staff to open for in-dining services.  Then, there are still people standing on street corners asking for help because they can’t find a job – right in front of signs that say “We’re Hiring”.  It is all very wacky.

Right now, if you want a job, you can get a job.  It might be working in a warehouse, in the hospitality industry, or in retail, but you can work.  Now, if you want to find your dream job, well, that might be a little more difficult.

The message I try to share with this blog, and book, is that if you want a vibrant career where you work for a company you love, doing things you like to do, the best way to find that job is through networking.  Meeting people, telling them about you, asking them to introduce you to others, and repeating that process, over, and over, and over.  When you do that, you’ll eventually meet the hiring manager who has been looking for someone exactly like you.

Yes, that takes work and time.  Yes, it can be uncomfortable for many people.  Yes, you will have to face rejection on a regular basis.  But it works.  And I believe that it is the only thing that works on a consistent basis for virtually everyone who does it (and I mean really does it.)

In this labor market you can find a job tomorrow, and if you need one badly then you should do that.  But if you really want to find the right job for you, you need to network.  It is as simple as that.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Where Should I look?

It’s a question I get a lot.  Where is the best place to look for a job?  Is it Indeed, Monster, Zip Recruiter Workable, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and the list goes on and on.  The good news is that I have a very easy answer for that question.  Everywhere – and more.

As the Internet continues to grow, technology expands, and innovation is in the wind, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places you can look online to find job postings, and you need to look at as many of them as you can.  Look at some of the biggest boards, especially Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn on a regular basis.  Some sites contain only the jobs posted there, while others are aggregators, collecting links to jobs posted on other sites.  On many sites you can create an account and the site will send you alerts when a job that matches your criteria is posted.

You also need to look on industry sites based on what you do – or want to do.  You need to look on company websites.  You should even look at your state’s unemployment website where they usually post jobs.  I’m sorry, but the short answer is everywhere.  As I’ve said before, if you are out of work, you need to make looking for a job a full-time job, so start clicking.

But, and this is a HUGE BUT, the odds are pretty good that you will not find the job you want if all you do is search the web and apply for jobs that appeal to you.  According to Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons, 70 to 80% of jobs are not published.  According to Payscale.com, that number could be as high as 85%.  The first time I heard this statistic was in the mid-1980’s and way back then it was 75%.  While technology has changed, it appears that people haven’t. 

So, if 70% or more of jobs don’t get posted, then how do you find out about them?  Networking.  The cold, hard fact is that if you want to find that perfect job, you need to talk to real people, tell them your story, ask them for help, and ask them who they know that you could talk to, and then repeat that process, over and over.  It may make you uncomfortable, but your option is to spend days and days searching the internet and fighting for jobs against hundreds of other job seekers who are doing the exact same thing.

In job search, almost always, when the question is, “Should I do A, or should I do B?”, the answer is do both.  You need to look online, you need to apply for jobs, and you need to research companies and their openings.  But you also need to network, meet people, and spread your story. 

Your dream job is out there and waiting for you.  You need to look for it on the net – everywhere, but you also have to ask people to help you find it.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Hunting for Easter Eggs

Tomorrow is Easter.  Spring is here, the pandemic appears to be waning, and there is an atmosphere of hope in the air that we haven’t felt for a long time.  Hopefully, you will be able to spend some time with family and friends this weekend, and maybe you’ll get to hunt for Easter eggs.

In my family there is a tradition of hiding plastic eggs in and around the house, supposedly left by the Easter Bunny, and then allowing the children to hunt for those eggs.  Inside the eggs might be candy, money, small toys, or maybe stickers.  For me, the best eggs had chocolate in them, next came those with money (pennies and nickels), and then toys, and way at the bottom of the list were stickers.  I never was much of a sticker kind of kid.

Networking can sometimes feel like an Easter egg hunt.  You race around, looking in every corner, under every branch, and under every rock, hoping to find an egg (a new contact).  And then you find someone who is willing to talk with you and you arrange a meeting.  In your mind, you hope that when you open this contact they will pour out a mountain of chocolate eggs (new contacts).  It will be glorious!  But, when you finally crack open that egg, you find a wrinkled SpongeBob sticker.

Networking is a process. Every contact you meet will not hold the key to your future. But somebody does. If you work hard enough, there is a high likelihood that someone that you meet will lead you to your next job. Somebody will introduce you to somebody, who will introduce you to somebody, who has been looking for a person just like you. So, if you happen to open a whole carton of eggs filled with stickers, don’t stop.  Your chocolate egg is still out there.  Keep hunting.

I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Easter Weekend.  If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Does Networking Really Work?

Maybe you’ve been looking for a job for a while, and you are getting frustrated?  I can understand that, but I need to stress networking really is the key.  I have worked for 14 different organizations in my life. Three were before I graduated from college and the rest make up my professional career.   I have applied for at least one-hundred jobs, online or via mail, and I’ve had lots of interviews; but I have never been hired because I responded to a job posting. 

I got my first job at age 14 by asking about a help-wanted sign in the window of a fast-food restaurant.  One time I found a job through a professional recruiter. Every other job I’ve had, I found through networking.  Each time, someone I knew suggested that I talk with someone they knew, and those introductions led to an interview, and to a job offer.

It’s also important to understand that I don’t quit jobs very often.  Seven of the organizations I have worked for asked me to leave due to position eliminations, business closings, or changes in ownership.  Once, I was recruited away, and once, I left a part-time job for a full-time job.  And twice, when I couldn’t find a job, I became a one-man consulting company. So, I needed to learn to network.

You should also know that some of my transitions were quick, and some were not.  The first time I got “fired” was my first job out of college. The bank I worked for was about to be sold and I was told on the Monday before Thanksgiving that my department was being eliminated and my job would end after Christmas.  The good news was that I got to be a stay-at-home dad with my infant daughter for a month.  And, I networked into a better job before my severance ran out.  Twice, I was able to identify a new job before the current job ended, so I easily moved from one to the next.  One time I looked for three months before deciding to give consulting a try full time.  One time it took me 13 months to land a new job.

So, I get it.  Job search can be frustrating and exhausting.  You may find a job quickly, or your search could drag on, and on. And, while you need to work with search firms and to apply for jobs you see advertised, networking is the key. Through networking you can learn more, reach more people, and find jobs that are never advertised (six of my jobs were never posted).

From my experiences I wrote a book.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Networking is NOT Job Search

Okay, I know this sounds strange, especially coming from me. Especially since this is a blog about how to find a job and I harp on networking all the time.  To be clear, networking is a fantastic job search technique – quite possibility the most important job search technique.  But networking is about more than job search. 

When you network, your goal is to meet people, learn more about them, and help them to learn more about you.  Then, you ask them to refer you to others so you can repeat that process, and learn more about others, and have them learn more about you. 

You should use networking to:

  • Learn about people – what they do and who they are (they are people – not just contacts),
  • Learn more about companies – what they do and what it’s like to work there,
  • Learn more about industries – what is booming and what is about to bust,
  • Learn more about communities – where is a good place to put down, or strengthen roots, and
  • Learn about volunteer opportunities – where you can use your skills and make the world a better place.

And yes while that is happening, you may also use networking to:

  • Learn about who is hiring for what jobs,
  • Learn about hiring managers and what they are looking for, and
  • Learn what jobs you do NOT want to apply for.

It’s a subtle difference, but if you make networking as simply a means to find a job, you might miss the bigger opportunity to truly build a network, rather than simply endure a string of meetings that may, or may not, lead you to the next job.  Invest in your network and it will pay dividends.  Make your networking be all about finding your next job and you may find yourself struggling.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


But I Already Know What I Want

I have a friend who is looking for a very specific job.  There are less than 100 of these jobs in the region he wants to work, and only a dozen of those are vacant at any given time.  Those jobs are always filled through formal search processes and when they are open, everybody knows. So his question is, why do I need to network?  I apply following their specific instructions and I then I wait for the search committee to call me. It would not be appropriate for me to directly contact a member of the search committee. What else is there to do?

I can think of three reasons you should continue networking.

  1. Networking into any of those organizations can help you learn more about their culture and issues. That information can help you prepare for an interview, or possibly help you conclude that you don’t want to work there.
  2. Networking lets many more people know about who you are and what you’re good at.  You may network with someone who already has a strong relationship with someone on the search committee. That networking contact can then talk to the search committee member about you and you have not created a conflict of interest.
  3. Finally, we’re back to not putting all your eggs into one basket. While clearly your goal is to land one of those dozen jobs, there is a reasonable chance that you won’t.  Building a network that covers other jobs, other industries, or other locations may produce an opportunity you were not considering, or it will give you a jump start for the next chapter, if the desired opportunities don’t work out.

The bottom line is that you should never stop networking and researching.  Finding your next job needs to be a full time job. If you find yourself getting bored, maybe you are not working hard enough.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Do I Have to Network?

Simple answer.  No, not if you are not in any hurry to find a good job.  Feel free to search the internet and apply for every job that might fit you.  Practice telling yourself that it’s not your fault.  Blame in on the economy, or maybe on the corona virus.

Here’s the bottom line.  For whatever reason, you lost your job, and you need a new one. From my experience, the best way to find a new or better job is networking.  Networking means talking to people and getting to know them. Make sure they know about you, what you do, what you’re good at, how you’ve been successful before.  Then, asking them for names of people they know who you could also meet and tell them the same things.  Then, thank them for their help, and finally, be willing to do the same for others.

Networking requires you to be vulnerable.  It requires you to interact with people you don’t know.  Networking may be uncomfortable for some.  But it is the only way you’ll be exposed to the 75% of jobs that are never advertised.

Now, let’s get out there and knock on some doors.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


But Do I Have To?

I talked to a guy last week who had recently lost his job and was struggling with finding a new one. His former company had provided him some outplacement assistance, but he told me, “All they want me to do is this networking stuff and talk to all these people that I don’t know. I don’t really want to do that, do I have to?”

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that of course my answer was “No, you don’t have to do that. It’s hard, and I know you don’t want to do it. You don’t have to. I’m sure that if you put ‘new job’ on your Christmas list that Santa will hook you up. Plus, if you expand your financial investment strategy via playing the lottery, that will easily provide enough income for your to live on. And didn’t your parents just finish off their basement?  I’m sure they won’t mind if you sleep on the couch for awhile.”

Okay, I recognize that sarcasm may not be an effective communication tool. My apologies.

The real answer is; if you want access to the best jobs, and if you want to find your next job as quickly as possible, then yes, you need to network. And the more you do it, the faster it will work.

To maximize your job search, you must use every available avenue, simultaneously. You need to look at job boards, you need to look at company websites, you need to read the want-ads, you need to do volunteer opportunities, you need to use social media, and you need to network. You need to make sure that as many people as possible know who you are and what you do best. You need to create the situation so that when a job comes open, somebody in that loop already knows about you and calls you, rather than posting that opening online.

Networking will do much for you beyond finding you a job. Networking will build your self-confidence, improve your communication skills, and allow you to meet a whole lot of wonderful people who are willing to help you. And then, when you flip that around and become a networking resource for someone else, networking allows you to teach, guide, and give back.

For many people, networking is uncomfortable and unnatural, but I’m afraid it remains the biggest and best key to effective job search. No, you don’t have to do it, but be prepared for a longer and less effective job search.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available as an eBook and soon in print! Click here for more details.


Change – But Don’t

So, how goes your search? Have you been at it a while? Frustrated? Here is one of my favorite quotes (from Einstein), “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Can you apply this to your job search?

The secret to finding your next job is networking – meeting people, telling your story, learning from them, and asking them to introduce you to others so you can repeat the process – over, and over, and over. Sounds like insanity doesn’t it?

It can be, and it can be tedious, exhausting and frustrating; but you have to do it. So how can you change, and still stay the same? Here are some ideas:

  •  Shake up your “elevator speech” and try different variations
  • Meet at different locations
  • Hold some meetings virtually via Skype, chat or over the phone (face-to-face is best).
  • Try arranging the meetings via email instead of telephone
  • Try to meet with two people from the same organization at the same time (group networking)

Yes, networking can be draining, but it remains the primary key to the kingdom. So, shake it. Find some ways to make it fun. Make it a game and compete with yourself. Do whatever you need to do, but don’t stop – AND, don’t let those you are networking see that you are tired and frustrated. Your appearance of desperation will not improve the quality of your networking.

Now, take this Memorial Day holiday to step back, stretch, reflect, and remember those that have meant so much in your life. Then, tomorrow, let’s get busy and find you that next job.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.


Are You a Veteran?

Last month I was fortunate to attend an event sponsored by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) and the Center for Transitional Leadership (CTL). The topic was Hiring from the Talent Pool of US Veterans. The primary focus of this event was on assisting veterans who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life. I received many good ideas that I can use as an employer to hire more veterans, but (if you are a veteran) I also learned a number of tips I can share with you to help you find that next job.

Veterans need to find someone who can help them translate their military career into business-speak. The military is famous for its acronyms and jargon that most civilians do not understand. Even words like platoon or battalion need to include manpower equivalents. A great number of military activities and training have a direct business correlation, but it is the responsibly of the veteran to provide that translation, not to assume that the civilian understands.

I learned that soldiers, and especially officers, need to learn to listen. The military trains them to be decisive and work within a very structured command and control system. That does not always translate well to businesses. Soldiers were also encouraged to be very introspective about what their skills, strengths, and weakness are. Attributes that are strengths in the military may not carry the same value in the business world.

An important consideration is that veterans often leave the military without a large network of non-military contacts. They don’t know people in business and therefore it is harder to find a job. LinkedIn was cited as a critical resource. What many veterans don’t know is that they have an enormous informal network of former military that have already made the transition. Working with LinkedIn and with a few known contacts (possibly through AUSA or CTL) soldiers who are about to be discharged can begin an active networking process and build substantial relationships before the leave the military.

Finally, veterans, like everyone else, need to be persistent. Two of the speakers at this event shared that they went 1-for-150 and 1-for-90 respectively on job applications. For the first man, a Colonel, he had to apply for 150 jobs before he was hired.

The secrets here are universal truths, regardless of your military background:

  • Successful job seekers need to make sure they present their background in fashion that whomever they are talking with can relate that background to their need,
  • You need to listen – as my Mom said, that’s why God gave you two ears but only one mouth,
  • You must network and tap into the hidden job market, and finally,
  • You must be both persistent and patient.

Now, let’s get busy and find you that next job.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.