To BARELY KNOW You is To HIRE You

I put quite a bit of time into looking at what the folks on the other side of the job-search desk, aka hiring managers and recruiters, have to say about their outlook. It’s hard, they say, to find people who are viable, never-mind qualified, as job candidates. One would think that with the abundance of apps, analytics, tools, platforms, job-boards and social media at their disposal that a torrent of topnotch talent would be cascading over the transoms of every HR office door but a recent post by Lou Adler has fitfully quieted that notion.

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It seems that people on both sides of the job-search desk are frustrated and struggling to keep faith in the job hunting and hiring process. Adler asserts his 9 reasons for why its so hard to find success. Since there was no particular order to his list, I will take the liberty to lead here with his #2, which is what 225AM believes is the trigger event toward getting an interview — the first step of getting a job is a referral. He writes:

A different process is used to hire acquaintances than strangers. People who are personally known or referred get a few free passes: 1) they always get to the top of the resume pile so they get the first shot at all new jobs, 2) they are judged on their past performance rather than being filtered first on the depth of their skills, 3) jobs are often modified to fit their strengths and offset their weaknesses. This leads to a major job-seeker strategy: Become an acquaintance rather than applying directly.

Adler supports his ‘better to be an acquaintance’ thesis pretty well and you may want to revisit the value and the strength of weak ties again to restore your enthusiasm and outlook. He covers a lot of ground in his other 8 reasons and observes that both sides often contribute to their own lack of success.

I started out with his #2 reason for this post but start with his #1 in Why Acquaintances Get Better Jobs than Strangers. It may also put you in a better position to learn about that ‘hidden’ job that never makes the light of a job post and enjoy the reward of getting that job. More about that later.

 

225AM: You Don’t Want To Do What We Do

A little bit ago, I linked to an article by Sandra Long where she discussed the importance of doing your homework before a job interview. Today, I want to talk a bit about the part that 225AM plays in that process. But first, let’s go travel back to some time between 2004 and 2008.

The dining hall where I went to college wasn’t the biggest or most state-of-the-art, but it had its fair share of goodies. It had a stir fry station, a tiny pasta bar, a salad bar, a place where you could make mini pizzas. By my senior year, I had burnt out on hot dogs and “Moroccan chicken,” so I decided to try some new things. I fried rice, made pizzas, and built pasta dishes for myself. I thought I was one heck of a cook.

Then I graduated and got my own apartment. Nobody precooked the rice or pasta there, no one chopped the onions for me, no one went to the grocery store and made sure I had everything I needed for the night’s meal. Doing these things on my own wasn’t hard, really. It just took time and my (limited) attention, and that added up.

I tell this story here because preparing for a job interview can be a lot like prepping a meal. No, the steps you take aren’t that difficult, but there are a lot of them, and it’s easy to get lost and miss something simple, but crucial. That’s where 225AM comes in. We keep track of things for you and you on track.

Here’s the secret sauce: we don’t do anything you can’t do yourself. But we will remind you of the details like routinely updating your resume and cover letter and we do the stuff that you might not have time for, like keeping track of every email, call or meeting you have with your network connections or with the hiring manager/recruiter — we keep the scrambled job puzzle pieces together in your My Activity page:

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And remember, you will always have a full picture in front of you on your Dashboard:

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At 225AM, you will always have actionable insight to your next move in getting a job. Isn’t this better than that spreadsheet?

 

The Weak Ties in Your Network

A post with the title The best way to get hired is to be referred by an employee! But how do you get referrals?, by Karl Liechty, mentions the importance of building out ones social and professional network by connecting with people that have ‘weak ties’ to you or vice versa.  I made this the issue in a prior post and I will continue to bring up related discussions and points of view again here because strengthening a weak tie is the very thing that can not only extend your network but make it evermore robust.  I further submit that your opportunities for developing mentors and valuable referrals will also grow. It then follows that finding a position that you truly want will also improve because you may have finally connected with someone ‘in company’ that can get your resume walked into HR and onto the short stack, the one that gets read.

You may already be engaged in more than a few of the practices that are encouraged in the article by Liechty but it never hurts to get a little affirmation and encouragement to help keep you on your tack.

We always welcome your comments or narrative about your experiences so let us know what’s happening with you.

Building Your [Net]Work Muscle

A little over a year ago, a 225AM guest blogger shared his personal insight and strategy here for not only successfully landing a summer internship in a tech company of his choice but also growing and  lengthening his network reach toward a career as an entrepreneur in technology. Many of John’s ideas seemed homespun at first read but it really just boiled down to adopting the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method which yielded the desired result – the internship – or at the very worst, not spending a lot of his personal time capital should his efforts prove unsuccessful.

The other component to network success is consistency and perseverance in continually extending the range of your professional network. To that end, I thought it would be valuable to share 13 great networking tips from Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of Human Workplace. You may find that you already are doing some of what she offers but that’s just an affirmation of your approach. Nothing bad there. Or, it may raise awareness about yourself that will move you a little further in your career network development. Nothing bad there either! So, whether you’re getting affirmation, awareness or advice when you check out her post, the most important thing is — read it.

(photo by Flickr user jairoagua used under a Creative Commons License.)

Mentors Know (the rules)

In graduate school, my girlfriend, Emma, applied to two assistantships. One involved working at the library’s reference desk; the other was to help out a long-time librarian with information literacy initiatives.

The first, in many ways, better suited her career goal. After all, she wanted to work as reference librarian. But she ended up taking the second, and it couldn’t have worked out better. She got along great with her supervisor, who in turn showed her many different facets of librarianship that she might’ve otherwise missed out on. In other words, what Emma got out of the experience was a friend and a mentor.

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Having a mentor is valuable at every level of development and experience.

Finding a professional mentor is huge. College provides you with some skills, none more important than the ability to analyze and learn from situations. But the picture that college paints of the professional world may not be totally accurate.

For any profession, there are THE RULES and then there are (the rules). THE RULES are what you learn in college. They’re officially what you should do as a member of your career field. The problem is THE RULES often portray things as a brick wall. Each responsibility gets the exact same amount of space and they all fit perfectly together.

A mentor can teach you (the rules), otherwise known as the reality of the situation. Often, (the rules) are simply THE RULES but rearranged and reweighted. They bring forward the aspects of the job that are truly important and downplay those that, while necessary to make it through the day-to-day, don’t help you get ahead. What you do with this information is pretty obvious: you work on the areas that count, learn the lingo, and build yourself into the ideal candidate for an entry-level job in your field – someone who’s fresh but not green, someone who’s excited and energetic but not unreasonably idealistic.

But a great mentorship gives you even more than a little bit of insider knowledge. Think about it: where does insider knowledge come from? An insider. And who do insiders know? Other insiders. And what do other insiders know about? Open positions in their field. So a mentor might not only be a teacher but can be instrumental in moving your from the ‘big pile’ of applications with resumes attached into the ‘small pile’ of applications with resumes that will actually get considered..

And this is why you want to seek out and cultivate a professional mentor. It’s not just sitting down with someone for coffee once a week to go through important terms and procedures. You want to exchange ideas with experiences. You want them to see that you’re not only learning; you’re applying your new knowledge and insight that you may have acquired from him or her successfully. Then, when someone mentions an open position, your mentor can say, “Yeah, I know someone who could DO that job,” not just, “hey, I know someone who understands that job on paper.”

This is what happened for Emma. Her mentor knew someone who knew about a job, and since she watched Emma grow and take on more and more challenging work over the two years they had together, she had no problem giving a glowing recommendation.

So look around you and see who you know. Maybe there’s a mentor there just waiting to show you the ropes.