You are diligently checking the career postings of your dream employer, politely feeding your application into the online slots … and waiting, patiently. You’ve done everything possible to enhance your online resume. And still you wait. Mike O’Horo says there’s a better way — but you’ll have to abandon the “upload” button, along with your comfort zone.
If you’re subjecting yourself to an online cattle-call and hoping it will somehow result in a new job, you’d better hope that part of the job description is “sheep-like; blindly follows the crowd and pointless instructions from people whose interests are not aligned with theirs.”
Warning: Unpleasant Truth Ahead
Reply to an online job posting and you automatically land in human resources’ hands. HR doesn’t decide who gets hired. They decide who gets an interview, without putting themselves at risk. Their job is to screen you out, not in. If they forward a dozen qualified candidates to the hiring manager, that’s their job, there are no attaboys coming their way. However, if one underqualified candidate slips through, they get dinged for it. So their self-interest is in playing it safe. “When in doubt, toss it out.”
Nobody who does make the hiring decision has an opinion about the applications they’ve not seen.
Those who actually have a need to hire someone have a problem that needs solved. Something isn’t getting done, or is getting done too slowly, or is overwhelming those who are temporarily carrying the vacancy load, or something. What’s their problem, and what specific impact will you have on it?
How to Go After It
Purge from your vocabulary words like “resume,” “application,” “interview” and the like. Replace them with words like “ad,” “lead-gen” and “product.” You are the product. You have to identify logical sources of need. What’s your value to those who have a stake in the problem? Logically, what are the titles held by the people who have a stake in that problem?
Use LinkedIn and other public information to identify the names associated with those logical titles at different companies and firms. Contact them directly. You’re a salesperson trying to get an appointment. If you sit around waiting for the buyer to call you in, you’ll starve.
Never, ever acknowledge that they have a job posted. That’s a guaranteed way to get referred back into the Online Application Black Hole or to human resources. Instead, you’re coincidentally contacting them with a solution to their problem. Begin with the three magic words “It seems like …,” followed by your articulation of the problem that’s driving the hiring process, and that will command attention. Approach them directly with a creative solution (that, coincidentally, requires your participation).
Think like a consultant trying to manufacture an engagement.
Get Provocative, Get Attention
Read the Harvard Business Review publication, “In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers.” The gist of it is that, when times are tough, nobody has time for the same-old, same-old. You have to come up with something provocative that will earn the attention of a principal — something they can’t ignore. You want to talk to the people who make the rules, not the ones who follow them.
The Resume Black Hole is the product of companies being inundated by submissions. That, in turn, is the product of no barriers to entry; all you have to do is click “Upload Resume” and you become part of the firehose that requires HR to use electronic resume-scrapers, keyword searches and other automated tools to reduce the amount of chaff surrounding the wheat.
Forget trying to enhance your online application. You’re putting lipstick on a pig. There’s no way to do a better job of something you shouldn’t be doing at all. Stop waiting for the world to define a job for you and open the door to only you, so you can charm your way into it. If you want a job, get creative and create one.
Marketing 101 says, “Find a need and fill it.” Where’s the need for yet another uploaded resume?
Mike O’Horo is a serial innovator in lawyer training. Over 20 years he has trained more than 6,000 lawyers in simplified sales processes by which they have generated $1.5 billion in new business. His current venture, RainmakerVT, is an interactive virtual business development training tool for lawyers. Earlier, he developed ResultsPath, an integrated sales training program, and TeamPath, a litigation-analogous people-process program. Mike can be reached at email@example.com and @TrainRainmakers on Twitter.