Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5 Pointless Job Search Tactics

Yahoo! Hotjobs blogger, Liz Ryan, suggests some mistakes that job seekers can avoid when searching for a job.

The Savvy Networker
5 Pointless Job-Search Tactics

by Liz Ryan

In case the 2010 job-search experience doesn't already have enough in common with pushing a huge rock uphill, here's another jolt of bad news. Lots of conventional job-search activities are a complete waste of time--the job-hunt equivalent of trying to cure warts by swinging a dead cat over a stump at midnight. They just don't work. Here's our top-five list of pointless job-search activities:

Resume-blast services
There are vendors who will blast your resume out to zillions of employers for a fee. Only problem: employers are deluged with resumes already. Your unsolicited, uncustomized resume is the last thing they want to see. Skip these services and conduct your own research, using search engines and LinkedIn. Then write to hiring managers directly with targeted overtures.

Job fairs
When I was an HR person, job fairs were a fantastic way to hire highly qualified people. Today, job fairs have devolved into thankless, confidence-crushing cattle calls. Save the money you'd spend on dry cleaning and parking to attend a job fair; instead, contact employers one by one after researching their businesses.

"I'm job hunting" messages on discussion boards
I moderate a few online discussion groups, and I always feel bad for the folks who join a group to post a message that says, "I am seeking an accounting job" to the other members (that is, total strangers). The odds of getting a job lead that way are slim to none.

We need to know the people we refer for job opportunities. You're better off spending your online-community time making one-on-one connections, or following up via phone or in person.

Video resumes
Imagine the hiring manager sitting at her desk swamped in resumes, cover letters, reference lists, portfolios, and unanswered emails from job applicants. What's her incentive to watch your video resume? There isn't one. Video resumes are a solution in search of a problem. Craft a killer resume and get it out, along with a pithy "pain letter" that explicitly shows how your background makes you the perfect person to relieve a business's pain, to hiring managers instead.

Spray and pray
Applying to every job in sight with the same, uncustomized resume is a job-search non-starter. Employers hire people they believe can solve their problems. That belief comes from the understanding of the problem that the job-seeker demonstrates in his or her pitch. Research is the key!

So, how do people get jobs? They do it through thoughtful, well-crafted letters, resumes, phone calls, and LinkedIn overtures--sent in response to posted job ads or sent to employers who don't currently have jobs posted but who may well have business needs anyway. They do it through networking, and through careful follow-up with the people they know and the new people they meet during a job search. "Hey, I need a job" is not a compelling pitch--but "I think I understand what you're up against, and would love to talk about solutions" most definitely is.

Liz Ryan is a 25-year HR veteran, a former Fortune 500 VP, and an internationally recognized expert on careers and the new-millennium workplace. Connect with her at www.asklizryan.com. (The opinions expressed in this column are solely the author's.)