I recommend that job-seekers divide their precious job-search time and energy into three equal parts.
One-third of your time and energy will go to networking.
A second one-third will go to researching employers and reaching out to hiring managers directly using Pain Letters.
The last one-third of your available job search time and energy will go to reading job ads and responding to the ads that interest you — not through the Black Hole automated application portal but by finding your hiring manager and sending him or her a Pain Letter, directly to their desk.
When a hiring manager has a job ad posted, they typically go through a predictable set of experiences. When they first get approval to run the job ad and hire someone, the hiring manager is ecstatic.
I’m an HR person. I could always spot a hiring manager with a newly-approved job requisition, because they would come bounding into my office full of joy and hope.
“I get to hire a new person!” the manager would sing. “Let’s write the job ad right now!”
I would post the job ad and the hiring manager would go home with visions of sugarplums dancing in their head. They were sure that their job ad would bring in scores of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed applicants to save the day and keep them from missing critical goals.
Reality would set in when resumes began to arrive in response to our job ad. Real, living people don’t generally show up with all of the goofy Essential Requirements that a slightly delusional manager might hope for.
The manager would interview two or three candidates and then come back to see me. “I was hoping I’d find someone more qualified,” they would say.
This is the critical point in the ebb and flow of the manager’s emotions at which your Pain Letter could look like the answer to a manager’s prayers.
“But Liz,” you may be thinking, “how could I possibly anticipate when that moment would be?”
You can anticipate it by reading job ads. Don’t apply for a job the minute you see the ad. Wait two to three weeks and then send a Pain Letter, instead.
You already know that networking is critical in a new-millennium job search, and it is also essential to build your own Target Employer List and work your way down the list, systematically identifying your hiring manager in each firm and sending him or her a customized Pain Letter.
You may find that you don’t even need to read job ads! You can get a great job without reading job ads.
The problem for many job-seekers who learn about job openings (Business Pain with money allocated to relieve it, in other words) is that once a job spec has been written, some hiring managers and some HR people are very reluctant to depart from it.
Sign up here to get top career advice delivered straight to your inbox every week.
They may be stuck on the notion that they absolutely, positively have to hire someone with a master’s degree, for instance, even though you know from experience that it doesn’t take a master’s degree to do the job.
You can try responding to posted job ads (using a Pain Letter) and limiting your outreach to target hiring managers without reading job ads. You can try both approaches and see which one works best for you.
If you think that I am teaching you to pick your way through the wreckage of the dysfunctional corporate and institutional hiring process, you are right on target. That is exactly what you need to do.
Hiring managers have problems that you can help them solve. You can stop flinging resumes and applications into faceless, pointless Applicant Tracking Systems now. It is 2017!
You need to work for a real human being, not a bureaucratic weenie. You deserve that much, I believe very firmly — do you believe it, too?