And, back in the 1930s, when Australia was in the depths of the Great Depression, getting a job was extremely tough. Many men resorted to picking up their swags and continuing on their way until they found work.
Fast forward to the 21st century and ask yourself whether you are prepared to push the boundary of your comfort zone and use an unconventional Job Search method to win your next job.
Do you have the intestinal fortitude to use a rare but effective technique to your advantage?
Hiding in plain sight
Though estimates vary, most career practitioners will tell you that roughly four out of five jobs are not advertised. It’s called the Hidden Job Market. Yet most job seekers who are urgently hunting for their next role ignore this wonderful source of work and have a passive, reactive approach.
Why is this?
There are three simple reasons. Job seekers…
- Are not aware of the existence of the Hidden Job Market.
- Do not know how to skilfully access it, OR
- Do not like the activities they must undertake in it to be successful.
What is the alternative to the Hidden Job Market?
It’s a risky numbers game and is called – no surprises here – the Visible Job Market.
In the Visible Job Market you submit an application and wait. When you don’t hear anything, you repeat the process with a new application. You concentrate your efforts on job advertisements and on approaching Recruitment Agencies. You are stuck at the tip of the iceberg - the 20% of jobs that are visible to all and sundry, and for which 80% of job seekers apply.
This Job Search method relies on quantity and playing the odds, as opposed to strategy and resilience. Picking 20 job advertisements from the internet every day and replying to them is playing the numbers. Sending your résumé to the ‘top 100’ companies in your industry is a game of chance, as well.
For an advertised job, you may well be competing with 100 applicants and if you make the short list you will still be up against three or four solid candidates.
Compare this to the results from Job Search Networking campaign. Here, you may be the only candidate for the position. The employer is more likely to shape this new job to suit your current skills and abilities, rather than expect you to exactly fit a job advertisement.
Even if there is not a current vacancy, your proactivity and demonstrated knowledge of the organisation will put you in front of mind when one appears and, if you are sufficiently attractive, employers have been known to create a role especially to hire you.
If you are currently operating solely in the Visible Job Market, it is time to gather your courage and target the Hidden Job Market.
Positive Attitude + Resilience = Dreams come true
One of my favourite stories about Job Search Networking relates to Susan. She was a Chief Information Officer in Adelaide, where Executive roles can be hard to come by.
As with most people, I convinced Susan of the power of Job Search Networking. Providing I am clear in my explanation of the theory, everybody ‘gets it’ intellectually.
The difference with Susan was that she had the resilience to make 157 appointments over a 5 month period. She got dressed every morning in her work clothes and picked up the phone. She had the sheer guts to keep going day after day, completing a difficult task.
Susan had a positive attitude which meant that not only did these strangers agree to meet her, they were impressed enough by her demeanour at the 20 minute networking meeting to give her further contacts. And so on.
Susan’s attitude and resilience surfaced in another form, as she was able to trust in the process of networking, month after long month. You see, success using Job Search Networking only comes at the end i.e. it’s only when you getthe job offer you want, that you can trace backwards through the various meetings that lead you there.
Interestingly, Susan and I had identified a pre-eminent organisation as a key target at our very first meeting, right at the beginning of her Job Search. Of course, she did not just rely on this one possibility – that is why she investigated those 157 leads over the five months.
But guess where Susan ended up? Guess how she won the role? - a Job Search Networking coffee meeting with the CEO, well before the position was advertised, followed up by a solid interview performance.
Guess where she still is five years later?
Understanding the concept
The aim of Job Search Networking is to explore whether your abilities, skills and background fit employment in a particular business, industry or organisation. And if so, whether there are any current employment opportunities that offer good prospects for a rewarding job.
A key factor in making this a positive interaction for all involved is to realise the value of the discussion itself, This meeting with someone who can give you good advice on how you should craft your future career is an incredibly worthwhile exercise. It is also an opportunity to showcase your worth through well thought out, genuinely relevant questions on the sector (so do your homework). Your proactivity means that at the very least you are building a great network of referrals for future opportunities.
This creates a win-win situation – you get good advice as well as a chance to highlight your talents, and the person you have gone to for advice is flattered to be seen as having a valuable opinion, which makes most people generous with their time.
Conversely, if you go with the sole purpose in mind of being offered a job, you risk a lose-lose situation as you may not be offered one, or the person you are meeting may not (currently) have a job to offer you and this shuts down the discussion straight away.
When it comes to Job Search Networking, it’s important to:
- Understand that many employers use networking to find employees.
Rather than advertise available positions, many savvy employers prefer to rely on referrals from someone they trust to fill vacancies.
- Accept that most people like to help others.
This is particularly true if you are straight out of school or University. Many people in the business community find it immensely satisfying to offer support and will go out of their way to offer you further leads and contacts.
- Take a Pass it Forward attitude to Job Search Networking.
You may be uncomfortable asking person after person to support you in your next career move. It may make you feel that you are ‘using’ people. One way to overcome this reaction is to resolve to play your part in future to help another person make a good career move.
- Believe that you can contribute reciprocal value.
View Job Search Networking as something more than an activity simply designed to help you. If you focus on what you can offer to the relationship, it will increase your feeling of authenticity.
Is the world is your oyster?
There are only four ways to get a job and that will always be the case. If you are currently looking to move on and you are only using strategies in the ‘Visible’ job market, it may be time to gird your loins and extend your approach to incorporate Job Search networking.
If you do, there really is no downside. I would never have become a career specialist if I had not arranged a fateful networking meeting all those years ago. Yet, everyone who knows me can attest to how happy I am in this field and what a good fit it is for me.
At a minimum, you will emerge from your Job Search campaign a stronger, more resilient person. You will also be clearer about what you want to do, what you can offer and what is important to you. The effect will radiate out from you to your loved ones and will help shape your future career happiness.
That hoary old phrase, ‘The world is your oyster’ is likely to ring true. There’s nothing wrong with that as an outcome.
Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, (1811 - 1896)
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Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert. She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's Careers section, as well as in online publications such as news.com.au, thenewdaily.com.au and womensagenda.com.au
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