3 job search lies that keep you unemployed

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: September 19, 2011 - 10:52 AM

This may ruffle a few feathers, but your time is valuable, so I'll be blunt: If you've been struggling to find a job for more than 6 months, you may be doing the wrong things to get hired.

This may ruffle a few feathers, but your time is valuable, so I'll be blunt: If you've been struggling to find a job for more than 6 months, you may be doing the wrong things to get hired.

Worse, you may have been given bad information by well-meaning folks who have steered you wrong during your search.

I am here to set things right.

And to offer three Guerrilla Job Search "truths" to get you hired faster …

Lie #1: You can't apply to companies that have a hiring freeze.

Here's the one-word truth that will set you free: Attrition.

You see, understanding attrition can change everything in your job search!

How?

At every company on earth, employees quit, retire, die, move to another state, or get fired. In the United States, employee attrition -- also known as turnover -- currently averages 3.2% per month, according to August 2010 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for an annual attrition rate of about 38%.

That means, at a company with 100 employees, about 40 people will leave this year. And 40 more will depart next year.

That breaks down to about three departing employees every month -- 10 every 90 days -- if the company you want to work for has 100 employees.

The bigger the company, the more jobs that will open up every month, despite any hiring freezes, thanks to that magic word: attrition. (Yes, companies may downsize, but they will always have critical openings to fill.)

So attrition is your friend.

Because, when an employer tell you "No," it just means "Not today."

The word "No" does NOT mean, "Never contact us again." Not by a long shot.

And yet, almost 98% of job seekers give up after the first "No."

But not you, right? Not any more. You simply have to find a way to stay on an employer's radar and persist past that first "No."

Lie #2: You can't re-apply to companies that turned you down

The truth is, you can get hired by employers who have rejected you before, if you persist and stay on their radar with creative tactics.

To illustrate, here's a recap of a success story from two weeks ago.

Steve Fox, from Edina, Minn., was hired by an employer after they turned him down last year. He had been one of three finalists for a position, but wasn't hired.

"So I asked myself, 'What can I do differently?'" says Fox. "I decided to create an action plan of what I would do in the first 90 days on the job."

Fox wrote and sent the employer a 90-day action plan -- a research paper spelling out what he would do in his first three months in the position. But this, by itself, was not enough.

"They said, in effect, 'Yes, we understand you want a job. You've shown that you have interest.' But it never got me a face-to-face meeting, and I was afraid I was slipping through the cracks again," says Fox.

At this point, an average job-seeker would think, "Oh, well. Tough luck. Time to look someplace else." But Fox redoubled his efforts and followed up creatively.

"We were planning a family trip to Chicago. I thought, 'Their company headquarters are in Chicago. I know the hiring manager is there. How can I get his attention?' So I did a little twist on the Coffee Cup Caper."

For those unfamiliar with it, the Coffee Cup Caper is a box with three items: a customized resume, cover letter, and a paper coffee cup. In the cover letter, you ask to meet the hiring manager for a cup of coffee.

But Fox took it a few steps further.

"In a box, I sent four items, all taped to an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper. One was a roll of tape, for stick-to-itiveness. Then a key, for unlocking the territory's potential. Then a string, tied in a bow, and the words, 'Nice way to tie this all together.' The final item was a coffee cup, and I wrote, 'I'll be in Chicago and I'd love to have a cup with you.'"

What happened next?

"I got an e-mail back that said, 'Very creative. I won't be in downtown Chicago, but if you can come to our other office near the airport at 8:30 a.m., I'll meet with you.' We had our meeting and interview," says Fox.

That interview led to a job, with an employer who had first turned Fox down.

Lie #3: Traditional networking is the best way to uncover job leads.

Truth: Traditional networking is largely unproductive. After all, if networking worked, you would have a job by now.

Instead, the best way I've found to get job leads is to stop "networking" ... and start being useful to other people.

Think about it: Whose emails do you read, those from the guy who's "networking" -- spamming you with pleas for job leads every other week? Or the emails from someone who sends you helpful nuggets of information?

You make time for the helpful people in your life, of course. We all do.

Or, think of it like this: How eager are you to get up in the morning and make networking phone calls? Arrrgh. No thanks.

But ... how does it feel to help someone answer a question that's difficult for them, but easy for you? Pretty good.

Now. Wouldn't it be nice to feel good every day by helping other people, instead of feeling depressed about "networking"?

Well, you can feel better -- and get more job leads -- starting today.

Just do this: Think of three people who can help in your job search. Then, think of a way to be helpful to those three people. Then ... offer them your help.

When you give freely of your time, knowledge and expertise, people are happy to hear from you. And they will return the favor. They will give you their time, attention -- and any job leads or connections they have.

Try it and see.

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit MyNewJobHunt.com

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