Written years ago but still applicable today, maybe even more so.
In this ever expanding job market, I often times hear the complaints that the really good jobs are filled from within and the only jobs that people can find published are entry-level positions. Job websites such as HotJobs.com and Careerbuilder.com are becoming more often filled with MLM and “work from home” ads than legitimate job resources. A quick scan of one city’s postings on Hotjobs.com resulted in only about 10 percent legitimate jobs and the remainder was filled with the aforementioned bogus offers or advertisements for the US Navy.
Is this a reflection that the increasing economy is not producing good jobs or the area you live in is still suffering from a recession- most likely not. I spend a lot of time with new college graduates, many times mentoring or working through leadership development programs and I have noticed a trend in those who are successful at acquiring high paying jobs versus those who are stuck choosing entry level positions or who remain unemployed.
Settling is Not Settling
It may seem contradictions to my original premise- that people are not acquiring good jobs because they are settling for entry-level position. Is the fact that people often times overlook entry level positions because they feel they are worth more than what is being offered or the work being done. Many companies only advertise their entry-level positions because the need is greater and the need for experienced employees can often be filled internally or through recruiters. The mistake in ignoring entry-level jobs is really ignoring an open door into a company where you may not have had an opportunity otherwise. Whether you are simply exploring a new career opportunity or are unemployed some of your best opportunities can come from the ground floor. Often a hard step for people who are used to being in management; starting again at the bottom can bring about the greatest rewards.
The key to getting your foot in the door from a ground floor entrance is in the interview. If you know that you are far overqualified for a position and do not want to risk being overlooked for an entry-level interview always have a separate resume that you use for applying for these positions that simplifies your positions and responsibilities. Do not lie on your resume but instead simply list companies and job titles, just as one who is inexperienced would. Once you are in your interview offer to e-mail (or bring) the interviewer an updated resume that will wow them with your experience. This strategy works best for two types of interviews; the HR representative and/or the outside recruiter. In both cases these people will not only be interviewing for that department but for various other positions through out the company.
Even if this strategy does not result in a better offer, always consider the entry-level as a potential foot in the door for better things. The key at this point is creating a growth strategy from the position you take. I know of many people who remain unemployed because their pride will not allow them to take a job they fell is ‘beneath’ them. While these people are confident in their abilities and have a great pride in their skills, their confidence and pride are all they have, as they remain unemployed.
The most valuable jobs available today one will never see on Hotjobs.com or in your local newspaper. Every day companies have open positions that are filled from within or simply go unfilled because their focus is always on the mass hiring areas, such as customer service or sales. The key to finding these unadvertised positions is to take a proactive approach in your job hunt. I categorize this hunting technique into two approaches, the grenade and the sniper.
The grenade approach involves mass mailing cover letters and resumes to every company in your area that you know have positions in your field. The key to the grenade approach involves first finding a HR contact within each company that is involved in hiring. A quick phone call or search on the internet can often reveal this information. The best approach is to physically mail your information, as these people will receive hundreds of e-mails every day. Even though you are mass-mailing these proactive letters your cover letter with each resume should be somewhat personalized to the company you are sending them to and you should write your cover letter as though this is all they may look at.
The sniper approach involves extensive research into companies and their hiring patterns. While this takes more work the results can be more beneficial than with the grenade approach. The key to this approach is actually finding out what companies are hiring entry-level positions and build on those. A good example of this is a company that is mass hiring customer service representatives. Although this company may only advertise these representative positions it is logical to assume the more front line representatives are hired the more management positions are needed to support them. The proactive sniper approach would involve mailing the hiring manager or HR representative your resume and cover letter that clearly outlines the type of position you are looking for and how you can be an asset in their growth.
Both of these proactive approaches not only open you up to unadvertised positions but you give yourself an extra star for your approach as companies will look positively on those who have the initiative you have demonstrated.
In our everyday activities we meet various contacts that, although currently they may not seem valuable, could provide a benefit when hunting for a job. I keep a file in my PDA of everyone I meet who may be a future asset. Along with their name I include their company or industry, position, influence, how we met, and notes on this person’s personality (eg. do they like aggressive or passive employees.) I have known many people to find high level positions with in companies by taking the sniper proactive approach to specific network contacts. They key to working with network contacts is your cover letter. This letter must not only put the spotlight on you but they should include personal comments about your relationship or meeting with the party it is addressed to. It is also important in your approach to never come across that you assume, because of your relationship that they will hire you. Instead you must give the impression that you are doing this person a favor and showing them you are willing to bring your expertise to their team.
First Impressions on Paper
In all of my prior suggestions I have mentioned using cover letters. This, unfortunately is the area that most people fail in their job hunts. I recently helped a colleague hunt for a job as she had zero success even landing an interview. Together we created a cover letter and started taking the proactive approach to many of the companies she could not get an interview with. With almost 100% success she received requests to interview on all the jobs she sent cover letters to. By the end of the month she had four offers that were much better than anything she could have imagined, this after going 3 months not even having an interview.
The cover letter is like a book synopsis on the jacket. Walk into any Barnes & Noble and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who buys a book who does not make their decision based on the synopsis on the jacket. While resumes are often structured and formal, a cover letter can be much more glorifying highlighting many aspects of your business personality that often cannot be described in a title or job duty description. In you cover letter you also can personalize what you can offer them.
Another key to your cover letter and resume is to hire a professional resume writing service or solicit help from others who are professionals. One resource that is quite valuable and does not cost anything, are the mentorship programs available from the MBA Association (mbaassociation.org). Getting outside help can often help you see overlooked skills or even catch deadly typos.
There is an old joke that consultants are just people who cannot find a job, but there is a lot of truth in that adage. Do you have a unique skill or experience that you know will be valuable to businesses. Consider starting your own business as a consultant. The process in this can be complex but the reward can be multi-faceted. First becoming a consultant can provide a source of income while you search for a permanent position while allowing you to somewhat set your own schedule. Being a consultant can get your foot into the door of many businesses you may not have had an employment opportunity with before. Showing success for that business could open a door for employment giving your skill in a full time basis. The other result could be your success as a self employed individual will far exceed your dreams of working for someone else.
Finding a job is not as difficult as people believe. I see every day success and failures and more-often than not the failures have anything to do with jobs not being available but with limitations people place upon themselves. Keys to finding jobs is often to look outside the traditional approach, proactively targeting business or those in your network; or in taking off some of the limiting pride and looking for open doors where one can.