JOB SEARCH ADVICE
UPDATED ON 12/29/2021
Networking can shed light on our powerful capabilities that are denied the opportunity on our resumes since we have yet to do them at work.
I never stop looking for my next great opportunity.
During all these years, I have come across and applied to countless job descriptions from Fortune 500s to boutique start-ups.
Honestly, the size of company really does not matter at this point. All I care about is whether I resonate with the listed responsibilities so that I can match my resume with the kind of work I was targeting.
See, we, as job applicants, do the same thing.
Another factor I consider is whether I can do the job described.
Of course, I would definitely apply to those that closely matched my qualifications and that I know I can succeed at executing.
It is those that I know I can execute but cannot match in words that give me the most trouble.
This is where the resume — and the current hiring process, for that matter — fall massively short.
Recruiters and headhunters have a tough job.
With millions of people on this Earth, many of them sieve through thousands of resumes a week. I am sure we can all understand the pain.
That’s why applicant tracking system, or ATS, exists.
The one thing that ATS is good for is filtering out applicants who are absolutely unqualified for the role; however, that is also its downfall.
At some point in history, somebody established an unwritten rule: only resumes that match the job description by 80% or higher should be considered.
Unfortunately, that rule has set off a number of workarounds that villainized both recruiters and job candidates.
Recruiters are accused of superficially evaluating candidates at face value based on what is written.
Candidates are accused of exaggerating their professional experience on paper, sometimes even lying.
It should not be this way.
Job candidates and recruiters should be collaborators.
So recently, human resources have gradually lowered the threshold to as low as 55% match.
That may sound like relief, but for us who are seeking to expand our repertoire, this still presents a crippling challenge.
For the ambitious crowd with a growth mindset, new skills and knowledge entice us. When we search for our next opportunity, we look for positions that stretch.
Nonetheless, positions that stretch us come in two different flavors.
Sometimes, they stretch us vertically, with advanced challenges a similar discipline. In this case, recruiters and hiring managers see potential for deep growth
Then there are those that stretch laterally. Regardless of whether those positions are similar to our past experiences, we are confident we can fulfill the obligations.
And that is the dilemma.
We know we can do the job, but we cannot write the keywords on paper because we have not done it professionally yet.
If we have not done anything related to the position yet, then we cannot write those keywords in our resumes. If we cannot write them, then how do we express our confidence in fulfilling the role to ATS?
I have explicitly asked recruiters this question and I get the same answer every time.
The resume still needs to showcase our potential with impressive accomplishments and capabilities.
However, because we cannot declare known skills that have not been perform in a professional setting, an unintentional skills gap will stick out like a sore thumb.
The only way to fill in that gap is to voice our qualifications, hopefully in job interviews.
In most circumstances, we need to nib the bud before we even apply.
Networking is an art form well worth us wild.
First, reach out to the right people. That means recruiters and hiring managers who deal with positions in our desired areas of interest. We can do this through LinkedIn, local associations, or—when done correctly—even cold-messaging.
In a brief introduction message, state our names, reason for the message, and our abilities in two sentences. Then add one more sentence to indicate interest in learning more about their needs. Remember contact info and suggest next steps.
Second, once we receive a response and schedule a conversation, never convey our desperation for work. Instead, build rapport. Ask questions about their challenges, visions, or goals.
See how that person reacts.
If all seems favorable, then regularly communicate with him or her. Make sure to address company needs and our offerings. Fill in what our resumes cannot say for us.
Yes, it takes time, but networking can build stronger relationships than a resume can. So be patient and we will be rewarded.
Resumes are important. No doubt about it.
I have no doubt that it has helped millions hop and advance their careers.
Yet, for some, especially career changers and advancers, it takes more than a piece of paper to tell others, “Yes, I know I have not done this professionally before, but I know for a fact that I can do this.”
As cover letters are scarcely read and emails go in the junk box these days, it has become more prevelant to speak to them in-person.
The caveat is grabbing their attention in the first place.
People have grown more antsy as attention spans shorten, so do not bombard them with long introductions or desperate pitches.
Bond with them first. Then when we are in friendlier terms, it would be easier to fill them in on our interests, skills, and offerings.
The outcome will be so much more gratifying.
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