In this week’s blog I am going to use the analogy of target shooting (archery, pistol, rifle, etc.) to make some points about how I routinely see some (most?) job seekers approach finding a new job today.
Ideally, the approach one should take in order to hit the “bull’s eye” on a shooting range is to follow this protocol: “Ready, Aim, Fire!,” with the heaviest emphasis on the “aim” part. Unfortunately, many job seekers today, particularly the “seasoned” job seekers, seem intent on taking the “Ready, Fire, Aim!” approach, while the less-seasoned job seekers sometimes take the “Ready, Aim . . . ,” Ready, Aim . . . ,” “Ready, Aim . . .” approach! Both approaches are destined to end unfavorably for the job seeker utilizing them. Let me elaborate.
Whether you are a relatively new job seeker or an “old hand” at job-hunting, you quite probably are finding (or will find) that today’s job market is unlike any you ever imagined or have experienced. If you’ve been in the job market during the last few years you already know this, of course.
However, if you are, say, currently employed and have just begun looking for new career opportunities, or a recent (or soon to be) college graduate seeking your first job . . . well . . . suffice it to say that you are indeed in for quite a shock!
If you are an “old timer,” for the most part, you will find that much of what worked when you landed your current position (going online to locate a new job, posting to newspaper job ads, etc.) no longer works at all! (There is a legitimate reason why the subtitle of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets” is “The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!”) If you’re relatively new to the job market, it can seem overwhelming in its complexity and challenging in the extreme. In a word, today’s job market can best be described as stifling—for any job seeker.
So, then, what’s the answer to effectively competing in today’s job market? It is to have a good, well-thought-out action plan, and then to effectively implement that plan. Only by taking this approach, i.e., a “Ready, Aim, Fire!” approach, can you brand yourself as being new, different and better than the “average” or “typical” job seeker today. You need to acquire a “roadmap” or a “track to run on,” in other words.
The 4 essential phases to success
One of my principal goals in writing “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! (and the recently published “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Application Workbook) was to provide those job seekers whom I couldn’t personally help through my executive recruiting firm with a “roadmap,” a “track to run on.” Based upon years of experience as a professional “headhunter,” I determined that there essentially are four basic “steps” or “phases” in the successful job search, and significant to note, they should ALL be included in a job hunting plan and implemented in the order presented:
PHASE ONE – Preliminary Planning & Preparation
Begin branding yourself as a very desirable candidate by developing your basic personal marketing plan, setting up an efficient records-keeping system, assessing your skills and proficiencies, etc.
PHASE TWO – Developing Your Marketing Plan
Applying the “four Ps” of marketing—Product (You!); Pricing (how much you will cost a company in salary and benefits versus how much value you will bring to a hiring company); Promotion (Disseminating information about you, the product, to the “target audience,” i.e., hiring companies); and Placement (Determining which “channels to market” to use to get yourself in front of prospective employers)—preparing and polishing your résumé, etc.]
PHASE THREE – Selling Yourself
Utilizing a Daily Connection Log to keep track of daily contacts with potential employers because you know that, like selling, finding a new job is really just a “numbers” game. Developing effective telephone scripts to reach out to hiring companies you’ve identified as being in your “target” market. Routinely rehearse answers to the many “gotcha!” questions you can expect to be asked during interviews, etc.
PHASE FOUR – Closing the Deal
When you begin putting it all together and, again just like sales, implementing those tactics and strategies necessary to “close the deal,” i.e., land the job!
To carry my target shooting analogy forward, Phases One and Two, of course, would be the “Ready” element; Phase Three would be the “Aim” element; and Phase Four would be the “Fire!” element.
Relatively simple stuff, a relatively logical, easy-to-follow approach to job hunting, right? Well, certainly is was meant to be perceived that way, but unfortunately, I have found that, oftentimes, some job seekers, particularly the “seasoned” job hunters, either want to “improve” on the process, take “shortcuts,” or they (usually the newer, less-seasoned job seekers) simply get so bogged down in one of the early phases that they become immobilized and can’t seem to move on to the next phases, and finally, to “close the deal.”
Some “seasoned” job seekers, for example, say (or think) something along these lines: “All I really need to do to find a new job is to ‘polish’ my existing résumé, start sending out résumés online to potential employers, make a few calls, contact a few ‘headhunters,’ and then just sit back and wait to be contacted.” This group I classify in the “Ready, Fire!, Aim” group.
On the other hand, some less-seasoned job seekers think (or say) something like this: “Wow! I’ve got to really concentrate on Phases One and Two before I ever make a move to actually start contacting potential employers. I’ve got to get everything right!” I classify this group of job seekers as the “Ready, Aim” . . . “Ready, Aim” . . . “Ready, Aim” folks. They simply can’t seem to get to the point of actually “pulling the trigger”!
And finally, the job seekers who are ultimately successful in landing a new job in today’s brutal job market are those who follow, and strictly adhere to, the four basic phases featured in “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets and in this blog. In other words, this group of job seekers can be classified as the “Ready, Aim, Fire!” group!
(Just for the record, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets is hardly the only best-selling job-hunting book that endorses and strongly recommends this four-phase approach to a successful job search. Virtually all of the top job-hunting books—Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters, co-authored by my friend and colleague David Perry; Purple Squirrel by top Google recruiter Mike Junge; and the perennial best-seller What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles—either implicitly or explicitly suggest/recommend this same approach!)
Which group would you put yourself in? If you desire to brand yourself as indeed a candidate who is new, different and better in every sense of the term than the “run-of-the-mill” candidate, who is merely “looking for a job” and who will almost never try anything new or venture out of his/her “comfort zone,” then you will want to make sure that your definitely are in the “Ready,” “Aim,” Fire!” group!
Are you “Ready”?
Have you taken good, careful “Aim”?
Are you ready to “Fire!”?
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.