How Broad Is Your Job Search Net?

How Broad Is Your Job Search Net?

Are you looking for your next position in all the right places?

Cheryl is frustrated. She lost her job 3 months ago when her company divested the business unit in which she worked. She is not getting job interviews. She calls Madison to seek job search advice. Madison is a business school classmate and friend who is general manager of a consumer products business unit. Madison and Cheryl agree to have a discussion over dinner.

Cheryl: Thank you for meeting with me.

Madison: It is my pleasure. It is always great to catch up with you. And, dinner is on me.

Cheryl: I am frustrated with my job search. I have a resume that I prepared with the assistance of a professional resume writer. I am not getting interviews despite applying for over 300 positions through job sites and connecting with several search firms. What am I doing wrong? What should I be doing that I am not doing?

Madison: Remember that I was in your situation 3 years ago when my old company divested my business unit. After going through the frustration of receiving few responses to job site applications and search firms, I decided to take a step back from my job search and take another approach.

Cheryl: What did your step back lead you to do?

Madison: I manage businesses. This includes marketing and selling products. I came to realize that conducting a job search campaign is like selling a product. In the case of a job search, the product is me.

Cheryl: I think I have done a great a great job defining my product—what I can do or contribute to an employer.

Madison: Great! You started in the right place.

Cheryl: What else should I have done?

Madison: When you manage a business, you need to recognize the multiple channels for selling your products.

Cheryl: Channels?

Madison: Yes, channels. For my products, there are 3 sales channels—traditional retail, online retail, and distributors. My business unit needs to sell through all 3 channels to reach customers. 

Cheryl: How do you apply this to finding a job?

Madison: I focused my job search on 3 job search channels for connecting to career opportunities. Those channels were applications through job sites, search firms, and referrals.

Cheryl: This is a different approach. I have used job sites and search firms. I have not used referrals.

Madison: Did you know that 40-80% of management and staff positions are filled through referrals? This is the result of job seekers connecting to individuals who connect them to hiring decision makers. If you were selling a product, would you overlook 40-80% of your potential customers?

Cheryl: No way. I have been overlooking a path to a lot of potential career opportunities.

Madison: Many openings are in what is called the hidden job market. These positions are not listed on job sites or assigned to search firms.

Cheryl: Why do you think so many openings are in the hidden market?

Madison: Let’s take a look at this from the perspective of an employer. Filling positions by soliciting applications is time consuming, even with today’s recruiting which includes the use of information technology such as the internet and keyword searching. The first level of screening applications and resumes is accomplished by screening by technology and/or individuals to determine which applicants should be considered. Candidates who make it through the first screen are further screened through follow-up emails and interviews. Today, most of these interviews are accomplished by telephone or videoconference. Candidates who advance through this screen are interviewed by a team of interviewers which includes the decision maker. There may be multiple interviews of the same candidates before an offer is extended. While all this is going on, the accomplishment of organizational objectives may be inhibited because the position to be filled may have an important role in accomplishing the objectives. And, members of the organization may be overworked to cover the open position.

Cheryl: This is an eye opener.

Madison: I know. I have had anxious moments as I waited to fill positions in my organizations.

Cheryl: Applying for jobs through websites gives me a good feeling that I am working hard. I can tell my husband and my friends that I applied for 25 jobs this week. They compliment me on how hard I am working.

Madison: Being busy does not guarantee results. As John Wooden, the hall of fame basketball coach, said “Never confuse activity with accomplishment.”

Cheryl: Well-stated. What about search firms?

Madison: When I lost my job, I thought that my phone would be constantly ringing with calls from headhunters. I had a great record of accomplishments and other great qualifications. I thought that headhunters would see me as a quick search fee for connecting me to career opportunities. Oh, I did get calls. Most of the calls were very encouraging. I felt that I would be working again in a matter of weeks. I never heard again from most of the recruiters. When I called and got connected with them, I was told either they did not have a search assignment that matched my qualifications or that an assignment may be evolving.

Cheryl: That sounds so familiar.

Madison: Headhunters do not work for job seekers. They work for clients, people who pay them to find people to fill their openings. Headhunters are business people. Their time is money.

Cheryl: I guess I wasted time relying on search firms.

Madison: No, you didn’t. Just like selling products, there are multiple channels. You just overlooked one channel. There is one more thing about referrals. People who refer you often have a trusted relationship with the hiring decision maker or someone who can connect you to the decision maker. You have already been screened. That trust translates into time saved in screening and reference checks.

Cheryl: I recognize the importance of referrals in my job search. How can I get referrals to opportunities and decision makers?

Madison: I have suggestions and techniques. I have a product launch review meeting at 8:30, tomorrow morning. Can we meet 1:00, Saturday afternoon, at my house?

Cheryl: Sure! Do I need to bring anything?

Madison: Just bring your great attitude, your resume, and information on your great vacation spot in Aruba.

Cheryl: I will see you on Saturday.

Madison knows the importance of creating awareness of her personal product to the entire marketplace—the 3 job search channels. She approached her job search like she was conducting a sales campaign for her business unit.






Are you using all the job search channels?

What has been your experience with applying through job sites?

What has been your experience with search firms and recruiters?

How well can you answer “Why would anyone want to hire me?”

What other job search experiences would you like to share with other readers?

I invite you to share your comments, experiences, and suggestions. This helps me provide information that may help you address your career opportunities and challenges.

Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions. Visit the Contact page on the Fields of Success website to schedule a session.

I will not post an article next week in observance of Thanksgiving. The next article will be posted week after next and will cover Connect with Decision Makers, Step 4 in the Personal Selling Process.

Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management process and information designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.



Founder, Fields of Success, LLC

Enabling professionals to convert career challenges into career success stories.

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