It sure would be nice if job search was what it used to be: you’d draw up your resume, distribute it to some well-placed contacts, and network your way into a good role. Then you’d do it again. Then you’d do it again. Following that pattern can keep you happily employed for decades. However, the day old-school job search techniques stop working can bring serious upset and frustration. So, let’s cast away the old things, and replace them with job search 2.0 approaches that get you the response you need.
The #1 thing that doesn’t work: cliché keywords. There is no way that you being a “detail-oriented team player” is the strongest asset you bring to the table. When I see resumes and LinkedIn profiles that start off on that wrong foot, I believe it’s a cover for fear.
There’s fear because those are the words you see in every ad, so surely you must include them, right? There’s fear because you don’t know what else to write. There’s fear because you don’t know how to say who you truly are, what you actually do, or what the unique value is that you bring to the table.
Instead of stuffing your presentation with alleged keywords from the bottom of the ads, (I defy you to show me an ad asking for a detail-oriented team player in the 1st line), start with what the ad says from the top.
These are the 1st few lines from an ad for a Sales Director: “The primary job function of the Community Sales Director is to drive new sales into the community. Candidates with proven ability to close will be considered. Both inside and outside sales efforts are required to attract new residents to the community. Expectations focus on lead development/closing and strong outreach experience for referral development to local professionals.”
Here are the keywords and phrases you need to emphasize to be viewed as a match for this job. These are in the order presented in the ad: Sales Leadership (the ad doesn’t specifically say this, however, at a Director level, the core of what you would be doing is providing sales leadership), Sales Closing, Inside & Outside Sales, Lead Development, and Referral Development. None of those words is cliché. All of those words are specific.
The #2 thing that doesn’t work: relying on job board alerts. I get it: it’s easy to go into the job boards 1 time, enter your desired job titles, location(s), and such, and have the job boards automatically send you (allegedly) matching opportunities on a regular basis. However, there are a couple of problems with this old-school method.
Time and again jobseekers tell me the alerts don’t match what they entered, regarding job function, job level, or location. The second problem that leads to is email clutter. You’re spending so much time on job alerts every day, frustrated that your job-search-strategy-on-autopilot isn’t working, that you’re not devoting energy where you will get the strongest results.
Forget all the automation. Replace that with good, old-fashioned human effort. Identify the places where you want to work, research the organizations, pinpoint the people potentially relevant to your job search, and make your approach. While that seems like it takes more time, hmmm, you’re wasting time on automatic job alerts anyway…
The #3 thing that doesn’t work: believing that once you make it to the interview, you can take things from there. Okay, but how are you planning on getting to the interview in the 1st place? You’re so busy believing something about the future that you’re not effectively working on what you need to in the present.
LinkedIn IS your interview. When people receive your resume, before they pick up the phone, they look you up on LinkedIn. What they find there determines whether they pick up the phone at all.
Treat LinkedIn as the engine driving your job search. It is not a medium intended for you to simply park there. It is a medium intended for relevant people to find you. Concentrate on being seen by actively connecting with relevant people in the organizations you’re targeting. Follow these relevant people and comment on their news feed posts in a normal human being tone of voice. If you want to make it to the interview, show your real skills, show your real humanity, and show some initiative.