Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Don't be a Chandler Bing.

What’s the #1 way to get hired?

What’s the #1 way to get hired?  Let’s see.  You can scour the web and apply to postings online.  You can hit the pavement and start knocking on doors.  You can cold call your way into your target companies.  All of these are decent tactics.  But, the NUMBER ONE way to get your foot in the door is to be referred by someone that the hiring manager knows and trusts.  At some firms, the percentage of hires that come from employee referrals is a staggering 50% or more! 
Being referred for a position is, hands down, the BEST WAY EVER to get hired.  Not only does it get you on the fast track for open and posted positions.  It also, more often than you would think, can open the door for positions that aren’t even advertised.  Yes, many of the best jobs out there are not even advertised!  Hiring managers simply keep their ears to the ground, and when they learn of a great candidate, they find a way to get the job opened.  Of course, once you’re referred, you will still need to navigate the interview and follow up stages of the process.  But you will be leaps and bounds ahead of those candidates who don’t have the golden ticket that is an employee referral.

So, how do you do you get referred for a job?  Here are the easiest ways to get yourself referred.
      1. What is it that you do?

Remember Chandler Bing from Friends? He had the same job for a decade, and yet none of his friends could ever remember what it was that he did.  During a trivia game once, when asked to identify Chandler’s job, Rachel even called him a "transponster".  If he ever needed to rely on one of those friends to refer him to a job, he may as well consider himself indefinitely unemployed.  They would have been of no use to him in this capacity.     
If you’re looking for a new job, the first and most important thing you can do is to have a narrative about what it is that you do.  Then, make sure everyone in your network knows what that is.  It sounds elementary, but if your friends don’t know what kind of career you’re suited for, how are they possibly going to help you find a job? You never know when you’ll come across someone in your circle that can help you land your next job.  So, get some CLARITY around what you want, and put together your personal elevator pitch.  Memorize it.  Use it whenever and as often as needed.  It works.

2. Network, network, network.  
It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.” ― Dan Simmons, Hyperion
Regardless of the industry in which you’ve carved out a career for yourself, there are networking groups and events where professionals akin to yourself congregate from time to time.  If you don’t know of any, look them up online.  Every industry has them.  If you can’t find one specific to your industry, consider local city or county networking events.  Become a regular at their meet ups.  Mingle, get business cards and use the “Here’s what I do” pitch from step 1.  Get to know them, and make sure they get to know you.

      3. Use LinkedIn.  As a recruiting professional, I live and die by LinkedIn.  As a candidate, I’ve used LinkedIn when changing jobs in the past.  LinkedIn is a gold mine for anyone looking to further themselves professionally.  Here are a few tips that should increase your effectiveness on LinkedIn.
a.    Update your profile.  In your professional headline section, update it to reflect something such as “seeking new opportunity”.  But also make sure you keep your desired title or industry in this section as well, as shown below.  This makes it easier for recruiters to find you when they are looking for someone with your skillset.
b.    Get active in groups. Get involved in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry or your geographic area.  Join the conversation.  LinkedIn groups are a great place to find jobs, industry articles and other professionals who may be open to networking with you.  Groups are, in my opinion, the most effective way to use LinkedIn.  They are easy to join, fun to participate in and they could very likely be your key to landing your next job.
c.    Search for hiring managers. As you grow your personal network of connections on LinkedIn, you will exponentially increase the number of people in your network.  Using the Advanced search tab, you can easily find managers in your field who may know of one of those “hidden” jobs I mentioned earlier.  Get connected.

      4. Give a little to get a lot.  Many people recommend volunteer work during career transitions.  I tend to agree.  But, I also like to suggest that there are endless ways to give back to the world around you.  In doing so, you will not only make someone else’s day better.  You may also improve your own outlook on your current situation.  
Volunteering at local charities is a great way to spend some of your “in between jobs” time.  It’s also a wonderful way to expand your network.  Another great option is to give back to your professional community.  Have you seen an interesting article that your peers may find useful?  Do you have an idea around how to improve something in your industry?  Don’t hesitate to share this via social media or wherever you can.  Contributing to others in this way not only serves to benefit the recipients.  It also helps to keep you and your personal brand relevant during your search.  
If you consistently make an effort to incorporate these 4 easy tasks into your daily routine, it will be that much quicker for you to find that one connection that is able to refer you to your next opportunity.  Like I said, referrals are the most effective and quickest way for you to get hired.  So, get yourself referred!  Why make your job search harder than it has to be?  

Until next time, continued professional success and personal happiness your way.

-Talent Scout