The typical job seeker spends countless hours trolling the internet, crafting clever cover letters, modifying resumes and managing their online applications. For any single opening, a lucky few are interviewed and a single candidate will land an offer. The odds are stacked against the majority of applicants who fall into the “black hole” of a broken recruiting process.
This is where many people get stuck. The black hole is filled with talented new grads, midlife career professionals and seasoned experts who keep doing the same thing hoping for a different result. Eventually, many job seekers give up on their dreams, take survival jobs and choose to wither away in poor fit positions.
Throwing in the towel could be an act of self-preservation in the short term. Receiving cursory rejection letters or, worse yet, getting the silent treatment from employers takes a toll on one’s self-confidence.
What if I told you to stop wasting your time with job boards and search agents? What if there was an alternative to surfing the web and filling out online applications? Would you give it a try? My advice is simple: get off the computer and start talking to people.
Yeah, but. You are probably coming up with a whole bunch of reasons why you cannot talk to people.
- Yeah, but I am an introvert and I get shy talking to people.
- Yeah, but I am new in town and I don’t have any connections.
- Yeah, but I have already talked to everyone I know and nothing came of it.
- Yeah, but I feel like I am being a pest.
- Yeah, but I don’t even know what I want to do!
Yeah, but this is necessary. We create momentum in our careers when we engage in discussions about topics that light us up. Talking is a necessary pre-cursor to taking action.
Start by hanging out with people who do what you aspire to do. Listen, learn and ask questions. Share your own insights and ideas. This is how you find your tribe and build community.
If you take this approach, many conversations will happen naturally. Some career conversations require a bit more effort to coordinate. It takes courage to ask someone we barely know to share their valuable time with us.
Either way, this is not about hustling your way into an opportunity. It is about being genuinely curious and humbly asking for guidance. Stay true to yourself and do things that align with your style.
As you gain clarity about what you desire, you can be more direct. You might eventually ask a connection, “How would someone go about pursuing a path similar to yours?” Or, “What is the best way for someone to gain the attention of a hiring manager in your organization?” Allow the quality of each relationship to guide the level of support you are requesting.
Sure, you can get a job online but significant opportunities that provide meaning and purpose are born from relationships. Tapping into the so-called “hidden job market” requires making authentic connections with people who share similar interests and values.
Imagine if you had 50 stimulating, exciting career conversations over the course of the next three months. How might this impact your career? Your life? I invite you to turn off the computer and go grab a cup of coffee with someone who inspires you. Re-energizing a sluggish job search and breathing new life into your career begins one conversation at a time.