Back In The Hunt – A New Approach To The Job Search


English: emperform

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As you may have figured out from my last post, I have again entered the job search, but this time while I am gainfully employed.

In a lot of ways, it is much harder to search for a job while you are working. Not only do you need to find the time to search the openings, talk to recruiters, and actually have interviews – both over the phone and in person – but you need to be circumspect about it with your current colleagues, making sure you get your job done all while trying to surreptitiously whisper over the phone that you can talk at lunchtime. Then, of course, you need to find a nice quiet spot to have that conversation.

On the other hand, being currently employed makes it much easier to network, even if you can’t always come out and say that you’d like to work for the other person, you have ready reasons to meet, greet and subtly hint at your interest in other opportunities.

It’s also much easier facing those recruiters – one of the first questions they ask is whether you are currently working. And although it’s not been a very long time for me (either at the job or on the hunt), just the fact that I have a job seems to lead those recruiters to pass me along to the next steps much more often. It reminds one of those people who are only interested in you because you already have a girlfriend – not thinking about the fact that someone who would play the field while in a relationship with someone might turn around and do the same thing to the next beau.

I really thought my 11+ years at Thomson would have spoken more than the few months working for the Department of Education, and in some ways it does – that’s where the employers seem to be looking to determine my real experience and ability set. But by the same token, the first question still is, “are you currently working? Why are you looking to make a change?” My actual experience these past few months has seemed irrelevant for the discussions – talks that happened in so much less frequency just a mere six or twelve months ago.

I admit that part of the difference is the way I am going about the hunt this time. Before, hunger and desperation had me chasing every shadow, every crackling twig I heard in the woods. I needed to find a job, so I went chasing, doing what I had to so that my name would fall to the top of the list when I applied to various jobs. I build relationships, and tried to leverage those relationships into actual employment – either through existing openings or by the potential creation of a job just for me.

Now I have the luxury to do things a little differently. Sure, I am networking again, somewhat, and I am applying to those opportunities that sound like solid fits. But being well-fed, I am better able to take the time to set out the traps, to lure the prey to me, having them interested and curious about my own level of interest in them, and not the other way around.

It may be a small, subtle difference, but it seems to be having a large impact. I had known, for example, that recruiters had the capability, in sites like Monster.com, to search for resumes based on the last updated date. I knew this, but didn’t take action on it. Now, though, I am able to use this information to my strategic advantage – changing around versions of my resume periodically is getting me a lot more recruiters contacting me. And by analyzing how the different versions do, I am able to fine-tune the resume to attract even more attention from recruiters.

And while this approach may or may not be more successful in the end, it is certainly more uplifting. Instead of my applying to dozens of jobs a month, hearing back from maybe two or three and perhaps progressing to a phone interview for one of them, I have recruiters contacting me for jobs they need to fill, all of them screening me for relevant experience and assuming that is met, passing my name along to the top of the pile for the hiring manager to review. So to bring myself back to a theoretical, less nerdy High School existence, instead of asking out dozens of girls and getting the occasional phone number or even a first date, I am having suitors approach me, trying to sell me on their own unique qualities and advantages.

Sure, I am at the mercy of an image these recruiters have in mind, but frankly that wound up happening through the other methodology as well. And while I haven’t progressed too far into this hunt, my strategy seems to be paying off so far.

Of course there is one other factor which is playing a major role here – instead of focusing on the management type jobs, I am looking at more tech jobs. With my current experience being the all-around “IT guy”, I have the confidence to apply for opportunities (and target my resume more towards) those jobs which call themselves “tech jobs”. I’ve sharpened my teeth on these tech roles which I always knew I could do, but having direct experience focused on certain things is bringing totally different bugs out of the woodwork. Besides, the tech gigs pay just as well, if not better, than most of the management or marketing jobs I had been looking at – and they don’t require an MBA.  On a related note, a lot of the tech gigs are contract work – six months or a year or longer – an option I couldn’t explore when my family was in danger of losing our health care, but one which a) seems appealing to me now, and b) has a much shorter hiring cycle.

In the end, as before, I can only hope to find a good opportunity for myself, one that suits me, my family, and my potential employer. But coming at things from a new perspective has really raised my confidence to a level I haven’t felt since the first year of being unemployed.

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