If you are one of the 80% of knowledge workers that feel stress on the job, you may also be one of the 14% that had felt like striking a coworker in the past year but decided to not do it. Instead, you may have looked for another job.
Here is how successful professionals manage to leap to a dream job that fuels them with energy, inspires them for personal growth, and helps them to contribute to a cause much bigger than themselves.
To get there, you will need to design your own path to success. You will need to do things differently. You will need to implement a new process of finding your dream job.
There is a lot of literature out there that is designed to help you get found on job boards like Monster.com, Indeed.com, CareerBuilder, and others as well as here on LinkedIn.
You can read how to best use their sitemaps and search features to find job-listings that are best matches for you. There are plenty of blogs and even paid services available that help you write and organize your resume, use keywords and buzzwords, and stand out against other candidates.
Job boards promise to get your resume in front of so much more employment opportunities than you could ever find on your own. But there is also a flipside. Like when the early bird catches the worm, it is also true that the early worm gets eaten.
Job boards make it harder, not easier to find a job
Because more people find them, employers now also attract much more candidates for each of their job listings. Job seekers have much more competition. That makes it a lot harder to stand out; and hence, chances of being noticed fade.
To manage the deluge of applications, employers have increasingly automated the selection process with tools, such as:
- Applicant tracking software
- Recruitment automation for resume screening
- Software that enriches resumes by using public data sources about your previous employers and your social media profiles
- Chatbots and
- Technology that records your interviews and assesses factors such as your word choices, speech patterns, and facial expressions to predict how well you fit the role
These technologies have one main purpose: filter out all applicants that do not match formal hiring criteria. And if the technology is not available, someone in HR will do it manually at a speed of 6 seconds per application. As a result, 88% of resumes that employers receive for a role are considered unqualified.
You can be the most qualified person for the job, but the hiring manager will never see your resume for two reasons:
- Underqualified: You may have only four years of experience – and the system will filter you out because it wants you to have five. You may have a Bachelor of Arts, but the company wants a Bachelor of Science or a Masters degree. You will be deemed under-qualified based on formal evaluation criteria instead of your true knowledge, experience, motivation, and ability to do the job.
- Overqualified: You could be the best person for the job, but deemed overqualified because you already have seven years of experience. You may have a Masters of Business Administration degree and the formal requirement is a Bachelor’s degree.
The lists are long. The irony is that there is no rhyme or reason why a company sets certain minimum job requirements. These are mostly made up. Arbitrary preferences from the hiring manager or the company’s HR policies define these formal job requirements.
As Forbes Contributor, Liz Ryan notes in her article ‘Ten Reasons To Hire Someone Without A College Degree’:
“Any hard-and-fast hiring criterion is a waste of talent, money and other resources, but most companies build their recruiting processes to be mechanical and uniform — not human, smart or cost-effective.
Lazy shortcuts like “We only consider candidates with four-year degrees” are a vestige of the outdated Machine Age” – and merely signs of disengaged HR professionals that have lost their passion or humility.
If these hiring criteria were so great, why then would most managers fire half of their staff if they had someone to replace them with? Why do 39% percent of CFO say that bad hires had cost them productivity and fewer sales? And why do 41% of hiring managers and HR professionals estimate the financial costs of bad hires are equal to 30% of the employee’s potential annual salary?
Understand that formal job requirements are mostly made up.
This then, begs more questions: Why are employers requesting five years of experience? What’s the science behind it? The answer is that there is none. It’s all based on personal assumptions, philosophies, ignorance or arrogance.
That’s why you find job listings that require you to have two years of experience with using a technology that has been on the market for a just a few months.
To be fair, sometimes those formal job requirements are based on prior experience with former employees. Someone with only four years of experience was not able to get the job done. Or a former hire with six years of experience got bored too fast and left the company early. Who knows?
Beat the messed up hiring system
What is important for you is to know that it’s not you whom a company rejects, but everybody who came before you. But you know that you are different. You have that special gift and a personal conviction that the world needs – and you want to put it to work. You’ve got to beat the system.
You will shun job databases. You won’t allow human resource departments to discriminate against you for all the people that came before you. Instead, you will use alternative and more rewarding ways of getting your resume and face in front of a decision maker.
You are also not concerned with whether or not your target company has an actual job opening, knowing that most manager would let go off several their team members if they had someone to replace them with. Job openings are often just acts of desperation because a hiring manager’s real needs have not been met before.
Hiring managers are always looking for options to enhance their teams, even if secretly and quietly. Your task is to contact them directly and help them to see that you are that best option.
The four steps to finding your dream job
I do not have a college degree. Yet, in my career I have been headhunted and hired for a position at the World Bank – one of the globe’s most prestigious institutions – that formally required a PhD or MBA.
I worked as a consultant for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit with top-secret clearance to support anti-terrorism activities. The parent company of Scientific American, and one of the world’s most respected publishing houses, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (Holtzbrinck Publishing Services in the US), hired me as head of their global digital media division and then promoted me to General Manager for North America for their electronic publishing arm.
And the leading language services provider at the time, Berlitz, successfully relied on my expertise to turn their division in Central and Eastern European profitable after nine previously failed attempts from executives with a college degree.
At the time of writing, I am teaching a Masters of Professional Services class at the University of Maryland. With no college degree to show for, how can that be? Am I a fraud?
Obviously, I must know something. The FBI does not spend about $80,000 on a security clearance for someone who makes faulty claims. The World Bank does not bend its rules and tweaks its HR system to onboard an imposter. The multi-million-dollar company turn-around at Berlitz was a feat. Nine people with a college degree failed before me, yet it only took me five months to save the company and about 40 jobs. These are hard, verifiable facts and accomplishments.
I am not sharing this with you to impress you, but to impress upon you that employers will want to work with you if you know your stuff, have a personal conviction and can prove that you have both. Here are the five steps that you can use to convey your unique gift that only you can bring to a hiring company.
Step 1: The 5 WHATs you need to answer to find the job you want
1. What’s the industry that you want to serve and how?
2. What’s the role to you want to play and why?
3. What are your natural ways of working if given the freedom to be yourself?
4. What is the preferred location for your work?
5. What are your personal criteria of success?
A good way of starting is to understand your natural strengths. Kolbe Corp is the leader in assessing your conative skills. You can take the assessment here: https://goo.gl/5FjJDB
Step 2: How to find the best matching hiring manager
Once you are clear about what you want, you are in an excellent position to narrow down 20 employers that fit your profile. You will under no circumstances send your resume to human resources. HR are not your friend. They are not supposed to be your friend. Later, yes. But not now.
In fact, you will not send a resume at all. Instead, you will send an invitation to meet or speak directly to the hiring manager. Here are few ways to get to find and get them:
- Referrals: Hiring managers are five times more likely to engage when you get introduced or referred by someone they know.
- LinkedIn: Get a premium account for Sales or Business (not for Career). These give you 15 to 20 InMail™ messages that enable you to start meaningful conversations with hiring managers of the companies that fit your needs.
- Conferences: These events feature many hiring managers. You can reach out to them by visiting the exhibition booth or engaging speaker after their presentation.
- Lexis.com: Has the most complete, current and accurate contacts gathered from a variety of sources and compiled by Dun and Bradstreet.
- Meetups: Join meetups, but go to the events for decision-makers. Skip the meetups for professionals. Most people are there to either get new business or a new job. Hiring managers a rare at these events.
- Let them find you: Today and in the future, hiring companies will continue to use the internet as the premier channel for pro-actively connecting with potential employees. Interestingly, they are more interested in the people that are not actively looking and have a compelling story.
Step 3: Contact the hiring manager directly
The worst mistake you can make is to begin a conversation with you, your experience and your story. Instead, begin with a topic that is meaningful to THEM.
A compelling introductory message has five components in a distinct order:
- A key challenge in a hiring manager’s industry, profession or team
- Your compassion about this challenge
- The solution that you have in mind
- Evidence that you are qualified to prescribe this solution
- Invitation to speak or meet
See illustration below
A sample introductory letter to a hiring manager
Dear [Hiring Manager]:
[Element 1: Key challenge]
Your article on the quality of marketing specific translation was spot on. Multiple versions of product names can be a challenge – and often to a point where customers and salespeople alike are confused.
[Element 2: Compassion]
In my case, it caused physical pain. Instead of using a procedure in which an artificial joint would be cemented with a shank or shaft, doctors implanted it without any cement. Because the term ‘non-modular cemented’ was wrongly translated as ‘zementfrei’, which means ‘does not need cement’ in German. So the surgeons put in the knee loose, and I needed a second surgery.
[Element 3: Solution]
I then decided to do something about it. No one should have to have unnecessary surgery because of mistranslation of a term.
I decided to dedicate my life to helping the medical industry to be crystal clear and accurate in their communication. I found a way to manage critical medical terms and make their correct translations available in all marketing material from web content to product brochures and white papers.
[Element 4: Why you]
Today, I am one of the leading experts. With over ten years of experience in managing terminology, I was able to help major life-science and medical device companies increase the success of new product introductions by up to 67% and brand recognition by up to 89%.
[Element 5: Invitation]
I am hoping to learn from you how you address this challenge today and what a perfect world would look like for you in 3 years.
Can we talk?
Step 4: Ace the Interview
Hiring managers, as well as business owners, love to talk about themselves. An interview is like going on a first date. Meeting someone new is always about the other person, never about yourself.
You can start a conversation with two questions:
- What excites you the most right now about your business/program/team?
- What gives you the biggest headaches right now.
You can carry a conversation with one simple follow up question (use it as often as possible):
- How do you feel about that?
Remember that the most successful candidates are not the ones with the right answers, but those that have the right questions.
From then on, your formal qualifications are, well, just a minor formality. You either ace the meeting get hired eventually or you fail it.
Either way, your resume and formal qualifications have lost their importance at that point.