Did you make a New Years resolution about finding that perfect job? Well, it might be just a tad more difficult than you think. I can now, exclusively, reveal the 3rd secret of Fatima as follows: The bar height for getting a perfect job is moving upwards. Why?
High Unemployment: Unemployment is currently running at circa 14% with almost 500,000 people on the dole. You know that great job you are chasing? Well, you have to do something really special to snatch it from under the noses of a tranche of competitors.
Remember the good old days of the Celtic Tiger? Making a career move was easy. A bit of networking to get the gen. Putting together a readable CV without too-many typos. Wearing your best bib and tucker to the interview. That was all that was required to ski the upslope of the economic cycle (“OK, he has a pulse. Get the contracts signed”). But, where there are less BIG fish (great jobs), you need to use a more attractive lure. And several new lures are emerging.
New Game: People, who have recently found themselves ‘underemployed’, are taking the job hunt to new heights. Emerging methods include:
Video CV’s: John Phillips, former HR director of Motorola, is pioneering the concept of video interviews. The idea is that employers don’t want to spend loads of time trawling through CV’s and ‘first stage’ interviews. So, Phillip’s company asks you to complete a 4 minute interview – spending about a minute each on a couple of key questions (tell us a bit about yourself; what’s your ideal job; what makes you a great employee etc). Even if you are ‘great at interviews’ – you’ll need to sharpen your USP (unique selling proposition) for this soundbite format. The company is claiming that it’s not a formal interview. The distinction seems somewhat academic (if you don’t jump this particular hurdle, you won’t be going to any interviews). Watch out for this form of speed dating for candidates, appearing shortly at a computer near you.
Attached DVD: I recently worked with an executive looking to move into a senior Public Relations role. His CV, while excellent, seemed a bit flat. So he put together a portfolio of the key advertising campaigns that he’d worked on. Lights, sound, action. His CV, now a multi-media presentation, was brought to life. Is there anything similar you could use to demonstrate why you should be hired?
Diagnostic Reports: In terms of ‘getting the skinny’ on potential employers, a couple of people are taking a leaf straight out of ‘Consulting 101’. Traditionally, preparing for an interview required a bit of homework. Looking at an organization’s website or speaking to someone who knew the industry. If they were really keen, some candidates would work up a couple of catchphrases (“my weakness is that I tend to prioritize work, and punch in really long hours”). That was then. Now candidates are launching what are effectively diagnostic studies of the industry and the particular company. One guy I worked with recently moved into a senior banking job (yes, they still exist!). As part of his preparation he put together an in-depth assessment of the industry, the specific issues facing the bank and a ‘first 100-day’ plan for when he took over the new role. His final pitch (handed over to the interview board) would have made a seasoned McKinsey consultant blush with pride. Enormous effort to differentiate himself from the person who would eventually take the Number 2 position. This is a race where coming second is losing. The Woody Allen formula: “99% of success in life is just showing up” has gone past its sell by date.
Volunteer Days: As a final strategy, I know one candidate who offered to work for the employing organization for ‘free’. Not a-la-Bill-Cullen (Bill suggested that young people might work for nothing to gain experience and mark themselves out from the crowd). In this case the short-term assignment was offered as a method for the organization to have the ‘longest interview in history’. A key upside here is that it allowed the candidate an opportunity to look under the bonnet of the organization. Recruitment processes are usually uni-directional; candidates are so busy selling themselves, they often don’t ask: “Given what I’ve seen and heard and how I’ve been treated, would I really like to work here”?
Can you detect an emerging pattern? Sending in a standardized CV and a snappy cover letter that your career guidance teacher wrote in 1987 is passé. You need to think of yourself as a ‘product’. You then need to market that product with the same level of savvy and intensity that the senior product manager in Diageo lavishes on the Guinness brand.
Number 2: In a world that’s changing, standing still is a recipe for being left behind. If you already have the perfect job and want to continue to do this forever, congratulations. Sit back and smell the roses. If you don’t, sit up and start thinking about how you will drive your career onto the next level. Why would you settle for anything less than using 100% of your talent? Good hunting!
PS Just for pure fun, have a look at the attached clip from U-Tube. It has potential to lift you from your darkest mood! Our cynicism is unmatched (and very funny).