The Smart Job Search #1: Think Different

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to jump right in and hope I don’t offend anyone … The simple fact is that most people approach looking for a job in completely the wrong way.

If you are currently looking for work, chances are that you are making common mistakes and doing self-defeating things that actually make it harder to find a job.

This might sound like bad news, but actually it’s not. Because once you understand what you’ve been doing wrong, you have a chance to turn things around – often quite dramatically.

Over the next two weeks, I’m going to walk you through some of the most commonly made mistakes, and show you how you can approach your search differently. If you follow these steps, you will see results. It’s really as simple as that.

Knowing the rules changes the way you perceive the game

Let me start by asking you to think about how you view the process of looking for a job. What feelings, words and images come to mind when you think about the process?

If the words that came to mind were ‘exciting’ or ‘fun’ then congratulations because you are already on the right track! But for most of us, the words were more likely to be things like ‘scary,’ ‘depressing,’ ‘confusing’ and ‘like having a root canal.’

And here’s the thing … if you approach looking for a job the way most people do, then it is scary, depressing and confusing. (I’d never say it’s as bad as having a root canal but that’s only because I’m scared of the dentist. I don’t mean a little bit scared – I mean Scooby-Doo-in-a-dark-tunnel terrified! You are probably less of a coward than me).

After all, what could be worse than sending off your resume with great hope and anticipation, only to never hear back – not even a word – even though you know you could do a fantastic job?

I’ve been there and I know how it feels. I didn’t always understand how the hiring process worked and I know how the uncertainty can eat away at you – how you can start to wonder if you’re the problem.

But during my career as an HR executive and recruiter, I figured out the rules of the game. Over the years, I’ve been intimately involved in hiring at all levels of an organization and across multiple industries. I know how the recruitment process works (and how it has changed over recent years). And once I learned how it worked, I was able to use that knowledge for my own job searches, and then to start my business and help others succeed using my formula.

I call this formula ‘the smart search’ and over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my secrets in a series of posts. My goal is to take away that fear and confusion and replace it with confidence, structure and a sense of control.

So what exactly is a ‘smart job search?’

We usually think of a job search in terms of applying for work. A company has a vacancy, you put in an application, you wait for a call, and then – if you’re lucky – you go for an interview, during which the hiring manager probes and tests to see if she wants to hire you.

It’s all very passive. You are the victim of this whole process and the result is entirely out of your hands.

But imagine if it all went differently.

Imagine if you didn’t have to wait for vacancies to be advertised, but instead you decided on the types of places you wanted to work and then went out and pursued jobs in those companies. And imagine if you approached interviews less like a test and more like a match-making exercise – a chance to assess whether the fit is right for you.

If this all sounds very pie in the sky, it’s not. It’s the smart way to look for your next job, it’s actually quite easy to do, and in this series, I’m going to show you how.

Most Jobs are Never Advertised on a Job Board

This might surprise you, but actually most jobs are not posted on sites like, Dice or Career Builder. According to some surveys, as many as 80% of positions are filled from sources other than advertisements.

If you consider that approximately 40 million jobs are filled in the US every year, you can see that there are millions of unadvertised positions at any one time.

So if you are focused primarily on applying for advertised positions, you are competing for a small fraction of those 40 million jobs and that just doesn’t make any sense.

In my next post I’m going to start sharing practical steps you can take to get your job search on the right track, but first I want you to make this one leap. I want you to understand and accept that you can find a new job even if you never log on to another job board again. (I will actually be sharing some tips on how to succeed on job boards, but for the most part I’ll be focusing on other avenues).

Because the secret to true job search success is in the old Apple advertising tagline: Think different.

You’re going to access the hidden job market

If you’ve read anything about looking for a job, you may have already heard of the phrase ‘the hidden job market.’ It might sound very mysterious, but it’s really not. The hidden job market is simply all those millions of jobs that are never advertised and it has two big advantages:

1) It’s bigger than the market you know about (because as you now know, most jobs are never advertised).
2) It’s less populated because everyone else is hanging out in the visible job market (job boards and classified ads).

So the secret to your success is to focus on the bigger and less populated market. That’s where I’m going over the next two weeks and I hope I’ve persuaded you to follow me!

What’s Next?

In my next post, I’m going to talk about the vital first step you must take before you can access the hidden job market. Taking this one step will change your search, so do tune in.

In the meantime, I want you to do something to prepare. I want you to take the Blue Sky Job Search Quiz, which you can do by clicking here. There’s no sign-up required and your answers are not stored anywhere, which means your participation is fully confidential. As you review your results, make a note of where you have room for improvement, because that will be a sure sign of where you should be focusing your energies as you follow this series.

This is the first post in a 10-part series on conducting a smart job search. To make sure you don’t miss any of the posts, subscribe to get email updates by clicking here and entering your email address. You’ll get an email each time I post an article.

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