The job market has changed more in the last 10 years than the previous 30 or 40 before that. Nowadays people rarely stay at one company for their entire career. To be honest, few companies last that long!
These days you’re not really an employee anymore, you’re a ‘company of one’. That means that managing your ‘company of one’ and ‘contracting’ to employers for a portion of your career is your future reality.
One of the key factors in the change has been the widespread adoption of the internet and all the digital platforms it has spawned. Despite the proliferation of online job boards, it’s estimated that around 70% of vacancies are never advertised and are filled by direct referral (the employers network) or recruiters (in-house & agency).
You may have noticed that some mediocre people seem to regularly get great jobs at great companies for big salaries? Often these people are not the best in their field or even close. How do they do it? Well, the key thing they do very well is match what they offer, to someone who is hungry for it.
Here’s five steps you can follow to do the same:
1. Figure out what you offer:
Take a blank bit of paper and brainstorm all the challenges, projects, crises’ and big things you have been involved in over the last 10 years.
Think big and consider the context of these challenges. For example: growing a business through merger and acquisition uses different skills and knowledge to growing a business through new geographies.
Also think about widely experienced challenges that you have zero or limited experience of. It’ll take you a while to figure this out but it will form the basis of deciding what your next move will be.
2. Decide what you really want: It’s very difficult to find a good place if you don’t know what that good place looks like. You need to think carefully and be really honest about what you want to do next. Often people try to define this by giving a huge list of the competitors of their current or previous employer.
This approach is wrong for several reasons.
- The culture and challenges of those businesses can be very different
- Hiring Managers too often have prejudices or bias against employees of direct competitors (seeing them as ‘the enemy’)
- By going outside the group of direct competitors you can often find opportunities where your experience is more valuable to the employer
Take care in defining the attributes and culture of an organisation that you know you can have an impact on. Think in terms of the challenges you’ve already identified where you have experience and add information on the commercial model you have experience of,the life-cycle stage you enjoy (start-up, growth, evergreen, renovate or rescue), the size of business in people and revenue, the commute distance you are comfortable with and so on.
3. Sort your CV out: Really, properly sort it out, not just squeezing the latest job in at the top and tidying up the formatting.
Some rules for modern CV’s:
- Maximum 2 pages
- Plan it like a web page. Interesting stuff at the top and dull stuff such as contact details and credibility (qualifications) at the bottom or the end
- Break up blocks of text to maximum 3 lines
- Use bullets under each role to highlight results not responsibilities
- Use good but not flashy typography. Helvetica is a good choice of font. Create a hierarchy to the page by changing the size of the text or putting it in bold
- Drop all the cliche words – there are enough ‘passionate thought leaders’ in the world. Describe things that can only go on your CV and no-one else’s
4. Alert Recruiters you are looking: There is a feature on LinkedIn that allows you to make yourself an ‘open candidate’. This allows you to notify recruiters that you are open to new opportunities and allows you to give some context to what you will consider (title, location, permanent, interim etc). It also promotes your profile so that you appear higher up the rankings when people search in LinkedIn’s professional recruiter accounts – significantly improving your chances of getting found.
5. Don’t wait for opportunities, create opportunities. Use industry directories, shortlists on Awards sites, exhibitor lists from trade shows and any other lists you can think of to draw up a list of target employers. Research them on DueDil.com, linkedin.com, glassdoor.com, search for news about them on google.com, bloomberg.com and so on.
What you discover from this research will help you whittle down your list of targets. Once you have got to a point where every business on the list is of interest at some level then start networking with them. Follow their key employees on LinkedIn and interact with their activity.
Go to new networking events, trade shows, conferences and exhibitions and interact with people from your target businesses. Some people will not be open to networking in this way but don’t let this put you off. Take the opportunity to do some more research: what is the culture? what sort of people do they like? what sort of experience do they need? If you can help them with a supplier contact or candidate referral then do that – it is a good way to showcase your credibility, network and understanding of what they have told you.
You’re unlikely to capture anyone’s interest in week one, but if you are doing good work and have a positive tone online, then awareness of you will grow and opportunities will come your way.
If you commit to the effort it takes to work through these steps you will stand-out when networking or meeting with recruiters. You will stand out simply because you know what you offer, when most people don’t. It’ll also help you to focus your time on roles that are a good match for you. Good luck!
(this is a shorten version of our article on Fresh Business Thinking, January 2018)