If you are creeping through this Halloween hunting the ever-elusive job monster, it is important to arm yourself with more than just a simple resume. You never see vampire hunters without their whole toolkit of stakes, garlic, holy symbols and a vast repertoire of knowledge on how to hunt the undead – at least not ones that make it to the credits of the movie. Like Van Helsing, you ought to familiarize yourself with your query and its environment if you want to survive.
That environment has changed and will continue to do so with advancements in technology and the development of more sophisticated social networking techniques.
Below are six scary facts of the modern job search. Familiarize yourself with them and become an expert “Job Search Slayer” This Halloween.
1. HR witches and how to get past them
In almost every company, the lowest level HR people do the majority of the screening – or worse, they rely on computer screening programs to eliminate a majority of the candidates. Because of this, if you aren’t using the right key words, your resume will not make it far enough in the process to reach a decision-maker or even a human being. Think of these key words as your “Magic Passwords” To get closer to your target job. Without them, you won’t make it past the coven and their screening hexes.
2. HR departments use tricks – not treats – to cut candidates
Ever wonder why a company would use a complex set of instructions to just apply to the job? They are using those instructions to screen people out. If you can’t follow the written instructions, they deem that you are not worthy of an interview. Unfortunately, this tactic often cuts qualified candidates. Pay attention to the rules in any job posting to survive this cut.
These tricks are a lot like traps in a dungeon that kill nonobservant Slayers with pitfalls in the floor. If there is an instruction to only step on red tiles on the floor, you would be best served to follow those instructions, least you fall into a pit-trap yourself.
3. Competition is vicious – just like a zombie hoard
It’s no secret that unemployment is high. To give you perspective, your competition for any job out there is around 300-500 for any posted job. Yipes! Trying to break away from the hoard can be tough… and all the more reason why you want to get your resume to the hiring manager, not just the HR department. They are getting overrun from people trying to pick their braaaiiinnnssss…
4. Ghosts of your past can haunt future chances
If you have been laid off or fired in the past, be prepared to answer these questions in the interview. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible to get another job. You must reconcile your own personal feelings about the event in order to talk about it in a constructive manner. Let those emotions of bitterness, resentment, sorrow and shock “walk into the light.”
Many Slayers have a haunted past, it is up to you to learn from that past to make yourself better equipped to get the Job Monster.
5. Employment websites are a “Monster”
While CareerBuilder does have more jobs posted in general, any of the major employment websites are not the be-all, end-all for job leads. In fact, this is where the competition is fiercest. Consider looking in creative places for job postings. For example, in most LinkedIn Groups, there is a tab for “Jobs.” Look for the “Job Discussions,” not just the posted jobs. This is where recruiters are posting their jobs for free! Plus, they are more likely to take a closer look at your resume and LinkedIn Profile- after all, they are trying to judge the effectiveness of posting jobs this way.
6. Don’t suck your network dry
Like a vampire latching on to the neck of its victim, you can ask too much from your network. Networking is important, but you must build a relationship before asking for favors. One common scenario is making a connection with someone on LinkedIn, just to ask them to forward your resume to a hiring manager. No new acquaintance is going to do this! Instead, ask them about their job and their opinions about the company.
Another draining activity is spamming your network with too many messages. It’s ok to send a reminder every month that you are still looking; it is not acceptable to send a message every 3-5 days. Don’t be spam – build genuine relationships, be helpful to others, share meaningful information and be a friend before asking favors.
Your network ought to be familiar with you, like a team of Slayers that help each other professionally to get their own Monsters. You can’t be a burden on your team, or they will stop helping you. When they stop helping you, you become a lone Slayer where your success becomes more and more difficult to obtain.