ExecSearch International - Australia

ExecSearch International - Australia

Executive Search [+] Enhanced Performance


Six Myths for Misery when seeking employment

By Dr. Duff Watkins

As an executive search consultant (a "head hunter"), I’m regularly asked by the media to comment on the most effective ways for a person to find new employment. But as a former psychotherapist, I’m always left wondering why for some people the answers simply don’t sink in. Why, I’ve wondered, do some people simply not "get it"? The problem, I have concluded, has to do with myths and magic.

For example, after a recent interview on national radio, I received over 30 phone calls asking my advice on how to procure a job. The callers ranged from the hard-core unemployed to established business people. Those calls made it clear to me that a surprising number of adults still believe in magic when it comes to searching for employment and that hardly anybody understands how the job market really works. The sad result is that far too many people are "mired in myth" when it comes to job-hunting. Beware of these 6 myths that produce misery!

1) Recruiters find jobs for people.

No. Recruiters find people for jobs not jobs for people. In the world of executive search the cold reality is, if you're good at your work, and if your skills are currently being sought, you'll be found whether you're employed or not.

2) Recruiters are always looking for candidates.

False. Executive search is an exercise in research not chance. Getting a job by simply sending your unsolicited resume to an executive search firm is about as likely as getting hit by a piece of Halley's Comet. Recruiters do not spend much time with people who cannot purchase their services because recruiters are busy either completing their assignments or selling their services to potential clients. Failure to do either is commercial suicidal.

3) "Head hunters" can help.

Maybe, but it largely depends on whether you have a good personal relationship with the consultant. A recruiter’s task is to sell his services to potential clients and then complete assignments on behalf of those clients. Your task is to find a job that suits you. Unless there is a genuine benefit to the consultant to speak or meet with you, why should they?

4) Consultants know where all the job vacancies are.

They don't. Nobody does. Consultants --when they're fortunate enough to get the work-- handle few assignments at any time. For every 1 job vacancy being handled by a consultant, there are probably 80 being filled through other means. Fact: 80% of all job vacancies are unadvertised. You’re just as likely as a recruiter to discover job vacancies if you look.

5) Recruitment companies have many jobs "on their books".

There are no "books"; there are no "jobs"; there are only job vacancies, some of which a consultant may know about, and a few of which he may handle. Consultants do not have a stockpile of job vacancies which they dole out parsimoniously to unemployed people. Some recruitment companies and all executive search firms have sophisticated computer networks. But recruitment firms use these resources only when hired by a paying customer.

6) Somebody else can tell you the work for which you’re best suited.

Your life, your career, your interests and your job search is your responsibility and no one else's. No recruiter, "head hunter" or consultant is competent to direct your life.

Here are 5 non-magical ways of seeking employment successfully:

1) 40 Hours a Week.

Most people simply have no idea how much work is required to obtain a job. Getting a good job requires effort: 40 hours (minimum) per week. If you're not investing that amount of time, you're wasting it. There is no substitute for "hard yakka."

2) 20 seconds / 50 words

Before calling a consultant, make sure you have something to say. If you can't say in 20 seconds (or less) and 50 words (or less) exactly what work you want to do and where you want to do it, then you haven't thought deeply enough about your career.

3) Construct A Network

"Networking" (ie, establishing and using personal contacts) is essential when seeking new employment. The network of people who can help you in your job search is constructed not inherited. You're not born with it; you have to go out and meet the people you need to know. Is this easy? No, if it was easy everyone would already have the job they want.

4) Give The Takeaway

In marketing terms a "takeaway" is what you want the other person to take away from meeting you. The "takeaway" is your distinguishing characteristic; it's why others will remember you; it identifies what you can do for them. In commercial terms, it is the reason why employers may want to meet with you, interview you or hire you. If you can't identify your "takeaway," you haven't done your homework.

5) Magic = Tragic

If you believe that worthwhile employment will magically come your way through the efforts of any person other than yourself, you're tragically mistaken. Belief in such magic is really a reluctance to think for one's self. Job seekers who believe in magic think that it's easier for everybody but them. They think that getting a good job is a matter of luck, fate, karma, planetary alignments, being young enough, being old enough, having the right connections etc. The truth is, it's mostly a matter of working hard and smart Do you believe in magic?

The Psychological Bottom Line

The harsh truth is that many people refuse to think deeply about what they want from work (or life) because it’s too difficult. And it is difficult! It can be extremely difficult to figure out what you really want from work or life. Instead some people wish for someone else to figure it out for them and then tell them what to do. The psychological bottom line is, no one can help you until you decide what you really want to do. That’s the "bad news."The "good news" is that deep down in our hearts we already know exactly what we want! But it’s buried, hidden, concealed from consciousness, therefore we can’t articulate it-- yet. So the trick is to drag our deepest desires up to the surface of our awareness. There are several ways of doing this but here’s the simplest: sit down, think hard, and write down what you enjoy doing. Until you're clear on that, there's little point in asking consultants for advice (...especially me, I charge by the minute!).