Making Friends With the World

If you are a job seeker, the fastest way to land a job is to make friends with the world. Now before you dismiss this as some trendy, superficial activity akin to planking, consider these compelling facts (from Orville Pierson’s excellent The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search):

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  • 25% of jobs are filled from a Candidate Pool. In this scenario, a hiring manager finds herself without an Analyst. She asks HR to fill the position by searching job boards. Hundreds of applicants apply, and the top six with the best resumes are selected from an unknown pool.
  • 5% of jobs are a Created Position. Here, the job is created for a specific person’s unique skills, or because she can solve a problem hitherto unnoticed, and she rose from the ashes to solve it.
  • 70% of jobs are filled with a Known Candidate. Here, the candidate was known by a referrer or company employee  prior to the job opening (via networking, LinkedIn, or informational interviews, to name a few).  When the opening came along, the referrer pulled out her Ace—the Known Candidate.

When I shared these statistics with a client today, the light bulb lit up over his head.  “So what you’re saying is, all these resumes I’m sending out are a waste of time.”

“Well, the odds are lower that you’ll be considered,” I said, “particularly before hiring authorities know you. Not always though. For 25% it’s not a waste.”

“Yeah, well I like 70% success over 25%,” he said. And for the first time, I saw him puff up like a cat ready to pounce on a squirrel.

Most job seekers I know who first launch their job search make the same misstep: They dust off their resume and work at creating that razzle-dazzle resume–all so they can become one of hundreds in a Candidate Pool.  Based on the statistics above, it’s better to pick up the phone instead.  It’s better to target companies where you’d love to work, to introduce yourself to people who work there, and arrange informal interviews.  (Don’t worry. This is much easier than it sounds–even for introverts. I have ways).

Why network rather than submit your resume? It’s more efficient.  As Pierson notes, it’s to your advantage to meet with people before a job is available.  That’s the “making friends with the world part.” And by making friends, I really mean it. When you meet new people, find that common ground. Really listen to what they like about their jobs, or find out what challenges they face at their jobs. What are they needing right now? Are they trying to connect with someone, and need an introduction? Be a friend.

Then, when a job does come available, they will think of you.

The benefits of making friends with the world far outlast the job you will land as a result of this practice.  The fact is, no job is permanent. By continuing to make friends and strong allies in your network long after you land the job, here’s the best news of all:  When it is time to find a new opportunity, it will be much easier next time. All you’ll have to do  is pick up the  phone.


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