by Alan Collins – http://successinhr.com/dirty-little-hr-job-search-secrets
I recently talked with a terrific HR executive who was out of work for seven months.
She had 10 years of HR experience, all with one company, before she was laid off in a brutal organizational restructuring.
The good news is she just landed a terrific new job as a divisional HR leader for a Chicago-based pharmaceutical company…and is excited and relieved!
However, as she was job hunting, she discovered that a lot has changed in the job market. Her biggest shock was learning that the old job search strategies she grew up with…
…FLAT OUT DON’T WORK ANYMORE!
She is a seasoned HR leader, immensely qualified, with a great track record of leading HR teams and delivering results. However, she admittedly entered the job market unprepared. Based on the horrific job search experiences she shared with me over coffee at Starbucks and my own observations, here are 15 dirty little secrets you should embrace if you want to succeed in today’s HR job market:
#1. Your HR experience doesn’t matter as much as it used to.
The old rules were: Tell me what have you done? The new rules are: Tell me what can you do? This may seem unfair or even ridiculous. But the reality is hiring managers don’t want to hear about everything you did way back when. They want to hear about everything you can do, specifically, to help them today. Right here. Right now. Employers want HR people they believe can help solve their problems. If you cannot clearly articulate how you contribute (directly or indirectly) to enhancing retention, reducing costs, improving revenues, and helping them become more competitive, you might as well stay at home.
#2. You can’t depend on a résumé to get an interview.
Forget spray and pray. Applying to every HR job in sight with the same, uncustomized resume is a total, utter waste of time. Simply mass-mailing out hundreds of résumés and then sitting back and waiting for responses never worked. And today it’s just consumes your time, your paper, your postage, and your emotional energy…with no payback.
#3. You can’t rely on job fairs.
Years ago, job fairs were a fantastic way to hire highly qualified people. Today, job fairs have become thankless, confidence-crushing meat markets. Instead of spending money on dry cleaning and parking to attend a job fair, do this instead: contact employers one by one after you’ve done your homework researching their businesses and their problems.
#4. You shouldn’t expect to hear back.
Unfortunately, this little courtesy has become as ancient as the horse and buggy. Expect many of your follow-up calls go unreturned. People are just too swamped or don’t care. Sure, that isn’t a excuse. But, you combat this by continuing to network, interview, and research companies right up until the moment you have a firm HR job offer in your grubby little hands. Maybe even a little after.
#5. Your résumé is no longer a complete summary of your work experience.
Don’t bother to list HR jobs more than 15 years old. They really don’t matter that much. Instead, quantify your recent accomplishments, emphasize your HR certifications and highlight your leadership capabilities. Also, your resume needs to be digital-friendly, easily uploadable, downloadable, and scannable (i.e., no bullets, boxes, boldface, unusual fonts, indenting). It should be rich in the “keywords” that recruiters and HR hiring managers are looking for.
#6. You should forget resume-blasting services.
There are lots of vendors who will blast your resume out to a gazillion employers for a fee. Like #2 above, this is simply more spray and pray. Employers are buried with resumes already. Your unsolicited, uncustomized resume is the last thing they want to see. Skip these services and conduct your own research, using search engines and LinkedIn. Then write to hiring managers directly with targeted overtures.
#7. You must be web savvy.
Get comfortable with applying for jobs online and learn how to do research online. If all this is new to you, your public library is a good place to start. Oh, and have a professional-sounding e-mail address. It is also a great idea to go one step further and establish a strong online presence. Explore LinkedIn (get some stellar endorsements), Twitter, and Facebook. Become active in your field’s social media sites. Consider building your own Web site (with a career-oriented blog, professional photo, and résumé).
#8. Forget video resumes.
Imagine the hiring manager sitting at her desk swamped in resumes, cover letters, reference lists, portfolios, and unanswered emails from job applicants. What’s her incentive to watch your video resume? There isn’t one. Video resumes are a solution in search of a problem. Craft a killer resume and get it out, along with a pithy “pain letter” that explicitly shows how your HR background makes you the perfect person to relieve a business’s pain, to hiring managers instead.
#9. You must google-proof yourself.
One of the first things a potential employer will do is Google you. That means you need to find out if there’s anything negative about you online. If there is something bad, get it removed. If it’s not easily removed, your best bet may be to “bury” it with more recent, more favorable information about you posted online through articles and blog posts…all authored by you.
#10. Posting “I’m job hunting” messages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or HR job boards have little to no success.
I always feel bad for the HR folks who I don’t know who e-mail me on LinkedIn with a message that says, “I am seeking an HR job.” I’m a total stranger to them. The odds of getting a HR job lead that way is about the same as winning the lottery. If you’re like me, you want to know the people you refer for job opportunities. And, if you’re a job seeker, you’re better off spending your time making one-on-one connections or following up via phone or in person with people you know already…or their referrals.
#11. If you’re a seasoned HR executive, many interviewers, hiring managers, recruiters may be younger than you are.
If you’ve been in the HR field awhile, get used to it. Take your ego out of the equation. Treat them with respect and learn how to speak their language. Do not say “You remind me of my son/daughter,” or “When I was your age…” They know you may mean well, but it’s tacky.
#12. Envision & position yourself like a blue chip stock…
#13. Get brutally clear on the job you’re going after….
#14. Develop a compelling, one-page resume that stands out from the pack..
(Note: For more info on putting together a guerilla resume, click HERE.)
#15. Finally…more than ever it’s about who you know, and who knows you.
This is the most critical point of all. Landing your HR dream job today is less a matter of applying for existing open positions and more about identifying needs potential employers have and demonstrating to them that you can address their problems.
Fortunately, there are more networking venues (offline and online) than ever before. Successful HR job seekers get results through thoughtful, well-crafted letters, resumes, phone calls, and LinkedIn overtures — sent in response to posted job ads or sent to employers who don’t currently have jobs posted but who may well have business needs anyway.
They also do it through networking, and through careful follow-up with the people they know and the new people they meet during their job search. “Hey, I need a job” is not a compelling pitch– but “I think I understand what you’re up against, and would love to talk about solutions” most definitely is.
These are 15 new rules for your job search. Embrace them and you’ll succeed. Ignore them at your peril. Onward!