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STOP Applying for a Job and START Competing for One!

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

Are you still applying for a job instead of competing for one? In today’s brutal job market, where there are many more job seekers than there are jobs, you better be doing the latter or you’re going to end up missing the boat entirely! Still, many job seekers apparently either don’t want to believe this, or simply choose not to believe it!

Reading comments across the Internet (such as comments on blogs or news articles), quotes in the media, callers on talk radio, etc., the laments I regularly read/hear from many, though certainly not all, of today’s job seekers go something like this:

  • Hiring companies are no longer “playing fair.”
  • It’s almost impossible to contact a hiring manager or company directly about a job these days.
  •  Hiring companies don’t really seem to care if you have a job or not. The only thing they want to know from you is, “What can you do for them!”
  •  The whole job market seems to have been “turned upside down”! What worked just a few years ago when it came to getting a new job doesn’t seem to work at all anymore! What has happened? What can I do?! Does anybody care anymore?!
  •  I am so desperate these days . . . why doesn’t somebody give me a job?!
  •  And the one that was most interesting was a comment to one of my recent blogs: “Congress should make it illegal for companies to lay people off. All companies want to do is make money. They don’t care about people.”

And, you know what? Such fears, anxieties and laments are hardly without foundation. If you are feeling this way, you are not being paranoid! This is precisely what is happening in the job market today. This precisely describes today’s job market. And, to add insult to injury, there is little chance that things are going to change for the better in the job market anytime soon, if ever.

So, it seems to me—and I hope it will also seem to you!—that today’s job seeker has essentially two choices: Revert to the “fetal position” and continue to obsess about the dismal state of affairs, blaming “them” for not “giving” you a job, or, learn how to adapt to changing circumstances, learn the NEW rules of the “hiring game”—and, yes, that’s what it is, a “game”—and then learn how to “play” by the NEW rules and effectively compete for the jobs that are available today. (Yes, you read that correctly, people are still being hired every single day, even in this extremely challenging job market!)

You Must Compete for a Job in Today’s Market!

At best, only 50% of all jobs are ever posted and those, of course, are the ones that 80% of all job seekers focus on. How to go after companies and not just jobs is covered in depth in my book, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets, and in the other book I always recommend to job seekers, David Perry’s Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0. (David is also a sponsor of this site, Put America Back to Work.)

Thus, the competition is 2-3 times heavier (and more intense) for the “posted” jobs. To effectively compete in today’s market, you must “reinvent” yourself, as well as ensure that you maintain and project a good, positive attitude. Chances are, if you’ve been unemployed for any length of time your attitude quite probably has taken a “dive.” Whatever it takes to “mask” such an attitude—if in fact you have it!—you absolutely, positively must do! Nothing will turn off a recruiter or hiring manager more than a job candidate who obviously feels sorry for himself/herself, is desperate, etc.

Let me briefly digress here to illustrate how different attitudes are among job seekers today by sharing with you two, very representative reader comments posted to an article that recently appeared on America Online about “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed Forever! (Article can be found at this link):

 http://tinyurl.com/2axgfv9

Here is the first comment, apparently from a job seeker:

“I miss the good old days. Today you have to jump through hoops for companies. Maybe it’s the red tape, maybe it’s just THEM, who knows. I’m sick of stupid tests (I get the highest scores possible and STILL don’t get the job!), drug tests, credit checks and providing my driving record for a lousy 8.00/hr job with no benefits. It is truly an employer’s market these days.”

And here is the second comment, apparently from a hiring manager:

“Getting a job is really not rocket science . . . As a former Hotel manager and now CEO, I can assure you that a hiring manager’s goal is simply to place the best candidate into any position. This means that even when a company is not officially hiring they are always looking. This is especially true in industries of high turn over. This means that individuals need not focus on getting a job, but really on constantly improving and perfecting their skill and knowledge. If you approach an employer as a charity case they will direct you to the Red Cross . . . they’re in it (business) to make money and usually age, education and experience are associated with spending it. This does not mean that you should try to appear young, stupid and less experienced, it simply means that you must illustrate how these factors will translate into saving the additional money which they may have to spend on you.”

I think you will agree that the attitudes implicit in these two comments are about as diametrically opposite of each other as it’s possible to be. Still, they are very typical of comments posted across the Internet by job seekers today in response to the many articles now appearing on the job market. Which person do you believe has the greater, better chance of being successful in finding a new job—even in today’s awful job market?

Contrary to popular opinion—and as so well and succinctly expressed by the second person’s comment—companies are not in the business of hiring people! They are in the business of making money! That means they are looking for potential employees who can either make them money or save them money, and ideally, be able to accomplish both of these things! One more thing: No company “owes” you (or anybody else) a job. A job is something that has always had to be earned in America, regardless of the state of the job market.

‘Magic’ Words? No.

Effective Tactics and Strategies? Yes! 

 Am I suggesting that, merely by having a good, positive attitude, you will be able to succeed in today’s job market? Of course not, but certainly having a good, positive attitude is essential to succeeding in any endeavor. Are there any “magic words” or “magic tactics and strategies” contained in my book, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets, or, for that matter, in David Perry’s book,  “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0”? No “magic words,” and, while there are no “magic” tactics and strategies featured in our books, there are, however, effective tactics and strategies!

Both David and I are professional “headhunters,” and we’re in the job market every single business day. We see, very, very clearly, what’s happening in the job market today—what works, what doesn’t work. (Think about it: If we were wrong in our assessments . . . we would soon be out of business!)

Let me give you a couple of quick simple examples.

Recently I posted a job on the Internet for a position I was contracted to fill for a Fortune 500 company. I received 34 voice mails in one day. This is critical to understand…I use my voice mail as a screening tool. I never answer my phone. A candidate has to earn the right for me to call them back. My job is to find the best candidate for my client and the message the candidate leaves is actually the first step in that process—the first step in competing for the job, not applying for the job.

This is the “exemplary” way most people leave a message (that will not get returned):

“I saw your posting online and I have some questions. Please call me at 123-456-7890.”

First, which posting did you see? (I generally have over 20 positions posted at any given time.) And though you have some questions, I don’t have time to return 34 phone calls and just answer questions. Are you qualified? Do you have anything to offer my client? You are competing for my time, so you have to give me a reason to call you back.

Here is another very typical voice mail I receive:

“I saw your posting online. I have researched your company and I would like to go to work for you. Please call me at 123-456-7890.”

Well, if you “researched” my company, then you would know we are a recruiting firm and not the hiring company.

 And, unfortunately, the list goes on and on. There wasn’t a single message among the 34 that I returned. And, yes, I filled the position within a month, so a lot of people wasted a lot of their time (as well as my time) for absolutely no return.

 So, if you are among the millions of unemployed seeking to “get back in the game” today, I have some advice for you. Forget all about how the job market “used to be” because it isn’t like that anymore and it’s unlikely to ever be again, at least in the foreseeable future. Quit blaming “them” (whoever “them” is) for your not having a job. Prepare yourself to get back in the job market by competing for a job and stop applying for one.

Learn as much as you can about the NEW rules of the “hiring game,” and more importantly, how you can successfully reposition yourself to effectively compete in the game. Get your hands on either my book or David’s (ideally, both) because contained in our two books are tactics and strategies that, when properly learned and then effectively employed, give you the very best chance you can have of succeeding in today’s challenging job market! Plus, visit this site often and substantially benefit from the wisdom and experience being shared by other experts on the job market.  By doing this, you have everything to gain and virtually nothing to lose! Guaranteed.

About the Author

Skip Freeman, "headhunter" and author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired. A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

Comments (48)

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  1. Thx for art – cool info bro!

  2. Many interesting content. I would just like to know if your experience in this matter based on the theory and practice?

  3. Thanks for this useful article.

  4. Asia Ash says:

    You could add a few solutions but still a great text.

  5. Your blog provides a fresh look at the subject. Great job mate!

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  10. Reklama says:

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  11. Interesting article. Were did you got all the information from?

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  13. Hi there, I just needed to state how interesting I find this blog!

  14. I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks, you cleared up some things for me!

  15. odzie¿ says:

    Keep working ,great job!

  16. Skip Freeman says:

    Great comments, all! Thanks for submitting them.

    Forum: Everything in this blog, as well as everything in my book, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, is based upon actual professional experience as a “headhunter” working in the market every single business day for the last eight years. Nothing is “theory” of “wishful thinking.”

    Asia Ash: Actually, the “solution” is to change your mindset. Learn the NEW rules of the hiring game (either from my book or David’s, or both!) and start playing by them. Forget about how things “used to be” or “ought to be” in the job market and embrace the new REALITIES in the job market. (I realize this is a tough choice, but honestly, there really is no other way to play to WIN in today’s job market!)

    Skip Freeman

  17. Great read. I also think it could be a bit longer 😉

  18. Many thanks for the post. Happy 2011!

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  27. Many interesting content. I would just like to know if your experience in this matter based on the theory and practice?

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  35. I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks, you cleared up some things for me!

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  40. Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

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