Identifying and facilitating learning and change

Center for Coaching And Mentoring, Inc.

About Us Coaching Mentoring Free Resources Interaactive Course Leadershiip Main Tab

Internet survey results:

Unemployed:  What's your job hunting strategy?
Matt M. Starcevich, Ph.D.

Since the 1930s, career professionals have concluded that the way jobs are filled and the way most people seek employment are different.  In his best-selling job hunting book, Bolles[1] asserts that the methods used the most by employers when filling jobs are the ones which job-hunters use the least.  Specifically:

The way employers  fill vacancies

 

The way typical job-hunters hunt for jobs

1st

From within I want to hire someone I have seen full time, part time, contract, temporary, or volunteer.

6th

2nd

A job-hunter who offers proof I want to hire someone who can show me their unique strengths or who a trusted friend of mine recommends.

5th

3rd

Higher level job I will pay a search firm to find an outstanding candidate who is presently working for another organization.

4th

4th

Lower level jobs I want to hire someone from a stack of potential candidates gathered by a private employment agency or our human resources department.

3rd

5th

Resumes I will look at unsolicited resumes.

2nd

6th

Newspaper ads, internet job posting sites I will place an ad to find someone.

1st

Our own work with MBA students has reinforced an over-reliance on resumes and the internet for finding jobs.  We were interested to discover if our and other career professionals conclusions were universal in today's economy where job security is no longer a given. 

During the third quarter of 2004 we asked those who visited our web site to participate in the following survey:  What would you do if you lost your job today?  Participants were asked to select the top three activities they would use; the three least important activities; the three they would need most help with; and the three they would need least help with from the following list of sixteen.

Update my resume

Review job postings on Internet

Register for unemployment benefits

Review job postings in newspapers

Define my unique talents and strengths

Explore alternative careers

Develop a list of contacts

Seek out professional career help/coach/mentor

Manage my contact list

Obtain more education or skill development

Sharpen my interviewing skills

Seek out a book on career management

Post my resume on the internet

Seek out a course on career management/finding a job

Relocate

Develop a financial survival plan

One hundred and forty one people responded to our survey. No definitions were offered for the sixteen activities nor were any demographic gathered about the respondents. When reviewing the results one could argue that because the respondents participated in an on-line survey, they are more comfortable using the internet than the average person. 

Conclusions:

With these limitations, the overall conclusion is that the career professional are right those seeking jobs are not acting in tune with the way employers find candidates.  This is the rank-order of importance of the sixteen activities the respondents indicated they would start with if they lost their job today.

Rank

Activity

1

Update my resume

2

Review job postings on-line

3

Develop a financial survival plan

4

Register for unemployment benefits

5

Post my resume on the internet

6

Explore career alternatives

7 tie

Seek out professional career help/coach/mentor

7 tie

Sharpen my interview skills

7 tie

Manage my contact list

8

Define my unique talents and strengths

9

Review job posting in newspapers

10

Develop a list of contacts

11

Obtain more education or skill development

12

Relocate

13

Seek out a course on career management/finding a job

14

Seek out a book on career management

Specifically:

  1. The survey respondents viewed having an updated resume (#1) and using the internet (#2 and #5) as the primary means of finding a job.  However, consider the following facts:

        Monster.com boasts 25 million(+) resumes, (10/22/04) but only 4% of all job hunters who go on line find a job on-line.

        92% of 5,000 recruiters and hiring managers surveyed said they are inundated with irrelevant responses the ease of posting online is now the job seekers greatest obstacle (Associated Press 1/19/03)

        An estimated 80% of all jobs occur in the hidden job market, that is, they are never publicized jobs they are filled by informal contacts.

        80% of the people in the nation work for companies that employ sixty or fewer employees these employers depend on networking and referrals, they don't advertise.

        Small companies (employing fewer than 100 employees) have created two out of every three new positions since 1970, even in the worst of times.

  1. The two activities rated the lowest by respondents; seeking out a course on career management/finding a job or, seeking a book on career management.  Other than books or courses that focus on a specific piece of the job hunting process (e.g., resume writing or interviewing) career management books are unanimous in their message finding a job is all about defining transferable skills and using ones contacts.
  2. Companies hire unique talents and strengths but Defining my unique talents and strengths was ranked in the bottom half of our survey.  Regardless of their perceptions, the groups we have worked with don't take the time nor know how to define their unique talents or strengths.  The majority of time they list vague traits, e.g., honesty, team player, goal oriented, flexibility, etc. These are not transferable skills.  The most frustrating part of our work is the unwillingness of many job hunters to spend the time defining their transferable skills and the tendency to want to jump to resume writing, internet posting and interviewing skills.
  3. Defining and managing ones contacts are rated in the bottom half (#7 and #10) by the respondents.  However, consider a simple test: how did the reader find their last job?  Though a newspaper ad, the internet, employment agencies, or from a personal contact?  The resounding answer from those we work with is that they found their last job through a personal contact. 

A reality of the career profession the single most important way of finding a job that fits your unique skills is through contacts family members, friends, peers, mentors, or from contacts your contacts know. Experience indicates that some reasons for contacts being rated so low are:

        We don't have a process or the discipline for storing and regularly communicating with our contacts.

        We don't know how to communicate or relate with our contacts without appearing to be a nuisance or superficial.

        We limit our potential data base of contacts to immediate friends.

        Fear of rejection keeps us from personal interaction with our contacts its psychologically hard to pick up the phone.

  1. The respondents rely on passive search methods (resumes, the internet) versus active methods (defining transferable skills and working with their contacts).  Contrary to these results we suggest that a different 80-20 rule should be applied.  80% of the time should be spent on active actions and 20% of the time on passive actions.

Summary

The good news is that respondents give a high ranking to their financial survival. This might lend credence to the argument that in a crisis situation, the priority is to get your finances in order and get busy send out resumes and search the internet.  This is not the time for reflection about ones transferable skills and revitalizing ones contacts.  We would suggest that there is a false sense of accomplishment; jobs are not found this way.  And, we would also agree that reflecting on and defining ones transferable skills and managing an active contact process should not wait until crisis time.  Hopefully this will motivate some of our readers to consider these activities now while they have the comfort of an on-going pay check.


[1] Richard Nelson Bolles.  What Color Is Your Parachute? 2000. Ten Speed Press. Berkley, California. Pp. 19

Return to home page


Center for Coaching & Mentoring, 2009
Contact Matt Starcevich at matt@coachingandmentoring.com