Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Job Hunting or Job Begging?

Still being under the impression of the session delivered by Mr Porot this afternoon, I would like to share some general considerations on the topic of job searching, hunting, and sniffing. Basically, the dry remainder of an eight-hour session is that:

  • you need to define (for yourself in the first place, because it might turn out to be terribly hard) what you really love. It means what makes you genuinely happy, why you wake up singing you favorite tunes and why you don't really need to smell coffee in the morning, because you are already jumping and kicking, impatient to get back to the colleagues, projects and admin issues. Hmmm... on the issue of coffee I stay to be corrected...
  • think, what you are bloody good at. Now, this is now a tricky question - it is quite serious and dangerous, because many people confuse the two and are trying to make believe that what they would like to do is what they do best. The Tarzan interviewing technique (called so because you need to swing from "rope" to "rope" trying to find out what is the specific skill that differentiates you from the rest of the crowd of bloodthirsty job seekers) proved to be very efficient, however, only if you know how to use it right.
  • marry the two concepts (like + can) together and the most difficult part of the job search process is done.
Let me quote something from my favorite book (one of the most philosophical and difficult for understanding and interpretation pieces - if you think I'm mad saying that, read it again!), Alice in Wonderland:
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?", Alice asks.
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where –" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
“– so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Target (or focus) is another component of successful job search. If you are unsure of where you want this path of life to take you, most likely you will not get there, but will wander in the darkness, prone to labor market whips and euro fluctuations. Be specific, and your chances to land a dream job will shoot through the roof. Rules of flirting apply: an easy target is not that enticing.

I would question the statement that you should not send your CV (or resume) at all, but I am talking from my position of an HR professional here. I can understand the frustration of many, who send hundreds of e-mails to various HR people and never hear back. Challenge: is your approach right? After all, that is the right door to knock on (maybe not the most efficient in certain situations), but it is my accountability as a manager of human capital in a company to make sure that we get the best resources in. I even felt a little angry how HR was portrayed as a function and I wish to state that not all HR departments are useless paper shifters! More thoughts on the topic in my earlier posting: http://hrboutique.blogspot.com/2010/05/laundromat.html.

Leveraging networks is another key in securing a job and I would agree that those should be used for information mainly. Asking for too much favors will erode the value of a connection (unless you give sufficiently back) and also you might be putting the other person in a difficult situation, especially if you are using a personal relationship. Many of your friends have a limited view on you as a professional and often the view is skewed. If you are not doing well in the job they helped you to get, it will backfire at them as well.

Finally, what will make you a success in life:

  • 50% - savoir etre: self-management skills - adjectives
  • 35% - savoir faire: transferable skills/competencies - verbs
  • 15% - savoir: knowledge - nouns 
This provides a fresh perspective on what one should be focusing on. Knowledge is not valued as much as it used to be even 10-20 years ago, and the emphasis is shifting towards emotional intelligence and the softer side of management, which immensely raises the profile of HR as a function responsible for building the organizational leadership capability and creating the learning culture.

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