Job Search – Strategies that work better

How do you change a job? Here is the case in front of me (and this is typical of so many examples I have seen):

  1. He wants to get into a new job that gives good role, company has good culture, it leverages all the strengths the person has.
  2. His modus operandi is something like this:
    1. Update the resume
    2. Post in couple of job portals
    3. Get in touch with some of the past contacts (previous bosses and peers primarily), and solicit their help in changing the job
    4. Wait for interview calls and attend them as they come
  3. When you ask ‘why you want to change the job’, there are no clear answers and he doesn’t display any sense of urgency.

I have now seen enough job hunters who engage in such an important career-impacting activity with such a passivity and unclear reasons. Most of the times, their only strategy to job search is ‘hope’. This bothers me a lot because careers take extremely important detours when jobs are changed. The person must be very clear about the objectives of the change, as well as stay active and engaged in the process to ensure that they stay in the driver’s seat and make it a career-enhancing move. Being successful in a new company is hard and takes time, so one should try to achieve career growth while being in the company (having done multiple role and geographical moves in both big and small companies in my career, I can assure you that this is one of the best ways of growing career). If job change does seem warranted, one should focus on measuring the career growth to ensure one is clear what gaps need to be filled that require a company change; this can then become clear goals and job offer evaluation criteria during job hunt process.

Evaluating a job offer to make sure it meets your career goals is a complex topic on its own. Whenever I have taken an interview over last 5-6 years, I have asked them this question: “if you get this offer, and another one, which criteria will you apply to pick the right job for you?”, and I am still to get a great answer. I will share some of my thoughts on this topic in some later post; goal in this post is to look at the job hunt process itself.

Job hunt can be viewed through different lenses and strategies can be developed using the model that best fits that view:

  1. Competitive Strategy: There are 1 million people out there looking for a job exactly like what you want. There are a large (or not so large) number of employers offering such a job. Clearly, number of jobs available is less than job seekers. Employers want to find the best person out there and are willing to compete for the person (‘multiple job offers to same person’) and they are willing to wait for the best person for their role. Your goal as a job seeker in this case is to understand the job market as well as competition (fellow job seekers), make sure you package yourself in the most compelling way so that employers see value in you, and then you select the offer you want. Various competitive and marketing strategies should be applied to gain insights into how to execute better job search.
  2. Social Strategy: Job hunting is like match making – employers and potential employees each have a set of strengths and weaknesses to offer and a list of expectations to meet. Interviews, resume screening, informal chats, etc. are used to gather more information and figure out potential fit, and then finally commitments are made (or not made). Networking sites are becoming job engines (linked in jobs), job portals are becoming networking sites (monster communities), and jobs are being searched using social media (JobShouts, simplyhired). Such a ‘match making’ requires different sources of information and different skills while executing a job search.
  3. Project Strategy: Job search needs to be defined as a project with clear goals (‘find a job that pays 20% more with a promotion’, ‘find a job that teaches investment strategies’, etc. ), milestones (’15 calls from recruiters’, at least ‘3 final interviews’, ‘2 offers’, etc.) resources and timelines (‘no more than 2 hours a week spent on job hunt’, ‘finish in 3 months’, etc.). Given that most job searches are done while doing a day job, this requires careful planning as well as good self and project management to be successful. There are many inter-dependent activities that need to be performed, and risk and quality management needs to be done; just like any complex project management assignment. Most job portals do not assist in this and individuals need to do this on their own.

Most job portals take the ‘social strategy’ approach and help match employers with prospective job seekers and let them negotiate a deal offline. They do some pieces of ‘competitive strategy’ with ‘resume building services’ etc. but very weak offerings. None of the portals offer project management support. Therefore, just relying on one or two job portals to get the job you want may not be the best strategy. Best job search may be the one where you draw from one/all of these strategic approaches and create your own strategic plan and execute on it.

In one of the later posts, I may apply some of these strategies to build a few example job search approaches that can work better. Let me know your thoughts and if you will be interested in hearing more thoughts on this topic.

PS: Here are the other 3  posts in this series:

8 Replies to “Job Search – Strategies that work better”

  1. I think this is a very good post. One of the key aspects I like about this is your comments on passivity.

    One of the learning, I think is common sense 🙂 but periodic evaluation of self in current company….so that you can plan your career moves proactively and not get hurried in the job market.

    Very happy new year Mrityunjay

    1. Thanks Mahi.
      Yes, periodic evaluation of self in current company is common sense, but it is surprisingly uncommon in people (maybe all common sense is 🙂 ). I think it requires a discipline to do such evaluation when it is not needed. Getting into job market in a hurry or unprepared can give very bad surprises in the next job.

      Happy 2011!

  2. This is a nice topic and good thoughts.
    I agree some times people are passive and sometimes active. Everyone should be very careful while changing because impacts could be long term and ir-reversible. I think how much thought people give it is dependent on how desperate they are for job change. Desperation dependent on reason for the change, also decides how much passive job-hunt is.
    There are few category of reasons I can think of, why someone is looking for a job:
    1. Happy in the current situation, but just want to ensure to be
    – updated with the market (current salaries, positions, growth prospects etc..)
    – Wants to keep options open.
    – Wants to ensure if needed, is aware of requirements/expectations.
    – Wants to know what to expect in the current job (as per the market conditions)

    2. Knows he is not fitting in the current situation
    – Not up to the mark as per peers.
    – Not fit for skill set
    – Not growing
    – May be too good for the current role, not utilizing himself fully.
    WOuld like to try out change

    3. There has been some immediate trigger:
    – Conflict with the manager/peers or something else happened
    – Some un-expected change in the role/position
    – layoff from the job

    4. Stable for too long, need a change.

    Models you presented are a good analysis on how to approach job-hunt, and may be dependent on why are you looking for a change.

    1. Thanks for the comments. Pretty good list of reasons for the changes. I think one of the reasons people are passive is they don’t realize the importance. As you suggest, it is sometimes an irreversible change in career path, and it is very critical that people understand its importance. Thanks for your list, I will keep it in mind as I write my next couple of posts on this topic, look forward to more discussions on this subject.

  3. These are some good tips to making changes to a job search strategy that will have a positive effect. I think if you are seeking employment you should use a blend of the three ideas that you elaborated on. There is no one magic bullet that is going to land you your next job so combining the competitive, social and project strategies is going to be your best bet to a better job. I look forward to future posts, keep up the good work.

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