3 Unconventional Job Hunting Tips
Via LinkedIn : I recently began job hunting for a full time position initially based in Buenos Aires-Argentina, Bogota-Colombia or Lima-Peru where I have most of my previous work experience and where I am legible to work because I have my visas and work permits up to date. Obviously if anyone asks, I would love to work in London, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, really anywhere in Europe or even Hong Kong and Malaysia but I need a job pretty soon so I am going for the easier road with no Visa restrictions or extra paperwork required.
Now that I am almost 30 I feel like it is time to move on and find a place where I can continue to learn and grow as a young professional and where there is room to do so which in a lot of ways limits my search because most companies have no real career plans for their employees. I said most and not all because I know some have finally figured out that retention has more to do with real career plans and “opportunities for advancement” as well as leadership and management styles because a bad boss or lack of admiration for our current boss can really take a toll on health and stunt personal and professional growth which is also why many choose to leave.
Last time I actively looked for a job was in 2008 right before I graduated from University and since then most of my experience has been as a Headhunter and in Talent Acquisition Management getting headhunted from time to time. This time I thought I would approach this job hunt using a couple of techniques I learned from my first hand experience doing it the other way round. I started my search about a month ago and have been in formal processes with 4 companies so I guess the whole strategy is working and I am really excited to share my tips with you and see how it goes.
1. Pick your Top 10…think hard about where you would you like to work
As a headhunter I used to pick Top 10s all the time looking for the best competitors where I could find suitable talent for my clients who were big local or multinational corporations. Looking for people in the same industry and in similar positions would benefit my client and translate in reduced cash and time used for training, onboarding and industry updates because the person would already have the know-how and in most cases the client database and stakeholder contact list which obviously benefited my clients.
So, I did the same thing. I picked a Top 10 list of companies and organizations where I would like to work based on my priorities: culture and climate, real possibilities for growth, genuine interest in innovation and technology, social responsibility. It actually took me a while to figure out which companies I admire and would like to work with and what my priorities where and I don’t mention salary at this point because if you are good at what you do, you will get what you deserve even if you don’t get it immediately. I know some will not agree with me on this, but hear me out, I have seen it happen many times and can say all this in my particular case because I have no student-debt or family responsibilities since it is just me for now so I can wait a little.
Lists are really great in general, they relieve stress and help us remember and prioritize, so do your Top 10 list.
2. Start connecting and gather the info
2.1 Go out for coffee and lunch with trustworthy friends, ex colleagues, ex bosses and people who you know that might currently work or have connections in your Top 10 list. Ask lots of questions like how it is to work there, if they know of any available positions, what they have heard from someone close who works there, if they can give you info on the recruiting process, what the leadership style is like, what the culture is like, the perks, the challenges, the career plan programs, the names of key players inside, emails, phone numbers, whatever you are interested in finding out.
Write down everything so you don’t forget and start crossing out or including companies, listen to suggestions, do more research and adjust your list as you go, be open. I stumbled on a very cool and innovative company in Lima that provides Digital Marketing Solutions and was not initially on my Top 10 list. In many countries such as in Peru and Colombia, we still have a huge part of the population with no access to the internet or smart phones so everything we see that happens in the US or other developed countries arrives later and is a goldmine for startups and tech companies. Also, talent is scarce and limited because education is not available or updated for future programmers, developers or other technology related fields. Anyway, I did my research and found out this company was a pioneer in its field for Peru and Ecuador, possibly other markets as well and thought it was very appealing so I sent my cv and have had 3 interviews in two weeks with nice, smart and open-minded interviewers.
2.2 Pick your sources and use them wisely. Use Linkedin, Glassdoor, Twitter, local headhunters, company career websites and all the local search engines like Aptitus in Peru and elempleo in Colombia to find job listings. Be careful to update your cv on all resources and connect with companies and people who currently work in HR, especially in recruiting or Talent Acquisition. Be careful to pick too many, do not get overwhelmed in this process, there is so much information so you must filter and reduce. Use what works in your country and be picky with who you connect with. Also, be careful with the cv you send, really try to do a good job at your cv design and adjust according to the company and position you are applying for. It is ok to have a couple of versions of your cv. Do not waste your time on cover letters, usually nobody reads them and Google actually has a warning on their career site that says “cover letter is not required” and right next to that there is a link to upload the cover letter, like a first filter or test that I thought was very funny.
I am a big fan of Linkedin and am a hooked user since 2010 when my classmates introduced me to its magic whilst studying abroad in Europe. Linkedin was actually launched in 2002 and I learned about it 8 years later never hearing of it as a student at University. I hope they enter more countries in South America other than Sao Paulo – Brazil soon so I can start applying for a job there, it is my dream company and is replacing a lot of traditional headhunters, market research companies, job websites and networking practices. I use it to connect with people who share similar interests in HR and Talent Management, with former candidates and clients, with school, university and work colleagues, ex managers, friends and people in HR or other roles that work with companies I admire.
As a headhunter I used Linkedin and Google to check how my clients and candidates were connected and find out a little more on them other than just relying on the cv info. If they didn’t have a profile, I would usually asume they were not interested in technology or updated in their use of sources for business purposes and would already fit their profile in an old school category. I know it sounds crude but it worked most of the time.
3. Interview your interviewers
In one particular case, I saw a job posting on Linkedin for a company where I had friends already working there. I called one of my closest friends and did step 2 of this post, I asked him lot’s of questions and finally decided to send him my cv as well as applying online. The very next day and thanks to my friend I had an interview with the person who would be my boss. I was really thankful to my friend because recommending someone for a job comes with huge responsibility and pressure, it is a very delicate thing to do. During the interview and after about 5 minutes into the conversation, I didn’t feel like we could get along and I didn’t get that click or gut feeling in the stomach that I would benefit from his or her leadership style so at the end of the conversation and before there was room to coordinate anything else, I thanked the person and said I didn’t think I had all the attributes he/she was looking for.
At this point and by stumbling around both personally and professionally, I have figured out that we are all deserving of love, abundance, health and good jobs with nice bosses, colleagues and challenges. So, I interview my interviewers and ask them about everything I am interested in. Things like:
What is the most important attribute someone needs in order to fit in this workplace and company culture?
What do you expect of the person that you will hire for this job?
Is there opportunity to grow at this company?
What does this company want to be remembered for?
Who is your main competitor today? What is the main service or product offered?
Are you interested in and do you have training programs for your employees?
What is a normal day here like?
How is the company structured, how are the areas divided?
What do you different compared to your competition?
Do you support any social causes or have volunteering programs for your employees to explore?
Obviously during the whole interview process I am observing the workplace, talking and listening to as many people as I get a chance, like the receptionist that is usually the first person to greet guests, watching people that come and go, looking at what they wear, how they work, what they talk about, how they interact, like a spy but in a good way.
Right now and of my current options, I have a pretty good idea of where I would like to work, thanks to interviewing the interviewer. In fact, during my 3rd interview at a very cool company with a job opening in Talent Management, I asked the Managing Partner and hopefully my future boss what he considered to be the most important attribute in those who were chosen to work with him, he said that he needed someone who was “passionately curious” and had a natural “thirst for knowledge instead of the typical response “well, I’m looking for at least 4 years of experience in recruiting”. So, like in the movie Jerry Maguire, this person “had me at hello”.
And naturally as soon as he said that, it reminded me of this guy:
Hopefully these tips work for you as they are working for me. Remember, it is simple, use a Top 10 approach, start connecting and interview your interviewers.
I would like to know what has worked for your job hunt so please comment below…mil gracias!
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