If you’ve been struggling to get results from your job search, it can feel like a guessing game. You’re left wondering how to get interesting job leads consistently and predictably, and turn those leads into a signed offer letter.
It’s a frustrating place to be, and – although you dream of a new job – you’re not enjoying the slog of the job search required to get there.
The secret to attracting more job leads and finding your next incredible gig is in changing your approach to your job search.
Here’s the secret: The job search is not about you. It’s about THEM.
THEY (usually) don’t care that you want to leave early on Thursdays, that you really want a VP title, or that your pet peeve is people who leave long voice mails. They (usually) don’t mind that you’ve had a career break, or that you don’t have 100% of the job requirements.
They care about THEIR business problem, their team, and their ability to stay ahead of their own marketplace.
We need to stop “selling ourselves” and start developing relationships with potential employers BEFORE they are ready to fill an opening. We need to speak in their language and not ours; we need to learn the problems THEY need to solve and arm ourselves with the insight we can bring to conversations with them.
I call this “me-centric job search” vs. “employer-centric job search”. Let me explain both so you can determine where you are…
“Me-Centric” Job Search
Traditional job searching is “me-centric”, meaning it’s all about YOU, the job seeker: your approach to the profession; your training and credentials; your “results-oriented” resume jargon that sounds the same as everyone else. Of course, your training/skills/results orientation are important, but they aren’t what employers are most interested in when they visit your LinkedIn profile or read your resume.
What are employers interested in? Hint: it’s not you. Instead, they are interested in solving THEIR problem. They need to know that you understand them and can help them. Here are examples of “me-centric”job searching:
- Packing your resume with acronyms of internal project names from your prior employers
- Rushing into job search networking without being clear on what problems you solve
- Pushing your network to make connections for you without doing your homework on the company/its problem set first
- Bringing up your work/life needs too early in the job search and making it about your lifestyle vs. their problems
- Failing to do the work to translate your prior experience into clear messaging about how you can help them
Now, I’m not trying to make anyone look bad, and I’m not faulting you for this type of job search. I believe that most job seekers take this approach to marketing themselves because they truly don’t know that there IS a better way to conduct a job search.
“Employer-Centric” Job Search
Employer-centric job searching is all about the employer’s needs, the employer’s problem, the hiring manager’s hopes and fears, and the desired transformation for the group you join. You are not connecting with employers on a SKILL level alone; you’re connecting with them on an emotional level. You’re offering them hope that they’re solving their problem and hiring a great teammate, right when they need it the most.
You’re building a profile (LinkedIn, resume, etc.) that helps them see how you help THEM, not how you’ve helped prior employers with problems that aren’t relevant. You come to the table as someone who’s thinking about how your profession’s evolving, not yesterday’s solutions to yesterday’s problems. You share on LinkedIn emerging trends and next generation ideas, and in interviews you help them see how you can “skate to where the puck is headed,” to use a hockey analogy.
Ideally, you’ll share ideas related to THEM and help future hiring managers learn something new about their own field. Since it can be scary to put yourself out there, you might say to yourself, “I’m not at the level where they care what I think.” However, that’s not the case; if you’re a hiring manager and you see your future clerk posting about emerging trends in (whatever field), you’re going to see that clerk as a superstar you want on your team. By shifting all of your communications, outreach, and ongoing learning to match what THEY need, you are building your profile with potential future employers.
The ones who see that you’re interested in THEM will be the ones most interested in YOU; those are the ones who will raise their hands and say “Yes, this is exactly the person we need on our team.”