Why Group Job Hunting Doesn’t Work

Posted on June 30, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , |

For those of you who are familiar with the work that I do (career coaching, resume writing, and promoter of the group job hunting concept), my title probably seems a bit surprising. After all, how can one of the biggest fans of group job hunting claim that there are times when it doesn’t work?

Well, most great concepts require more than just theory to make them beneficial. You can talk all day about how wonderful something is, but without true application, it will fall flat. The same is true for group job hunting.

The idea is that job seekers, who are all essentially in the same boat, will join forces and assist each other through the job search process. This assistance can be anything from swapping leads and resources, making introductions, and even offering referrals.

To me, it’s a no-brainer. In this age of social networking and nonstop talk from career pros about the importance of building contacts during your job search, you would think group job hunting would be taking the Internet by storm. Although we have seen “pay-it-forward” attempts pop up across many social media sites, by and large, you are still hard-pressed to find job seekers really banding together.

Why is that?

To help put some perspective on this, I’ve compiled a few reasons I think job seekers might be struggling to get this concept working for them:

1. Job seekers are worried about competition. I hear this a lot when I speak with job seekers about networking with other job seekers: “But aren’t they my competition?” Of course, you could always meet someone else who is going for the same position as you, but with the amount of virtual social networking websites for job seekers, I think it is a pretty safe bet that you are going to meet candidates from all backgrounds and industries. Many job seekers only look to people in their field for support, but that is a big mistake. People know people from all walks of life. So if you are in IT, don’t be shy about meeting up with another job seeker in marketing. Maybe that person is married to someone with strong IT connections or has contacts in that arena from past employment experiences.

2. Job seekers only want to speak with employed people. We seem to have this perception that currently employed people are “in the know,” whereas unemployed people are “out of the loop.” Considering our unemployment rate at the moment, I would say that this thinking is pretty shallow. In fact, often employed people are the least likely to help job seekers. It is other job seekers who can empathize that are more willing to offer assistance. In addition, it is other job seekers who are hearing about leads and exploring opportunities that are often much more aware of what’s going on in the job market as opposed to the employed professional who spends all day working at his or her desk.

3. Too many job seekers are too worried about receiving help and not about giving help. When people are stressed (and a job search is no doubt stressful), true character often comes out. And sadly, all too often, people only want to be helped. They can’t be bothered with helping anyone else. I see this a lot in my firm. I often will recommend job seekers to connect with one another, particularly if I think they are a good fit for supporting each other. Too often, one client will reach out to the other and then come back frustrated that “she didn’t do anything for me.” It doesn’t take much to find out that this client didn’t help out either. Sometimes it is amazing how they even neglect to respond to each other’s e-mails!

4. Job seekers are obsessed with online job boards. As much as this drives us career pros nuts and as much as we report the appalling statistics (less than 4% effectiveness rate), candidates continue to insist on devoting the bulk of their time job searching to applying for job postings. It doesn’t matter that many of these jobs are not real; job seekers are infatuated with them anyway.

And I can understand why. It seems so straightforward. Company has position available. Job seeker applies. Company calls for interview and makes offer. Job seeker takes the job. But it is a little like playing the lottery. You can spend a lot of resources and never win the reward. At some point, you have to ask yourself, “What are the odds? How can I create a better balance of my resources?” By all means, you can still dream, but you also need to be realistic.

5. Job seekers are afraid group job hunting is too much like a support group. For this last reason, I blame career counseling. Although the intention is nice, helping job seekers, the application often comes off like an addiction support meeting. Job seekers are already often feeling down; they don’t need to be treated like they have fallen off the wagon. Instead they want to attend networking functions with other professionals who are united for a common purpose. That is support and encouragement, but it isn’t patronizing. These people haven’t failed; they are looking for jobs. We tell them to represent themselves as top talent, but then we have meetings where we all sit in a circle and look lost.

It really has become my goal to see job seekers utilize the group job hunting concept with success. I know that it can be a powerful tool in the job search arsenal. But in order for that to happen, we need a shift in mindset for how we go about conducting our job search and where we place our time and resources. Truthfully, without this shift, very few tools will work for us.

So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?

My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.

The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.

In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: NoddlePlace.com. It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Why the Interviewer’s Social Media/Online Image Is Important Too

Posted on June 22, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips, social media | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

We’ve heard so much lately about the importance of the online image of job seekers and why it is imperative for them to clean up their reputations before any potential employer searches them out. Niche businesses have even cropped up to help with this process and to turn a negative image into a more positive one.

Many companies are also spending significant resources to monitor and “fix” their online image, overcoming negative customer reviews and competitor backstabbing.
Nevertheless, although we are starting to hear more about companies cracking down on the online output of their employees, for the most part, few companies have the time and energy to devote to monitoring their employees’ online reputation. So, what about their employees who represent them to the public? Or their employees who represent them to potential talent? And furthermore, the recruiters, headhunters, and staffing agencies who actively assist in attracting top candidates? Is anyone considering the online image of these individuals and the effect it can have on job seekers?

I started researching this issue after an experience I had with a resume client of mine. She was an MBA project manager out of Atlanta with top-notch credentials. She was currently employed and was heavily recruited by a large recruiting firm for a Fortune 500 company. My client was approached about setting up an interview with the company through one of the primary recruiters for the firm. Before she agreed to go on the interview, she asked for the name of the company interviewer. She then began to look up not just the company but the interviewer and the recruiter as well.

Let’s just say that she didn’t like what she saw. And it made her question the professionalism of the parties involved.

So it made me wonder whether a poor online image of an employee was 1) really being considered by companies in regard to the company’s overall image and 2) really a fair (or valid) tool for a job seeker to use (anymore than it is for a company) in assessing a potential employment relationship.

Many of my social media career pro friends will tell you that ALL professionals, whether active job seekers or not, need to be using social media to their advantage in today’s marketplace. Yet when you consider that both employers and job seekers alike could be using this material to weed out people, it is going to cause a certain amount of backlash.

I am already coming across candidates who refuse to use social media, despite all the praise it receives, because they don’t want to worry about their image. Nevertheless, according to some “gurus,” not having a social media image can be considered a big negative too. So not playing the game can be just as hurtful, even more, as playing it, or so it appears.

Listen. “Personal branding” is all the rage these days. It is basically common sense wrapped up in a shiny, new term. And professionals across the ages have always had to be concerned about their reputations and the image they portray to the world around them.

In today’s market, however, what you type, the pics others take of you, what you say on a video, and so on can all be made available to the universe in perpetuity. Not to mention the comment you made on someone’s political blog, the tweets you twit, and the status info you share…all of which become available for public consumption. And although companies may seem to have the upper hand at the moment when it comes to employment, job seekers can turn the tables on them as well.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount to our followers. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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Twitter Career Pros Who Actually Converse

Posted on May 28, 2009. Filed under: social media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Job seekers often lament to us that they cannot find people, career pros especially, who will actually help them, much less speak with them. In today’s social networking environment, there is no longer any reason for this. However, people are still people no matter what the technology is doing. And it can be tough, even on Twitter, to get some career pros to speak with you.

Believe me, as fellow career pros on Twitter (@ITtechExec and @rezlady), we have not always been successful at getting other career pros to engage in conversation. Apparently, some are only there to give out information, not to interact in any meaningful way.

But that’s OK. Twitter can be an instrument that’s left up to the user to wield. If you just want to pontificate, go for it!

But for job seekers who are still wondering whom they can meet and not just follow, but actually speak with, we decided to put together a top 5 list of some of the most engaging Twitter pros we’ve come across:

1. @imjustagoyle: Cofounder of JobShouts.com along with @Tall_Geek, this career pro offers resume advice, job leads, and other advice, not to mention a valuable job board that actually posts real job postings!

2. @eExecutives: Meet Harry Urschel, a recruiter. Harry has his own blog called The Wise Job Search and is very approachable.

3. @juliaerickson: Julia is a career coach in NJ. She is also a member of the @careerealism team, which helps answer job seeker questions.

4. @ATLrecruiter: Stephanie is a talent acquisition consultant who writes for Examiner.com and offers lots of great tips.

5. @careersherpa: Hannah is an approachable guide tweeting all kinds of helpful job search strategy advice.

If you know of others, please feel free to comment on them here. If I agree, I will add them to my next list.

So was this post helpful? If so, please tweet it out (and then engage!).

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