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There is No Job Search Silver Bullet

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Last year I read Charlie Wilson’s War, a book, later made into a movie, about a Texas Congressman and his crusade to arm the mujahedeen fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan. One notable point emerges about half-way through, and it’s applicable beyond just the book’s context – especially to job seekers.

Congressman Wilson and his aides are struggling to find the one, magic weapon they can provide to the mujahedeen. His weapons expert explains that they shouldn’t look for a single new weapon, or a “silver bullet.” Rather, they needed a “symphony of different weapons that, when put together, would change the balance in favor of the mujahedeen.”

With each new piece of technology or trend, we hear about the “death” of something else. Resumes are out – bios are in, job boards and sending cold applications are out, networking and LinkedIn are hot.

Nonsense.

Adopting any one approach (especially if it’s the latest, hot trend) to the exclusion of others is a bad idea. Job hunting isn’t a zero-sum game where the presence of one technique, strategy, platform, or application means the absence of another. The key is to use as many methods as possible while maintaining harmony.

Resumes

To say resumes are out is just crazy. Talk to a working recruiter and ask if they think resumes are out. Resumes have been the standard for measuring professional suitability for decades, so the recruiting industry isn’t going to just shelf them any time soon. Even if more elaborate bios, or video resumes, or LinkedIn profiles do grow in popularity, they aren’t going to replace traditional resumes. Each tactic will evolve, with some becoming mainstays and others falling away. You need to experiment with all of them and find the ones that work best for you.

Another point about bios: these new voices praising the importance of a well-written bio run contrary to just about every recruiter I’ve talked to about how applications are viewed. Recruiters scan resumes for bullet points and keywords and almost always skip over bios, personal statements, or anything else that results in more reading time. If you have a statement, be very careful it is not there at the expense of an easily digested bullet point. No matter how good it is, it doesn’t matter if no one reads it!

Job boards? Really?

I know, I know – leviathan job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder get a bad wrap for being too big to navigate, too clumsy to use, and overall just a waste of time. While I don’t think they have all the answers, it’s a mistake to ignore them completely. If nothing else, you can use job boards for market research when looking for a job. When trying to break into a certain field, those massive job boards provide tons of job descriptions from which you can tailor your resume. Also, Monster is at least trying to diversify their offerings with BeKnown, which is a somewhat tardy version of In the Door and BranchOut (apps that help you tap into your Facebook network’s professional connections). From what I can see, CareerBuilder is still just a job board.

I also like using job boards the way I used to use Orbitz and Expedia (before Kayak). Back in the day you could search for flights using Orbitz, find what was available, and book using Orbitz for a slightly higher rate. Or, what many people did was use those services as flight search engines, find out what was available, and then just book directly through the airline’s site. I didn’t want to search each airline’s website for availability, but I also didn’t want to pay the extra fee by booking through the flight search engine. Job boards can be used the same way – use them to find out what’s available and apply directly through the company’s site.

Applying online? I thought I was supposed to network!

This is another place where getting caught up in the trend is dangerous. Yes, networking is extremely important, but it’s only one means to an end. Networking is not an end itself. If you are talking to someone about a job at their company, most of the time the first thing they will ask you is, “Have you applied online yet?” If your answer is “no,” or worse, if you didn’t know about the opening, you look like someone who isn’t serious about working at that company. You need to do your due diligence and get the obvious steps out of the way before networking can do anything meaningful for you. If all your ducks aren’t in a row, networking is just socializing.

Submitting job applications online also makes it easier for anyone in a position to help you, to actually help you. Once you can tell them about a particular job at their company, they can refer you to a specific person or department. Much better to attack a specific job from multiple fronts, than to approach someone and say, “I’m not sure where exactly, I just really want to work here.” Everyone says you need to network to get a job, but networking only works when done in conjunction with other approaches.

Regardless of the latest advice, or the supposed “death” of a trend, always remember than there is no silver bullet for your job search. There is no one solution. You need a symphony of job search weapons, all working in harmony, to land a job in this market.

Tim Murphy is a member of the Brazen Life Contributor Network.

Ed. note: If you’re looking for your next great opportunity, consider signing up for the Job Hunt Network Roulette on Wed., July 27.  Tim’s right on — there is no silver bullet for job search. But making some great connections is sure to provide powerful ammunition! Okay, okay… done with the metaphor.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Monica-Singh/100002293200359 Monica Singh

    to find job quickly update your resume daily on dice, monster and other job sites

    also u can post a job requirement onfree classifieds ads

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Thanks for the tip, Monica, and thanks for reading.

      Tim

  • http://entryleveldilemma.blogspot.com Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

    As far as the applying online issue, most companies won’t consider an applicant that hasn’t submitted an online application. And some won’t consider any offline sources of information about the applicant, even if available. Cargill only lists vacancies on CareerBuilder, only considers applicants who applied online to the CareerBuilder ad, and does not consider references from employees. If you want to get a job at Cargill (and I do; their local office is less than 2 miles from my house), don’t waste your time networking. Just sit at your computer and have your resume ready.

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Hi Edward,

      It sounds like Cargill is pretty specific about their application process. If you really want to work there, it’s good that you’re very familiar with their process.

      Though, your comment about “don’t waste your time networking” has me worried. 1) I hope that wasn’t your main take away from my post. I wasn’t knocking networking, just saying those that rely entirely on networking are neglecting a host of other useful approaches. 2) You ignore networking (no matter what the job) at your peril. Networking is not the only answer, and most of the time it will not lead directly to a job (though it certainly can). To take your Cargill example, meeting someone who works at Cargill alone will probably not get you a job there. But wouldn’t it be useful to find out what that person did to get a job at Cargill? How they structured their application, who they talked to, where they focused their resume? Networking is about learning, and the more you can learn about the specific company you’re targeting, the better.

      Just sitting at the computer and having your resume ready is the opposite of the spirit of my post. The whole point was to have several approaches in play, rather than relying on one “silver bullet” method. I hope you’ll broaden your job searching approach.

      Thanks for reading and contributing to the discussion!

      Tim

      • http://entryleveldilemma.blogspot.com Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

        I’m sorry if I seemed to indicate that I thought that was the best job search path for all job searches. What I meant that it is the best (read: only) job search path for Cargill. Once you’ve done the basic background research on the company, doing anything other than checking CareerBuilder isn’t going to advance the goal of working for that company.
        Meanwhile, a mix of networking and responding to ads is the best solution for looking for jobs outside of that particular job.

        That said, I certainly wish I could skip networking. It’s a task that ranks high on the list of things I’d rather not do, up there with cleaning up excrement and putting away the dishes.

  • Natalie @ Mango

    I’m glad you addressed the “resumes are out” thing, because, you’re right, they’re not! The thing is, resumes are just taking a bit of a different form these days. Usually you do apply online and send an electronic resume, so it is important to include clickable links, but also make it aesthetically pleasing, for when you do print it (you should always bring a copy of your resume with you should you get an interview!) Networking is important as well, but now the thing is “online networking.” You need to make your social media work for you– Facebook could actually be the key to getting a job! I couldn’t believe it either, but I work for Mango Money’s blog and we are doing a series of posts on switching from your current job to a better one, and yes, it turns out social networks like Facebook can either really help, or really harm you. Check it out: http://blog.mangomoney.com/how-to/switching-jobs-how-when-and-why-part-1

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Hi Natalie,

      Glad we agree that resumes aren’t out just yet :). And I agree that networking, on and offline, is a critical component (though only one). Thanks for commenting!

      Tim

  • http://twitter.com/DanaLeavy DanaLeavy

    Great article Tim! There’s no real big secret (or silver bullet) to job searching – it’s about doing the right types of activities for the type of work you’re targeting, and doing them well. It’s also about effective personal branding via online and traditional outreach, paired with a solid strategy to help you track and focus your efforts. Cheers!

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Hi Dana,

      Yes! It’s all about managing your techniques and keeping your outreach (whether it be applications or personal branding) in harmony.

      Thanks for reading and for the comment!

      Tim

  • http://www.parachute4teens.com Carol

    A fine article with one exception, studies have shown that using more than 4 different job search techniques negatively effects getting results (i.e., a job). Presumably because the job hunter has too many things going to effectively manage all strategies. So, more than one, yes! More than 4, no!

    That said, it would be interesting to hear from Brazen job seekers if they have had positive or negative experiences from using more than 4 different techniques.

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Hi Carol,

      Interesting stat – I hadn’t heard that. Makes sense though, you try to master too many techniques and they all suffer. Though, to clarify, I wasn’t advocating that job seekers try, master, and implement every technique out there. Rather, I wanted to warn against people putting their job search “eggs” in one basket with this and that latest trend. Job hunters should familiarize themselves with the available techniques and use what works best for them and is most appropriate for the jobs in question.

      Thanks for the tip on not using more than four techniques. Great addition to the post.

      Tim

  • http://twitter.com/1pageproposal 1-Page Job

    On your point regarding resumes… Job seekers need to have a good marketing tool that allows them to get through the noise. Resumes are someone’s past experience, but they do little for the company to know what a job seekers capabilities are… they lack connection. A good way to engage the employer is to send them a job proposal. It is about what a job seeker can do for the future of the company’s success, not a job seekers past alone.

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Hi 1-page,

      I agree that one’s past alone does not tell the whole story. But, like it or not, resumes are still the main (albeit still flawed) way to see what people actually have done, rather than what they propose to do. Proposals are great, and I like the idea of using a job proposal in conjunction with resumes (and whatever else the job application requires). That way you are showing what you have done, which should back up the legitimacy of what you propose to do.

      Thanks for reading!

      Tim

  • http://www.intrvue.com Jennifer Rolles

    Tim
    Good article. I agree that it is too early to declare the resume dead. Also, it’s true that recruiters scan the resume for keywords and bullet points that match what they are looking for, so it must be properly formatted and well written to get the attention of the hiring manager.

    But, as Natalie pointed out, an online resume that contains clickable links to more detailed information can be a valuable job seeking tool. If you manage to get a hiring manager’s attention, it is to your benefit to hold that attention a while longer and convince them that you are the one they should call for an interview.

    There is a new tool called intRvue.com that helps users easily customize resumes and build custom websites with an interactive resume, portfolio of success stories, integrated blog, and a bio or personal message to an employer. It also integrates your twitter feed & links to social media sites. They let you customize as many resumes and websites as you want to target specific opportunities. It may not be a silver bullet, but it is a great way to package together all of the other things you might be doing and a great tool for letting your network know more about you.

    • http://twitter.com/ApplyMate ApplyMate.com

      Thanks for the tip Jennifer! I’m all for trying new approaches and tools, just wanted to warn against focusing only on the latest and greatest trend at the expense of all other methods. I do agree that the resume should keep the reader’s interest as long as possible, and links/interactive media can be a great way to do it (much like a website). Thanks a lot for reading and leaving a comment.

      Tim

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