You have that special gift and a personal conviction that the world needs – and you want to put it to work. Here is how you leap to a dream job that fuels you with energy, inspires for personal growth, and helps you to contribute to a cause much bigger than yourself.
They design their own path to success. They do things differently. They use a different process of finding their dream job. Not just any job, but their dream job.
Job boards make it harder, not easier
They understand the conundrum of job boards: On one hand, they get your resume in front of so much more employment opportunities than you could ever find on your own. On the other hand, it is also true that employers now find much more candidates for each of their listings. You face much more competition. That makes it a lot harder to stand out; and hence, your chances of being noticed fade.
To manage the deluge of applications, employers have increasingly automated the selection process with tools, such as applicant tracking software, recruitment automation for resume screening, software that enriches resumes by using public data sources about your previous employers and your social media profiles, and even technology that records your interviews and assesses factors such as your word choices, speech patterns, and facial expressions to predict how well you fit the role.
These technologies have only one main purpose: filter out all applicants that do not match formal hiring criteria. And if technology is not available, someone in HR will do it manually at the speed of 6 seconds per application. As a result, 88% of resumes that employers receive for a role are considered unqualified.
Which means that you can be the most qualified person for the job, but the hiring manager will never see your resume for two reasons:
- Underqualified: You may have only four years of experience – and the system filters you out because it wants you to have five. You may have a Level 5 Leaving Certificate, but the hiring company wants you to have a Level 6 Higher Certificate. You will be deemed under-qualified based on formal evaluation criteria instead of your true knowledge, experience, motivation and ability to do the job.
- Overqualified: You could be the best person for the job, but deemed overqualified because you already have seven years of experience and the hiring company wants you to have 5. You may a Level 9 Master’s Degree and the formal requirement is a Level 8 Honours bachelor’s degree.
The lists in both categories are long. The irony is that there is no rhyme or reason why a company sets certain minimum job requirements. These are mostly made up.
I know, because I have made up many of them for my employers, my clients or my own business. Unless a job legally requires a certain education, arbitrary preferences from the hiring manager or the company’s HR policies define these formal job requirements.
Understand that formal job requirements are mostly made up
Why are employers requesting five years of experience? What’s the science behind it? There is none.
It’s all based on personal assumptions, philosophies, ignorance or arrogance. That’s why you find job listings that require you to have two years of experience with using a technology that has been on the market for a just a few months.
To be fair, sometimes those formal job requirements are based on prior experience with former employees. Someone with only four years of experience was not able to get the job done. Or a former hire with six years of experience got bored too fast and left the company early. Who knows?
Beat the messed-up hiring system
It is important to know that it’s not you who a company rejects, but everybody who came before you. But you know that you are different. You’ve got to beat the system.
You will shun job databases. You won’t allow technology to discriminate against you for all the people that came before you. Instead, you will use alternative and more rewarding ways of getting your resume and face in front of a decision maker.
You are also not concerned with whether your target company has an actual job opening. Most managers would let go of several of their team members if they had someone to replace them with. They are always looking for options to enhance their teams, even if secretly and quietly. Your task is to contact them directly and help them see that you are that option.
The four steps to finding your dream job
I do not have college degree. Yet, in my career I have been headhunted and hired by the World Bank into a job that formally required a PhD or MBA. I worked as a consultant to the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit with top-secret clearance to support anti-terrorism activities. One of the world’s most respected publishing houses, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, hired me as head of their global digital media division and then promoted me to General Manager for North America for their electronic publishing arm. And the leading language services provider at the time, Berlitz, successfully relied on my expertise to turn their division in Central and Eastern European profitable after nine previously failed attempts. I teach a Masters of Professional Services class at the University of Maryland.
With no college degree to show for, how can that be? Am I a fraud?
Obviously, I must know something. The FBI does not spend about $80,000 on a security clearance for someone who makes faulty claims.
The World Bank does not bend its rules and tweaks its HR system to onboard an imposter. The multi-million-dollar company turn-around at Berlitz was a feat. Nine people with a college degree failed before me, yet it only took me five months to save the company and about 40 jobs. These are hard, verifiable facts and accomplishments.
People will want to work with you if you know your stuff, have a personal conviction, and can prove that you apply both successfully for their gain. Here are the four steps that you can use to convey your unique gift that only you can bring to a hiring company.
Step 1: The 5 WHATs you need to answer to find the job you want
- Industry that you want to serve and how?
- Role you want to play and why?
- Your natural way of working if given the freedom to be yourself?
- Preferred location for your work?
- Your personal criteria of success?
A good way of starting is to understand your natural strengths. Kolbe Corp is the leader in assessing your conative skills. You can take the assessment here.
Step 2: How to find the best matching hiring manager
Once you are clear about what you want, you are in an excellent position to narrow down 20 employers that fit. You will not send your resume to human resources. In fact, you will not send a resume at all. Instead, you will send an invitation to meet or speak directly to the hiring manager.
Here are few ways to get to find and get them:
- Referrals: Hiring managers are five times more likely to engage when introduced or referred by someone they know.
- LinkedIn: Get a premium account for Sales or Business (not for Career). These give you 15 to 20 InMail™ messages that enable you to start meaningful conversations with hiring managers of the companies that fit your needs.
- Conferences: These events feature many hiring managers. You can reach out to them by visiting the exhibition booth or engaging speakers after their presentation.
- Lexisnexis.com: Has the most complete, current and accurate contacts gathered from a variety of sources and compiled by Dun and Bradstreet.
- Meetups: Join meet-ups, but go to the events for decision-makers. Skip the meet-ups for professionals. Most people are there to either get new business or a new job. Hiring managers are rare at these events.
- Let them find you: Today and in the future, hiring companies will continue to use the internet as the premier channel for pro-actively connecting with potential employees. Interestingly, they are more interested in the people that are not actively looking and have a compelling story.
Step 3: Contact the hiring manager directly
The worst mistake you can make is to begin an email with you, your experience and your story. Instead, begin with a topic that is meaningful to THEM.
A compelling introductory message has five components in a distinct order:
- A key challenge in a hiring manager’s industry, profession or team
- Your compassion about this challenge
- The solution that you have in mind
- Evidence that you are qualified to prescribe this solution
- Invitation to speak or meet
A sample introductory letter to a hiring manager
Dear [Hiring Manager]:[Element 1: Key challenge]
Your article on the quality of marketing specific translation was spot on. Multiple versions of product names can be a challenge – and often to a point where customers and salespeople alike are confused.[Element 2: Compassion]
In my case, it caused physical pain. Instead of using a procedure in which an artificial joint would be cemented with a shank or shaft, doctors implanted it without any cement. Because the term ‘non-modular cemented’ was wrongly translated as ‘zementfrei’, which means ‘does not need cement’ in German. So the surgeons put in the knee loose, and I needed a second surgery.[Element 3: Solution]
I then decided to do something about it. No one should have to have unnecessary surgery because of mistranslation of a term.
I decided to dedicate my life to helping the medical industry to be crystal clear and accurate in their communication. I found a way to manage critical medical terms and make their correct translations available in all marketing material from web content to product brochures and white papers.[Element 4: Why you]
Today, I am one of the leading experts. With over ten years of experience in managing terminology, I was able to help major life-science and medical device companies increase the success of new product introductions by up to 67% and brand recognition by up to 89%.[Element 5: Invitation]
I am hoping to learn from you how you address this challenge today and what a perfect world would look like for you in 3 years.
Can we talk?
Step 4: Ace the Interview
Hiring managers, as well as business owners, love to talk about themselves. An interview is like going on a first date. Meeting someone new is always about the other person, never about yourself.
You can start a conversation with two questions:
- What excites you the most right now about your business/program/team?
- What gives you the biggest headaches right now.
You can carry a conversation with one simple follow up question (use it as often as possible):
- How do you feel about that?
Remember that the most successful candidates are not the ones with the right answers, but those who listen and then ask the right follow-up questions.
Mirroring is another great way to establish rapport. When it’s done well, the person you are speaking with deems you trustworthy because they find similarities that connect you both, even if subconsciously.
From then on, your formal qualifications are, well, just a minor formality. You either ace the meeting get hired eventually or you fail it.
Either way, your resume and formal qualifications have lost their importance at that point.