Different Approaches for a Different Year – #myjobhunt Week 1
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Well that was an interesting week.
Having decided to take the week off to recharge my batteries I found myself thinking that I should spend some of the time looking for the my next job. The weather however was conspiring against me. Who wants to be stuck on the phone or at a PC when the sun is shining? A rare occasion in this year’s British summer.
On Weds I woke early (by holiday standards) having been stupid enough to book a PT session for 0800. When I left the house at 0745 for the walk through the woods and across the fields (that sounds very Larkrise to Candleford doesn’t it?) to the gym it was already very hot. By the time I got there I was already warmed up and then after 15 mins on the bike, up and down virtual hills I was dripping! Not nice for the next 2 hours. Like any good Personal Trainer Chris was not going to let me falter, slow down or give up regardless I cried and screamed like a baby.
It was therefore about 1100 that I finally booted up the laptop, tuned into Planet Rock and went about finding another suitable position.
Those that read the blog posts I wrote during #myjobhunt 2010 will know that I don’t tend to use typical approaches of job boards and agencies when proactively looking, or at least I didn’t then. On Wednesday I started out thinking that this year was not likely to be any different. I would continue to engage with as many people as I could and generate interest and referrals from my Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers and LinkedIn Connections. Or at least try.
Whilst this approach was and is working very well, it became clear that this year is significantly different to last year. This time last year I was happy to take a job that would enhance my career, either doing a job that had exciting content and development opportunity or one that would give me the opportunity to progress in the future. I spoke to everyone, I met as many people as I could, and chased down every lead I could. In having this approach I was lucky enough to have quite a few positions to chase and consider. This year I still need to do the same.
Yet it dawned on me that having been fortunate enough to land a job managing and leading change in the function in a complex organisation as we go through a sizable corporate and HR Transformation, the kind of job that will now float my boat has changed. Jobs like these tend to be quite senior and as such there is a tendency to give the vacancies to Search firms. In doing so it sort of eliminates the chances of referrals. I have already experienced it once in this year’s quest for a new job. A friend got in contact to say that they were looking for a person to run the European Recruitment function. I sent my CV knowing they had already given the role to a very expensive Search firm, a firm I have experience with and know how and what they charge. It was little surprise to get feedback a week or so later that they were really interested in my experience however, were quite advanced with another candidate presented by the Search firm. Of course the potential employer had probably paid in the region of £60,000 to the search firm already and wanted to think they were going to justify that expense, so a referral no matter how relevant would be a bit embarrassing wouldn’t it?
Despite the fact that in-house recruiting professionals of all grades are extremely well networked and connected to each other in the UK and elsewhere, thanks to The FIRM and other networks, I find it disappointing that Search seems to be the first port of call when hiring at this level. I may be disappointed but not surprised. In fact one position I am very keen on at the moment is as a result of a Search firm contacting me. So I am not complaining just making an observation.
One other problem with finding out about jobs and then being referred to the Search company, supposedly managing them, is that when you track down the Search firm and the so called “consultant” no one is ever available and you have to leave a message. You can never reach them nor will they bother to call you back? A Search firm called JD Haspel didn’t seem to be interested in being disturbed and haven’t called me back despite messages I left at the beginning of the week. Anyone use them?
By Wednesday evening I started to think that maybe I needed to contact as many search firms as I could that specialised in HR positions – are there any? That is the trouble. Where would I start? I recognised I probably needed to get in contact with a few, maybe those that I knew already would be more respectful and speak with me. Makes sense doesn’t it? So while I am mulling these thoughts over and trying to get motivated to speak with people that for the last year I have been targeting in my efforts to reduce costs (typical isn’t it? But I won’t corrupt myself by doing it any other way), I start surfing, reading blogs, and posting comments. Always a good way to get noticed in the right forums.
I then started trying to organise my LinkedIn Connections and exploring positions posted on The FIRMs job listing. I looked at one particular position posted in The FIRM that had also been posted to the wider LinkedIn platform, which then led me to a couple of positions that looked good. I sent an inMail to one of my connections for help on one, applied for another and saved a couple for later follow up. I also started noticing the differences in how companies and recruiters posted their jobs on LinkedIn. It was interesting that some jobs would have plenty of enticing detail whilst others would have lots about the company but little about the job itself. It is poor how some people think that they don’t have to sell and attract. Come on! You have to make a job look exciting otherwise why on earth would anyone apply, at this level? We want to know more, we want to hear it all, we like a challenge.
Also I noticed for the first time the links at the foot of the job ad. These are LinkedIn generate links called “People Who Viewed This Job Also Viewed”. Bingo! One job led to another and two more applications were made as a result. It was strange though and I am sure I was doing something wrong, some of the jobs I was finding by following these links didn’t come up in searches I ran on LinkedIn. I’ll figure that one out.
Wednesday had not finished there either. Whilst I was reading through LinkedIn I was also active on Twitter and monitoring a couple of lists. Two people who I have got to know over the last couple of years, one of whom I have never met, suggested two leads for me, both with full contact info and full introductions and both of which could very well lead somewhere. One a contract and the other a permanent job. Thank you to both, Ken and Mat for your generous assistance with both of these, pie and pint on me when we meet up.
Thursday was a day out. I was hoping for sunshine but the rain was torrential for the morning. I was out and about in Somerset, a part of the country that was a communications dead zone! It made me a bit nervous not only being without a cell phone signal but without email as well. I start to sweat and twitch when that happens for 10 mins on the train, but I was 6 hours off-grid this time.
Once I did get back to civilisation and my email downloaded I was pleased to see that one of the leads from the previous day had started to move quite nicely and needed some follow up when I got home. This was duly addressed.
Friday was dominated by two interviews in the City. These were effectively 3rd and 4th interviews in follow up to the 2nd interview I had on Day 1 (Monday). I was very excited and very nervous about these. I don’t tend to get nervous about much but as I have said previously the stakes are higher this year and the good opportunities are not likely to be as prolific as they were last year. Besides, everything I had found out and heard about this company has been positive and appealing. The job itself is a perfect opportunity for me to do again much of what I have done in the last year – but differently.
On the way into London I had so many good wishes sent my way by online and offline friends. I cannot begin to tell you just how much they all meant to me, made me smile and relaxed me. On my way home last night I received a few texts, DMs, WhatsApps and emails asking me how I had got on and how the interviews went. My initial reaction and thoughts were very positive. I enjoyed meeting both of the people today and felt that the interviews went well. But then I got to thinking. Replaying both of them in my mind through the evening the doubts started to creep in. Questions like “did I give a good performance?”, “was my answer the best I could have given?”, “should I have volunteered more?”, “did I talk too much?”, “did I listen enough?”, “why didn’t they ask me about some of the compliance issues?” and so on.
These sorts of thoughts are inevitable despite being unhealthy. I can only help I have done enough to maintain their interest and if haven’t I have to make sure I use the lessons learned to improve myself for next time.
Fingers crossed eh?