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Breaking the rules in your job search

Image result for breaking the rulesThere’s a bumper sticker quote I see from time to time that always makes me smile…

Well behaved women rarely make history

I like it, because it’s true not just for women, but for virtually anyone that makes a positive impact in the world. Greatness and success rarely comes about by simply following all the rules. It’s by doing the unexpected, outside the norm, by not following the set patterns that people break out and achieve something great.

The same is often true in a job search.

As a recruiter, I’m always looking for new clients and opportunities to find job orders from companies. I prefer to find new clients through referrals and warm leads. However, occasionally I make cold calls to companies that posts job ads online. It’s not unusual to get the most success by calling companies that have a job posting that says “No Agencies”.

Recruiting is a competitive business, and most of the time companies have multiple recruiters calling on them and they give the order to more than one recruiter at a time. By calling the companies that post “No Agencies”, I dramatically reduce my competition. Often the people I contact at those companies are friendlier and more willing to engage with me. They aren’t cynical of recruiters from fielding all the calls from other recruiters chasing ads. Most other recruiters “follow the rules”, leaving less competition for me.

Sure, I occasionally get rejected, and they remind me of the note in their ad. The majority of the time though, they forget it’s there, and as long as I’m professional, respectful, and add value they are more than willing to talk and engage with me.

What “rules” do you blindly follow, along with the overwhelming majority of other job seekers that keep you from reaching your goals?

“No Phone Calls Please” 

When ads state “no calls”… hardly anyone does. When someone does call, presenting themselves professionally, humbly, respectfully, and competently… they are the ones that often are invited in for an interview. Will there be times when they are put off by a candidate that doesn’t respect the “rules”? Sure. However, that candidate already doesn’t have the job… so what have they lost. In reality, the candidate is more often going to gain an interview where others are not.

Pursuing companies that are in the middle of a lay-off is fruitless.

Most larger companies that are laying people off, are hiring at the same time. The lay-off is often part of a restructuring, or reorganization process in order to have the right resources in the area of greatest need. While they may have too bloated of a Marketing staff, they may need more Financial Analysts. Often, those jobs aren’t necessarily advertised because it’s not great for PR to have job postings at the same time as lay-offs, however, those jobs still need to be filled.

“Include a cover letter and salary history with your resume”

When a job posting requests additional documentation, it generally doesn’t help the job seeker to include it. Even when a cover letter is requested, it virtually never gets read. With a great number of applicants, which is the norm in today’s job market, there is not enough time to thoroughly read read resumes, much less even open a cover letter. Through a great number of questions on this topic to HR professionals and hiring managers, the response is overwhelmingly the same… cover letters almost never get read, and not including one will not impact consideration. Candidates that pour blood, sweat, and tears into crafting the “perfect” cover letter are wasting time and effort with no positive effect. Additionally, if the resume shows the candidate fits the job exceptionally well, the company is going to want to talk to them, cover letter or not.

Salary history is used more to disqualify a candidate than to give them greater consideration. Salary disclosures are best reserved for the interview. Similar to cover letters… if the resume shows the candidate fits the job, the company is going to want to talk to them, salary history included, as payslips are proof of your previous salary earned, or not.

“Talk to HR”

When networking in an organization, and asking who else would be worthwhile to talk to, it’s most common to hear “Talk to HR”. The Human Resources representative, however, is the one who fields most of the job inquiries, and has become the most adept at providing little to no information or assistance. It’s not a criticism of them, just a necessity of the function of their role. Respecting the advice of the person that refers you to HR is important, however, also requesting additional help is key. Responding with something like:

“I will definitely talk to HR, however, since they are generally swamped with inquiries, it would be very helpful for me to talk to others in the organization as well in order to get a better understanding of the company and how I can best be prepared for the right opportunities. In addition to HR, is there someone in the ______ area or elsewhere that you think might be worthwhile to talk to as well?”

Following all the “rules” puts you in the same pile with all the other candidates that pursue the same job. Even when you’re a perfect fit, it’s difficult to get noticed when you’re only a piece of data. Being willing to do something different will often help you rise to the top where others don’t. Well behaved job seekers rarely land their dream job! Be willing to break the rules!


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