You know what?
The current process of applying for jobs is completely fu--- messed up.
On top of this, 99% of job adverts out there seem to be complete nonsense or, at best, fictional people descriptions.
Sorry friends in HR and fellow recruiters but most of ya’ll can’t write an interesting job description worth a d**n. Disney characters seem more realistic to recruit than the people you describe in your "requirements" section.
- "Must have...
- A Bachelor's degree in…
- 7+ years’ management experience…
- A minimum 10+ years’ experience in…
- MBA preferred (even though you probably don’t have one)"
Blah, blah, blah.
Why do the job responsibilities always make us candidates feel like we’re a perfect fit for the role but the requirements section makes us feel totally inadequate?
Probably because most job ads are full of vague and fluffy responsibilities, and still focus on the "must haves" instead of the more important "must do's".
Even companies like Samsung who are recruiting for a Marketing Manager come up with the following drivel.
- "Development of the messaging strategy and visuals to clearly communicate Samsung brand and product benefits."
- "Build and implement overall trade marketing and go to market plans."
- "Drive increased Samsung exposure in all online, print, and in store efforts."
This also makes every Marketing Manager under the sun think they're a good fit because the responsibilities lack any true detail and don't focus on quantifiable deliverables. Candidates waste so much time going through a broken process of writing silly cover letters and applying to jobs that they're not a fit for because of poorly written job descriptions.
What Samsung might need instead (and the details that are usually missing from job ads):
- Within the first 6 months, lead the development of the online and in-store messaging strategy and visuals for over 120 different consumer electronics products in the Home Entertainment category.
- Build a trade marketing and go-to-market plan from scratch within the first 3 months to oversee campaign activity for the next 18 months. Our trade marketing plan involves working with over 800 global partners.
- We're looking to increase brand exposure by at least 20% over the next year for online, in-store and print efforts. We currently have over 1400 stores worldwide and will need you to implement a new measuring system for tracking brand exposure.
Those numbers are made up but if companies started quantifying - in terms of Time, Money & Manpower - what actually needs to be done, we'd have a better idea of what's to be expected from us, and whether we have enough experience to make it worth our time applying.
For hiring authorities, this would automatically screen candidates that don't have the level of experience or don't feel confident enough to handle the challenges (e.g. 800 global partners). But if we keep focusing on the "must have 7+ years' experience" or "must have a degree" or "must have a dog" then we lose out on good talent.
Would you rather hire...
The Marketing Specialist with 4 years' experience who currently handles 90 different consumer products for over 800 stores, works with over 600 global partners and has increased brand exposure by 37% in the past 2 years.
The Marketing Manager who has 7 years' experience but has only handled 30 different consumer products for 100 stores, worked with 50 local vendors and doesn't know/hasn't measured how much brand exposure they've driven?
Time, Money & Manpower examples are what we should be highlighting on résumés, on job descriptions, and what we should be confirming with references. Not "A dynamic, results-oriented leader with excellent communication skills" or "MBA preferred" or "was this person a team player?".
Placing the emphasis on years of experience, titles, and other silly wish list demands is why people are experiencing a global talent shortage. It doesn't necessarily mean there is one. Not to mention the even bigger issue that women only apply to jobs they feel 100% qualified for versus men who will apply if they feel 60% qualified.
Bottom line: we should be focusing on the "must do's" not the "must haves".
HOW TO GO AFTER A JOB YOU SEE POSTED
STEP ONE: Apply the Time, Money & Manpower* Concept to Your Résumé.
You have to learn to write and sell your accomplishments in terms of:
- Time: when have you done something ahead of schedule? How long was the seminar you delivered? How often did you do a task? How long was that project?
- Money: how much money have you made, saved or managed for the company? Talk in percentages or 4/5/6/7 figure budgets or the number of transactions, etc.
- Manpower: how many people do you manage? How large is the team you work in? Who else do you work closely with? How many clients/vendors/customers do you maintain?
The top performers of any industry are always able to quantify their success and usually talk in terms of Time, Money & Manpower. For example:
Don't write this: "created a developed the company's marketing strategy and promotional materials"
Write this: "created and developed an 18-month strategic marketing plan which included the launch of 20 new products and 2 new services. The promotional materials spanned 4 distinct markets and involved collaborating with 3 other department managers (Sales, Supply Chain, and Distribution).
Being able to grasp and apply this concept will help you sell your accomplishments on paper, during an interview, and make negotiating your package easier.
*I also mean Womanpower and People-power.
STEP TWO: Apply The Time, Money & Manpower Concept to The Job Description.
Do your research about the company - look at the markets they're involved in, their customers, their competitors and the number of staff, etc. Look at the job description and try to think about what problems they might be experiencing or what they might want to achieve.
For example, the following bullets were taken from an unbelievably generic and beige posting from Amazon for a Human Resources Manager:
- "A true hands-on approach as well as the ability to successfully monitor the 'pulse' of the employees to ensure a high level of employee engagement."
- "Strong internal and external customer service focus."
- "The ability to manage multiple priorities simultaneously - orientated on results."
What is this generic nonsense, Amazon? Isn't this just called being professional?
Every HR professional - or any professional for that matter - who sees this posting is gonna think "I can do this!". The responsibilities are so wishy-washy and airy-fairy they end up attracting everyone and don't give any indication of what they are trying to accomplish with the role.
Go through each of the job responsibilities and convert them into Time, Money, Manpower deliverables. You have to make a guesstimate of what you think the company's biggest pain points or goals are, and then decide what experience you have that could be valuable.
What Amazon might actually be looking for is:
- We're looking for a manager who is hands-on - this means sometimes having to attend our hiring fairs to meet candidates (80+ per event) or manually writing out new policies. You'll also be responsible for monitoring employee engagement systems for over 500 employees at our distribution center.
- We're constantly striving to increase our employee satisfaction and would like to improve our internal ratings by 10% over the next 18 months.
- You'll be responsible for leading the recruitment of approximately 60 new employees over the next year, including 4 director-level roles and approximately 6 management positions. You'll have a small 5-figure budget for agency spend.
You see what I did there? I applied Time, Money & Manpower.
Even if this guesstimate is way off, you still need to focus your experience on something. Saying that you are "hands on" or have a "strong internal and external customer service focus" isn't enough. You have to back it up with quantifiable results.
Would you hire the candidate who says the following on their résumé:
"Handled multiple priorities simultaneously and very results-oriented"
Or the candidate who says:
"Helped recruit 30 new employees over the past year including 5 new management roles and 2 directors. Developed and wrote new HR processes from the ground up, and implemented a new HRMS system in under 3 months as the company doubled in size."
If you can think in terms of Time, Money & Manpower - and can demonstrate this in your résumé - you'll be ahead of 90% of the other applicants. Being able to talk about hard numbers - the tangible deliverables - and paint the dream for a hiring manager is what will help you sell yourself in an interview.
STEP 3: Send a Connection Request to The Hiring Manager on LinkedIn
You need to skip HR (unless you're applying for an HR job) and find out who the direct hiring manager is.
Why? HR is more likely to eliminate you than hire you.
Use company websites, LinkedIn, or your common sense to determine who the hiring manager is e.g. Sales Coordinators usually report to a Sales Manager, Administrative Assistants to an Office Manager, and so forth.
If you have any mutual connections with a hiring manager on LinkedIn see if you can get an introduction for an informational interview. In some studies, referrals are 10x more likely to get hired.
STEP FOUR: Sell Your Accomplishments Directly to The Hiring Manager.
Look at your résumé.
Look at the job posting.
What experience do you have (Time, Money & Manpower examples) that you think will be useful to the hiring manager? What problems can you solve or what added value can you bring?
Let's use the Amazon HR Manager position as an example (in this situation we wouldn't avoid HR and connect directly with the most-likely hiring manager - the HR Director).
Once they accept your LinkedIn request, send them a message along the lines of:
Thanks for connecting with me. You mentioned on your profile/I noticed on your profile [insert something interesting/noteworthy you saw on their profile].
Just wondering if you use LinkedIn to build your professional network? I noticed [company] is hiring for a [insert role] and wondered if the following experience I have might be valuable to your team.
- At [company] I created - from scratch - an HR policy for over 200 employees and implemented brand new on-boarding systems and processes in my first 3 months.
- At [company] I helped improve out Employee Promoter Score by 22% over the course of 18 months and reduced turnover by 12%.
- At [company] I helped recruit over 60 employees within the space of a year. This included 3 director-level positions, 8 management roles as well as many distribution workers. I leveraged my extensive professional network and was able to reduce external agency spend by $60,000.
Happy to send you my résumé and - if you’re open to building your professional network with a short 15-20 minute networking call/informational interview - I could call you on [insert day] at 8:30AM, 12PM or 5PM? Or feel free to call me whenever's suitable for you.
If nothing comes of it then maybe I can search my network to see if I know of a suitable referral for you.
What this does:
- It gets you in direct contact with the hiring manager and sells your quantifiable accomplishments. Remember, absolutely no fluffy BS like "I'm a dynamic, hands-on, results-oriented leader with excellent communication skills and a strong attention to detail, who can work independently or in a team".
- This gently reminds them that the whole point of LinkedIn is to build your professional network with people you don't know.
- It gives them simple options to choose from - 8:30AM, 12PM or 5PM. Don’t say “When is a good time for you?”. It’s too time-consuming for them to review their schedule. Leave your cell # incase they decide to call you on a whim.
- It makes it easy for them to say yes. Amateurs ask to meet for coffee. Pros ask for a 15-20 minute call. Why? Meeting for coffee is a nuisance if you haven't established rapport or a mutual benefit but most people can, and will, spare 15-20 minutes over the phone. If you're the kind of person who hates picking up the phone, or prefers to only text or email, get over it or you don't deserve to be employed.
- It offers a win-win situation. If you’re not a fit then you might be able to provide a referral. Don't just offer this if you don't intend on actually tapping your network for referrals (you can share their job posting on your LinkedIn network).
But what if they say no or don't get back to me?
Consider it their loss and move on to the next.
Not everyone is going get back to you.
Not everyone has to get back to you.
And that's okay.
This is no different than applying for a job and never hearing back. Except that this method usually elicits a higher response rate and you might get the chance to genuinely build and grow your network.
If you offer to bring something compelling and relevant to their business, or offer to fix their pain points, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to build a rapport and make a new connection.
Is this really worthwhile?
Absolutely - I've used this method to land multiple informational interviews and almost every job interview I've had.
Also I can't explain how or why but serendipitous things start to happen when you grow your network and are genuinely curious about how you can bring value to others.
Give it a shot.