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  • Writer's picturetimmeehan2

Job Search Rule 1: Nice People Lie

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

I've been in the recruitment industry for decades so naturally I get lots of requests for help. Usually from people who have no idea how the job search game is played. Each time, after meeting, I’d send them a list I'd call "Tim's Quick Search Tips". Eventually as the list grew they coalesced into my "Five Search Rules". Of course today, everyone who wants a job can find one, right? Well, I'm pretty sure some folks don't feel that way. I thought I'd convert that old tip list to a blog - just for them

RULE 1: Expect nice people to lie...And other painful facts.

Well-meaning people will waste your time, mislead you and unknowingly do more harm than good. A job search is not the time, for those who care, to hold back their opinions. Don't let them lie to you.

  1. I'm sorry, but your resume does stink. Unfortunately your friends don't know this or won't tell you. Employers skip right past you. See Rule 2.

  2. You flunked or hated language composition class. You never learned to write concisely to capture attention. See Rule 3

  3. People don't know how to help you, but they don't know it, or won't tell you. Even worse, YOU don't know how to help you. See Rule 4.

  4. You don't know what you're doing, so into the void comes meaningless, sometimes dangerous, offers to help that cause you to fail. See Rule 5.

You may already be able to tell, but I'm not the friend who tells you lies so you feel good. I'm the one who helps you figure out the job search game. Don't expect "gentle" as you read on...

Rule 2: Craft a great resume

Woody Guthrie wrote; “Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple”. If you're not able to synthesize YOU, on a resume, then why should you expect an employer to do it for you? Thus you must have a one page resume. This painful exercise will help you get past the screener and better prepare for verbal dialog during the interview. I've seen CEO resumes on one page, so if you don't think it's possible, it's just you getting in your own way.

  1. In 5 seconds, can a screener determine what kind of job you want? Tip: match your job objective to the position title (w/o lying of course!).

  2. In 30 seconds can the screener determine you possess the required qualifications? Tip: highlight your experience, accomplishments and credentials in a separate section (e.g. maybe a banner on the side)

  3. Succcess! The screener is reading your resume: Tip: Always customize each resume. If it's not worth customizing, don't waste your time applying.

  4. Other important resume guidelines:

  5. Only show your past 10 years of work experience. Tip: If you want to show earlier work, synthesize it into a short paragraph at the bottom.

  6. Employment dates should match job duration. Typically this means showing month/year or just years. Tip: if you had a period with several jobs, consider clustering them together in one time-frame, with a story.

  7. Don't list high school unless it's your highest degree. Tip: don't list the year you earned your degree unless you just graduated. Degrees are just tollgates for those with experience. So make them focus on your experience.

  8. Share understandable, measurable, results. Tip: Try to work with currency, not percents. A million dollars in new business sounds like a lot more than "increased sales 10%"

Rule 3: Is the "rule of threes"

The rule of three is a master course in composition, in just 3 sentences:

  1. A person will read the first 3 words of your first sentence, if they like it;

  2. They will then read the first 3 sentences of that paragraph, if they like it;

  3. They will read the first 3 paragraphs

Thus you must write a resume or cover letter to capture the reader's attention in small bits, or you'll lose them. No response to your inquiries? Test your resume using this Rule. Tip: Don't expect readers to read what you wrote... when what you wrote was unreadable. (think about it).

Rule 4 - Do these things

Here’s some suggestions I’ve accumulated over the years. The more your adopt, the shorter your search.

  1. Build your network - over 80% of all jobs come by referral. Tip: talk to people you know, or who were introduced to you, by people you know. Tell them how they can help you. This includes:

  2. Conveying, in three sentences, your story and how they can help;

  3. Create and share a list of the companies you’d like to work for;

  4. Ask for coaching, not a job;

  5. Ask them if they know other people they can refer you to.

  6. Only apply to jobs you are fully qualified for. DON’T apply “because it’s something you wanted to do, or could do”. Tip: if you're between jobs, now is NOT the time to redefine your career.

  7. Get recommendations from your colleagues. Tip: Linked-In has an excellent tool to capture references. And for professional work, you should work this or the comparable social platforms aggressively.

  8. If your last job didn't go well (be honest with yourself) make sure your story includes a few words to explain why. Tip: Companies don't want to disqualify you over this, but they will if they feel you're hiding something.

  9. There are also a few "accelerators" to consider:

  10. Your search will take 1 month per 10K/year of income you expect to earn. Tip: If that scares the heck out of you, that's good. Continue reading.

  11. NEVER EVER assume it will take you 1 month per 10K/year. That rule only works if you are scared it will take that long. Those who say "I need 90K so I'm going on vacation for 9 months" will fail!

  12. Add more time if you won’t relocate, have had more than two jobs in the past five years, have a long unemployment gap, were terminated for performance or have a limited (external) network.

  13. Always be prospecting. Even if a job offer is pending, keep marketing. You definitely will have some offers not come through, so don't assume it.

Rule 5 - Don't do these things

  1. Avoid people who want you to sell their product, on 100% commission, “while you’re looking for a job”. They are taking advantage of you at a vulnerable time. Your job is to find a job – period.

  2. Don't try to start your own business “so you can work for yourself, not some idiot”. You're already in a pinch. This is not the time to double down.

  3. Don't sleep late, take a vacation or sit around waiting for the phone to ring

  4. Exercise caution working with third party recruiters. Only a small percent of all jobs go through fee-based recruiters

  5. Don't let the network you developed during your search fade away after you land. Keep in touch, help those you met, and always remember...

Well, that's it. I hope you found this helpful!

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