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Need to Score on a Job, call in the “Coach”

Can you imagine an Olympic athlete or a top performer in any competitive field, or serious pursuit, where a coach, consultant or mentor is not engaged to achieve excellent results? That is why sports coaches, fitness coaches, executive coaches, career coaches, sales coaches, life coaches and experts are sought. They provide the strategy, tactics and best practices to quickly and successfully achieve the desired results in a rapidly changing and competitive environment.

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Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallup clearly identifies the significant challenges in the job market in his book The Coming Jobs, War.” This increasing global competition for good jobs will impact every one of us for the foreseeable future. There will be winners and they will be losers. The middle class jobs will be the battleground.

Changes in the Marketplace

In the past five years, the job market has changed dramatically due to the recession. But the underlying causes of the recession started a decade ago. And these changes, whether we like it or not, are becoming permanent in the job market today. The impacts of globalization, social media, technology and automation, wage competition, outsourcing options, fewer middle-class openings and product demand changes have led to this permanent restructuring of the global economy. Today’s hiring process is broken and stressed to the point where it’s like “American Idol” to get an interview with a decision-maker. The proof of this is the increasing time to hire by companies and the constant frustration of job applicants to the time-consuming, depersonalized process. Hundreds of qualified and “somewhat” qualified candidates can easily see a position, apply, and thus overwhelm the process. HR attempts to manage the process at the expense of time to hire.

Prior to 2008, the process was simpler. It was also a faster moving market. You sent out resumes or posted resumes on the job board, you followed up with phone calls, or recruiters called and you set up interviews, which came relatively easily, since there were plenty of jobs. Hiring decisions were quicker, feedback was better and the hiring process still had some personal contact. Then came the perfect storm which changed everything including:

  1. The Internet and Social Media made everyone’s background public, visible and accessible.
  2. Global Competition competed for both talent and positions around the world.
  3. Contracting, Consulting and Temp Firms added to the competition replacing some perm jobs.
  4. Automated Job Search Alerts increased the number of candidates alerted and the subsequent resumes submitted.
  5. Automation of HR Systems (e.g. Taleo) to screen the volume of candidates without adding recruiters turned screening into a paper game. 80% of the screening is based on the resume. Soon to come – video interviewing. The entire process is depersonalized.
  6. The Application Process required by the Companies grew to be excessively time-consuming, even before they decide to interview you. The strongest (high-quality) candidates , frustrated by the 30 to 60 minutes required per posting, stopped applying thus leaving volumes of unemployed candidates in the pool. The best candidates may not have the best resumes. Reality: the recruiter never finds the five best candidates; they find the first five candidates.
  7. The Interviewing process became formalized, consensus-based and complicated. A process is defined for multiple rounds of phone screens, phone interviews, in person interviews or panel interviews, which are used for a specified number of candidates. The most qualified person doesn’t win. It’s the person that interviews the best. 80% of the hiring decision is based on the interview.
  8. Interview follow-up is almost nonexistent. Candidates receive no feedback and candidates are unable to communicate back to the managers or recruiters easily.
  9. Networking is key yet difficult since the targeted hiring managers are often not present within one’s network. Exploratory meetings, direct and indirect, are required to get an entrée or a referral to this hidden market. But the positive of this technique is that 50+ percent of the positions filled, occur through networking and personal referrals.
  10. RESULT: EVERYONE IS FRUSTRATED IN THE PROCESS!

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Most job seekers starting out don’t realize how much things have changed.

The market is different, the competition is different, the application process is different, the interview process is different, and the competition for fewer good openings is more intense. Opportunistic candidates can be activated by a sourcing recruiter since they are readily visible through social media. They are then moved to the front of the line. The limited HR resources of most companies have been reduced to the point of finding the prescribed number of candidates, and then they stop. Many candidates never get reviewed.

Even with all these obvious marketplace changes, with fewer openings and this increased competition, most job seekers still insist on trying it on their own. They write their own resumes like they used to write them – past tense biographical resumes that all look alike and they get no response. Or they apply to the same large companies that everyone knows about, the herd mentality, instead of targeting small or medium sized businesses where the new job opportunities are. And if they get an interview, they prepare for the interviews poorly using the same old techniques of researching the company extensively, believing the job description and preparing their answers and questions. Then they go into the interview defensively and interview like everyone else. And they wonder why they fail to win.

Most job seekers are unable or unaware of how to change their job search strategy and tactics. Therefore, they usually follow the same prevailing opinions, which were based on the past marketplace. Prevailing opinions are just that – prevailing. They learn the hard way that the past tactics of the 90s don’t work today. Today’s job search process is a sales process with all the elements of marketing, branding and sales calls. To distinguish oneself, we need new proactive, sales approaches. And most people are uncomfortable selling themselves and not trained in effective sales techniques.

“How can I get a competitive edge via proactive sales techniques?” and “How do I win this job search game?” Perhaps it’s time to call in the Coach! Where can a Sales Oriented Career Coach help?

  1. Targeting and Goals: The Career Coach can help you clarify your goals and take you from overwhelmed to clarity.
  2. Marketability: The coach can help you assess your marketability and how to present and package it for both oral and written communications.
  3. A “Forward-Looking resume”, crafted by a sales-oriented coach will be keyword-based marketing document to get through the clutter. The resume has six purposes to help you throughout the cycle. First purpose is to get through the technology screens, the keyword SEO, and the junior recruiter reviews.
  4. Interview Prep: An Interview Coach can help you prepare and practice for each interview (a.k.a. sales call). They should provide a structure, a strategy and specific sales techniques direct and guide the conversation. The result is confidence which will build chemistry during the meeting and earn their recommendation.
  5. Handling Liabilities: A sales oriented coach solves these using sales techniques.
  6. Networking to target companies: a Coach can give you strategies and tactics for each type of the exploratory interview – the messages, the delivery and the timing.
  7. LinkedIn Branding: The coach advises you on your social media branding, so you are found by recruiters and effective in your proactive networking campaign.
  8. Hotline support: having a trusted advisor as an instant lifeline where you can call and get your next steps and advice in real time is invaluable for a competitive opportunity or offer.

But “I can’t afford a career coach?”

Really? Can you afford to be screened out by a weak resume? In a market where interviews are scarce, can we afford to fail a phone screen? How will I feel coming in second after a long interview process for an exceptional position? How will you feel settling for a lower paying job that’s not your ideal? How much does it cost to be unemployed for one or two extra months? These are the realities in today’s job market. It’s a jobs war! But what we really cannot afford to do is to lose an exceptional opportunity.

Whenever there’s a serious competition, a serious pursuit, what do the professionals do? They play to win. And they call in the Coach.

Howard Cattie is Head Coach and Founder of CareerOyster, an innovative specialized career coaching firm. CareerOyster helps job seekers learn powerful, effective, resume writing, job search and and winning job interview skills through products such as ResumeCoach, InterviewCoach and NetworkingCoach. Sign up for a FREE private consultation to understand how a CareerOyster might help you. http://careeroyster.com.