Six Secrets To Beat the Job Market

BY Paul Solman  September 21, 2012 at 2:45 PM EDT


Unemployed Americans line up as they wait to gain entry to meet prospective employers at a Los Angeles Career Fair. Photo by: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Recently, in doing interviews for an upcoming piece on the frustrations of online job hunting, we interviewed contrarian headhunter Nick Corcodilos. He was impassioned. He talked fast. He knew whereof he spoke.

It turns out that in addition to giving interviews to PBS, Nick hosts a website called asktheheadhunter.com, publishes a free weekly — the Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. In light of Nick’s cybersearch skepticism, and his prodigious written output and his experience, we asked him to share, in the manner of Larry Kotlikoff’s Social Security “secrets,” some of his own with respect to job hunting. Nick has also agreed to answer questions in this space, so send in your queries.


**6 Secrets To Beat The Job Market
Nick Corcodilos, Ask The Headhunter©**

According to the U. S. Department of Labor, there are approximately 13 million people looking for work in America, and about 3.2 million vacant jobs. Even allowing that some of those 13 million are unskilled, unmotivated, or even lazy, that’s a 4-to-1 ratio that gives a distinct advantage to employers trying to fill jobs.

But many employers call this hiring advantage “a talent shortage.” They claim there are fewer qualified workers available nowadays, and that colleges are just not producing graduates with the skills that industry and business need.

Bunk, says Wharton professor Peter Cappelli in his book, “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It.” Cappelli has reviewed historical data and concludes that claims about changes in the skills of the workforce just aren’t true. What has changed, says Cappelli, is that employers pay lower wages and salaries than they used to; they aren’t willing to train workers like they used to; and they use software to recruit and “sort” job applicants — software that tends to delete good candidates, costing employers potentially good hires.

Since 1994, I’ve been teaching people how to accomplish this for themselves, without a headhunter or even a career coach. I’ve answered over 30,000 questions from job hunters and progressive employers on my online community at www.asktheheadhunter.com. Every week I answer a reader’s question in depth in the Ask The Headhunter Newsletter.

In a nutshell, success in today’s job market boils down to this: Managers want to hire you — they want you to be the solution to their problem. But software-based recruiting methods hamper hiring. The first dark truth in today’s recruiting industry is that the big jobs databases prevent you from standing out.

Your challenge as a job hunter is to avoid the competition, get in front of the manager, and be ready to show — hands down — how you will do the work profitably in terms the manager understands.

So here are six secrets you can use today to help you beat the job market. You have to learn to avoid the competition. You have to learn to stand out!

1. Your resume is hurting you: Toss it.

You want your resume to make you stand out? Managers spend on average about 30 seconds reading a resume. If they don’t like what they see, you’re not there to defend yourself. Stop using a resume to introduce yourself to companies. Approach employers in person, and only the ones that seem worthwhile enough that you’re willing to invest the time to make personal contacts and actually talk to them. This makes you one of the few truly motivated applicants. Managers notice this.

2. Job boards fill only about 10 percent of jobs: Don’t waste your time.

Monster.com fills only 2 to 3 percent of jobs; CareerBuilder, between 2 to 5 percent. And if you posted your resume on all the job boards, you’d have one chance in ten of being hired. Limit your time on job postings to employers’ own websites, and to LinkUp.com, a search engine that lists only positions posted on employers’ own career pages. Spend the rest of your time meeting people who do the work you want to do. They can introduce you directly to the boss.

3. Headhunters don’t find jobs for people.

Headhunters are less likely to land you a job than job boards are, and the good ones won’t take your calls because their business is searching for the best hires for their client — not finding you a job. The rest are dialing for dollars and will probably waste your time. Demand references from a head hunter, and check them out: two people they’ve placed, and two managers they’ve done assignments for. Or ignore them and conduct your own job search.

4. It’s the people, stupid!

Managers ignore resumes and their own personnel departments in order to hire via personal referrals from people they trust. Triangulate! Identify people close to the manager: employees, customers, vendors, consultants, bankers, investors, even news reporters who write about the company. Swallow hard, and call them. Never ask for a job lead. Talk shop. “I realize this is unusual, but I’m researching Company X. I’m only interested in working there if I can contribute to their bottom line. Can you give me a little advice or insight about this manager and company? What are they really like to work with?” Not all will help, but you need only one to introduce you to the manager or the team. If you think this is hard work, so is that great job you want! Stop the busy work of job boards and e-mailing resumes. Do the real work of meeting trusted insiders.

5. Age discrimination? Get over it.

If an employer discriminates against you for your age, either sue or move on. If you show up with a chip on your shoulder about age discrimination, employers will discriminate — against your bad attitude. Get interviewers off the age issue immediately by outlining how you’ll do the job profitably. Ask for a live problem to tackle, then show how you’ll approach it.

6. Your salary history is no one’s business: Say NO and get a higher offer!

Never, ever, ever disclose your salary history. It will be used to limit a job offer, no matter what the company tells you. No employer has ever given me one good reason why it needs an applicant’s salary history. If they say, “It’s our policy. We cannot proceed if you don’t disclose your salary,” consider responding like this: “I appreciate that, but I can’t. My last two employers required employees to keep salary information confidential. I’d be happy to help you assess my value to your company — I don’t expect you to pay me more than I can show I’m worth.” Always be polite but firm. Be ready to demonstrate your value. If you can’t, you have no business in the interview.

Copyright © 2012 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask The Headhunter© is a registered trademark.

You can learn more about Nick’s secrets by linking to articles on his website and blog, and get a free dose of Ask The Headhunter every week at http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/subscribe1.htm. No charge.


This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown- NewsHour’s blog of news and insight.