If you are one of the 80% of knowledge workers who feels stress on the job, you may also be one of the 14% who felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but decided not to do it. Instead you may have looked for another job. Here is how successful professionals manage to leap to a dream job that fuels them with energy, inspires them for personal growth and helps them to contribute to a cause much bigger than themselves.
To get there, you will need to design your own path to success. You will need to do things differently. You will need to find a new process for landing your dream job.
There is a lot of literature out there designed to help you get found on job boards such as Monster.com, Indeed.com, CareerBuilder or LinkedIn. You can read how to best use their site maps and search features to find job listings that are the best matches for you. There are plenty of blogs and even paid services to help you write and organize your résumé, use keywords and buzzwords, and stand out against other candidates. Job boards promise to get your résumé in front of many more employment opportunities than you could ever find on your own.
Job boards make it harder, not easier
The opposite is true as well, because on the flip side, employers now find many more candidates for each of their listings. You have much more competition. That makes it harder to stand out, and hence, your chances of being noticed fade.
To manage the deluge of applications, employers have increasingly automated the selection process with tools, such as applicant tracking software, recruitment automation for résumé screening, software that enriches résumés by using public data sources about your previous employers and your social media profiles, chatbots and even technology that records your interviews and assesses factors such as your word choices, speech patterns and facial expressions to predict how well you fit the role.
These technologies have one main purpose: filter out all applicants who do not match formal hiring criteria. And if technology is not available, someone in human resources (HR) will do it manually at a speed of six seconds per application. As a result, 88% of résumés that employers receive for a role are considered unqualified.
You can be the most qualified person for the job, but the hiring manager will never see your résumé for two reasons:
Underqualified: You may have only four years of experience, and the system filters you out because it wants you to have five. You may have a bachelor of arts and the company wants a bachelor of science or a master’s degree. You will be deemed underqualified based on formal evaluation criteria instead of your true knowledge, experience, motivation and ability to do the job.
Overqualified: You could be the best person for the job, but deemed overqualified because you already have seven years of experience. You may have a master of business administration degree and the formal requirement is a bachelor’s degree.
The lists are long. The irony is that there is no rhyme or reason why a company sets certain minimum job requirements. These are mostly made up. Arbitrary preferences from the hiring manager or the company’s HR policies define these formal job requirements.
Understand that formal job requirements are mostly made up
Why are they requesting five years of experience? What’s the science behind it? There is none. It’s all based on personal assumptions, philosophies, ignorance or arrogance. That’s why you find job listings that require two years of experience with a technology that has been on the market for only a few months.
To be fair, sometimes those formal job requirements are based on prior experience with former employees. Someone with only four years of experience was not able to get the job done. Or a former hire with six years of experience got bored too fast and left the company early. Who knows.
Beat the messed up hiring system
It is important to know that it’s not you whom a company rejects, but everybody who came before you. But you know that you are different. You have that special gift and a personal conviction that the world needs — and you want to put it to work. You’ve got to beat the system.
You will shun job databases. You won’t allow human resource departments to discriminate against you for all the people who came before you. Instead, you will use alternative and more rewarding ways of getting your résumé and face in front of a decision maker.
You are also not concerned with whether your target company has an actual job opening. Most managers would let go of several of their team members if they had someone to replace them. They are always looking for options to enhance their teams, even if secretly and quietly. Your task is to contact them directly and help them see that you are that option.
The four steps to finding your dream job
I do not have a college degree. However, I was once headhunted and hired for a position at the World Bank — one of the globe’s most prestigious institutions — that formally required a PhD or MBA. I worked as a consultant for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit with top secret clearance to support anti-terrorism activities. The parent company of Scientific American, and one of the world’s most respected publishing houses, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (Holtzbrinck Publishing Services in the US), hired me as head of their global digital media division and then promoted me to general manager for North America for their electronic publishing arm. And the leading language services provider at the time, Berlitz, successfully relied on my expertise to turn their division in Central and Eastern Europe profitable after nine previously failed attempts.
At the time of writing, I am co-teaching a master’s level class at the University of Maryland College Park. With no college degree in my pocket, how can that be? Am I a fraud?
Obviously, I must know something. People will want to work with you if you know your stuff, have a personal conviction, and can prove that you have both. Here are the five “whats” that you can use to find the job you want, and convey your unique gift to a hiring company.
1. Industry that you want to serve and how.
2. Role that you want to play and why.
3. Your natural way of working if given the freedom to be yourself.
4. Preferred location for your work.
5. Your personal criteria of success.
A good way of starting is to understand your natural strengths. Kolbe Corp is the leader in assessing your cognative skills. You can take the test at: https://goo.gl/5FjJDB
Step two is finding the best-matching hiring manager. Once you are clear about what you want, you are in an excellent position to narrow down 20 employers that fit. You will not send your résumé to human resources. In fact, you will not send a résumé at all. Instead, you will send an invitation to meet or speak directly to the hiring manger. Here are a few ways to find and get them:
Referrals: Hiring managers are five times more likely to engage when introduced or referred by someone they know.
LinkedIn: Get a premium account for Sales or Business (not for Career). These give you 15 to 20 InMail messages that enable you to start meaningful conversations with hiring managers of the companies that fit your needs.
LocWorld: The event features many hiring managers. You can reach out to them by visiting the exhibit booth or engaging a speaker after their presentation.
Lexis.com: The most complete, current and accurate contacts gathered from a variety of sources and compiled by Dun & Bradstreet.
Meetups: Join Meetup, but go to the events for decision-makers. Skip the Meetups for professionals. Most people are there to either get new business or a new job. Hiring managers are rare at these events.
Let them find you: Today and in the future, hiring companies will continue to use the internet as the premier channel for proactively connecting with potential employees. Interestingly, they are more interested in the people who are not actively looking and have a compelling story.
Step three begins when you contact the hiring manager directly. The worst mistake you can make is to begin a conversation with you, your experience and your story. Instead, begin with a topic that is meaningful to them.
A compelling introductory message has five components in a distinct order:
1. A key challenge in a hiring manager’s industry, profession or team.
2. Your compassion about this challenge.
3. The solution that you have in mind.
4. Evidence that you are qualified to prescribe this solution.
5. Invitation to speak or meet.
Step four is to ace the interview. Hiring managers as well as business owners love to talk about themselves. An interview is like going on a first date. Meeting someone new is always about the other person, never about yourself.
You can start a conversation with two questions: what excites you the most right now about your business/program/team? And what gives you the biggest headaches right now? You can carry on a conversation with one simple follow-up question (use it as often as possible): how do you feel about that?
If all else fails, use questions in sequence of a localization project, such as:
What types of documents and linguistic assets do your clients send you?
What kind of services do you offer in addition to translation?
What are your typical deliverables to the client?
What does your client do with the deliverables and how do these contribute to your client’s success?
Remember that the most successful candidates are not the ones with the right answers, but those with the right questions.
From then on, your formal qualifications are, well, just a minor formality. You either ace the meeting, get hired eventually or you fail it. Either way your résumé and formal qualifications have lost their importance at that point.