Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Road-Kill Mentality: Why Employers Aren't Calling You

by Marta Driesslein

Know the three reasons why you're not generating quality interviews? You're invisible, voiceless, or comatose. Pick one.

The longer you hibernate in the darkness of traditional job searching know-how, where no one can find you, the more likely your dormancy will negatively affect your career transition. When you decide it's time to make a career change, you have a choice: be the hunter or the prey. Choose the latter and you'll quickly become road-kill. Just ask the possum.

Playing possum neutralizes your marketability. Opossums are easy targets for vehicular traffic because they are slow-moving creatures. They quickly frighten and when they can't escape, they roll over, become limp, close their eyes, and hang their tongue out (which slows their heartbeat). To would-be predators, the animal looks dead, so interest is lost.

Sound like your job search? Are you as dead to prospective hiring managers or those in the position of assisting you through informal informational meetings? If there's no interest in what you have to offer, consider your branding -- the perception others have about you and your ability to contribute.

Do you:

• Complain you don't have time to conduct a job search?

• Suffer from paralysis of analysis in determining career options?

• Think "networking" is not for you because your contacts are limited?

• Project open reluctance to search in new fields for fear of rejection?

• Believe finding a job is most easily discovered using job search engines?

• Obscure your visibility to power executives due to confidentiality issues?

• Require a set-in-stone level of compensation or geographic preference regardless of market conditions?

If you answer yes to any of these, your career change is in dire need of resuscitation, and every second counts.

Velocity uncovers signals of hiring patterns. Most animals travel in packs or herds. Possums don't. They're hidden night creatures that often become road kill because they're secretive, go about their foraging in solitary, and are slow-moving. You'll bring speed and verve to your campaign and improve your odds of employers calling if you are:

• Mentally adaptable

• Emotionally flexible

• Geographically-mobile

• Financially-unshackled

• Professionally-scalable

Vitality gets you hired through emotional attachment. Radiate a genuine hearty enjoyment of living. An infectious positive attitude coupled with precision target positioning will land you a prized role; perhaps one custom-created for you where there were no posted openings.

Marketing success is two-fold: market share and mind share. People first buy emotionally, then logically. Hiring managers do the same. Capture both, the territory and their minds. If your career history and extracurricular activities demonstrate a 'joie de vivre' (joy of life), you'll inspire greater interest and remembrance from decision-makers over those better qualified.

If you're remote, sullen, or cynical, grow up, get help, get over it. Hiring often times is driven more by perceived cultural fit than professional industry-specific competency.

Secret job searches yield mediocre results. Counter anonymity in a fiercely-competitive employment market by ensuring you don't:

• Send mass resume mailings to untargeted employers

• Peruse online job boards for your main source to uncover jobs

• Remain a generalist in terms of career focus and position objectives

• Use resume software programs that auto-generate templated resumes

• Forget to follow up on every oral and written job hunt communication

Key rules in product marketing equally apply to your tactical career moves. Remember you're the product and your customer is the person who has the ultimate power to hire you. Keep in mind:

• Brand awareness and consideration are not one-time events

• Continually communicate the central message you want your audience to perceive about your product

• Branding creates a singular distinction, strategic awareness and differentiates the product in the mind of the target market

Revive a lifeless career campaign by gaining early and steady visibility. The fact is that gaining notoriety through a personal public relations campaign should not start at the point of market entry.

Top-of-mind awareness is an integrated marketing strategy that deploys multiple channels to ensure a product's branding prevails. It's done foundationally and consistently. Early, steady visibility preemptively brings you, to them.

Know the causes for employer snub?

• A lifeless or negative persona

• A career path with no pulse or vibrancy

• A rigidness that contradicts changing market conditions

Road-kill or road racer? Which one are you? You have a choice. You better find out what's needed to resurrect yourself, and soon. Your competition just got off of life-support, while you're in a daze still trying to figure out what just happened. Get moving.


Marta Driesslein, CECC is a management consultant for R.L. Stevens & Associates Inc.



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