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Guerrilla Job Hunting Tactics

   By: John Dir

It is all out war in finding good companies to work for these days. As people scramble for an edge in winning out over other candidates, there are some rules of the hunt that are truly different. There are many articles and advisors who can claim professional expertise in what it takes to find the right job, and much of the advice is sound for many people. The truth is that just about any method people use to find work will eventually lead to positive results as long as the person is willing to persist in looking. Business opportunities are as diverse as the people who run them, and there is a place for just about every type of person imaginable, but the devil is in the details. This article will examine common advice, and expose some of the hidden facts everyone should know about moving forward.

Many advisors discuss the value of resumes, cover letters, newspapers, job boards, networking with friends and business associates, pounding the pavement, working with recruiting firms, and other methods that are by no means new or different. People have been using all these methods for years with varying degrees of results. Unless one is just starting out for the first time, these kinds of “secrets” to a better career are just a perpetual rehashing of what everyone serious about finding work already knows and tries on a regular basis. Using an analogy, unless people use less obvious methods, any standard tactics used in the hunt will be like walking shoulder to shoulder through the woods with a sea of other hunters, all trying to get a shot at the same target. Somebody will eventually take home the prize, but it will be full of lead by the time they get it out of the woods. Creative new approaches can be recognized by the fact that there are not a thousand other places talking about the same thing.

Effective, successful career advancement happens by a combination of design and providence. To find a job that lasts, at least two things must happen. There must be a person who is willing to perform the tasks, and someone willing to allow them the opportunity to try. Though employers may be looking for the mythical long and stable work history, the truth is that corporate tactics have changed so drastically over the last decade, it is unusual to find people who have worked in the same place for more than five years, much less their entire career. Increasingly, companies do not appreciate job seekers dropping off a resume in person, calling about possible openings, or trying to establish direct contacts with individuals within the firm, unless they are first invited by the company to do so.

The present day workplace is becoming more focused on accomplishing finite tasks than developing jobs with well defined and long term potential. Where historical patterns called for long term relationships, mutual trust, and solid foundations to achieve successful business practices, today's business model is based on flexibility, speed, and expendable personnel to accomplish company goals. This transitional model calls for fast hiring of certain skill sets, and equally as fast dissolution of business units when less expensive resources can be acquired to do the same thing. All this boils down to people wondering what they did wrong to wind up on the unemployment line, when the truth is that the “hidden agenda” of American business is to keep the income flowing to the top levels of the organization, while minimizing the costs of doing business.

In the current business environment, the best way to get an inside contact with a company is through a recruiting firm, or a direct application to the company by way of an internet site for the company of interest. By applying directly to specific companies via the internet, the crowd of people using job boards, newspaper ads, and other indirect resources do not make as strong an impact, presuming the company is focused on using their internet site as a primary resource for connecting with new talent. If a company can find a talented person with the right skill sets, they would much rather hire that person directly rather than filtering them through a recruiter or employment firm, which take a big cut for locating qualified candidates.

One little noted method for locating work is to conduct a fact finding mission within companies that are hiring, or interviewing candidates. Whether or not they are currently looking for a particular type of skills, they can be rich sources for finding potential leads that will result in opportunity. Since nearly every company has direct competitors, and few are shy about mentioning who their customers and competitors are, building lists of other companies to call on can be as simple as having one interview with a single company of interest. If a candidate is willing to probe a bit for this type of information during an interview, most company representatives will jump at the chance to explain why their organization is better than another, and give names of both competing businesses and customers who purchase their services.

Some will even post propaganda within the office to encourage workers to strive for a higher standard of excellence than the rival company. For the job seeker, some of the best leads on who might be hiring come with following the competitive stream of a single company along its business customer and supply chains. In some cases, it can be beneficial to mention having visited with specific people inside an organization that is familiar to another company, especially if these companies are on good terms with each other. Surprisingly, many people do not often think to exploit leads they discover in the course of interviews. Instead, they simply wait to hear back about the job they interviewed for, and drop the lead off if they are not successful.

For people with more diverse skill sets, success can come from skillfully demonstrating a willingness to apply their talents to the activity that is most beneficial to a company. One should never “switch gears” during a job interview by showing more interest in some other position than the one they have come to be interviewed for, but it is never wrong to leave the impression of greater potential, and let the company draw its own conclusions about where a candidate might best fit into the organization. In this way, one level of rejection can become a higher level of acceptance over time.

Another important and little known tactic in the hunt for work is to clearly understand who the players will be in an interview. The focus, scope, and approach of a professional human resources interviewer will be far different from that of a manager, supervisor, or business owner. How your resume will be assessed by a formal personnel department, may be radically different than the interpretation of a “hands on” owner or business manager. Though the questions asked during an interview may be similar in both cases, the expectations and skills required for success may be completely different. Business leaders are far more likely to determine a candidate's suitability by the impression they get from personality and enthusiasm. Human resources personnel use a more detached, mechanical, and methodical approach to hiring practices. These people try to put on blinders to personality traits, and home in on pure skill sets that can be tested and measured.

The process of successful job searching is in knowing where personal talents can be applied, and what sort of positions require those talents. Narrowing the search too much by seeking after a specific job title can close doors on otherwise suitable alternatives. Being formally unemployed should not necessarily hinder people from using their continuing experiences to fill in the gaps. While unemployed, nearly everyone does something that belongs on a resume to demonstrate further development of their skills. If a personal activity involves utilizing job worthy skills, it should be included as part of the flow in occupational history. This can include highly skilled hobbies, volunteer work, free consulting services, church leadership, or other activities that might just as easily have been done for pay.

Leaving big gaps in a resume not only causes unwelcome scrutiny and questions, it also causes self doubts to be raised which are absolutely unnecessary. Unless a person is completely inert during unemployed periods, there is no reason to leave a potential employer with the impression that this was the case. A human being's “worth” does not disappear with the paycheck; only their level of recognition. To find a truly creative approach to job hunting, try including some tactics that are not being used by everyone else. Follow the line of least resistance, for the highest yield your skills can achieve.

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