The Great Job Quest

For the past five years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work for myself by writing full-time. I love the flexibility, but, half a decade later, I find that:

– I have credentials, expertise, and skills that a full-time writing gig doesn’t tap.

– I’m ready for some new challenges.

– I would like the opportunity to make a bigger contribution to the Family Piggy Bank.

So, especially with an eye toward accelerating our return to Atlanta, I’ve been talking with potential employers about management-level jobs in communications and training. (Interviews are going well, by the way.) Since I practically live online, I’ve depended pretty heavily on web-based job tools to help me with my search. Here’s what I’ve learned in the process.

For the past five years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work for myself by writing full-time. I love the flexibility, but, half a decade later, I find that:

– I have credentials, expertise, and skills that a full-time writing gig doesn’t tap.

– I’m ready for some new challenges.

– I would like the opportunity to make a bigger contribution to the Family Piggy Bank.

So, especially with an eye toward accelerating our return to Atlanta, I’ve been talking with potential employers about management-level jobs in communications and training. (Interviews are going well, by the way.) Since I practically live online, I’ve depended pretty heavily on web-based job tools to help me with my search. Here’s what I’ve learned in the process.

1. Posting a résumé online generates dozens of contacts — but very few from folks you want to hear from.

I’ve posted my résumé on both Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. Since then, every insurance company within twenty miles of Jackson, MS has sent me an email (and two have called) offering me a position as a full-commission insurance sales rep. My profile stipulates that I’m looking exclusively for senior manager- or director-level positions in the Atlanta metro area, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

(Friends looking for jobs tell me they get these calls, too … so I’m guessing that the insurance folks call any and everyone who posts a résumé. That can’t be a very efficient way to get new recruits … but kiss enough frogs, I suppose …)

2. Get personal.

Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com like to brag about how many job postings appear in their database. What they don’t brag about — in fact, what they refuse to reveal — is the number of job applicants who actually get hired as a result of applying online.

Experts estimate that the hire rate from Monster.com is between 1.4% and 3.6%; CareerBuilder.com has a hire rate of around one-quarter of one percent (source). In other words, somewhere between “one out of four hundred” and “four out of a hundred” people who apply through job boards will actually find work.

Me? I used CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com to find fresh leads. (In fact, I spotted the job I’m most excited about on CareerBuilder.com) But rather than depend on the electronic résumé submission as a way of getting an employer’s attention — when I worked for SkyTel, our HR group would typically receive thousands of résumés for each job posted! — I’ve made a special effort to make personal contact with every company I’ve really wanted to work for.

3. Finding leads on job boards ain’t easy.

I’m interested in training and communication positions at the senior manager or director level. That’s pretty specific, right? You’d think it would be easy to find relevant listings using keyword searches.

But it’s not. Every job posting in the universe seems to say, “You’ll receive training” and “Must have good communication skills,” so every job posting in the universe appears when I search on “training and communication.” Specifying that I’m looking for sr. management positions doesn’t help, either, because every minimum-wage job in call centers, insurance companies, and retail stores is listed as a “manager trainee.”

The search features on online job sites just aren’t sophisticated enough to allow for fine-grained searching of relevant jobs.

4. Automated “agents” aren’t much help.

CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com both have software “agents” sending me listings “that match your job profile.”

Today’s list included more than 120 jobs, including: Call Center Supervisor, Architect, Tech Support Rep, Interior Designer, Microsoft Software Developer, Marketing Rep, Building Superintendent, Political Campaign Coordinator, Health Insurance Sales Rep, Java Web Developer, Customer Service Rep, and Counter Sales Person.

If these opportunities are, indeed, being based on my résumé and online profiles, then something’s wrong with the way CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com agents search, sort, and prioritize results.

5. The best job opportunities come from your own network.

As many as 70% of all jobs are found or filled through personal references (source). That alone tells me that my best opportunities are going to come from people I know … not from online services.

When pressed, the folks at CareerBuilder.com claim serious job seekers should be posting or editing their resumes to the system at least once a day, every day (source): “Every day, new job hunters post their resumes on the job boards, pushing your resume down the list, away from a recruiter’s inspecting eyes. You may be the perfect person for the job, but no one will see your resume if it isn’t in the top 10.”

Hmmm. To me, that seems like a lot of time posting and editing … especially since only about one out of every four hundred applicants on CareerBuilder.com will actually get a job.

Me? I think I’ll continue to invest that time chatting with people in my own network.

Speaking of that: if your company’s looking for:

– a media-savvy Director of Internal (or Employee) Communications, capable of designing a highly-effective internal communication program from the ground up using posters, newsletters, intranet sites, digital video, internal partnerships, and interactive surveys, or

– a Director of Corporate Training who has designed corporate university programs, managed corporate training production teams for worldwide telecommunications companies, developed nationwide sales force and call-center training courses, produced training videos and television programs, and conducted hundreds of Needs Analysis Surveys,

drop me a line. We should talk!

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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Who Wrote This?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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