I have been recently very active on LinkedIn and observing updates and news from connections and it feels like there is a huge percentage of people out there on LinkedIn and elsewhere who are actively pursuing new career opportunities but unfortunately they are unaware that they are following the most ineffective ways of such. This intimidated me to write this article to provide Job Seekers with insights of effective vs. ineffective approaches for job searching. Additionally, I have not come across an article which specifically talks about the job searching process from the Job Seeker point of view and how to look at it and tackle it in a structured manner.
To start with, I just want to go back to the title of this article “Hunt for your next job like a Sales professional …” and elaborate on it a little bit. The title has two key points that you need to understand carefully:
1) “Hunt”: one of the definitions of the word “hunt” is “search determinedly for someone or something”. When you are looking for your next job you should remember that you should not simply search for it but you should do it determinedly, actively, continuously, and consistently. Applying for a job online and just waiting for a call back is not considered hunting and is a very passive approach that will lead you to nowhere. Accordingly, I will try to provide insights on hunting approaches that you need to understand and use effectively.
2) “like a Sales professional”: the reason why you need to start thinking like a Sales professional in my opinion is that what you are actually trying to accomplish when you are seeking for a job is to “sell yourself to employers”. As such, I will try to elaborate the techniques used by Sales professionals to find potential sale opportunities and how they approach them to reach successful sale which I will later explain how you can apply the same approach to your job hunting process.
I would like you first to go through the below passive and ineffective job searching approaches that you need to stop doing immediately as they are useless and pointless for the reasons mentioned in each approach:
Social Media: many Job Seekers are recently getting active on social media (especially on LinkedIn) and looking for any vacancy announcement especially the ones mentioning “… press Like or Comment and I shall review your profile” and after making a Like for 10 similar vacancy announcement per day, the person sets back and believes that he had made an accomplishment and that he/she will receive a call back for at least one of them. You may want to read the below article to understand why such approaches are very ineffective in pursuing a new career and that they actually have a dead end. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/press-like-when-i-see-xxx-vacancy-comment-ali-alja-bari
Job Portals: job portals are one of the greatest sources of career opportunities. However, searching a couple of job portals for job vacancies and applying online and just waiting for a response is just useless. There are thousands of people applying for each of these job posts and the chances of your application to be viewed by the recruiter are extremely low. Big corporates are recently even using online job posts just for branding purposes and relying more on the Candidates Search Tools from these job portals to find the candidates with the specific competencies they are looking for.
Emailing CV: sending your CV in a generic job application email to a big list of recruiters and HR Managers from different companies in the same email is one of the most ineffective job application approaches I have seen. Recruiters usually ignore such emails because they consider the applicant to be unprofessional with his approach and just ignore the email. Not to mention that sending such email with a big list of email addresses may result in your email message being considered as spam by the email server of the recruiter and your email message ends up in the Junk folder where nobody will eventually view your CV.
Applying for irrelevant or inapplicable jobs: I have observed on many occasions where there is a job post for an Accountant position (as an example) and then seeing candidates who specialize in IT, HR, Operations, Sales, etc. apply for this job post while knowing that it is irrelevant in the hope that the recruiter may somehow come across your application and consider you for another position. Or if the job has specific visa or nationality requirements and candidates who do not meet these requirements still apply. Never get this desperate by applying everywhere and stop wasting your time.
So how does a Sales professional hunt for sale opportunities and end up with a successful sale … There is a global model called “New Sale Pipeline” that is used widely by Sales professionals to manage the Sale process. This model basically divides the Sale process into 5 key stages which starts with a wider stage and then the stages keep getting narrowed down until you end up with a Won sale, hence the name “pipeline”.
Before going into each of these stages, let’s understand the terms Sale Lead or Job Lead as these are key terms which will be discussed in the stages. A Sale Lead or a Job Lead is any information that would lead to a sale or job opportunity. This could be through an email message, a word of mouth, a posting on the internet, through referrals, or any other type of information that may imply a potential sale or job opportunity. Now that we understand the concept of Sale Lead and Job Lead let’s go ahead to each of the pipeline stages from a Sales professional point of view:
Sale Leads Generation: this is the first stage of the Sale process at which the Sales professional identifies all possible sources of Sale Leads (e.g. cold calls, invitation to bid from clients, relevant tenders websites, referrals, opening a vendor account with clients to receive notification of bids, etc.) and keep monitoring these sources to identify new leads. The Sales professional keeps track of all Sale Leads throughout the sale process in order to track the status of each, prioritize leads, analyze what went wrong with lost leads, and what could be done better. In addition, the Sales professional could also do analysis on the Sale Leads data such as identifying the top sources of Sale Leads and focus on these sources and explore them further.
Sale Leads Qualification: in the Sale Leads Qualification stage, the Sales professional would carefully review all identified Sale Leads from the first stage and try to determine if there is a potential for a sale opportunity or not through:
1) having further discussions with the client to understand the scope of work and estimated project start date. It may be determined at this point if the project is serious or is just for budgeting purposes
2) determining the capacity of the company to deliver the project in terms of scope, terms, time, skills, and qualifications. It may be determined here that the project is out of your scope or you are fully occupied with projects and cannot execute additional projects.
Proposal Design: in this stage, the Sales professional would have already understood the scope and detailed requirements of the project. The Sales professional would on that basis start to develop a suitable proposal (bid) to reflect his company’s relevant capabilities and experience to these type of projects, approach to executing, timeframe, pricing, and qualifications that makes his company unique in executing this specific project.
Proposal Submission: after the proposal is developed, the Sales professional ensures delivery of the proposal in the manner that was specified by the client whether through email, hardcopy, on CD/flash disk, etc. The Sales professional also ensures proposal submission to the designated person(s) and within the specified deadline to avoid disqualification.
Follow-up/Feedback: the Sales professional’s role is not completed once the proposal is submitted. He should always follow up with the client for a status update and if any further clarification is required. The client would also invite bidders in this stage to present their proposals and capabilities to execute the project. By the end of this stage, the Sales professional would know if his bid was shortlisted or withdrawn.
Offer Negotiation: reaching this stage implies that the bid of the Sales professional was shortlisted and is now in communication with the client to negotiate for the pricing of the bid.
Won: Once the negotiations reach to an agreement with the client, the Sales professional would arrange to sign the official contract with the client as acceptance of the bid and the initial Sale Lead is now a Won sale or “Won Opportunity”.
I would just like to highlight here that this is a very high-level overview of the Sale Pipeline model. Other sources may have a more detailed description of it and they may have more or less number of stages compared to what I discussed here. This was just explained in simple words to elaborate the overall concept to Job Seekers without going into unnecessary details.
Now let’s discuss how to apply the Sale Pipeline concept to your job hunting process. Let’s name the pipeline for your job hunting process the Job Pipeline or New Job Pipeline. The below image reflects both pipelines, the New Sale Pipeline and the New Job Pipeline and the stages of each. If you notice, they have very similar stage naming. We shall discuss below each of the New Job Pipeline Stages.
Job Leads Generation: in this stage of the New Job Pipeline, the Job Seeker is trying to identify the different sources from which he/she can generate leads for potential jobs and keep monitoring these sources to find new leads and start pursuing them further. Below are the key sources of job leads that you need to focus on and keep monitoring regularly:
Job Portals: job portals are the number one source of job leads. That’s why you need to understand the different types of them and how you can utilize them to generate job leads. There are 3 types of job portals: 1) region-specific portals 2) industry-specific portals and 3) generic portals. You need to make sure that you find a combination of these job portal types and keep monitoring new jobs regularly through saved searches or job alerts. Other than monitoring job posts, another approach to generating job leads through job portals is to keep monitoring employers who viewed your profile. Some job portals provide this service for free while others require you to upgrade your account to see the list of who viewed your profile. It is very worthwhile to have this service whether it’s for free or requires an upgrade. Regardless, some employers do not actually post a job vacancy but prefer to find candidates on the portal and in such case, if you were able to know who accessed your profile then you will have an advantage over others to pursue this job lead. This is exactly what makes you a hunter rather than just a seeker.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is also one of the key sources of job leads. You may come across job leads on LinkedIn through various places including:
vacancy announcements from your connections, as such stay connected to recruiters and headhunters.
job vacancy articles on the Pulse
job vacancies on LinkedIn Groups, ensure to be a member of relevant groups that post job vacancies
Employer’s Career Page/Portal: identify the employers that you admire to work with and keep monitoring their Career page/portal and set up job alerts if the option is available. You may also notice when you apply for a job on the employer’s career portal that they ask you where did you hear about this vacancy and they give you a list to choose the appropriate source as in the below image. You may want to explore each of these sources further to see if they help you find other job leads which you were not aware of.
Head Hunters/Recruitment Agents: you need to always be connected with headhunters and recruitment agents in order to get informed of any new vacancies. Some employers prefer to keep their vacancies confidential and assign them only to recruitment agents. Find out the recruitment agents that are specific to the industry you are working in and also the region where you are interested to work in. Also, make sure to keep monitoring the websites of these agents as many of them post any new vacancy on their website.
Other possible sources of job leads include employee referral, networking, word of mouth, newspapers and professional magazines, Jobs Search Engines.
Once you identify your Jobs Lead sources, I would suggest that you do the following:
define job alerts wherever applicable in these sources to receive immediate notification of new Job Leads
create a bookmark of remaining Jobs Lead sources in your internet browser and monitor these sources on a daily basis
track any identified Job lead into a simple Excel sheet where you can monitor the status of the lead, stage, priority, source, follow update, when it was identified, etc.
Jobs Lead Qualification: The Job Seeker would be doing a screening exercise at this stage to all identified job leads with a focus on three things:
Determine and exclude Fake job leads: I do understand that Job Seekers sometimes reach a point in which they are so desperate that they would apply to any job post even though there are clues that it is a fake post and you will most probably not get a callback.
Fake job leads through email: when you receive an email that does not talk about a specific vacancy and is too generic, avoid to reply to these emails especially if you find these clues 1) your email is not listed in the To field 2) the sender is sending from a free email domain like Gmail 3) no specific vacancy discussed or too many vacancies in the same email. Below is an example:
Fake job leads in Job Portals or social media: sometimes when you review a job post you get a feeling that there is something that feels fishy about it. Below is an example of a job post on LinkedIn Jobs Portal where it looks like the vacancy is for the international TOTAL company. The observations are 1) the poster does not work for TOTAL and has only one connection 2) it requests Job Seekers to send the CV to a Gmail account. Just understand that an international company will never ask you to send your CV to a Gmail account and that these are 100% fake posts.
Determine and exclude job leads for which:
you do not meet the required criteria: review the job description of the job lead carefully and see if you meet the criteria (visa/legal, qualifications, and experience). If you do not meet the criteria then do not waste time on this lead and move on to other leads. Remember that you are hunting for your next job and your time should be utilized effectively.
they do not meet with your criteria: you need to understand and define your requirements or criteria for your next job in terms of the seniority of the position, location, salary, benefits, industry, and type of the company. Once you understand your criteria for your next job, filter out the ones that do not meet with such.
Prioritize job leads: determine in this step the job leads which are more interesting to you than the others in terms of employer, challenges, title, salary, etc. categorize each job lead with a suitable priority and focus your efforts on the ones with high priority but do not ignore the ones with lower priority.
CV Design: as is the case with Sales professionals when developing proposals/bids which are specific to each project, Job Seekers need to develop a CV that reflects their ability to perform that specific job. This is how you will be able to “sell” yourself to employers by making the CV very relevant to the employer’s business environment and to the specific position applied for. Below are few tips on how to improve your CV:
Look back at your last CV and identify how to improve it. At each stage of your career and throughout your experience, you will have a different mindset in looking at things and when you look at your last CV you will surely would want to rewrite it in a different manner to reflect things which you did not consider worthy or never thought of mentioning or maybe you start to think of a new styling approach for the CV.
Review the job post carefully and ensure to identify the key keywords mentioned in the job post in your CV which is related to the company’s industry and the position itself. Employers do not actually go through all received CVs. Instead, they filter CVs using keywords related to their company and the position.
Consult with recruitment agents and headhunters for their feedback on your CV and what improvements you could do to enhance it. These recruitment specialists view hundreds of CVs on daily basis and they know how winning CVs look like.
Develop a customized CV for each job lead/post. Each job post is different than the other whether due to the industry of the employer, the challenges of the role, the stage of the company/department (start-up vs. established), the size of the company, systems used, etc. You need to make sure that the CV you plan to submit to the employer reflects your specific qualifications, skills, experience, and achievements that are very relevant to the employer’s industry and to that specific job. This shall give you a huge advantage over other candidates applying with a very generic CV. Yes, this will be somewhat time-consuming but you need to always remember that you need to work hard to reach your goal.
CV Submission: the submission of your CV to the employer is a talent by itself and if you do it right you can guarantee a call back to your application. Many Job Seekers apply to online job posts through the employer’s designated channel (e.g. job portal, career page, email address, etc.) but they don’t know what happens afterward and keep waiting indefinitely for a response. As I mentioned earlier, thousands of job seekers apply to the same vacancy. What are the chances that your CV will be viewed by the employer? Below are very effective suggestions to increase the chances of your CV being viewed by employers and getting a callback or a reply:
Submission through Employer’s specified channel: You need to submit your CV through the channel that is specified in the job post (e.g. through job portal, company’s career page, email address, hard copy, etc.). This is a compulsory step whereas the below steps are complementary. Sometimes you may be able to find the email address of the person who posted the CV and send him the CV directly, but many companies have strict policies and processes to follow the standard job application process through the official channel.
Submission through Email: as a complementary step to the above, you need to make sure your CV is viewed by the employer to guarantee a call back or a reply and the way to do so is by emailing your CV directly to the relevant people in that company (e.g. recruiters, hiring manager, etc.). to do so, you need to first find out these relevant people to whom to email your CV. Typically, you should send it to a maximum of 2 recruiters, the head of recruitment, and the hiring manager. It is very easy to find out the names of these people through a simple LinkedIn search. Once you find their names, follow the below article to find out their email addresses and email your CV to each of them separately to make the email very personal.
Follow-up/Interview: during this stage, you should start getting callbacks and replies to your job applications for further screening as well as to attend interviews for the positions that you are shortlisted for. You need to also follow up for the positions which you were not called back for or replied to by sending follow up emails to the persons which you emailed your CV to. Make sure you keep track of all job leads as mentioned before in an Excel sheet and the status of each. Before attending interviews make sure to be well prepared. You may consider doing the following as a good preparation:
make sure to clarify the type of interview you are invited to and who will be interviewing you.
make sure to do a research about the company as they might test if you have researched the company or not
read articles and guidelines to help you prepare for your interviews and which will provide you with helpful techniques and common interview questions and good answers for such.
Prepare a list of questions about the company and the position to understand the role better. Usually, at the end of the interview, the interviewer will provide you with few minutes to ask them these questions.
Offer Negotiation: at this stage, employers will contact you to provide you with an offer for the positions which you are selected for. Ensure to take your time to review the offer before rushing to provide an immediate response. Read relevant articles about offer negotiation skills and techniques.
Hired: once you reach this stage, you would have accepted a job offer with an employer and signed the employment contract. Congratulations on your new job and wish you great achievements in your new role.
I sincerely hope that this article has provided you with beneficial guideline towards your job hunting for your next job. Wishing you a great good luck.