Often, it’s not your resume that’s hurting you. It’s not that your LinkedIn profile is preventing you from job search success. It’s not where you went to college, either.
Rather, it’s the number of other applicants going for the same openings. For instance, if you’re applying to the same positions as a 1,000 other qualified applicants, you have a 0.1% of getting that job.
As an intelligent job seeker, you should automatically recognize that when you utilize the mainstream avenues such as LinkedIn and Monster, you’re often competing with the masses.
As a result, you have less options, more rejection and lowered confidence from non-responsive hiring managers.
Diversifying Your Job Search
Instead, the most successful diversify their approach. While they may utilize mainstream sources, they locate the hidden gems.
By hidden gems, I am referring to the 10,000s of open jobs that pay well, are with strong companies and that offer significant career growth. Most importantly, they aren’t advertised on Monster and LinkedIn.
The lack of advertising could be for a myriad of reasons, but typically has no bearing on the quality of position or the firm’s competitiveness in their industry.
3 Benefits of hidden gems
1. Higher Odds: The lack of advertisement means there is less competition for the job. Sometimes, the position currently has less than 5 active candidates. All things being equal, this bumps you up from a 0.1% to a 20% chance of getting the job.
2. Flexible salary negotiation: The employer needs you as much as you need them. When you apply to a position on LinkedIn, you are a commodity with little leverage.
With hidden gems, you are a rare asset who can command additional compensation. This is especially true when you find a firm that is about to pay a recruiter $15,000 for doing the search.
3. Person vs. Piece of Paper: Less emphasis on resume content and college major, more emphasis on you as a person. Hiring managers who are not flooded with resumes don’t have the luxury of judging applicants strictly by resume content.
Instead, they gauge you by your intelligence, interpersonal skills, work ethic and ability to fit within the corporate culture of the firm.
Once Defined, We Need to Know Where to Look
Now that you know something better exists, it’s time to begin hunting. Here are 5 great ways to find hidden gems.
1. Publications – Decision makers like to write for reputable mainstream or industry publications. Every day, on sites like Forbes, New York Times, AOL, Business Insider, Harvard Business Review, Wall St. Journal and the LA Times, business owners and higher-ups are blogging over 1,000 articles.
More often than not, at the end of the article, it allows the reader to email them directly (a.k.a. no more landing in the “mass resume” inbox). An honest compliment on their piece and brief introduction as to who you are should pique their interest.
Plus, you can weed out potential employers based on their business theories. Apply to the writers whom you agree with. Pass on the ones you don’t.
2. Niche Job Boards – Niche job boards are a great resource for a few reasons. They lessen the number of competitors and since they are more targeted, the employer is likely to look at each resume.
On very broad job sites, hiring managers will get an abundance of impertinent submissions and often give up on looking each CV over.
3. Google Alerts on Related Firms – There is nothing more valuable to a firm than a resume submission from someone who already knows their industry. This doesn’t mean that you have to apply to a direct competitor, though the further you stray from your knowledge, the less chance of you being considered.
Compile a list of organizations that are related to your field of expertise and set a Google Alert to email you every time that organization is in the news. Unless it’s a replacement position, companies love to distribute press releases when hiring. Be the first to know and the first to apply.
4. Yahoo! Finance to Company Websites – Get a feel for which industries are hiring by following the stock market. Yahoo! Finance makes it easy to get a feel for which verticals are hot and desperately need people vs. which are stagnant and probably best to avoid pursuing a career in.
Once you get the industries that “hot”, find the leaders in that field via a quick Google search. Then, find the employment sections on the company websites and applicable listings. Another benefit is that these openings typically contain the direct contact for the person responsible for hiring as well.
5. Venture Capital Firms – If a single organization owns 100 different companies, why not send your resume into the firm? VC companies are consistently growing their portfolio companies and by applying directly to these organizations, you kill up to 100 birds with 1 stone.
When doing so, make sure that you make it clear that you are applying to their portfolio companies who are in need of people with x, y and z skills.
In the End
In job seeking, the name of the game is to find the openings that nobody else is looking for. It’s simple math. The fewer applicants interviewing for a position, the better chances you have of getting an interview and a quick offer.
Remember, anything worthwhile takes work. Though, try to enjoy the journey of applying for jobs as much as getting the offer.
About the Author
Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, an executive search firm specializing in staffing business development and marketing professionals throughout the United States. Ken is also a writer for Forbes and is often published in, among others the Chicago Tribune and Business Insider. He has appeared on Fox Business News and MTV.