The Magical Job Hunt
I am convinced there is something magical about the job hunt. I refuse to call it a “search” because the all encompassing aspect of the process, the exertion of mental and physical effort makes this process a hunt. The process is not magical so much as the end…of achieving the goal, capturing the prey: that coveted, hunted for position.
What metaphor should I use for the process? Releasing bottled messages in the ocean? Whispering messages in the wind? Writing messages in the sand? In other words, engaging in pointless and fruitless activities in hopes that you…abracadabra…get an interview!
Richard Bolles got it correct in his yearly publication, What Color is Your Parachute? Employers and job-hunters are at cross purposes when it comes to how each looks for the other. Employers look for candidates in the opposite way job hunters look for jobs. It’s like ships passing in the night. This is even true for low-wage part time jobs. Let me explain. You are hard-pressed to find any company that doesn’t direct you to their website if you approach them about job opportunities. Most likely, there will be a description with the directive to send a cover letter, resume, references, and in some cases, salary requirements. No calls please! For part-time low-wage retail or service jobs, one is directed to the company website to fill out screen after screen of information and in some cases to answer a personality assessment. One imagines some person or persons sifting through resumes, choosing candidates, and setting up interviews in a sort of equitable way. Giving everyone a shot at a the very least a perusal of their application. Humph! One imagines wrong.
First, most companies would rather promote or laterally transfer from within. I understand this reasoning. It’s efficient, cheaper, and less risky. Second, companies will ask current employees or colleagues if they know of anyone who might be a good fit. This is where the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” rings true. Third, companies might hire an employment agency to manage the candidate sifting and selection. This happens in large institutions as well when the “employment agency” is really the human resources department. These opaque, goliathesque departments are the first gatekeepers to getting your resume in front of the right person. I think the very last resort for companies is to actually review resumes and cover letters.
I agree that the job hunter has to create inventive ways to take out the various gatekeepers. Volunteering with the organization is a great way to make some headway, but that is not always possible. What if you are trying to obtain a part time job just for the purposes of say…paying off student loans or other debt as a supplement to your full time job? Suppose you apply at a chain grocery store, restaurant, clothing retailer, or movie theater? I guarantee that each company will direct you to their website. You’ll apply and the waiting will begin. No call back. Why ask for all that data if you’re not going to review the applications anyway? What do they do with all that data? It’s a little scary.
But you know what? Sometimes magic happens and they do call back. Until then…the hunt is on. The waiting begins. Be as creative. Be vigilant. Be positive. Hopefully some magic will come your way.