Spending time in front of the computer searching for the ideal job, either in your current company or a new one, is a bad, low yield way to plan your next career move, especially during daylight hours.
I just finished interviewing multiple thought leaders around the country for the revision of The New Job Security and we're all on the same page -- except executive recruiters, more shortly -- about the importance of trends and problems in finding the work you love.
Are the two ways you look for work working? Typically, when you're looking for the next job, you'll do two things: search for job postings on the internet and ask all of your friends if they've heard about any "opportunities," the code word for jobs. Sound familiar? Let's flip that around so you're not in a reactive position, chasing whatever is out there and hoping people remember you.
Job postings are only 3% of the offers. Job postings you find on the internet typically have a 3% yield for offers compared to other ways to land jobs.
Granted, this research is on mid-career professionals, but 3% is still too low to warrant much of your time. When the economy is slow -- like now -- that number could even go down because fewer jobs are posted and everyone is chasing the same openings. If a company is looking for ten qualifications in their newly posted job, they can get ten. You're one of hundreds of resumes that is crossing the transom and not getting the respect that you deserve.
Don't go to your best prospects first. Asking friends about openings sounds like a logical alternative, but it depends on who and how. Running to your best connections shortly after a layoff when you're in the shocked-and-muddled phase can burn some bridges that you may want later on. The "who" is best begun with your closest allies who can listen and advise but who you don't want as your future boss. Your messaging about direction and building company profitability will be stronger shortly.
Change your questions. The "how" is even more important. If you stop asking people about "opportunities" -- i.e. already defined job openings that they're probably not going to know about anyway -- and get some questions focused on problems to be solved and responses to trends, you'll get different answers and ways to open up multiple jobs -- a.k.a. "work to be done" -- rather than pursuing just one opening with a lot of competition.
"Have you decided how to best change your practices to comply with the new financial reform bill?" This is an example of leading the discussion towards an area you already know something about. "I've been doing some work with mobile marketing, which is bringing in a whole new set of customers. Want to hear some ideas?" Heading towards regulatory requirements -- a trend -- and increasing profitability -- an evergreen problem-to-be-solved -- in well-framed business questions gets people interested in your ideas... and then you. Keeping your conversations focused on their business needs often ends up in consulting work or job creation, with no competition. These same strategies count inside of your current company as well as between companies. I've worked with people who've written their own job descriptions and compensation packages when coming into large companies -- i.e. the ones with the most structure. Isn't that a lot more fun than sitting in front of a computer screen punching "reply"?
Oh, about those executive recruiters... their job is to think in terms of already approved, funded, job openings, and they are typically looking for someone who is doing the same thing that their client wants, only for the competition. It's not a recruiter's job to look for problems to be solved inside of companies, or to create meaningful work that addresses these problems. However, it is your job, and you'll find a lot more jobs when you stop -- or put off until the dark of night -- looking for job openings.
Pam Lassiter is Principal of Lassiter Consulting, a career management firm that provides transition services for companies and professionals worldwide. Her book can, "The New Job Security," can be ordered here.