1. The best way to find a good job opportunity is to go hang out with people who do the work you want to do -- people who are very good at it. Insiders are the first to know about good opportunities, but they only tell other insiders. To get into a circle of people, you must earn your way. It takes time. You can't fake it, and that's good, because who wants to promote mediocrity?
2. The best way to get a job interview is to be referred by someone the manager trusts. Between 40-70% of jobs are filled that way. Yet people and employers fail to capitalize on this simple employment channel. They pretend there's some better system. That's bunk. If companies took more of the dollars they waste on Monster and CareerBuilder and spent them to cultivate personal contacts, they'd fill more jobs faster with better people. When a respected peer puts his good name on the line to recommend you, there is nothing more powerful.
3. The best way to do well in an interview is to walk in and demonstrate to the manager how you will do the job profitably for him and for you. Everything else is stuff and nonsense.
What's the main difference compared to the traditional approach? That's simple, too. The traditional approach is "shotgun". You carpet-bomb companies with your resume and wait to hear from someone you don't know who doesn't know you. Lotsa luck. ATH regulars know that I never wish anyone luck, because I don't believe in it. I believe in doing the work required to succeed. ATH is a "rifle" approach. You must carefully select and target the companies and jobs you want. It takes a lot of work and thought to accomplish the simple task in item (3). There are no short-cuts. No one can do it for you. If you aren't prepared to do that, you have no business applying for the job, and the manager would be a fool to hire you.
I'll leave you with a scenario that illustrates why the traditional methods don't work well. You walk up to a manager. You hand him your resume. You hand him your credentials, your experience, and your accomplishments -- your carefully crafted "marketing piece". Now, what are you really saying to that manager? "Here. Read this. Then you go figure out what the heck to do with me."
You know as well as I do what the odds are that a manager will bother.
The job candidate who uses the Ask The Headhunter approach keeps the resume in her pocket and says to the manager, "Let me show you what I'm going to do to make your business more profitable."
That's who you're competing with, whether she learned this approach from me or whether it's just her common sense. The beauty of this approach is, few people will step up to the plate.
-- Excerpted from the Ask the Headhunter newsletter.