Recently, I’ve been reading the latest edition (2010) of What Color Is Your Parachute? by San Francisco Bay Area resident and career coach, Richard N. Bolles. This isn’t the first time I’ve read the bestselling self-help title for job seekers. I read an older edition in 1993, shortly after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. As a career coach and professional resume writer, I decided it might be important to re-read the book so I could impart a fraction of its wisdom to my clients and to ensure that I know what I’m recommending when I direct clients to read the book.
Bolles has been working with job seekers for more than thirty years, and the advice he offers is extremely practical. In fact, much of what Bolles writes in What Color Is Your Parachute? falls in line with the advice I give to my coaching clients. But, I have to admit that I was surprised to read about how relatively ineffective resumes are in a job hunt. Less than 7% of all job seekers land a job based solely on their resumes. Because I’m a professional resume writer, I was floored to read that statistic. Yet, in all honesty, I’m not surprised by the fact and had always suspected that resumes alone are not adequate in one’s job search.
Don’t get me wrong. You need to have a resume if you’re a job seeker. And, that resume must be in top-notch shape. The hours you spend writing and rewriting your resume are not wasted. So, you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that nobody is changing the rules of the job search game. The truth of the matter, however, is that simply having a good resume and sending it out or randomly posting it on job boards is not likely to lead to your dream job. The secret to finding a job lies in the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”
Strategic job seekers are aware of the “Hidden Job Market,” and they know how to tap into it. In a city like San Francisco, this hidden job market is huge, and the opportunities for tapping into it are virtually limitless. Exploring the hidden job market can be extremely exciting as long as you are sufficiently prepared to step inside. To access the hidden job market, you need a solid, well-written resume that does a stellar job of highlighting your knowledge, skills, and abilities as well as the unique contribution you have made to previous employers. This resume should feature accomplishments and achievements and should list ways you have increased revenues or affected the bottom line of a company. Along with your amazing resume, you need to possess confidence and an exceptional ability to sell yourself—not just at an interview—but as you navigate your day-to-day life.
Even in a very competitive job market, companies are looking for creative, innovative, intelligent employees with strong work ethics—the cream of the crop. The vast majority of hiring managers find these stellar employees through referrals from other employees or from those people who comprise their personal networks. Some job openings are not even advertised on job boards or in newspapers, so limiting your search to these avenues will leave you empty-handed.
Today’s job seeker must be willing and able to network in as many ways as possible. Posting a profile and a strong resume on Linked-In is a good start. Letting the people in your inner circles know you are looking for a job is also important. Even more important is being very specific about the kind of job you’d love to work. Getting out and meeting new people at networking events is also vitally important. San Francisco offers a whole host of such events. Join groups on Linked-In or peruse MeetUp.com. Check out the local Chamber of Commerce for opportunities to meet with members of the business community. Attend free seminars and workshops related to your interests. Talk to the people you meet about your employment goals. Just get out there and connect with those who might be in a position to help you. Once you’ve made a great connection, your fabulous resume can open the door to your dream job!