As an executive recruitment specialist, I’m regularly asked about the current employment market. It’s actually very buoyant, and one of the main reasons for this is that over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of employees who wanted to change jobs chose not to do so, due to risk.
Instead, they decided to remain in their current roles, wait for the pandemic to be behind us, and then look for a new job. As these people now leave their roles, it creates vacancies, which is great for job seekers. However, it also means there is a lot of competition for good vacancies.
So if you are one of 100-plus applicants, and you are not an exact square peg for that square hole, it’s highly unlikely you will get an interview.
Find the hidden job market
The vast percentage of vacancies never make the open job market – they are never advertised or given to recruitment consultants. Think about it. The vacancy becomes available, the hiring manager thinks, “Who do I know?” They then ask their colleagues, “Who do you know?” Then their network. Only as a last resort do they run a formal recruitment process.
Most roles are filled through the hidden job market. If you limit your job search to purely applying for jobs advertised on the internet, or talking to recruiters, then you miss out on the bulk of fantastic job opportunities that are always available.
If you limit your job search to purely applying for jobs advertised on the internet, or talking to recruiters, then you miss out on the bulk of fantastic job opportunities.
What is the solution? Get in front of your employers of choice before they know they need you, find out their pain points, sell them on your key achievements and transferable skills, and voila, you have secured your new job before the employer has even gone to the open market.
Simple? Well, actually it is really simple, and LinkedIn has tremendously increased your ability to get in front of your employers of choice, directly and without going through a recruitment process.
Target employers directly
The first thing to do is to work out your job of choice with your employer of choice. Do you want to be doing the same thing in the same industry (for example, being a CFO in a mining company), or do you want to be doing the same thing in a different industry (being a CFO in another industry)? Or would you like to stay in the same industry but do something different (being a board member of mining companies), or a completely different thing in a different industry?
The first thing to do is to work out your job of choice with your employer of choice.
Then start to build out a list of your employers of choice. You might ask for suggestions, research members of relevant industry associations, look through lists like the ASX300, or even look at the career histories of people you admire in your industry on LinkedIn to see where they have worked previously.
Research these companies to identify the most relevant hiring manager for you to approach. If you are a very senior executive where you would report to the CEO, then you will want to approach the CEO. If you are less senior, you will want to approach the person looking after your function. A finance person would approach the CFO, an operations manager would approach the COO.
Find their LinkedIn profile and send them a LinkedIn connection request. Follow this up with an email asking them for a 15-minute Zoom or Teams meeting, asking for their advice regarding your job search. People love to help people. You just want to have a conversation with the actual hiring manager, the ultimate decision maker.
These people want to meet you. There is a war for talent and great people are hard to find. You’re an awesome employee with a fantastic LinkedIn profile (which they will definitely have checked out) and you are going to bring incredible value to their business.
So you are doing them a favor by approaching them directly to ask for a meeting. In your meeting, probe to understand what their current challenges are. What is the pebble in their shoe? What is keeping them awake at night?
There is a war for talent and great people are hard to find.
Then, by speaking about your key achievements and transferable skills, convince them that you can solve their problems. Do this well and you will be offered a job, even if one doesn’t currently exist.
12 weeks to a new job
My strongest recommendation is that you start to block one hour per day in your diary, in which you identify and reach out to three employers of choice – 15 per week – asking for a meeting.
In my experience of coaching hundreds of executive job seekers through this process, that should turn into at least two to three meetings per week. If you do this consistently for 12 weeks, you will be virtually guaranteed of securing a new job.
When you follow this approach, coupled with continuing to apply for relevant vacancies and maintaining good relationships with relevant recruiters, you will significantly speed up securing your fantastic new role. You’ll also meet some amazing people along the way and build great networks for the future.
Richard Triggs, author of Uncover the Hidden Job Market – How to Find and Win your next Senior Executive role, is one of Australia’s leading executive recruiters and career coaches. He also hosts the Arete Podcast and is a highly sought-after keynote speaker. For more information, visit areteexecutive.com.au.