Break out of the traditional job search treadmill

Career Opportunities podcast logoBreak out of the traditional job search treadmill
By Douglas E. Welch

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I am sure you have heard this famous quote credited to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I think this accurately describes how little job search strategies have changed over the last century. When confronted with a job search we still pull out the want ads, brush up the resume and send it out. Sure, we might send in our resume via the Internet or post it on online job boards, but the underlying structure remains the same. We see what is offered and then try to match our skills to a given job. I find this both amazing and disheartening. Surely we have progressed, or at least can progress, beyond using the job search techniques of the last century.

Out with the old, in with the new

First, I have to say that you will still be faced with traditional job searches for the foreseeable future. Change, even in this Internet age, can be slow and painful. Most companies have no idea that there is another way to hire. You will still be faced with creating a resume and cover letters and trying to fight your way out of the employment slush pile.

That said, you need to take every opportunity to seek out, and take advantage of, any and every company that has learned there is a better way. When you are presented with an opportunity to short circuit the process, you need to jump at it immediately. In many cases, the company may still be mired in the old ways, but you may be lucky enough to find an employee who can offer a way past the gate or over the wall.

It should be obvious that if a company’s hiring process is cumbersome, slow and downright abusive, the same might be said for the company as a whole. Facing an heavily bureaucratic hiring process can give you a very clear indication that you might want to look elsewhere for a job. Conversely, a hiring process that focuses on your skills, your rewards and your value to the company certainly points in a better direction.


While we often talk about resumes and cover letters, the true heart of any job search is the people we know. We don’t get hired by resume databases or online job search engines. We don’t get hired because our bits and bytes look better to a program. We get hired because we know or meet someone who can leap across the chasm of bureaucracy and bring you back with them. These people are to be cultivated and celebrated, for they are the one’s who are truly building a company for the future.

So, to reinforce something I have said many times in the past…start building your network today. Start the moment you join the workforce. Even better, start the moment you are able to make friends on your own. I believe more each day, that the quality of our lives is in direct correlation to people we know. When we surround ourselves with great people, we almost can’t help being great ourselves. When we fill our lives with questionable people, our lives can become questionable as well. Learn this lesson early and you give yourself a great advantage over those who don’t.

Roadblacks — go over, under or around

Another important aspect of your job search is…don’t take No for an answer. Too often you are confronted with bureaucratic roadblocks that stand between you and a good job. Many of these roadblocks are atrophied parts of the hiring process. If a company want to move into the 21st Century, they need to remove these roadblocks or risk losing great talent.

I have taken a very hard line on issues like this. My response to roadblocks — even if I only think it in my head — is “I don’t care.” If the company wants your skills, then they need to find a way through the roadblocks. Otherwise it is a clear sign that they don’t see enough value in your skills or they are so locked into their bureaucracy that they no longer care.

When presented with requirements you don’t have — ask that they be waived. When told you can’t be hired because of one rule or another — questions why and give the company alternatives, if you can. Facing a hiring freeze — give the company ideas about how much they could benefit from your skills. There are ways around most roadblocks and you need to help companies to hire you in any way you can.

Even though you might have to slog through traditional hiring processes, there are companies out there who need talent, know they need the talent, and are willing to find a way to hire that talent regardless. These are the companies you need to seek out. Building your career around companies like these dramatically increases your chances of building the career you deserve.

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