Unhappy man holding three heavy suitcases in hand. Travel light.

Over the course of three posts, we’re exposing three disturbing trends you need to know about if you’re thinking about a job search. Our first post covered Scams (“Welcome to the Job Search Follies: Starring Scam, Sham & Scram”). Today’s star is Shams–real jobs that are posted but you have no hope of landing.

Most people looking for a new job follow the same predictable course of action: they dust off their resume, update their LinkedIn profile and start applying for jobs. They’re operating under the assumption that all the jobs they see posted are real, open and available for them. Sadly, none of these conditions is guaranteed. In many instances the exact opposite is true.

Why do companies post jobs on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and the Careers section of their own websites? You’d think the answer would be obvious: they’re looking to fill an open job requisition. Not necessarily! Here are three common reasons for posting a job, none of which is good news for you, the applicant:

  • Trolling for Talent: Posting a job is a relatively inexpensive way for a company to conduct competitive research. While they may have no intention of hiring at the moment, they are very interested in discovering who out there is looking, especially if they’re from a competitor. A flurry of resumes from those currently employed at Company X can be an indicator that all is not well at said organization. This clue can prompt additional research to determine if the competitor is at risk in some way that can be exploited. Welcome to Spy World.
  • Putting on the Ritz: Competitive research works both ways, so if a company wants to give the appearance of stability, even growth, what better way to signal that than posting “We’re hiring!” messages. These postings are specifically designed to portray strength to the marketplace and often have nothing to do with reality. In fact, the same companies may be quietly letting people go instead. So much for transparency.
  • Going Through the Motions: Many jobs you see posted are already filled. The company may be doing a final benchmarking check to make sure there’s northing better than the preferred–often internal–candidate. Or the Hiring Manager has already made a decision about an external hire and HR has slowed down the process by insisting that “policy” dictates that they must post the job internally for a certain length of time and then externally to satisfy the appearance of a “level playing field.” A nice concept with no basis in hiring reality.

As you can see, none of these scenarios work in your favour. Either the job isn’t real, or it isn’t available. And there’s no way to tell that from the posting. So you, the job seeker, assuming that a posting = a job, dutifully submit your application and hear back nothing (“Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.”) When it’s clear you possess the qualifications sought in the posting, this can be more than a disappointment; it’s an ego punch in the gut. After all, if your credentials don’t even warrant a screening interview, then the rest of the talent out there must be so, so much better than you.

Multiply this ten or a hundred-fold (I’ve had clients seek assistance after applying for over 250 jobs with literally NO response), and you might be tempted to give up or lower your sights. You start erasing lines from your resume and applying for positions for which you’re over-qualified, only to get the same results. At this point, some people give up; others turn to a Career Coach to find out “What’s wrong with me?”

One of the first things I tell discouraged clients is, “Once it’s posted, it’s probably too late.” By this I mean that many postings you see online are either bogus or unattainable. What’s called for is not a change of resume, but a change in your search strategy based on how hiring happens.

See: “It’s Not Just Your Resume”

Reverse the roles: you are Hiring Manager who has a vacancy you want to fill. What’s your first step? Chances are slim to none that it’s to contact Human Resources. After all, they’re sticklers for “policy” and you don’t want your hands tied. So, you start by thinking about who you know that might be a good candidate and contact them. If Plan A doesn’t bear fruit, you expand outwards, and let your contacts know on the DL that you’re looking and ask if they know anyone who might be interested. Why this route? Because people like to hire people they know or who are referred by someone they trust. Once they’ve identified a promising candidate, the Hiring Manager contacts them for a chat. If it goes well, they bring them in for an interview. And if that pans out, the HM informs HR that they have an FTE budget that they’re going to use to hire Joe Blow.

This is where HR gets involved, often oblivious to what has been transpiring in the background. They inform the HM “You can’t do that” and explain the policy and steps that need to be followed. So, the HM dances to the tune HR plays, informing HR that when all is said and done, they’re hiring Joe Blow. If you’re not Joe Blow, you never had a chance because the Hiring Manager’s choice had already been made, long before the “posting” ever hit LinkedIn. End of story.

Given the reality, what’s the remedy?

  1. When you see a posted position, do as much sleuthing as you can to determine if it’s real. Having people you can leverage for information is pure gold, so get busy building your LinkedIn contact base, especially if you’ve got fewer than 500 contacts.
  2. If you determine a posting is real, don’t go messing around with your resume. Your resume is about you, so let it represent who you are and what you offer. The place to customize is in a targeted cover letter than demonstrates–not just claims–what in your previous experience qualifies you for this role. That approach will get the attention of the recruiter, who is sitting there with a checklist of qualifications and seeing if they can spot them in your resume. Make their life easier and up the chance you’ll be screened in, not screened out.
  3. Get out of the apply-wait-crickets game. Apply only if you are a near-perfect match (good), find someone on the inside who will boost your candidacy (better) and (best) leverage your contacts to identify people doing the kind of job you want and/or their managers, and get an introduction.

You knew where this was going, right? Networking has gotten a bad rep, as people think of it as calling people they know and hitting them up for a job, which is not recommended. But soliciting assistance from people you know or to whom you’ve been introduced is where you’ll hit paydirt.

Talking to a Hiring Manager before there’s a job on the table is a great way to get ideas, advice and information. Approaching them as a seeker opens the possibility of dialog not available to a candidate who’s being evaluated. Will that conversation lead to a job offer that day? Nope. But it increases your odds dramatically that the HM will remember you when they have or hear about an opportunity two days, two weeks or two months later. After all, there’s a reason why stats consistently indicate that upwards of 75% of all hires are directly or indirectly related to a personal connection.

Since networking is where the action is, make sure you get in the game. There’s an old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I take it one step further: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU. Do your research, build your network in advance, nurture it on an ongoing basis and get on the right side of the hiring statistics. As I like to remind my clients, if you want to be working, work at networking. Let us know if we can help.

* * * * *

Coming Soon Part 3 in the Job Search Follies series, in which we’ll cover “scrams,” close, but no cigar!



Schedule time with me!

Day Merrill

Day Merrill, M.A. Career/Executive Coach

Day Merrill, M.A.
Founder & Principal
2BDetermined Inc.
Office: 416.725.2947
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Unhappy man holding three heavy suitcases in hand. Travel light.

Over the course of three posts, we’re exposing three disturbing trends you need to know about if you’re thinking about a job search. Our first post covered Scams (“Welcome to the Job Search Follies: Starring Scam, Sham & Scram”). Today’s star is Shams–real jobs that are posted but you have no hope of landing.

Most people looking for a new job follow the same predictable course of action: they dust off their resume, update their LinkedIn profile and start applying for jobs. They’re operating under the assumption that all the jobs they see posted are real, open and available for them. Sadly, none of these conditions is guaranteed. In many instances the exact opposite is true.

Why do companies post jobs on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and the Careers section of their own websites? You’d think the answer would be obvious: they’re looking to fill an open job requisition. Not necessarily! Here are three common reasons for posting a job, none of which is good news for you, the applicant:

  • Trolling for Talent: Posting a job is a relatively inexpensive way for a company to conduct competitive research. While they may have no intention of hiring at the moment, they are very interested in discovering who out there is looking, especially if they’re from a competitor. A flurry of resumes from those currently employed at Company X can be an indicator that all is not well at said organization. This clue can prompt additional research to determine if the competitor is at risk in some way that can be exploited. Welcome to Spy World.
  • Putting on the Ritz: Competitive research works both ways, so if a company wants to give the appearance of stability, even growth, what better way to signal that than posting “We’re hiring!” messages. These postings are specifically designed to portray strength to the marketplace and often have nothing to do with reality. In fact, the same companies may be quietly letting people go instead. So much for transparency.
  • Going Through the Motions: Many jobs you see posted are already filled. The company may be doing a final benchmarking check to make sure there’s northing better than the preferred–often internal–candidate. Or the Hiring Manager has already made a decision about an external hire and HR has slowed down the process by insisting that “policy” dictates that they must post the job internally for a certain length of time and then externally to satisfy the appearance of a “level playing field.” A nice concept with no basis in hiring reality.

As you can see, none of these scenarios work in your favour. Either the job isn’t real, or it isn’t available. And there’s no way to tell that from the posting. So you, the job seeker, assuming that a posting = a job, dutifully submit your application and hear back nothing (“Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.”) When it’s clear you possess the qualifications sought in the posting, this can be more than a disappointment; it’s an ego punch in the gut. After all, if your credentials don’t even warrant a screening interview, then the rest of the talent out there must be so, so much better than you.

Multiply this ten or a hundred-fold (I’ve had clients seek assistance after applying for over 250 jobs with literally NO response), and you might be tempted to give up or lower your sights. You start erasing lines from your resume and applying for positions for which you’re over-qualified, only to get the same results. At this point, some people give up; others turn to a Career Coach to find out “What’s wrong with me?”

One of the first things I tell discouraged clients is, “Once it’s posted, it’s probably too late.” By this I mean that many postings you see online are either bogus or unattainable. What’s called for is not a change of resume, but a change in your search strategy based on how hiring happens.

See: “It’s Not Just Your Resume”

Reverse the roles: you are Hiring Manager who has a vacancy you want to fill. What’s your first step? Chances are slim to none that it’s to contact Human Resources. After all, they’re sticklers for “policy” and you don’t want your hands tied. So, you start by thinking about who you know that might be a good candidate and contact them. If Plan A doesn’t bear fruit, you expand outwards, and let your contacts know on the DL that you’re looking and ask if they know anyone who might be interested. Why this route? Because people like to hire people they know or who are referred by someone they trust. Once they’ve identified a promising candidate, the Hiring Manager contacts them for a chat. If it goes well, they bring them in for an interview. And if that pans out, the HM informs HR that they have an FTE budget that they’re going to use to hire Joe Blow.

This is where HR gets involved, often oblivious to what has been transpiring in the background. They inform the HM “You can’t do that” and explain the policy and steps that need to be followed. So, the HM dances to the tune HR plays, informing HR that when all is said and done, they’re hiring Joe Blow. If you’re not Joe Blow, you never had a chance because the Hiring Manager’s choice had already been made, long before the “posting” ever hit LinkedIn. End of story.

Given the reality, what’s the remedy?

  1. When you see a posted position, do as much sleuthing as you can to determine if it’s real. Having people you can leverage for information is pure gold, so get busy building your LinkedIn contact base, especially if you’ve got fewer than 500 contacts.
  2. If you determine a posting is real, don’t go messing around with your resume. Your resume is about you, so let it represent who you are and what you offer. The place to customize is in a targeted cover letter than demonstrates–not just claims–what in your previous experience qualifies you for this role. That approach will get the attention of the recruiter, who is sitting there with a checklist of qualifications and seeing if they can spot them in your resume. Make their life easier and up the chance you’ll be screened in, not screened out.
  3. Get out of the apply-wait-crickets game. Apply only if you are a near-perfect match (good), find someone on the inside who will boost your candidacy (better) and (best) leverage your contacts to identify people doing the kind of job you want and/or their managers, and get an introduction.

You knew where this was going, right? Networking has gotten a bad rep, as people think of it as calling people they know and hitting them up for a job, which is not recommended. But soliciting assistance from people you know or to whom you’ve been introduced is where you’ll hit paydirt.

Talking to a Hiring Manager before there’s a job on the table is a great way to get ideas, advice and information. Approaching them as a seeker opens the possibility of dialog not available to a candidate who’s being evaluated. Will that conversation lead to a job offer that day? Nope. But it increases your odds dramatically that the HM will remember you when they have or hear about an opportunity two days, two weeks or two months later. After all, there’s a reason why stats consistently indicate that upwards of 75% of all hires are directly or indirectly related to a personal connection.

Since networking is where the action is, make sure you get in the game. There’s an old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I take it one step further: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU. Do your research, build your network in advance, nurture it on an ongoing basis and get on the right side of the hiring statistics. As I like to remind my clients, if you want to be working, work at networking. Let us know if we can help.

* * * * *

Coming Soon Part 3 in the Job Search Follies series, in which we’ll cover “scrams,” close, but no cigar!



Schedule time with me!

Post Categories