The best job you can apply for is one that doesn't exist yet. Many people looking for a job make the bad mistake of basing their hunt on job postings. This is a great strategy if you want to minimize your chances for landing a job and to maximize the number of interviews you get without actually getting a job offer. Think about it: if you see a job posting, thousands of other candidates are seeing the very same posting. In these days of high unemployment, you know that each job posting garners dozens or even hundreds of applications, many of these by well qualified candidates. Your application, if it is seen at all, is considered among many others and should you be lucky enough to get invited to interview for the position, you will be one of several candidates, each striving to be the last one standing at the end of the process. Too many steps. Unattractive odds.
There is a better way. How about a job that is tailor-made just for you? Seems like too much to ask for in an economy where jobs are scarce? Well, I got news for you. This is a tried and true strategy that works a lot more often than you think. In fact, this strategy worked for me twice in my career - my current job and my last one. Unfortunately, getting such a job involves the "N word". That's right, networking. I know everyone says it's necessary, and pretty much everyone hates doing it, but this is a special kind of networking, it's networking at the top.
Here is how it goes:
Step I - pick an industry or market
Step II - make sure you understand it well (ideally, this is a market you already know)
Step III - network your way into meeting CEOs in this industry
Step IV - make your pitch
Of course, the trick is step III - CEOs are busy people and are not sitting around waiting for your call. In fact, the only viable way to meet a CEO is to be introduced to one through a mutual acquaintance. That's where the whole networking thing comes in. Don't even think about cold calling or spamming. That's not going to get you hired.
Why a CEO? The good thing about a CEO is that he has no boss (technically it's the board of directors, but they don't deal with such things). If he likes you, he may very well create a position for you where none existed previously. Presto, a position out of thin air. What's more, the position is yours. You don't need to interview against hoards of qualified applicants. Another possible outcome is that the CEO will refer you to a member of his staff to interview with them. That's what happened to me in my previous job. After meeting with the business unit CEO for a networking meeting, he liked me enough to recommend me to his VP of Marketing. A recommendation from the CEO is almost as good as an offer letter... almost...
By the way, before the angry comments start flying my way, I am not against applying for jobs you find on the Internet. Someone has to be getting all those jobs, right? All I am saying is that this is a very competitive and impersonal process and that many applicants (myself included) feel that it's difficult to shine or stand out from the crowd in an e-mail application. I have never gotten a job from an online post. Your results may vary.
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