The Throw it and See What Sticks Approach will not work in your job search!

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

“Hey Mark-

Thank you for accepting my invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Please let me know how I can help you.

I am a Purchasing Professional in transition. Any suggestions?”

Shortly after sending a LinkedIn request from this gentleman, I received this email. I am certain I am one of many recruiters this individual reached out to. Naturally, this person had no idea what my industry, role support or leverage/networking capability was. He was hoping that someone could link up with him and provide him with the next career opportunity. Without further information about what specific area of purchasing he was involved in (vendor relations, supply chain, operations, inventory, etc.) it was impossible to provide an educated response so I did reach out for further information and at the the time of publication have yet to hear back (Four days later).

It got me thinking that with all the emphasis on the high unemployment rate and the slowing job creation growth rate, maybe the slowing growth rate is not the only concern. My experiences have indicated that for many, we don’t know how to be “unemployed”. The art of the career search is a delicate process of focus, research, marketing, communications and sales. It is a precise and patient process that in the end, if done correctly, could yield you a career move that is far better than your previous role. So why are so many cheating or being just lazy with their approach?

Because they believe they can solve their unemployment dilemma with volume and numbers.

I am here to tell you that the “Throw it and see what sticks approach” rarely works.

Before I committed to my theory, I decided to try a little experiment. Thank you to my physics and chemistry teachers in high school for providing me with the precise know how to effectively conduct the experience, examine my findings and draw efficient conclusions. I took marshmallows, gummi bears and Swedish fish and began. I will say the sample sizes were equal before I began, but the Swedish fish are so yummy. One by one I threw them against the white wall of the house to see if in fact they would stick. My results were conclusive. One hundred percent of the test samples did not stick. Thus, the practice of “throw it and see what sticks” does in fact not work.

Then I decided to extend my social experiment to Facebook. I have a number of Facebook “friends” in the Charleston area. Predominately, they are businesses and the reason behind my many local business connections is for the social calendar it presents. It is an opportunity for me to see what music, theater, and dining options are available to me on any given day or week. Since I have a high number of “mutual friends” I have gotten a number of requests for connecting with people I have never spoken a word to nor do I expect to. I am trying to figure out why. I am not a local business, I am not offering a service. I am just ME! So why? Maybe they just feel like they need to since we have many mutual friends or because of the large numbers of connections they feel they should know more for some reason unknown to themselves. I even see this as a sub-set to the “throw it and see what sticks” approach.

Now what is wrong with this approach? Beyond the obvious that it lacks focus, innovation and research, it is a flawed approach. Given the increasing population and the limited job growth concerns that we will be dealing with for several years to come, organizations are becoming leaner and relying on specialized talent to fill the limited needs. Having industry knowledge, cultural experience, soft skills and technical skills are going to be the key to success in this job market.

Companies are becoming more in tune with the “complete candidate” The complete candidate is a package deal. That is the resume, the career flow, the soft skills, the specific technical capabilities and the social interaction. Social Interaction: What does that mean?

That means:

1. The behaviors and actions on social networking channels?
2. How aggressive and focused is your behavior in your job search process (How many roles do you apply to, how often do you call recruiters, how much effort are you putting into your search.)
3. How well do you know yourself (What are your strengths, what are your areas of improvement? Are you leveraging your strengths?)
4. Are you showing personal and professional growth?
5. What other areas of your life are completing your personality (Volunteer work, community service, communities)

We are no longer summed up by a resume/CV. We are now part of the growing cloud of life; the sum of all our actions. Each choice we make in our careers, training, community and social life is a permanent tattoo on our image or personal brand.

The key to a successful career transition is a clear focus on what has made you who you are and then take that mirror image of yourself to the next level and think different. In a market that is more competitive now than it has ever been before, the critical need to stand out from the crowd and re-invent may be the most important aspect of your search. Your skills will provide your with the tool kit to succeed once you have the job, but your unique approach will get your foot in the door.

When you wake up and sit down in front of your IPad, PC or laptop, think about how you will approach your career search, determine if your current marketing plan is working and then re-invent yourself.

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