Tag Archive for: career advice

Three Reasons Why You Should Pay Employers A Courtesy Visit

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” — Milton Berle

While looking for jobs after my graduate degree, I often encountered a stumbling block when applying online.

Everyone does the same thing.

The implication?

I don’t get the attention that I want.

One day, I decided to try something different.

I approached key persons in choice organisations on LinkedIn and asked for a referral.

I wanted to keep it focused, so I only spoke to three firms as a start.

After visiting and conversing with these firms, I realised they needed new employees. Yet it was never posted online.

During our chat, they would say things along the lines of:

We were thinking about adding more staff, as we are busy now.

We just launched a new project and plan to recruit soon.

This revelation got me thinking.

If they are looking for staff to fill positions, why haven’t they advertised these roles online yet?

I quickly concluded that there is a hidden job market.

Employers might not post some job ads online due to several reasons.

 


They Don’t Know They Need Someone

… Until the right person shows up

Sometimes, employers don’t know they need someone until the right person with the right skills shows up at their door.

It’s like realising you are hungry after someone presents you with a nice meal. Your tummy signals to your brain. Immediately, you realise you are hungry.

It’s the same with employers too.

Many don’t realise they need someone until the right person shows up.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” — Chris Grosser

A few years back, I approached some employers, and I was surprised by the number who became interested and wanted to offer me a role.

It turns out they had workloads and didn’t realise they needed an extra hand until I showed up.

Make a list of employer wishlists and pay them a visit. It might be your lucky day. I’d suggest you network with relevant staff on LinkedIn before showing up.

 


They Are Too Busy To Post The Job Online

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” — Seneca

What if they realise a position needs to be advertised online yet haven’t done it?

Life gets busy, and employers get busy too. The pending job ad might be sitting on HR’s desk. They just haven’t got to it yet, because of other priorities.

So, if you are lucky enough to find this employer while the job ad is still pending, your chances of getting the job are higher.

You’d be saving the employer some good money and time.

They want it easy.

They don’t jump online to post these jobs straightaway.

Online applications are commonplace today. An overwhelming number of job seekers wait to respond to job ads. This is how they know how to job hunt.

While this might be good for employers, it does present new challenges. They must deal with hundreds or thousands of applications.

While large organisations have the resources, such as the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), to manage these applications, small to medium-sized firms don’t have these resources.

They prefer not to have these posted online (yet) and only want to discuss if they find a suitable candidate via referral or other means.

If you get lucky and come across this employer with a job you want, then your chances of landing a role are higher.

Why?

You will be in the driver’s seat to land the role.

 


They Are Waiting For An Internal Referral

Many employers prefer referrals to the traditional job ad response route.

It’s easier.

Scan 500+ applications for one position, or wave a magic wand and find the super candidate in front of you. Which would you prefer?

Some employers reward referrals with benefits after finalising the recruitment process.

At every job, I get asked if I know someone who might be a good fit for a new role before it goes public.

You see, hiring a new employee brings its risks. You don’t know if the person will perform well on the job. Many employers have this fear, too, so the job does not make it online immediately.

If you know an insider within a company, check with them to understand their current needs.

Ask for their current challenges and see how you can use this information to your advantage.

Sure, you might not always get in, but good chances are you would be getting in if they need someone that fits your skills.

 


Closing Thoughts

There are many reasons why you should approach employers at random. You don’t have to wait for a job ad to go public before you speak with them.

Many employers prefer a referral, don’t know they need someone or are too busy to post the job application online.

If you struggle to find jobs through the online application, I encourage you to consider other routes by meeting the employers directly. It might be your lucky day, and this meeting might end with a contract.

Sure, there might be some misses, but all you need is one YES. And the thousand NOs will no longer matter once you get this one YES.

Good luck!


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Quality Over Speed

“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” — Chinese Proverb

Quality is not the same as speed.

I was chatting with a close friend a couple of years ago. Let’s call him John. It was one of those quiet evenings when there wasn’t much to do, so we had all the time to chat through our challenges.

He knew I had just completed my postgraduate degree and was open to job opportunities.

While we spoke, he got a notification on his phone that a new job matching my criteria had been posted. Not just that, it was in a company I was interested in joining.

He didn’t tell me what had happened immediately. All I noticed was an innocent smile on his face. I immediately asked him why.

He told me a job had been posted and advised that I left everything else I was doing to send my application, as I might be considered for the role because I would most likely be the first to apply. He stated that being the first to apply for a new position will put me ahead of others and help me land the opportunity.

John’s statement got me thinking.


The First Can Become The Last

“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize”

— Shigeo Shingo

Photo by Matt Lee on Unsplash

I know the rush of job applications, especially when it comes to online applications.

Employers receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications for a single role. Depending on the company’s popularity, this can even run into thousands.

So, I understood his point when he said I needed to be the first to apply for the role.

Unfortunately, this does not work as you think it does.

Being the first to apply for a role doesn’t automatically mean the recruiter will shut the application and ring you up immediately to schedule you for an interview. The hiring manager might not even notice your application until after the application window has passed.

 


The Downsides Of Rushing In

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” — William A. Foster

While sending your application as soon as possible is a great idea, there are downsides to rushing in.

Employers take quality time to prepare position descriptions for job ads and therefore warrants quality application to be received from the end of the applicants.

Unfortunately, rushing your application five minutes after the job was posted to impress the employer does not automatically mean the job will be handed to you like fresh cake straight out of the oven.

In most cases, the quality of your application may not contain keywords that can go through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) system. Your application might also contain errors that can cost you the job. Rushing in to impress the employer might cause you more harm than good.


Your Goal Is To Put In A Quality Application

“Quality is not act. It is a habit.” — Aristotle

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Sending an application five minutes after it’s posted is nearly impossible.

I believe the real goal should be to apply as soon as possible but with a quality application. What’s the use of applying for a job if you wouldn’t be considered? Instead, take your time to target your application to the job ad and submit a quality application.

I have applied for jobs severally, and I can tell you it does take time to prepare a solid application. Despite my experience as a career advisor, it still takes me about 4–6 hours to submit a quality response to a job application.

So, I was confident it wasn’t good advice to apply immediately after the job was posted to impress the recruiting manager.

A recruiter will not be impressed by receiving a generic application immediately after posting a job. They are unlikely to see your application. If they do, it’s doubtful it will be considered because it will be generic.


Closing Thoughts

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time.” — Unknown

Don’t confuse quality with speed.

You might have been job hunting for a while and need to submit your application for a dream job immediately.

While it’s generally a good idea to apply as soon as possible, you also want to ensure you don’t neglect quality in the process.

Speed is not the same as quality. Take the time you need to develop a strong application and then apply.


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Top 10 Networking Mistakes To Avoid In Your Job Search

Networking has become critical in today’s job markets. Many employers now prefer to use non-traditional means to fill open roles within their organisations. They rely on referrals from current staff members, partner organisations and other referral sources. They trust the referrals from these sources, as they consider them less risky than sourcing talents from traditional job ads. The usual recruiting process takes ample time and resources to scale through the series of shortlisting, interviewing, and notification of candidates at different points of the interview process.

Networking is essential for job seekers; however, it can also be challenging, as it’s relatively easy to make mistakes during the networking process. This post will discuss the mistakes professionals make when networking.

 


#1. Waiting until you need to network

Networking under desperation does not work well. Start networking today

A job search process can be long and tedious, and it may take several months to land the job you want. It can be tempting to put-off networking until you need a job. However, building your network now is the smartest thing you can do when you don’t need one. Strong relationships with other professionals will open up doors for you when the time comes.

Waiting until the last minute or before you need help to start networking can severely hurt your chances of landing a job, as you will be a lot more under pressure to seek networking rewards that may not come outrightly. Networking under desperation does not work well. Your new network may detect you are all out to feed on them, which can hurt your chances of gaining a deep connection with your network and striking up a good conversation.

Even when you don’t need it, continuous networking ensures you have a wide range of networks you can tap into when you eventually need help. This move can save you from the emotional dilemma and the untold pressures you encounter when you desperately need a job.

Therefore, ensure you grow your network daily by meeting and connecting with professionals and mentors in your field who might be able to hear you out when you eventually need someone to talk to. This activity affords you some time to understand each other before actually reaching out for assistance. You can continually grow your network by:

  • Attending networking events in your locality
  • Expanding your network on LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Joining relevant groups — both online and locally
  • Following influential and notable professionals in your industry

     


#2. Asking for a job outrightly

Networking is a process —it takes time to establish trust and build rapport

After a long job search, it might be tempting to put all your requests before a connection you just met and make demands outrightly. Do not make this mistake — build trust and rapport with the person and get to know each other first by being genuinely interested in learning about their work. Getting useful information from your new network is your primary goal.

You don’t want to be perceived as needy and desperate. Asking for favours on your first meeting is not ideal, as most professionals are unlikely to do any favours for someone or offer assistance to someone they just met and barely know. Networking with a new person is similar to developing a romantic relationship — it takes time to establish trust and build rapport.


#3. Not researching the potential network

Conduct sufficient research on your network before the meeting

In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re conducting your research before meeting with someone. Whether online or in-person, knowing as much as you can about the person you meet with will help the conversation flow more naturally and give you a better understanding of their interests.

Therefore, ensure you conduct enough research on your network before meeting with them. There are plenty of resources out there, including LinkedIn, that can provide you with information about your network’s interests, career path, and work history.

 


#4. Not having clarity of goals

Define and be clear about your career goals

Networking can be a great way to meet professionals in your field and learn about job openings. However, if you are unsure about what you want, making the most of these meetings can be challenging. To ensure you are adequately prepared for your networking meeting:

  1. Be clear about your career goals
  2. Determine the aim of the meeting — what would you like to take out of the meeting
  3. Ask the right questions — be prepared to ask questions that show your genuine interest in the person and their work.

Knowing what you hope to gain from the meeting will help you make the most of your time with the interviewer. By having a specific goal, you can better focus your questions and come away with the information you need.

 


#5. Arriving late for the networking meeting

Don’t ruin all your hard work by arriving late for the meeting

Networking is an essential part of any job hunt, and first impressions last longer, and sometimes there is no other opportunity to make a second impression.

Arriving late for a networking interview might reduce your chances of landing a job even though the connection is ready to help you. You have done the most tedious part of the process by connecting with the right person and organising an interview — don’t ruin all your hard work by arriving late for the meeting.

Try to get to the meeting location at least 5–10 minutes early so you can compose yourself and avoid any last-minute rush. We know life gets in the way, and the unexpected may happen; ensure you notify your network if you are running late.

 


#6. Not following up after a networking meeting

Keep your network alive by staying in touch

If you are like most people, the thought of networking makes your palms sweat and your heart race. It’s difficult enough to put yourself out there and make small talk with strangers, let alone create a lasting impression that could lead to a job opportunity. A networking chat doesn’t have to end the minute the meeting ends. Keep your network alive by staying in touch with your network via social media and other channels.

 


#7. Neglecting personal branding

Know your strengths and put your best foot forward

Before your next networking meeting, make sure you have your personal branding clearly defined. That means having a clear understanding of what makes you unique and different. Knowing how to communicate your strengths confidently will help you make the most of those valuable face-to-face interactions. So take some time to think about what makes you stand out from the crowd, and practice sharing your story in an engaging way. By putting your best foot forward, you’ll be sure to make a great impression on your network.

 


#8. Not meeting enough people

The more people you have in your network, the merrier, and the higher your chances of landing a job

The goal of networking is to get the results you want. It can be tempting to go to sleep after one successful networking meeting. While it’s completely okay to feel fulfilled and satisfied after a networking meeting, you want to keep going.

Do not get your foot off the pedal. When it comes to networking, the more people you have in your network, the merrier, and the higher your chances of landing a job.

Therefore, I encourage you to meet as many people as possible to grow your network and ultimately improve your chances of landing your dream role.

 


#9. No “thank you” note

Show appreciation

Networking can be a great way to meet new people and find jobs. But what do you do after the meeting?

Thanking your networking contacts shows that you appreciate their time and can help keep you in mind for future opportunities.

In addition, everyone is busy, and such a gesture should be appreciated with a simple thank you note. This act will go a long way to let your contact feel valued. Ensure you do the following after your networking meeting:

1. Send a thank-you note within 24 hours of having the meeting.

2. Personalise it, thanking the person for their time and advice.

3. Mention something specific that was discussed in the meeting.

4. Keep it short and sweet.

 


#10. Not dressing the part

Remember to dress the part — first impressions matter.

Networking meetings are an excellent opportunity to connect with people in your industry. You want to make a good impression, so it’s essential to dress well.

It’s easy to get over-prepared for the questions you wish to ask your connection, yet neglecting an essential part of the meeting — dressing up for success.

Dressing for success is vital in the professional world. It’s a chance for you to make a good impression on potential employers, so it’s essential to look your best. Fortunately, dressing well doesn’t have to be expensive — a business casual outfit should work.

 


Final Summary

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to build your professional network. A strong network can help you find jobs before they are even posted, as well as connect you with valuable contacts who can help you advance your career. Networking can help you find a new opportunity or provide an introduction for someone who could potentially hire you.

Networking also allows you to build relationships with people who may be able to help you in your search, or at the very least, put you in touch with someone who can. To make the most of your networking opportunities, it is crucial to avoid these common networking mistakes as you prepare for your next networking meeting.

Good luck!

Thank you for reading Career Digest from Banji Alo. This post is public so feel free to share it.


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The Strategy That Helped Me Improve My Interview Shortlist Rate By 67%

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time.” – Unknown

I recently reflected on my job search journey.

My Return on Application (RoA) has been excellent, and I have been active in different roles over the last few years.

I pondered what I have done differently to ensure I get shortlisted for jobs almost all the time, especially in the last few years.

I realised that a successful job search process involves intentional and directed actions.

There’s a lot you can do and should do as job seekers to make this process guarantee you the results you want.

Here’s my personal three-box system for a successful job application.


Step 1: Ready

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking” – Henry Ford

A successful job search does not happen by chance.

You must be ready to put some time aside to plan your job search.

Before applying for any job, I usually spend a day or two thinking about what I want and whether the role is right for me.

Within this period, I’d also contact the hiring manager and ask them any questions not answered in the job posting. It’s a strategic step. Hiring managers love this step, and it’s very beneficial to me.

Who do I do this?

Gaining clarity is helpful for my planning purposes.

I gather lots of information.

I love a holistic view of the role both from the inside and outside. I want to be sure it’s the right one and won’t waste my time.

It helps me, and it helps the hiring manager.

It’s a win-win.


Step 2: Aim

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” – William A. Foster

A successful job search process requires a strategy. Your goal is to put in your best foot during the application stage to land the job interview. That’s your only job at this stage.

Nothing else matters.

A successful job application process requires a strategy; it requires you to assess the job posting critically and then aim your application at the job posting to ensure it is targeted.

Note the keyword: “targeted”.

I do this 100% of the time. I don’t just spin my resume to a job application like a lazy person. I carefully read the ad and tailor my resume and cover letter to the job posting.

It takes time. I know that for sure, but it’s a pain I have to go through, and it’s what hiring managers love.

This is where I spend most of my time. Roughly 80%.

Once I complete this step, I move on to the final step.


Step 3 – Fire

“Quality is not act.  It is a habit.” – Aristotle

Obviously, as a job seeker, you must do your part by applying for the jobs you want to land. No inputs mean no outputs.

Doing your part is simply to fire your application to the hiring manager’s desk.

Getting your application to this stage will take some time, but it’s worth it.

Sadly, many job seekers throw resumes here and there. They have no plan, no strategy and aren’t ready to commit any time to it. They might apply for 100 jobs daily; all they do is fire, fire, and fire.

Applying to jobs this way may not bring the best results as they have not put in the effort they need to be shortlisted.


There Are No Shortcuts To Job Application Success

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” – Steve Jobs

Remember, job hunting itself is a job.

There’s no other magic to it.

You must be ready to dedicate your time to it daily.

Many job seekers only put in minimal time and expect the best results. Depending on your situation, you might want to put in several hours each day strategically. Make no excuses. You must put in the work to get the results you want.


Final Summary

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

A successful job application process requires planning, strategy and doing your part.

You need to plan your application, aim your efforts towards drafting the best application and then fire your application.

Only by doing this do you stand a chance.

You may not get a 100% response rate, but you put in your best.

Thank you for reading Career Digest from Banji Alo. This post is public so feel free to share it with someone you care about


Whenever you are ready, here are three ways I can help you advance your career:

  • Book me for a 45-mins one-on-one chat to discuss your career. Talk to me directly and have your questions answered.
  • Explore my career services in data analytics. Resume Upgrade, Cover Letter Review, Personal Branding and LinkedIn Profile Optimisation, Interviewing Hacks and Job Search Strategy.
  • Shop my career development and data analytics products.

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Here is the video I uploaded on YouTube this week using Videoscribe.

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