You can’t just acquiesce to every aspect of the hiring process without question. It’s imperative to find ways to disrupt the status quo and be seen as an individual.
Because not doing so turns you into a commodity. Another apple or orange, clamoring to be chosen. Which is great for employers, but not good for you. This is particularly crushing for older candidates, who will often find themselves in a race to the bottom against much younger professionals.
So let’s stop it in its tracks.
Here are some ways to head off a “price war” between you and a younger candidate:
1) Commit to Never Answering a Job Posting Directly Again.
Want to stop accruing credit card debt? A good step is to chop up your credit cards.
Want to stop being commoditized? Stop hitting that “Apply” button and find another way to enter the hiring discussion internally. Take some time to see who you know at the company via LinkedIn, and initiate dialogue with them. Identify key decision-makers at the company (think your immediate superior, or the heads of departments you’d be working closely with), look them up on LinkedIn, and send mutual connections you both know a polite request to be introduced.
An estimated 70%+ of roles never go advertised (this number is far higher for executive roles). 70% of the time you won’t even hear back from an employer after you apply for a role online. Even if you do, it’ll be as a commodity, one of many, and that’s a straight shot to low offers (in the event that one is even presented).
It’s time to let this form of low-ROI job searching die.
2) Make Your Career Platform Razor Sharp
The price you command (and how easily you command it) is DIRECTLY RELATED to how focused your platform is. Think about it: we’ll pay almost any price for a specialist who can solve our biggest problem, but the minute someone comes across as a jack-of-all-trades, their value plummets. So if you’ve spent years tacking on additional experience to an outdated resume, or have what amounts to a placeholder LinkedIn Profile lacking any real distinguishing details, now is the time for a reinvention.
-Create a shortlist of target roles, target companies, and target industries. The more precise you can be here, the better.
-Create a shortlist of competitors on LinkedIn who have the roles you want. Save their LinkedIn URLS. Study how they’re promoting themselves in 3 key areas: the LinkedIn Headline, LinkedIn Summary Section, and within the Featured Skills and Endorsements section (keywords). These are important clues into how you should be positioning yourself.
-Create a shortlist of target companies and industries. Follow the companies on LinkedIn to stay apprised of current goings-on and new opportunities.
-Now, REVERSE ENGINEER your career platform, especially your LinkedIn Profile and Resume, to drift in the laneway of competitive success. In other words, don’t take random shots at a dart board. Compose the content, study your competition, study companies, and then adjust so that how you’re coming across is in-line with what’s actually working.
-One more thing- eliminate every scrap of trying to be comprehensive within your work history, or leading with what you want. Your entire career platform is a marketing vehicle, which means you draw the eye to what’s most advantageous for you. Any details which don’t fit the bill, or worse, hurt you (such as a long trail of low-level or meandering roles) should either be consolidated into a single section, or eliminated outright. Second, avoid talking about your goals and aspirations Companies don’t care about that. They care about the PAIN POINTS you can solve. Make your entire platform a way to call attention to your ability to solve these pain points, and you’re golden.
3) Look for Opportunities to Communicate a Different Point-of-View
You know that controversial topic in your industry that no one’s had the guts to address? Write a post on it and publish it on LinkedIn.
Instead of starting an interview by sliding over the resume, lay out a vision for how to address the company’s biggest problems.
If you disagree with something a hiring manager or recruiter says, so be it.
If a potential opportunity falls apart, it falls apart.
But being memorable is a priceless thing, and spending the entire hiring process trying to jump through imaginary hoops is the worst possible way to get there. Instead, plant a flag that’s based on what you truly believe and the best of what you can do, and trust that the RIGHT opportunities will stick.