Getting More Interviews

Although this book's focus is on improving your interviewing skills, you won't be able to put those skills to work unless you get interviews. That's why I have included this chapter. This short chapter describes the job search methods that I have found can substantially reduce the time required to get a job. The techniques go beyond traditional methods to show you how to land interviews before anyone else ever knows there's an opening. Although I have written more thorough job search books, the information in this chapter may be all you need to get a better job in less time.

The Four Stages of a Job Opening

Most jobs are filled before employers even need to advertise them. To find these opportunities, you have to get in to an employer before the job is made fully public. Here are the four stages of a job opening:

1. There is no job open now. Before a job is created or available, it obviously does not exist. If you asked an employer if he or she had a job opening at this stage, that person would say "No." Perhaps no openings are planned or all positions are occupied.

In a conventional job search, there would be no basis for you to have an interview with this employer. Most job seekers completely ignore the opportunities that exist in this situation. Yet should an opening become available at any time in the future, those who are already known to the employer will be considered before all others. About 25 percent of all jobs are filled by people the employer knows of before the job is even open.

2. No formal opening exists, but one or more insiders know of a possibility. As time goes on, someone in an organization can usually anticipate a position becoming available before one actually opens up. It could be the result of a new marketing campaign or product, an increase in business, an observation that someone is not doing well on the job, someone who is thinking about relocating, or a variety of other things. It's not always the boss who knows first, either.

In previous jobs, I have often known that a coworker was looking for another job even though the boss did not. Or I wondered why a certain person didn't get fired. Typically, if you were to ask an employer if there were any job openings at this stage, you would be told "No" once again. And there is no job openingyet. For this reason, most job seekers keep on looking, not realizing that a job opportunity is right before them. Unfortunately for them, about 50 percent of all jobs are filled by people whom the employer knows by this stage of an opening.

3. A formal opening now exists, but it has not been advertised. At some point in time, the boss finally says that, yes, there is a job opening and that the organization is looking for someone to fill it. However, with few exceptions, days or even weeks go by before that job is advertised in some public way. If you were to ask whether a job opening exists at this stage, you might still get a "No," depending on whom you ask.

In larger organizations, even the human resources department doesn't get formal notice of an opening for days or even weeks after the opening is known to people who work in the affected department. In large organizations, people who work there often don't know of openings in other departments. In smaller organizations, of course, most staff would know of any formal openings.

In any case, once a job opening finally reaches this stage, it is the first time a person using a conventional approach to the job search might get a "Yes" response to the question of whether any openings were available. About 75 percent of all jobs are filled by someone who finds out about the job before it leaves this stage.

4. The job opening is finally advertised. As more time goes by and a job opening does not get filled, it might be advertised in the newspaper or posted online, a sign may be hung in the window, career services are notified, or some other action is taken to make the opening known to the general public. At this stage, virtually every job seeker can know about the opening, and if the job is reasonably desirable, a thundering horde of job seekers will now come after it.

What the Four Stages Mean to You

As the previous section explained, you can be considered for a job opening long before a formal opening exists and long before it is advertised. Most jobs are never advertised because someone like you gets there before the job needs to be advertised. Employers don't like to hire strangers. They prefer to hire people they already know or who are referred to them by someone they know. Many are willing to talk to you even before they have a job opening if you approach them in the right way. Once you know each other, of course, you are no longer strangers.

About 25 percent of the people who get hired become known to the employer before a job opening exists. Another 25 percent or so of those who get hired find out about the opening during the second stage of a job opening. Jobs that are filled during the first and second stages of a job opening are simply not available to someone using traditional job search methods. Half of all jobs are filled by the time traditional search methods come into play.

The Most Important Job Search Rule of All

The four stages of a job opening make it clear that most jobs are filled before they are advertised. This pattern illustrates the most important job search rule of all:

Don't wait until the job is open before asking for an interview!

The best time to search for a job is before anyone else knows about it. Most jobs are filled by someone the employer meets before a job is formally open. So the key is to meet people who can hire you before a job is available. For this reason, these jobs are sometimes referred to as the hidden job market or the networked job market. Instead of saying "Do you have any jobs open?" say "I realize you may not have any openings now, but I would still like to talk to you about the possibility of future openings." By using this simple approach, you will hear many employers say "Yes" instead of "No." Not all, but many.

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