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Jan 23, 2015
This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.

Editor’s Note: Readers frequently ask about past TLNT articles, so every Friday, we republish a Classic TLNT post.

I was asked recently by a job seeker: “How do I zero in positions that I’m qualified for and, those that I will be challenged by?” (and a shout out to Michael Kubica, MBA for the question).

After going back and forth with Mike, I think the question is really: “How do I get a job that will use my skills and that I will actually find interesting?

Most people don’t really want to be “challenged” – they use the word “challenged” or “challenging,” but when push comes to shove, what most people want is a job where they feel like their contributions are valuable to the organization, and, they’re using the skills they are best at.

What job seekers do wrong

People want to feel successful – not challenged. Many times when you’re challenged, you fail. Aost people don’t like to fail – and will quit. But job seekers know that hiring managers and HR folks to hear the “challenge” word!

It boils down to this: what are failed job seekers doing wrong?

The No. 1 thing that job seekers are doing wrong? Only looking for jobs from jobs ads that are posted!

I hear it all the time — “I’ve been applying to jobs constantly. I’m on the job boards, Indeed, directly to company pages, etc. There isn’t a job posted that I haven’t applied to. There’s nothing left I can do…” The reality is — and HR and Talent Pros know this — that most jobs that you really want never really get posted.

How most jobs get filled today

Here’s how a vast majority of jobs get filled today:

  • Step 1: Need for a position is identified in an organization. This might be for a new position being created, a person who resigned, termination, etc. – but now we know we need a body.
  • Step 2: The hiring manager, or person who knows of the need first, has one thought: “Who do I know, right now, that would fit this position?”
  • Step 3: If there is an answer to the question in Step 2 – that person is contacted.

(Realize that never in the first three steps was there any mention of “Oh, we better post that position quickly!” This all happens before any of that talk.)

  • Step 4: If there is a viable candidate to fill the need of the organization, that position is filled with that person and the position is never posted.

I say ‘it’s never posted’, but we all know that’s not true – it gets “posted,” but it really doesn’t get posted. It only gets posted to close the loop on the recruiting process, but the resource to fill the need has already been identified, so you applying to that posting is an exercise futility.

Yes, you really must network

So many of the positions that get filled in our organizations are filled like this. Who do you know? I know someone. Bam! Filled.

As a job seeker, you’ve got no shot at these “prime” positions. That’s something behind the curtain that HR/Talent Pros don’t want you to know.

So, what can job seekers do to combat this?

It’s simple — network. Connect with people in your expertise in the companies you want to work at in the area you want to work. As a job seeker you want to put yourself into the minds of those individual. Then when they find out they’re going to have a need, your name comes up in that conversation.

So, keep posting but spend at least double the time you do posting networking and meeting those who will be in those conversations. If you do, you’ll open yourself up to an entire other bucket of potential openings!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.