Your Dream Job Might Start in the Mail Room
There are two talent markets. As shown in the graphic, one offers jobs, the other careers. In order to maximize your lifetime personal growth, you need to find jobs in the career market. Unfortunately, this is not easy and there are many forces working against you. Understanding these negative forces is the first step in developing a career plan and meeting your personal development goals.
The job market is impersonal, time consuming and inefficient. This market is represented by the bottom portion of the hourglass-like image. In this marketplace, people are filtered on their job hunting status, their compensation needs and their current level of skills and experiences. AI is being used to mask these inefficiencies. The jobs being offered are ill-defined and the selection criteria to mix and match candidates rest on shaky assumptions. As a result, satisfaction, performance and success are problematic. In this market, recruiters and talent leaders are pressured and measured on activity, fill rates and costs. Avoiding mistakes is far more important than improving quality of hire.
Sadly, this market is growing. Technology is the cause, not the solution. We have made it too easy to change jobs. Candidates make long-term career decisions as a result of short-term dissatisfaction and who is willing to pay the most and execute the fastest. Technology vendors feed the frenzy, making it easier to change jobs and forcing companies to up the ante with new technology to feed their lust for the quick hire.
This has long-term personal and societal consequences, but few people seem to care in their quest for hiring at scale.
I made these claims at LinkedIn’s annual recruiter hug fest in Nashville a few weeks ago, and while many agreed, those with the budgets feel spending more money to make flawed processes more efficient is the safer bet. In my opinion this follow-the-leader mentality is the cause of the problem, not the solution. I made these same contentions about 10 years ago at a rival recruiter event prior to the rise of LinkedIn and was asked never to return.
The career market is a high-touch relationship-based process where career growth is the medium of exchange. This is the upper segment of the hourglass-like image. In this market, company and candidate needs are fully understood. Jobs and compensation are both negotiated to achieve a win-win that puts the person on a career trajectory that balances short-term economic needs with long-term personal growth.
Unfortunately, there’s a mistaken belief this process takes too long, despite the obvious benefits to company and candidate alike. It doesn’t, especially if workforce planning is integrated with the company’s annual operating plan and quarterly updates. The reason: You only need 3-4 great referrals and a few targeted prospects to make one great hire, but you need 150 resumes of reasonably qualified people to make one decent hire. And because you’re only dealing with 8-12 highly qualified people at the top of the funnel, you’ll be spending more time with fewer people. However, to pull this off, you need a great job – not a job description listing skills and experience – coupled with an exceptional recruiter and a fully-engaged hiring manager.
Some Job vs. Career Planning Insight
People tend to enter the workforce in a job somewhere in the bottom half of the bottom half of the hourglass. Those that excel in these early spots are typically assigned stretch roles, and if successful move into the upper portion of the job market. Getting through the tipping point where the job and career market intersect is a major game-changer for the person. Those in the career market never need to apply for another job again. Either they are hired or referred by a former co-worker or they’re found by a recruiter who is trained to find top people in any field. If they’re not looking for a job at the time of contact, they’re unlikely to switch unless the new job offers significant upside growth. Accepting these offers accelerates their upward growth path. When these people are looking for another job, they start by networking with the more influential people they’ve met on their journey through the job and career market maze. And once in the career market, they rarely fall back into the job market and the impersonal job hunting process it represents.
While getting into the career market sounds simple, it isn’t. But it’s worth the effort. This means you need to volunteer for stretch assignments irrespective of compensation. It also means you need to commit yourself to succeed regardless of the challenges you’re facing and the effort required. And you can’t make excuses. And you need to bring others along with you. And sometime in the future when you make it, someone will call you a true leader. And they’ll be right.