When it comes to your career, the worst thing you can do is mistake activity for progress and then complain about your lack of progress.

While a few people will get hired by responding to a job posting, it's the least effective and the least personal way to get a job!

Last year I prepared a series of short videos for a major job board to go along with a new book launch. They fired me when I described how ineffective job boards are and suggested far better alternatives. Despite the rebuff, I finished the series and am now posting many of the modules online. Here’s a link to the introductory video. Below is part 2 describing how recruiters find people for their open job assignments and what you need to do to be found.

Here are the big ideas presented in the video:

  1. Recruiters find people for jobs, not jobs for people. I was a full-time recruiter for more than 25 years (now I only conduct a few searches a year as part of our Performance-based Hiring proof of concept program) while running a very successful search firm. During that time we received thousands of unsolicited resumes. We didn't place more than a handful of these people. The likelihood that someone who sent a resume to us who was a perfect fit for a job we were trying to fill at the time was unlikely. Nowadays companies keep these resumes on file, but from a practical standpoint recruiters only review those that were submitted within the past few months.
  2. A person who is referred to a recruiter from a trusted source is 20X more likely to be considered than someone who responded to a job posting. For one thing, not all jobs are posted. Most often candidates are found through a company’s employee referral program and their information is often received before the posting goes live. Even if a job is posted, those who are referred are put at the top of the resume stack.
  3. A person whose resume or LinkedIn profile is found via a Google search is 5X more likely to be considered than someone who applies directly to a job posting. Most recruiters search through their own resume databases and on LinkedIn to find candidates who best fit their open job requisitions. Often this is done before the posting goes live. Job-seekers need to make sure their resumes and LinkedIn profiles are optimized to be found this way.
  4. If you’re not a perfect match on skills and experiences, your resume is unlikely to even be read. There is a lot of technology that matches a person’s skills, experiences and job titles to what’s listed in the job posting. These resumes are automatically rank-ordered on a best fit basis. More important: recruiters spend no more than 10-15 seconds looking at a summary of each profile before deciding to read it. So even for those in the top of the stack, if the resume doesn’t stand out in some way, the person is unlikely to be considered.

The big point in the video is that you can’t rely on a lottery-like approach to job hunting by applying to as many jobs as possible with the hope you’ll be interviewed. Instead, you need to use a sophisticated marketing effort based on how recruiters find people to fill their open jobs. When it comes to your career, the worst thing you can do is mistake activity for progress and then complain about your lack of progress.

Photo: Kateleigh/Dreamstime


Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He's also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine and BusinessInsider. His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013), provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people. You can continue the conversation on LinkedIn's Essential Guide for Hiring Discussion Group.