Don’t Believe These Job Search Myths, with Clark Finnical

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 157:

How to Get a Job Without Applying Online, with Clark Finnical

Airdate: September 19, 2018

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publisher of Mac’s List.

I believe that to find a job you can love, you must stop spending all day on job boards. That’s because as many as 80 percent of all jobs never get advertised. To uncover these hidden positions, you must learn how to look for work.

Here’s the good news: job hunting is like any skill. You can get good at it with study and practice.

This show helps you do this. Every Wednesday on Find Your Dream Job, I talk to a different career expert. We discuss tactics and tips you can use to find a job that matters.

In a moment, I’m going to talk to Clark Finnical. He’s the author of a new book about job hunting. It has almost 50 five-star reviews on Amazon. He’s also a veteran job seeker himself.

Clark says much of what we’re told about job hunting isn’t true. Do you believe, for example, that you should never call or write a hiring manager? Or you should only apply for jobs where you meet 80% of qualifications? How about this one – you must tell a hiring manager what you earned at your last job.

Clark says these are all myths. If you ignore these and other lies told to job seekers, you will get better gigs, higher salaries, and more career satisfaction.

Want to learn more? Join me here at the Mac’ List studio as I interview Clark Finnical.

Now, let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Clark Finnical.

Clark Finnical is the author of Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there).

Clark worked in the corporate world for 30 years. He knows firsthand what it’s like to look for a job. He’s done five successful searches himself.

Clark is passionate about dispelling myths that put a job seeker at a disadvantage. He shares his career advice in frequent articles for LinkedIn. He also volunteers as a career coach.

Clark joins us today from Kenneth City, Florida.

Clark, thanks for being on the show.

Clark Finnical:

Thanks for having me, Mac. I appreciate it.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you. Our topic this week. as you know, is job search myths that people need to stop believing. What inspired our conversation is that you have a great article about this topic on LinkedIn. What you’ve found is that a lot of us have misconceptions about job hunting and the hiring process. I’d like to walk through some of those common myths.

At the top of your list, Clark, is a phrase that appears on a lot of job postings and it goes like this, “Do not contact the hiring manager.” Clark, why isn’t this true? Why is this a myth?

Clark Finnical:

Well, we have to put things in perspective and think about the players in the whole job seeking environment. HR, who is putting out the job requisitions, wants to be in charge of the process. They want to the be the conduit, they want to be the channel by which all the applications are funneled, all communications are funneled, to the hiring manager. That’s one reason you why hear that all of the time.

From another perspective, I could see why some hiring managers wouldn’t want to encourage all applicants to call a hiring manager; at the same time, and I’ve researched this, a carefully and well-thought-out call to the hiring manager at the right time, can make a tremendous difference in your career prospects. The reason I say that, Mac, is this: as you know, almost all large employers use applicant tracking systems to manage their candidate selection process. 75  to 90% of all applications are rejected by these applicant tracking or ATS systems. Not only that, they are notorious for misreading applications and resumes.

If you receive one of those automated rejection letters, a call to the hiring manager, a short, well-thought-out, with a quick message as to your unique strengths that they might be interested in, can make all the difference in the world. That’s how I would answer that.

Mac Prichard:

I love that advice and I can imagine listeners thinking, “Gosh, if I do that, I will upset the hiring manager and whatever chances I had of getting ahead in that company will vanish.” What do you say to people who worry that that will backfire, Clark?

Clark Finnical:

That’s totally understandable but what I’m saying is to go through the normal process of applying online and see whether you get to the point of getting an interview. If you don’t, if for whatever reason you get the rejection, now you have nothing to lose by calling the hiring manager. You’ve already been rejected. If you could make that call and craft a very short, succinct, well-thought-out message as to why the hiring manager should be interested in you. Basically what are your strengths that would make him or her think that, “This is someone I have to talk to.” You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.

Mac Prichard:

I want to move on to other items on your list but I know there are listeners who are thinking, “I don’t even know who the hiring manager is.” Quick tips, Clark, about how to identify that person and get their phone number?

Clark Finnical:

Sure. One of the best ways to do that is to do a search. For example, let’s say that I want a financial analyst job for a local company. I will go into LinkedIn and I will see, “Okay, I am a financial analyst, so chances are I would report to the manager of financial analysis or the director of financial analysis.” What I would do in LinkedIn is I would search the name of the company and I would search for that title. That is going to give you the people who are most likely going to be the hiring manager. What you will also be able to ascertain or glean from the job description is, the unique characteristics that are required, that may help you say, “Okay, this looks more like this financial analysis manager or this director of financial analysis”, based on their LinkedIn profiles look like how they match to the job that is posted. That’s how I would pursue that.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so use your detective skills. It’s out there and it’s maybe more of an art than a science but chances are you can’t figure it out.

Clark Finnical:

Exactly.

Mac Prichard:

Here’s another item from your list, Clark, and this is one I know you feel strongly about, it comes through loud and clear in your article. That’s the myth that, “You should only apply for a job if you’ve got 80 percent or more of the posted requirements.” Clark, why isn’t this true?

Clark Finnical:

Well, I appreciate you asking me this because you’re exactly right, I do feel very strongly about that. Here are the reasons why I don’t follow that advice myself. For one thing, the role that I am currently in (because I have another job in addition to writing), the role that I am currently in today, I didn’t have eighty percent of the job requirements but I was interviewed. I didn’t get the job that I had applied for but I was called back because of the exposure I got in my interview. I was called back for a second interview and this December, I will have been working for five years at that company.

So that’s one reason. Basically, the first reason being, the exposure that you get from interviewing for roles that you might not be at eighty percent or better match. But there are a couple other reasons why I recommend this.

In my experience, I’ve seen job descriptions that are fifteen lines long and one continuous sentence. I’ve seen a hiring manager who’s so busy he told me that he didn’t have time to actually create a job description. They just loaded a template. I’ve had hiring managers tell me that they haven’t fleshed out the role responsibilities. It’s still in flux. I’ve also seen job descriptions where it looks like they’re asking for a Nobel Prize winner.

The bottom line is that those are some of the factors that are going on. One of the other factors is, ever since the internet came, it has been significantly easier for people to apply for work. HR has basically gotten overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications. HR’s not-so-hidden agenda is that they want to reduce the number of applications they recieve. That’s part of it.

Mac Prichard:

In your experience, you’ve seen hiring managers who are kind of an a fishing expedition. They don’t know what they want but they’re using the hiring process as a discovery. I have to ask though, Clark, when you see that job, it interests you, you don’t have all the requirements that are listed, are there tips that you have for listeners that they can incorporate into cover letters, resumes, or other application materials that will increase the likelihood that they’ll get a cal-back or interview when they don’t have all the qualifications?

Clark Finnical:

Definitely, Mac. That’s a great question. When I say you can apply if you have less than eighty percent of the job requirements, it’s important to understand that the way job requisitions are written, they frequently have a lot of corporate jargon and therefore they’re not always clear. I lean towards applying if there’s anything in that role that really looks exciting for you. You may find out that you’re a perfect match because things weren’t well explained in the job description.

I think one of the key things that you have to look at when you’re applying is, when you’re submitting your cover letter, one of the things I strongly believe in is, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you have. When I write my cover letter, I have included quotes from prior bosses that have written LinkedIn recommendations for me. These are recommendations that are the type of things that turn heads. Few things matter more to a hiring manager than what your past boss thought of you. That’s what I would include in the cover letter. I would strongly recommend doing that. I speak about that on, I think one of my LinkedIn posts, and that would be my advice.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. We’re going to take a quick break, Clark. We’ll continue our conversation about these job hunting myths we have to stop paying attention to. What I really want to get to in the next segment is salary history. The idea that you need to share your pay history with the hiring managers. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back after this announcement.

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And now, let’s get back this podcast!

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Clark Finnical. He’s the author of Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there)

We’re talking today about Job Search Myths. These are ideas that many of us carry around, rules unwritten and otherwise, that we think we need to follow.

One of the big ones out there, Clark, is salary history. We think that we do indeed need to tell hiring managers what we earned at our last job. There are disadvantages obviously to a candidate when you do this. Clark, why isn’t this true? Why don’t you need to share your salary history when you’re applying for a position or when you’re talking to a hiring manager before an offer has been made?

Clark Finnical:

Basically, the only reason they are asking for your last salary, or your salary history, is that they want to pay you as little as possible. If you were making eighty thousand, they want to offer you eighty-three or eighty-five. When the best way to determine your value is to go into Glassdoor and Indeed and see what the average salary is for someone with your skills and experience. That is the best way to determine what you should be paid.

Mac Prichard:

Now in some states, and this has happened rather quickly in the last year or two, it’s now illegal in ten states in fact, for employers to ask about salary history. In the places where it’s still legal, what do you recommend candidates do or say when they’re filling out an application that asks for that information or during a phone screener for example, if a recruiter poses that question? What are good ways to respond to that, Clark?

Clark Finnical:

Well, everyone’s situation is unique. We all are in different situations depending upon how quickly we need to get hired or how many offers we have. That’s going to color whatever choices we finally make. Basically, it’s important to keep in mind that you are a valuable person, and to the extent that you can document your value by comparing it to the market, you’re going to be better off and you’re going to help the other people understand your value.

When you’re doing this, you obviously don’t want to just focus on your salary; you want to focus on your accomplishments, on your achievements. You need to explain to people, “Hey, this is what I’ve done. This is what I’ve achieved. This is the money I’ve made, the money I’ve saved, productivity I’ve improved. The difference that I’ve made for past employers.” That should be part of your salary discussion. “These are all the things I’ve done and that’s why I think you should consider the market value when you’re putting together my salary offer.”

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so bring the conversation back to the market value when it’s time to talk about specific numbers. Make sure you’ve done that homework, you’ve looked at Glassdoor, and other sites you’ve mentioned, so you know what the market is paying in your community for the skills that you offer.

Clark Finnical:

Yes.

Mac Prichard:

Here’s another myth that’s out there, and I think you and I are the same vintage, we’re both older workers, and I certainly used to hear this, even in my forties when I was last out on the job market. It’s hiring managers saying to candidates, or recruiters might say this as well, “You’re overqualified.” Why do hiring managers or recruiters say that to candidates, Clark?

Clark Finnical:

Nobody likes hearing it, and the bottom line is, it’s like being told, “That outfit doesn’t make you look fat.” It sounds complementary but it’s really hiding something. What I have found is that “overqualified” is the type of response that people hear when either the recruiter or the hiring manager doesn’t want to tell you why you didn’t get the job. That’s what I see going on when that happens.

Mac Prichard:

Another myth that you mentioned in your list is job boards. As you know, we run a job board here at Mac’s List. You say that employers will often tell a job seeker that, “You have to use our website to find our jobs”, but Clark, you say this isn’t true. Can you tell us more about that?

Clark Finnical:

Well here’s the reason why I say that, and I don’t want to get on your bad side here, Mac…

Mac Prichard:

That’s okay. We’re proud of the value we offer but please, go ahead, Clark.

Clark Finnical:

What I have found is some job seekers will go to spend a tremendous amount of time going through multiple job boards when I have found that I can go to Google and do an advanced search for Financial Analyst in Tampa Bay, with specific skill sets, and you can get every single financial analyst role hosted on any website that is available to apply for. Basically, it comes down to this: Google is indexing our web for us and it’s basically using Google’s search strengths to locate all of our jobs. I’ve just always found that to be something that is worth considering because instead of going to multiple places, you will see every single position that is posted in your area for the jobs you want. I’ve found it amazing how easy it is to do that.

Mac Prichard:

It’s a big change in the industry. We do run an original job board here at Mac’s List. Our listeners of the podcast are across the country and even overseas, and as you say, Google has begun indexing jobs in the last eighteen months. It is indeed true, if you put into the search box the kind of position you’re looking for, Google has indexed all the boards and those positions will pop up. It is a change and I think it makes it easier for the job seeker. For companies like ours, we clearly have to offer more than just job listings and I think successful boards like ours build community. I think the sites that will endure would do the same. I’m glad you brought that up.

Here’s something on your list, Clark, that surprised me. You said people shouldn’t put a street address on a resume. Why is that?

Clark Finnical:

Well, that’s a great question. Donna Svei wrote a wonderful post about this. What she explained is happening, is that recruiters will look at your address and they will determine…and when I say recruiters, I guess it could be internal as well as external, but they’re going to say, “Oh, this person lives forty miles away from the job location. They will quit in less than six months and I will have to go through this process all over again.” While I understand why they might think that, I don’t think they are taking into consideration the fact that people relocate, some people like the commute, they listen to books on tape and things like that. Basically, the whole fact of this is to… Instead of using your home address, use the address of the last place you worked at. Basically, you’re using a metropolitan area address. Basically, just the city as a whole. There are also safety reasons as to why you shouldn’t put your address on your resume in terms of people stalking you.

You just need to remember that anything that you put on your resume can and will be used against you in the employment court and how you’re evaluated by recruiters and hiring managers.

Mac Prichard:

I know that other career coaches have shared on the show that another reason not to put your street or postal address on your resume is that it’s using up valuable space. It’s not a fact that, according to these other experts, that is that important to hiring managers, so you should use that space for other purposes.

I also had a guest who once pointed out that you can find a picture of someone’s home just by plugging in that postal address. Some people are uncomfortable with that.

Well, Clark, it’s been a great conversation. Tell us, what’s next for you?

Clark Finnical:

Mac, I appreciate that. Right now, I am working on finishing book number two. That is a book that’s tentatively titled as, LinkedIn Strategies To Take Your Career to the Next Level. I’m very excited about that.

Mac Prichard:

Congratulations, I look forward to hearing about it’s publication. I know people can learn more about you and the career advice you offer by visiting your LinkedIn page. Clark, thanks for being on the program today.

Clark Finnical:

Thank you, Mac. I appreciate it.

Mac Prichard:

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Clark Finnical as much as I did. One of the big takeaways for me was his point about reaching out to hiring managers, especially after you’ve received a note that you are no longer a candidate for the job. I like Clark’s point that you have nothing to lose by making that contact. He had terrific advice about how you find that person. I hope you take that into consideration as you do your own search.

We’ll be back next Wednesday. But if you can’t wait until then, download our 2018 guide to the year’s best career podcasts. You’ll find almost 80 shows, including this one, that can help you move ahead with your career and find a job that you can love.  Go to macslist.org/topcareerpodcasts.

In the meantime, thanks for joining us for today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

Come back next week, when our special guest will be Jamie Lee. She’ll explain Why We Need to Use the F-word in Negotiation.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

Do you think it’s a best practice to never call or write a hiring manager? Or that you should only apply for jobs where you meet 80% of qualifications? How about the notion that you must tell a hiring manager what you earned at your last job? Our guest Clark Finnical debunks these job search myths and unlocks the keys to finding more career satisfaction on this episode of Find Your Dream Job.

About Our Guest: Clark Finnical

Clark Finnical is the author of “Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there)”. Clark worked in the corporate world for 30 years. And he knows firsthand what it’s like to look for a job. He’s done five successful searches himself. Clark is passionate about dispelling myths that put a job seeker at a disadvantage. He shares his career advice in frequent articles for LinkedIn. He also volunteers as a career coach.

Resources Shared in This Episode: