Find Your Dream Job, Episode 202:
How to Find a Job (Without Using a Job Board), with Lisa Rangel
Airdate: July 31, 2019
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 your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps people find fulfilling careers.
Every Wednesday on this show, I interview a career expert. We discuss the tools you need to find the work you want.
This week, I’m talking to Lisa Rangel about how to find a job, (without using a job board).
She joins us today from Rutherford, New Jersey.
Welcome to the show, Lisa. Let’s get right into it.
Why shouldn’t our listeners go straight to a job board when looking for work?
Hi, Mac, thanks so much for having me on the show.
I am a big believer in if you want to get hired by people, that you should reach out to people. Job boards by no means are bad, in any universal way, but individuals have networks; corporate alumni, college alumni, your social media contacts, your personal contacts, and a lot of studies have shown that about 65 – 70% of hires happen through those networks, and only about 20 – 25% of hires happen through job boards. If you want to be replied to by a person, I’m a big believer in reaching out to people.
You’re not encouraging people to ignore job boards altogether, are you, Lisa?
Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
Can you put that into context for our listeners? How much time should they spend on job boards, in general, do you think?
I think that to spend your time in that breakdown and the remaining 10 – 15% is through third-party recruiters. I think spending your time in that same breakdown is appropriate. I think job seekers can run into some trouble is when they spend most of their time on the job boards. That’s not really going to be…they’re going to find that for most people that’s not really very productive.
Job boards are very good for individuals that are staying in their industry, looking for a similar type of position, or the very obvious next step, somewhat linear progression of a background, because that’s naturally feeding the keyword algorithm.
Whereas, if you’re a career changer or you’ve had a gap or you start taking on additional responsibilities that are not necessarily part of your entire background, so now you’re not heavily keyword weighted, or in a particular area. When your background is not naturally going to be written using all the keywords that maybe are going to exist in the target role that you have, you’re going to find that most likely, you will falter when only submitting to job boards.
It’s just really important to use other channels, which is your networks, the networks I just mentioned. The other thing to keep in mind from a recruiter standpoint, as a recruiter for 13 years, recruiters, hiring managers, whether they’re in HR or outside of HR, when they have an open role, they typically go to their networks first and employees. Again, college networks, alumni, social media connections, and when they don’t find the individual that they want to either interview or even hire, then they typically go to the job board to post it. So then it’s already typically a hard-to-fill position and then when it’s public on a job board, everybody’s posting so you have a lot of competition which is really what makes it a bottleneck for most people.
The other thing to keep in mind with job boards is given that most hiring managers go to employees and people they know first, they sometimes have people earmarked for particular jobs but because of corporate policy and whatnot, they have to post it publicly. A lot of times job postings that are public are already filled and hence, why individuals start to wonder, “Why are they posting a job if it’s already filled?” Well, that’s why. It’s because of the policy and ??? spinning those wheels for the individual.
Okay, well, that’s a lot of great information. Let’s step back and unpack some of that, Lisa, and let’s start with your first point about time. What I’m hearing you say is, the amount of time you spend on a job board really depends on, first, where you are in your career and what your job search goal is. Is that right?
It is. It’s important to really have a goal in which you’re looking when you start your search, that way you have the end in mind. For those individuals that are unsure of where to go next, the goal, frankly, is an exploratory search, and you could still have an idea of who you need to go to get information about how to narrow your search but the key is to always start out with the end in mind. The end in some individual’s cases will be to land a job and for those individuals that are unsure what they want to do next, the end goal is to get information so that they can narrow their search. I think the key is to always have a goal in mind; the goal just maybe further up or further down the spectrum of reaching finalities.
Okay, so for those job seekers with just a laser-defined focus and a clear understanding of what they want, job boards can be useful but for…
Absolutely. Job boards, I feel like they’re a plethora of information. They can help you with job titles that you can then go research the people that you want to reach out to and contact. So I mean, they are by no means to be abandoned but I would say use them more for research and use them in a way that accounts for about 20 to 25% of your job search time.
Okay, and then if you’re uncertain about your goal, what I’m hearing you say is that informational interviews are a good way to find out what opportunities might exist and what might be required but you probably don’t want to use the application process through a job board as sort of a discovery phase, is that right?
Absolutely. Yeah, it’s very true because you’ll submit to the job you think you want to do in hopes of learning more about it, but because you might not have a thorough understanding of what’s required in that job, you might not have the right bullets on your resume or keywords in the content of your document, or your profile, for that matter and then you’re not going to get the interview and you’re going to feel dejected but if you’re reaching out to individuals directly, and you phrase it in a way that you’re looking for an informational discussion, here’s where you think you might be able to add some value and you want to have a discussion around that, at least the expectation is clear that you’re not necessarily applying to the job but it’s more of an informational discussion and people would be…open-minded individuals are going to be more likely to say yes to that request as opposed to thinking that you just want to apply directly to the job, but when they look right at your document they don’t think you qualify so that’s when they’ll not give you a favorable reply.
You also mentioned the importance of referrals, Lisa, and how recruiters and hiring managers rely on these referrals when filling a job. Tell us more about that; why it’s important and what would you say to listeners who think, “Well, gosh, how do I get a referral like that?”
You know, when I recruited, the question was always, when you were on the phone or sent an email or other social media, direct-message tools, you were always asking, “Who do you know?” You weren’t necessarily trying to recruit the individual that you had a connection with all the time, you were asking that person, who do they know who fits this profile? And it’s almost like following the bouncing ball kind of discovery process. You know, if you’re asking 50 people, who do they know, they’re giving you 2 to 3 people apiece and then you’re trying to speak to those 2-3 people apiece or you could see how you start to really broaden your network and possibilities that individuals could serve in a particular role.
For individuals who ask that very valid question of, “How do I get in that?” It’s really, start at themselves. Just the other day in LinkedIn’s premium career group where I am a moderator, someone said, “When everyone says you’re supposed to network but you feel like you’ve exhausted your network, what are you supposed to do?” And when I looked at his profile, you know, he had 500+ connections, he worked at big-name companies, and he went to, you know, a well-regarded school or college. So I said, “Have you reached out to every one of your 500+ connections? Have you looked up individuals from each one of your corporate employers and reached out to them as a corporate alumni connection and leverage that, see what they’re up to? Have you looked for individuals in your major that graduated from your school? Have you gone to professional association meetings and networked there? Have you gone to conventions? Have you gone to conferences?”
I was like, “It really is endless in terms of how you can slice and dice a list of who to network and reach out to.” I said, “So it’s just a matter of seeing the possibilities instead of seeing the limitations.”
What stops people from doing that, Lisa? Why doesn’t someone like that who has all those assets; the graduation from a well-regarded school, time spent at recognized, big corporations, and all those LinkedIn connections, why haven’t they typically leveraged those connections?
That’s a great question and some of the answer…I have my observations and philosophy and in all honesty, some of the answer is probably above my pay grade. I think that the answer can vary for different groups of people. I think that those that might be more senior and have progressed in their career, the thought of reaching out to people they don’t know to kind of pitch their wares again when they kind of feel like they should be in a position of arrival, where people should know who they are and they’ve done this and they don’t have to do it again.
I think there’s just a fear of rejection. I think, for people just starting their careers and I’m not going to just simply do a sweeping, blaming of social media and people don’t know how to talk to each other, but I think there’s just a resistance or fear of reaching out to people and not knowing how to do it, not knowing how to do it directly, and not knowing how to do it person-to-person, when you’ve kind of grown up in a spotlight on social media of people looking at you and now you need to seek out people.
There’s a general theme in every demographic of, “I don’t want to bother them.” And my answer to that is, you know, you will bother some people and frankly, if someone is bothered by you reaching out to them in a polite persistent way, and I’m not necessarily a religious person, but I believe that maybe that’s God’s way of telling you that’s not a place you should be working at.
I think there’s just a general fear. Fear of rejection, fear of it not working, or that sort of thing but I just tell people, you have to focus on what is working, who does reply? If you reach out to 10 people you know, you’ll probably get 6 or 7 responses. If you reach out to 10 people you don’t know, you’re going to have a great day if you get one or two responses and the key is to focus on those 1 or 2, not those 9 or 8 who didn’t reply.
Okay, so be prepared for rejection, focus on your successes. What about people who are just struggling to learn these skills they don’t have them? How do you see the people you work with get good at making these requests and making the most of their networks?
I think you just start small and start out simply. I think individuals think they have to come up with this long email or this rationale and they get caught up in the writing of what they should say or how they should say it and it comes down to the fact that people are people and if you reach out to them like a person without this long, “job search speak” type of email and just a normal person email, you’ll often get a response. I try to tell people tactically not to do anything longer than a scroll or two on a phone because if it’s longer than a scroll or two, most people probably won’t get through it and reply. And put your request simply and concisely and respectfully and you’re going to make mistakes. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes, accept that you’re going to learn things that you didn’t know as you go that will improve the next reaching out and it will get better.
Okay, well, so in summary, thinking about our conversation so far, you need to recognize that many jobs are not posted on job boards. They get filled by referrals. And there’s an opportunity for everybody to both grow and network or leverage their existing contacts, to get in front of hiring managers and others who are making decisions.
There was another point you touched on that I want to address in a moment, which is the jobs that get posted may already have been filled or there’s a candidate in mind for those but we’re going to take a quick break, Lisa. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation about why you need to stop looking at job boards when you’re doing your job search.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Lisa Rangel. She owns and operates two companies: Chameleon Resumes, and the Job Landing Academy,
Lisa, before the break, we were talking about how to find a job (without using a job board) and one of the points you raised is something I hear a lot from job candidates as a concern which is, a worry that when they see a position on a job board, it’s not real. There’s somebody inside who’s already measuring for the drapes for the office, and they’re ready to move in but people are being called in for job interviews and are asked to submit lengthy applications and it’s kind of a show. Lisa, does that actually happen, and if it does, why does it happen?
It does happen. You know, whether it should or it shouldn’t, that’s up for another discussion, for a lot longer than we probably have here but it does happen. I mean, there is internal promotions that happen in organizations but maybe the corporate policy is to post the position. And the very worthy person getting the promotion shouldn’t not get the promotion but they abide by the corporate rules and they’re consistent in executing those corporate rules so they will post it and occasionally, there is someone who’s better for the job that surfaces that they weren’t aware of and it’s not that they don’t go through the process. The person then has to be very heads and tails above the person that’s being groomed and promoted into the job for that switch to happen so, they’re going into the posting with somebody already earmarked for the job, who has earned it in many, many cases. So, that’s typically what’s happening.
Why is the position posted at all and when it is posted, any clues you can share with job seekers so they can understand that this might not be a real opportunity here?
Well, it’s often real but it’s just that someone else has been earmarked for it. So it’s just part of the corporate policy to post the job opening so they can say that everyone knew about it, both internally and externally. But they do have someone in mind and that’s the threshold at which everyone who applies is getting measured against. Versus it being an open role that has nobody in mind. That’s mainly the difference.
Then, the other scenario I thought of just as you rephrased the question was, you know, some third party recruiters, if they specialize in a certain area, certain types of positions, specific professions, specific industries, and they’re getting repeated requests from their corporate clients to present candidates of a specific background, they may run a similar type of add over and over again just to keep that inventory of that type of candidate pipeline full because they often do get roles and they want to be ready because that’s how third-party recruiters generate their feed, is by presenting qualified candidates quickly to their organization as their clients.
They will often preemptively run adds anticipating an opening but technically, the opening isn’t present at the moment but their goal is to get qualified candidates in so that when their client company calls them with a particular opening, they’ve already had an individual screened, qualified, and interested that they can then present very quickly because that’s how they make their connections.
Okay, we’ve talked about why people should step away from job boards during a search and what the value of job boards are as well. Let’s talk about…that’s the why, but let’s talk about the how, Lisa. How do people you work with, how do you see them find work without relying only on job boards? Where do listeners begin?
My company, we’re big advocates of the process of, what are the titles of the individuals you would report to at a particular company? And then look for individuals with those titles at the companies where you’re interested in working and find those individuals. Don’t necessarily go to HR unless of course, you’re in HR, then, of course, you need to find that person you’d report to in an HR’s title. But what are the titles of the prospective processes you will have at companies where you’re interested in working? And create your target list of contacts to reach out to, a target list of hiring managers to reach out to in that way.
This way, you’re going straight to the individual who would oversee someone in your role and be involved, obviously, very intimately, with the hiring person in that role. Frankly, that’s how we found job openings to work on when I recruited so it’s really the same process that we used to find openings to work on because then, I was a third party recruiter so I would find openings to work on and I would fill them and that’s how we made our commissions. It’s best to reach out to individuals that would be responsible for the hiring and the managing of that person and start your relationship building from there.
People make a list of the jobs that interest them, they identify the titles of the people who supervise those positions, they’ve tracked down the email addresses, they’re ready to send that first email to ask for a meeting, what happens next, Lisa?
If they are just emailing the individual without a job posting present and it’s really more of an exploratory discussion and if there is a job posting present, do submit it through the job posting but I would still reach out to a potential manager or someone that sounds like they could be the manager of that role, and reach out to them directly and if it’s an exploratory capacity, you could outline that you’ve done research on the company and based on what you’ve seen combined with what you do, that there could be a possibility that you might be a good addition there but you would welcome an exploratory conversation to see what’s going on with the department and how you could add value. And that’s a general template of that type of email but the more specific you can be, based on your own achievements that may be applicable to what’s going on in the department, based on your research, the stronger that letter will be, but that’s the general template.
Then, if there is an opening present, you can indicate that you’ve applied and you can indicate how, based on what’s in the job description, you have specific achievements that speak to doing that work that’s required in the job description. Speak to what they need and how you have done it successfully in your brief letter, reaching out to them for a meeting.
In your experience, Lisa, why do managers take those meetings, particularly the managers who have an open position that they’re hiring for? Why don’t they simply tell someone who contacts them, “I can’t talk to you, go to HR”?
You’ll always run into people who tell you to contact HR for various reasons. They’ve been slapped on the hand before talking to a candidate because the policy is so strict in that company, or they say to go to HR because they’re not interested in your background or, you know, there’s a myriad of reasons why somebody might say that. But I find that if a particular department head has been struggling to find someone, maybe they’ve miscommunicated with the HR person because maybe the HR person isn’t prioritizing their role for various reasons, and they get someone directly who seems like they could be a good fit for the job, they’re going to make that interview happen because they will try to get the person in and then circle HR on the back end.
Again, you focus on those that reply and I find that if you want to work for someone who breaks the rules a little bit in a good way, is always looking for someone who can really add value to their department and make their job easier, because that’s really what, to me, is the root of every hire is, is are you going to be making their job process easier and their proactive people will take these calls.
Rule followers, people who might be afraid of breaking the policies and are a little lazy or whatever, they’re not going to take the calls but then those are people that you probably don’t want to work for anyways. Again, you focus on those that take the calls from this alternative way of doing this search because they think in an alternative way and I find that you find better quality people to work with and better quality jobs to work on or work in because you know they’re doing a more personalized approach.
Okay, and what does success look like in a conversation like that? Both with a manager who might have an open position that you’ve applied for, and then the other scenario you described where there’s no opening, but this is somebody who is hiring for the kinds of jobs you want. When you walk out of those two rooms, Lisa, what should you hope to get?
Success can be viewed in a few different ways. If it’s an exploratory conversation, there genuinely may not be an opening but they liked you and they’re going to keep you in mind for other things and so success would be that they keep you in mind and touch base every couple of months and in 4 or 5 or 6 months or a year later, something comes up or they may refer you to another area internally if it’s a larger company or within that hiring manager’s own network. They may refer you to someone they know at a different company.
If it’s an opening that prompted you reaching out to that manager, they’re probably going to move you along in the process and you may be a little out of order and meeting a hiring manager first then HR, but then they’re going to facilitate moving you through that process, no matter what order it has to happen.
I find that success can be viewed in a few different ways and that’s 2 different ways in which it can be viewed.
You know, the keyword that jumps out for me as you speak, Lisa, is referral because as you said at the beginning of our conversation, many jobs are filled by referrals and your challenge as a job seeker is to get into that universe of people who are making referrals, isn’t it?
It’s very true and I think you have to be in that mindset because you might go on this exploratory conversation or even a conversation about a defined open role and success can also look like, you realize it’s not for you, so now you have some clarity of what to do next. You might even have a referral for them based on your network. So if you’re looking at it from a give and take standpoint and not just what you can take, I just think, not to sound like all woo-woo but I really believe that karmically that stuff always works out. I think that if you go into these types of meetings, whether it’s exploratory or about a defined position, as a position of equals exchanging information and seeing how you can help each other move forward, success can happen…or success can look very different based on just the connection of two people who have that type of mindset.
You know, I would view…realizing that scenario or that scenario or that new job isn’t for me as a success because now I have defined something I don’t want that helps me figure out and get closer to what I do want and I may be able to refer someone else in which then affects their future so I’d view that as a win. Even though I didn’t get the next interview or the job.
I think it’s just a matter of your mindset of how you view success.
I like your 2 points there about the importance of going into those meetings as a peer, not to be arrogant but recognizing that you have a lot to offer as well and that you have an opportunity, too, to make referrals because everybody who is a professional working in the workplace has skills, and strengths, and things to offer.
Well, Lisa, we could talk about this for a long time.
We can. You’re a joy.
Yeah, but we do have to bring it to a close. I want to ask, what’s next for you?
What’s next for me? So, it’s an exciting time. The month of June 2019 is our 10-year anniversary of Chameleon Resumes, so that’s exciting and we’re also launching a new offshoot of our business called Job Landing Academy, which is really an online academy where our goal is to teach people how to look for a job. I think it’s a skill set that is very lacking in our marketplace, as evidenced by your first question of why people are sometimes afraid to reach out and that’s really what we want to teach everyone to do and we also just recently launched a YouTube channel, ??? YouTube Channel.
That’s what’s going on for us. We have a lot going on and lots to celebrate.
I’m very grateful.
Now, Lisa, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want our listeners to remember when thinking about how to find a job (without using a job board)?
I’d say, use your networks and you have networks. Think of past employers, even if you don’t know individuals you have in common; that employer that you used to work at, college alumni, professional networks, your LinkedIn connections, and go beyond your first degree connections and just reach out to people, spend the majority of your time reaching out to people. Not only does it fill your soul and a personal connection, but you’ll also find it rewarding regardless of the end result of the conversation. But that’s really where people create jobs around talent, it’s where people start to see you in positions that you talk about, and it just yields a much better quality job search experience that yields a better success.
Terrific. Thanks for joining us today, Lisa.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
That was a great conversation with Lisa.
As you probably know, Mac’s List runs a job board. We’re very proud of the value it offers both to job seekers and employers here in the Pacific Northwest but I’ll be the first to tell you most jobs, no one knows how many for certain, don’t appear on job boards.
There are estimates out there that anywhere between 40 and 80% of jobs get filled by word of mouth. So Lisa’s point about the power of referrals is so important and it applies whether you’re learning about a job through word of mouth or you’re coming through the front door, through an online application. Because if you know someone inside an organization who can vouch for you that’s going to help your candidacy so much.
Whether you meet with someone in person or you apply through a job board, you’ve got to have a resume that is in tip-top shape. We’ve got a guide that can help.
It’s called Don’t Make These 8 Killer Resume Mistakes.
And we’ve had more than 3,000 employers post jobs on Mac’s List so I talk to hiring managers all the time and they tell me they see people making the same mistakes again and again on their resumes.
We tell you what those errors are and we show you how to fix them. You can get your free copy of our guide today. Go to resume.macslist.org.
Well, thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.
Please, join us next Wednesday. Our expert will be Roy Notowitz. He’ll share everything you need to know about executive search firms.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.