Knowledge-Powered Job Search

Knowledge plays a critical role in effective job search campaigns, in multiple ways. What I’m talking about today revolves around the old saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” and its revised contrary version, “What you don’t know CAN hurt you!” To paraphrase another oldie but goodie, “Ignorance is (NOT) bliss.” You undoubtedly can’t achieve perfection, which would mean obtaining all the potentially relevant information that you would need for a 100% effective job search, because we don’t live in a perfect world. However, if you are currently planning or considering a search for a new employment opportunity, you do want to gather as much as you reasonably can, and that includes getting a sense of what’s going on in the minds and behavior of both hiring managers and HR professionals.

Twelve “Dirty Little Secrets” of Recruiters

Dr. John Sullivan wrote an article titled “Recruiting’s Dirty Little Secrets” (, Dec. 26, 2011) that might give you an eye-opening insight into some of what goes on behind the scenes. I knew about or suspected at least some of the issues he describes, but others were not so familiar to me.The entire article is well worth reading, but here are a few snippets to get you thinking:

  • The corporate black hole–because of recruiter overload or other problems, when you submit your resume to a corporate career site, it might have zero likelihood of actually being reviewed.
  • Some companies are blocked–two companies could have an illegal secret agreement not to hire each others’ employees. If your company has such an agreement, the other company won’t even consider you, and you won’t know why.
  • Technology may eliminate you–you could have a very well-done, well-targeted resume and still not get past the initial electronic screening. As Sullivan’s article notes, “In one test, only 12% of specially written “perfect resumes” made it through this initial step, although in theory, 100% should have made it.”

How do You Tackle the Job Search Knowledge Dilemma?

First, acknowledge that you’re not likely to come even close to 100% success in overcoming the kinds of obstacles Sullivan mentions in his article. They contain a number of factors over which you have little or no control. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can be aware of the potential issues and try to conduct your job search in such a way as to negate or minimize them. For one thing, you can take the advice offered by a number of experts and connect directly with hiring managers at the companies you’re interested in, so you can bypass the HR screen-out process. (If busy hiring managers are the cause of the problem, that’s a different issue!)

Also, work on expanding your knowledge base by reinforcing your network relationships, actively communicating with them whenever appropriate, and so on. Check your LinkedIn contacts and those of other groups or organizations you belong to, to see whether any people there are connected with companies you’re interested in working for. You might be able to garner some useful tips and insights from them.

A suggestion somewhat related to having a knowledge-powered job search is to examine your background and your career marketing documents thoroughly to see if you can spot any potential “gotchas” and take action to counteract them. For example, some people who are “between jobs” label themselves as independent consultants to avoid having a gap on their resume. Unfortunately, that tactic has been overworked and can actually backfire unless you can show some strong results from your consulting activities (for example, a couple of major clients you worked with successfully).

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