Hunting the 3 Species of Job Leads

When people come to Career Horizons for help in accelerating their job search success rate, one of the first questions I ask is “What have you been doing to generate leads so far?”  And in asking this question a few thousand times over the years, one pattern has become abundantly clear, which is that most people (whether through lack of training and/or fear of rejection) spend the majority of their time hunting for only a single species of job lead: the published opportunity.

In reality, however, leads of the published variety (those that show up on Internet sites or in the newspaper) are only a small part of the overall hiring ecosystem.  Perhaps 20% at most.  Additionally, their high degree of visibility creates massive competition.  Think of a deer bolting out of the woods and into the crosshairs of a hundred separate hunters, standing there with guns at the ready.  Think you’ll be the one eating venison that night?  So rather than concentrate all of your efforts chasing this one single type of opportunity, I’d highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with and start going after the two other types, as well: emerging leads and newly-created opportunities.

Emerging leads are those jobs that need to be filled, eventually, but that the company hasn’t gotten around to dealing with quite yet.  They happen all the time in Corporate America when certain change events happen, such as when employees retire, get promoted, resign, go on maternity/paternity leave, and make other transitions.  For a certain period of time, weeks or months, the job goes unfilled or the rest of the team picks up the slack in the interim — anticipating a time, down the road, when they will be relieved of these duties through a new hire.  Additionally, some companies have been intending for ages to hire somebody new for a certain position, but have been so busy — or growing so fast — that they simply haven’t gotten around to it.   So savvy job hunters try to uncover these kinds of hidden leads through volume, targeting, and timing.  They proactively initiate conversations with lots of people, and lots of companies in their field, playing the odds that at some point one of the above change events is going to take place — and then suddenly, lo and behold, the company will have a need for their skills!

Newly-created opportunities, on the other hand, are a totally different breed.  In these cases, the employer in question doesn’t perceive that they have any needs and doesn’t have any intention of hiring anybody whatsoever.  So how in the world can somebody get hired in this scenario?  It all comes down to one’s value proposition.  If you truly feel you offer strong ROI to an employer, and are confident that you can make/save a company significantly more money than you would charge them, in salary, you should considering making a direct pitch to the company on why they should create a spot for you.  For example, let’s say you’re an expert in international business who becomes aware that a company is sourcing most of its materials from Korea — when you know, from experience, there are cheaper suppliers available in Mainland China and that tariffs are more favorable in the Chinese market due to recent regulatory changes.  Armed with this information, you’ve got all the ammunition you need to call the company’s CEO and make a case for yourself.  You’ve just got to focus on targeting the right employers, where you could add the most value, and then muster the courage to reach out to them!

Ultimately, searching for these three different kinds of leads always produces better results than simply targeting leads of the published variety alone.   It’s a diversification strategy, if nothing else, and you can trust that pursuing these kinds of “hidden” leads works because companies do it all the time under the umbrellas of direct marketing, telemarketing, and good-old-fashioned pounding the pavement.  What’s that?  You say that you’ve NEVER bought anything from a company that contacted you using one of these direct approaches?  Sorry, I’m afraid I just don’t believe you!  Even if one filters 99% of such calls and mailings out, there’s always that one time when you need to re-roof your house, get your windshield replaced, or hire somebody to mow your lawn — and you suddenly see that special discount coupon in your mailbox, inviting you to pick up the phone.  Again, it’s all about timing, and as a job hunter you need to expose your customers to your message through whatever means possible.

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