How to outsmart the broken recruiting system

As we search for a new job, we often slam into a wall of frustration and self-doubt where we aren’t sure how to overcome it or get better results in the hiring process. In this episode, we will look at all of the problems that arise during a job hunt and look at how we can use some new thinking and approaches to short circuit this problem and get better results.

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We are in unprecedented times where too many of us have either been forced into finding a new job or seen our companies are not equipped to be successful, and we want to go somewhere that is. As we set out on that search, we quickly slam into a wall of frustration and depression that comes with searching for a new job. This isn’t anything new, but the combination of the job hunt with everything going on around us seems to be putting a finer point on the problem than what I have seen before. I recently heard from a design that she applied to 130 jobs and got 3 interviews – and she is a GREAT designer.

I am not immune from any of going through the same things as all of you. People tell me all the time that “I could work for any company I wanted” – you want to bet? But I also want to make clear that I think both sides are the problem. This is a broken system and a group of people who continue to engage in that broken system but somehow expect different results. In this episode, we will examine all of the problems that arise during a job hunt and look at how we can use some new thinking and approaches to short circuit these problems and get some better results.

Our problems

Let’s start by walking through the gauntlet of problems we often face in this process. I think the main problem is that there isn’t one problem but rather a process of many steps with multiple points of failure and stress at each step.

You use a spray and pray approach (you problem)
• It all starts when we go into job sites, set up job alerts, and applies to anything we think might even be close to something we think we might like
• This ‘I will take anything’ approach is understandable when you are under pressure to find something new but stepping back it doesn’t make much sense.
• You are setting yourself up for a lot of rejection and stress since you are applying to a job you aren’t the best candidate for

Job descriptions are unrealistic (system problem)
• The other part of that application process is obviously the job descriptions we are responding to.
• Companies ask for insane experience and requirements and we think these are now the standards for those roles
• They usually just go into LinkedIn and weld together five jobs they can find that sounds like what they want or has the same title
• A recent post on LinkedIn about a comical job description showed just how many of you are feeling the same pain and frustration
• 750k views, 12k likes, 700 comments

Internal recruiters often do not know how to identify creative talent (system problem)
• I think often when I talk about this I get a bad rap for putting all the blame on recruiters – and this isn’t the case.
• I think it is a systemic problem and recruiters just become the face of it
• But that system puts them in the position to need to judge the quality of a creative mind through a process that values keywords and where you have worked more than anything.

We get no feedback (system problem)
• You get a form letter or no feedback at all when you just never hear anything
• What do you do this how? How do you improve?
• We take the silence as rejection in the worst possible terms feeding our imposter syndrome

We don’t put in the work (you problem)
• More than a few times recently I have heard from people who have applied to countless jobs without any results
• They worked for teams who put our bad product, toxic companies, or inept leaders
• This because of a comforting excuse for them. They put in the minimum amount of work in their site, resume, LinkedIn, and more.
• As I told someone, just because you work for a company that has a two-star app does not keep you from having a 5-star portfolio
• Prove to everyone through this work that you are ready for something great and just have been in the wrong situation
• This is the Hunger Games. You are not going to great results with minimal effort.
• Once again – work ethic beats talent every time

We don’t take risks or we don’t believe in ourselves (you problem)
• There are also times when we are our own worst enemy to growing our career
• We are afraid to apply for a job that might be more senior than where we don’t think we have the title or experience to be considered for
• Especially a problem with women

The process is demoralizing (both problem)
• This is a process where you are putting our whole life, all our decisions, jobs, and everything else in front of the world asking for validation, acceptance, and praise
• All of this adds up and takes a toll because there are so many points along the process where things can fall apart
• With each rejection, the role you applied for with no response, interview process where they went with someone else instead of you – the stress grows and deepens.

Rethinking our approach

We know the system is broken, riddled with problems, and has been for a long time. So why do we all keep doing the same thing and expecting different results? This is probably the biggest part of the problem is that we know about these problems but we keep expecting different results. We have to take a new approach that gives us a better chance of breaking through and get better results.

What do we do instead?

Before anything make sure you build your brand
• I endlessly talk about this because there is no escaping it.
• If you do not know who you are, what you are good at and why you are different you will struggle in your current role or trying to find a new one
• See episode 106 for more about this

Put in the work on your portfolio and resume
• Tell your story, what sets you apart, etc
• If you want a more senior position use your portfolio to show people why you are ready for it

Reach out, show your passion and ask for a conversation
• Find companies and teams that you are interested in and reach out to the team members and leaders with real and sincere interest
• It sets you apart and makes you a much more than just a resume
• Can get your feedback

Build your network
• Real relationships, not connections, are some of the most valuable things you can have when hunting for a new job
• ADP List mentors

Ask people you know with connections to make introductions
• Introductions where you can create the conversation – not where they do all the work

Be more visible and vocal on social media can draw teams to you
• This is a more passive approach but one that can be just as effective.
• Put your thoughts and experience out there because we all have something of value to share.
• What may seem obvious to you may really help or impress other people
• Story from this week about Jeremy

Take care of your mental health and attitude
• I have been coaching a great designer who had all the skills, and experience but her head space was all wrong
• She had come out of a toxic company, applied to a ton of job and had not been getting the results she wanted.
• This resulted in her being in a dark and self defeating head space. She was going into every situation waiting for the negative, or how it was going to go wrong.
• With that head space that was what kept happening because you could see, hear and feel that energy
• When we started to work on that within a few weeks she got 4 offers in 48 hours
• She had everything she needed except belief in herself and a good head space

If your what you are doing isn’t working – reflect, refine and evolve
• Don’t just keep trying the same things over and over again
• Get feedback, question everything, and keep working.

Final thought

When I talk with creative about these issues I so often find myself coming back to one piece of advice. I have said it on the show before but it bears repeating.

Hope is not a strategy.

Too much of our search is based in hope
• We hope recruiters will like our resume
• We hope someone will notice us
• We hope they will know why we are different
• We hope they will read everything in our portfolio
• And on, and on, and on

This is important because we have to take control of our careers and take more responsibility for them. For me, it has always been about sustained success across the arc of my career. But year after year, and job after job. You do not get that by having your career led by hope.

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