The short answer is “Neither” and here is why.
The way hiring works is that a company does not hire unless they have a problem they can’t solve with the people that are already paying. Why would they hire somebody if their team can get it done?
The first person who knows that they’re not getting it done is the person responsible for getting it done. This person would be a colleague/coworker, not the hiring manager. The hiring manager only finds out about it when the deadlines not met. At that point he says, “Dang we have to hire somebody! Who do we know?”
We know from asking that 75% of jobs are filled through personal networking. “It’s who the team knows. It’s not what you know; it’s not even who you know. It’s who knows you.
The first, the prime, the most useful way to find a job is to be known by the people in the companies you want to work for.
Then, if the hiring manager doesn’t know anybody, he calls up HR and says “I need a project manager” or “I need a scientist” or whatever it is and the HR manager, because she’s extremely busy probably says “I have looked for those before. I’ll just use the position description I’ve got in the file.” This does not tell you what the hiring manager really needs. It tells you what HR thought he was looking for before which may or may not have anything to do with the problem they’re trying to solve now.
The next step she takes is to post it on the company career page where it gets swept up by some of the job site spiders, like indeed.com. These collect job postings from all over the Internet. Or she may pay to have it posted on Monster or Dice or Biospace or one of the other places that she can post the job to. And up it goes.
There are enough people out there looking for a job that every time a job is posted that company will receive between hundred and 500 applications. A whole bunch of them are just people who want “a job, any job” They will send their whole life on two pieces of paper (resume) and kind of dump it on the HR person’s desk. These people say, “Here are my pieces. Where can I fit in?” The HR person didn’t have enough time to go talk to the manager about what he really needed. So she doesn’t have time to figure out what you might be suitable for. She’s not your mother; even your mother won’t hire you if she doesn’t have a problem she needs to solve.
You know hundred to 500 people are doing that. A few people have gotten the word that they need to use the keywords that are in the position description in order to be seen. In response to all of these resumes, HR has purchased a piece of software called an applicant tracking system. It does other things besides sort resumes, but one of the main things it does is match the keywords in your application with the keywords in the position description. If they don’t match and it’s a good expensive applicant tracking system, the machine will send you an email that says, “Thanks so much. We will let you know when we have something for you.” If it’s not good, you just won’t hear from them at all. Your resume will disappear into a black hole. Some companies don’t even search through that database when they have a new position open. Some do, but for most HR people, they are already faced with eager people who send in their resumes for this particular posting.
So let’s say you make it through the matching system where you’ve used the keywords in the position description and the applicant tracking system can match them. Remember that most applicant tracking systems don’t know synonyms and don’t speak natural language. They’re trying to get there but they haven’t yet. The software will spit out 5 to 15 resumes onto a human’s desk. That human will actually look at the resumes. This human is probably somebody in the HR department, probably not the person tasked with doing all of the hiring or managing the hiring. This person is probably a clerk who will sort through those 5 to 15 and wean it down to 3 to 5 applications or resumes. She’ll use pieces of criteria that were not in the position description. She might say, “Oh, we forgot to include that we can’t relocate anybody so it’s got to be somebody who lives within a reasonable commute to the office.” That gets rid of a bunch of them. She gets it down to 3 to 5 and takes them up to the hiring manager’s desk or send them an email saying, “Look at these.”
The hiring manager sorts through those and is not usually really excited about who the posting brought in. The reason for that is because it’s not about what it is he’s looking for. It’s about what the position description said, so then, if he doesn’t see anything he likes and knows those applications, then he’ll say “We’re going to have to hire a recruiter.” Recruiters are the last thing that a company will use to find somebody to fill their open position because we are expensive. Some of us charge a third of the annual income of the person being hired and if that’s a senior person it can be significant. If it’s a more junior person then they have to weigh “Should we just hire this person who doesn’t really look like they fit or should we take more time and spend more money and hire recruiter?”
Let’s say they do decide to hire a recruiter. The recruiter comes in and, if she’s a good recruiter, she’s going to sit with the hiring manager and really nail them down with what exactly he needs. But she cannot know what else they’re looking for. She’s not going to talk with every hiring manager in the company. She may have a brief five-minute conversation with the HR person. If she develops a good relationship with the HR person, they will tell her about other jobs as well, but usually it’s one job per company at a time.
Recruiters are human and we only have 24 hours in the day just like you, so there’s a limit to how many jobs we can work on at any one time. The chance of one of us recruiters having your job when you need it and not six months ago or two years from now is pretty slim. So networking with recruiters is really far down the list.
Applying for a job online … well your chances are about 2% and that’s if you do everything right! So go ahead spend 2 to 20% of your time on online job postings but the real way to get a job, the real way to conduct your job search is to plan a targeted networking strategy using the Internet and LinkedIn to help you.
How do you do that? You do it by deciding what it is you want to sell, what you want to do in your next job. You do it by creating a list of which companies are most likely to have those kinds of jobs and another about what you need in a company: like large-company, small company, local, you’re willing to move (yourself or you can need help with relocation) and what is it you need including how much do you want to get paid and is that reasonable. Use salary.com to check and see if that’s a reasonable number but mostly at this point it’s about size of the company, how stable is it, does it have enough money to pay you for two years, are they hiring or firing, does the FDA like them.
You must develop a good criteria list and then go find out companies meet this criteria. If you just send off your resume (your generic resume) to any job that looks like maybe you could do it (which is what a lot of people do), you can and will need to send it to at least 200 companies to have any chance at all of getting a human response. If you target your job search you’ll find there’s a lot fewer companies that meet your criteria. I usually say 30. 30 is not necessarily the golden number but it’s a good place to start. You may have to add to it. You may find that meeting your criteria is difficult and only a few companies can meet it, in which case you may need to change your criteria to give yourself a running chance but identify 30 companies
Personal networking fills 75% of the jobs out there. It is sometimes called the “hidden job market” but it really is the true job market. Networking is where you give something that doesn’t cost too much: price the cup coffee, information, introductions, attention to someone in in exchange for something you really want which is “Should this company stay in my top 10 list?”
30 companies equals 30 people, at least an hour per person plus the homework before hand and the follow-up afterwards. There’s more to it than that but the bottom line is that job search, but networking takes time and effort, but works so much better that waiting for the Fairy Job Mother after posting your application to a job site.
Job search engines, job search websites are better for understanding what your skills are called in various companies. If, on the other hand, you discover that the job you really want is indeed posted online and it is at a company that you already know you really want, then go ahead and apply for it but don’t stop networking! Know it may be that when your resume gets through the applicant tracking system and into the hands of the HR clerk, something you said in your application will put you in the no pile or the bottom of the pile or whatever.
If, on the other hand, someone in the company in the department that you want to join says, “We really need to talk to this person.” Then you write your resume with all the information you’ve gathered using the language they use to talk about their problem. The hiring manager will then look at your resume and say, “This is a member of our tribe. They know what we do. They know why we do it here. And this person has solved this problem before.” You want to be that person! If you want it to fit, you want to know that you’re interviewing with somebody who values your skills because they know what they are.
Email me at: [email protected]
I’d be delighted to talk with you about your LinkedIn profile, how to identify what you do, how to identify what you want, how to identify the companies that are most likely to have it, how to develop your network. And how to keep it up because, really, truly, the job is in the follow-up, not in the resume.