Finding and being found

Some people, when about to lose a job or just after finishing an assignment, think of themselves as “being available for reassignment” or “available”.  This may work for rock stars, star athletes and other people, famous for their particular skills and expertise, but it really does not for the majority of workers.  If it does work for you, stop reading.

For the rest of us, job search really is about finding and being found.  You have to do both.  Waiting to be found is like being the average-looking high school good girl who is “available” but still doesn’t get asked to the dance because the average high school boy just didn’t ask.  finding a job is not done by sending your resume like a message in a bottle

So how can you find the right next job and how can you be found? 

The first step is to know what skills and expertise you have and how to express those skills in the language of the people you want to know about them.  The internet has given us the expression “keywords”.  These are words and phrases used in your area of expertise that are searched for by recruiters, used in job postings, spoken by hiring managers when they ask HR to find someone and used over the cafeteria tables by the teams that work for them.  They are specific and technical.  They are rarely aspirational or even motivational.  Do you know what your keywords are?

You can find your keywords in your old resumes, your old performance reviews, your old profiles.  A better place to find them is in the profiles of people with titles you want, job descriptions of jobs you want, on the websites of the companies you are most interested in and in conversation with the people in the companies you want.

Some examples:

  • Actinobacteria
  • Bacillus
  • Bacteroides
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Drug Discovery
  • Escherichia coli
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon
  • Pseudomonas

Yes, it is very specific and won’t find you “Any job” (as in “I want a job, any job”).  It will enable you to manage a career you really want.  Remember that hiring managers don’t hire generically, they hire to solve a specific problem.  Yes, they do want more than that, but to get in the door, you have to speak their language.

How do you use these keywords to be found?

Use them, in natural language and in lists, in your online profiles, your introductions, your resumes, your conversation, your posts and comments on LinkedIn Groups and G+ Communities and BioWebSpin Public postings and wherever people look at you. (Well, not on a sign around your neck at the grocery store!)  Work them into your PAR statements and “dragon-slaying stories”.  And make it sound natural, not like you just plunked them in randomly.  You need to sound like you actually know what a “metabolic network” (or whatever your keyword is) is and why it is important. 

What doesn’t work:

Using “fluff” words or overused desperate phrases like:

  • Highly qualified
  • Results focused
  • Effectual leader
  • Has talent for
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successfully
  • Proactive

You need to show that you are these things using your keywords in PAR statements. 

Looking is a prerequisite for findingYesterday I received by US Post a well written letter on expensive paper from an experienced Executive Vice President of Operations for a medical group.  He is looking for a job. I’m not sure he is finding one. Never mind that I don’t work in that particular part of the industry.   I’m sure he hired someone to write the letter and send it for him.  I can pick out the keywords, but it isn’t easy.  I have no idea what his medical group specialized in (and medicine is very specialized).  I know he is a Vet, I know his phone number.  I can reach him only by US mail or by phone and no way to email him.  His lovely letter went in the recycle bin.  Do all recruiters do that?  Probably.  Some have “do not send a resume” notes on their websites, some take resumes but simply warehouse them until (if ever) they get a search.  Some few will connect with him, but what is the ROI on his investment in hiring a writer and sending these willy-nilly. 

If I were in his specific part of the “healthcare” industry, I would look him up on LinkedIn. So for this article I did.  Now that I have seen it, I’m a bit more interested.  He has some background in my industry –  Parexel, Pfizer and clinical trials operations.  These did not appear in his letter. Most of the letter is rather desperate, focused on why he is looking or rather generic “There is no such animal as a perfect candidate for a healthcare senior executive position”.  Yes, it does finally tell me what position he is interested in (CEO, COO of a medical group) , but I’m a pretty straight forward person with no time to waste. 

I would be happier if he had used the content of his letter (or some portion of it) to invite me to LinkIn with him.  If he had, I would have accepted his invitation (as would most recruiters – but don’t have more than 10% of your LinkedIn connections be recruiters) and let him know that, while I’m glad to be connected, I don’t have anything on my desk at this moment that would suit him.  I would have checked with him as soon as I did.

I would have liked a LinkedIn invitation like this:

Hi, Connie,
Do you recruit COOs and CEOs for medical groups and companies doing clinical trials in X?  I’d love to be connected with you if you do.
I have X years managing teams and a record I’m proud of.  Please take a look at my Profile here (link).
Thanks for your time,

Or if he had found me on LinkedIn, he could have invited me directly.

Remember that we are all very busy.  The harder you make it for someone to notice you, the harder you make it to be found. 

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