What end of the talent pool are you in?

It is sink or swim out in the job market today. Whether laid-off or gainfully employed, I often ask my candidates about their key motivation during a job search – these are the top four answers:

1. A new career path

2. Better/Fair compensation

3. Reached a career plateau

4. Feel unappreciated

Another seemingly irrelevant question I ask is the following: What is the biggest misconception your peers have about you?

As a professional “headhunter”, the answers I get from questions like these, give me an idea of where I will place you in my “talent pool”.

As a candidate, you want to be in the shallow end, floating on a comfy inflatable lounger. The deep end is very saturated with other candidates, you will need a life jacket and you’ll easily sink. In my business, I use a specialized ATS system (Applicant Tracking Software) my clients pay me a “finders fee” for the top shelf candidates – the ones who have strong leadership traits and innate industry talent, otherwise known as the shallow end of the talent pool.

A candidate once told me that they felt as though recruiters treated him as a commodity, that is almost true but with the help of a good “head hunter” your skill-set can be leveraged all around the world.

Here are my three top tips on how to float above the rest in my pool, this is key for getting the career you want:

1- Get a second opinion; request an opinion from someone currently working in the industry or field you are hoping to break into, ask them to scan your résumé and see what special details can be added. (sometimes industry jargon can put you in the lead)

2- Stay assertive and tenacious. Never give up. The gatekeepers will always be there – but if you have the will, there is always a way to get around them.

3- In this tough economy sometimes it is about WHO you know – not what you know! Use your connections.

Don’t forget, make a plan to overcome your weaknesses and express this strategy to your potential employer, because you can’t be perfect at everything – but it shows a willingness to learn!

These tips will help you to swim circles around the rest of the job applicants and get closer to the career of your dreams.

Views: 124

Comment by Chris Underwood on February 2, 2010 at 1:30pm
Amos - a good succinct blog thank you. As another professional "head hunter" I agree with most of thoughts. However I don't agree with your final point about making plans to overcome weaknesses which shows a willingness to learn.

Knowing what your weaknesses are and putting plans/ strategies in place to address or mitigate them is great and I would say shows self awareness that is more likely to deliver high performance.

Trying to overcome weaknesses is only ever likely to produce average or mediocre performance - after a great deal of effort. You can move from good to great but you're very unlikely ever to move from weak to great, so efforts are better focussed on leveraging acknowledged strengths and mitigating your weaknesses.
Comment by Amos on February 2, 2010 at 3:01pm
Chris, Thansk for the comment an I understand your perspective - a great point. Knowing your weakness is the start. I should be more clear about this point as it pertains to interview questions for job seekers and for self assessment during the interview process. The example thats top of mind (although there are endless) is:proficiency in Quickbooks; if your headed to an interview for a bookkeeping gig and your not an expert in the new version (v.10) understanding that you need to get yourself up to date; and its important to let the employer know your are working on it - so they can gauge your ability to think critically and stay proactive, if your an expert in V.9 this will play itself out.

Majority of the time when I recruit, positions are similar in skill-sets but not so much in technologies. Understanding that you need to evolve your skill set is a sign of maturity and your ability to push your self forward without having someone tell you. I also agree that you should focus on our strengths but be mindful of everything you bring to the table.
Comment by Ralph Leon on February 2, 2010 at 5:11pm
Great post, I found your tips very helpful. I liked the tip about getting a second opinion from a someone in the industry. When recruiters usually ask me about strengths and weaknesses I don't list a bunch of things that I am good at and not so good at. I do however explain what I would like to improve upon. I feel that it sounds much better and I do agree it does show that there is willingness to learn
Comment by Amos on February 2, 2010 at 7:57pm
Ralph. Glad I could be helpful. I think to hone in on your top 3 skills is just as important as an elevator pitch. I encourage job seekers to understand what their weakness are first - so when asked(if asked) they are ready and not caught off guard. Putting a plan together shows you think critically and can anticipate change, go a step further and put a plan together to address your weakness - solve a problem or develop solutions and express them in steps - its a credit to your candidacy.
Comment by Saleem Qureshi on February 8, 2010 at 8:22am
Well said Amos. I would like to add that along with using ATS, you must help the candidates in assessing their weaknesses, and how to overcome them. I would highly recommend that you use some kind of an assessment tool to test the applicants' behavior and skills.


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