Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Job search madness: Don’t become a high-risk proposition


By Matthew Moran

It's been more than 30 years and after careful analysis and review, Richard Bolles was right. He identified the fundamental problem with most people's job search, and that fundamental problem hasn't changed. The advent of new technology has done little to change it, career coaches haven't changed it, and the economy never alters it.

The fundamental problem with most job searches is that the job seeker is typically a high-risk proposition for the employer. Bolles explained that employers and job seekers go about looking for each other from diametrically opposite directions. While his book, What Color Is Your Parachute, contains many practical career tips, its greatest value is this illuminating piece of information.


You see, employers start their search for talent within their organization. They look to move existing resources that have proven themselves within the culture and industry, into prominent positions. Leaders and talent are very apparent to them -- they have watched them for weeks, months, and even years.

If that search doesn't provide what they're looking for, the manager in question goes to his personal Rolodex. He tries to find somebody that he knows personally. This can be from employers, a friend of the family, or even acquaintances. His goal is to find a relatively well-known commodity.

His search then extends to his professional contacts. He finds out if his peers know somebody who can fill his talent need.

Finally, when all his known and somewhat known commodities have been exhausted, he looks external and into the unknown. To be honest, at this point he's desperate. He's about to expend considerable time, energy, and money to look for talent on the open market. This talent will be, to him, untested and unknown.

This is his high-risk proposition. For the employer, this is a scary proposition. He'll have to weed through numerous resumes, endure countless interviews, perform various reference and background checks, and, at best, will only have an indication that someone might possibly work as an employee.