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Job Hunting, Job Search Tips

The Language of the Employer

Richard Bolles called it visiting a foreign county—the world of the employer. I find they also speak a foreign language.

A year ago when my services were moved to our department’s Business Services Team, my supervisor—a seasoned employer and business owner in his own right—sent us a translation tool. It is a Rosetta stone of sorts, comparing Social Service jargon with business language. For example, in social services the first meeting is called an Intake—in business it is Reception. One of my clients would be a jobseeker, but I was told an employer wouldn’t identify to that word. Instead we must use the term worker when speaking to the employer.

And of course, when I mention Work Opportunity Tax Credits, I just skip the details and write $$!

Really, however, when I speak of employers, it is necessary to remember that employers are like jobseekers in one gigantic way: like a jobseeker, there is no one employer type. No two of my jobseekers are alike—they all have different skills, interests, and passions. The same is true of employers. Every employer is different.

That said, there are some ways that we can categorize employers. One way might be by size. Approaching an employer of hundreds or even thousands of workers would probably be different than approaching an employer of a small number of workers.  Another way might be by longevity—how long the employer has been in business. In general, some studies have found that newer companies, especially newer small companies, hire more aggressively than older ones.

Knowing the best way to approach each company is going to take some research. Rarely does job search end successfully when taking the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach. Before sending another resume to an interesting-looking company, do the homework first.

What do you want to know?

What are their long-term goals, their forecasts, their history and their financial stability? You don’t want to find yourself welcomed one day and then laid off six months later. A colleague spoke of a company who looked enticing to a job seeker, but when doing his research on the firm he found out that they were locked in some substantial litigious struggles. That atmosphere might not be very welcoming to a new employee and may not last long anyway.

Doing online research via company websites, social media pages, and general Google searches can shed light on the corporate culture of the company, identify how suitable the company is to the jobseeker as well as how good a fit the jobseeker would be in the company, and always makes a good impression to the employer in an interview.

Once you have targeted some employers that might be a suitable match, remember a few things about this foreign county of the employer:

1.      The employer looks at hiring as an elimination game. Remember The Apprentice? Employers look at that huge stack of resumes on their desk with the first view of finding out who they can eliminate. They want to get it down to the “last person standing.”

2.      The employer, like a river, takes the course of least resistance. When necessary to carve out a new channel and spend expensive time scouring the Internet looking for someone who meets their particular needs. In this employer’s labor market, that’s almost never necessary. You need to take the upper hand to find them and let them know how ideal a fit you are for their company. That’s where all that research becomes necessary.

Does it matter if they employer isn’t currently hiring? The best time to put yourself forward is when they’re not. Make yourself known to them when no one else is around to compete. You’ll definitely stand out from the crowd when they are hiring.

3.      On that note, employers would rather not put a lot of time and effort into an active recruiting if they can help it. True, larger employers or governmental entities may have strict policies regarding the recruiting process, but for those who do not, active recruitments are time consuming and sometimes expensive. This is why many jobs are found in what recruiters call “the hidden job market.”
Some career specialists and consultants make the hidden job market sound like some mysterious underground entity—like the old Prohibition-era speakeasies where you had to have the right codeword or phrase just to get in. there’s nothing mysterious about the hidden job market. All you have to do is know where you want to work, have the research into those companies, and be able to communicate with them how you would be an ideal fit into their corporate structure, to save them money, make them money, and solve their problems. Don’t wait for them to find you—go to them.

4.      A lot of jobseekers tell me in dismay and discouragement that when applying for jobs, if they are screened out they don’t even get an email saying that so. One human resource generalist from a local county government warned a group of jobseekers in our job club not to expect any communication from them if this is the case. Jobseekers find this frustrating—and rightfully so—as they have no idea of the status of their application. This HR rep apologized and explained that they just don’t have the time to do so. They are willing, however, to receive phone calls from jobseekers who desire to know what’s going on. Very few jobseekers do. So if you don’t receive a response after a week or two of applying, don’t take it personally. Just follow up with them—and remember they are doing the best they can.

5.       I like how Richard Bolles says it: employers don’t like blind dates. They want to know as much about their candidates as possible. Imagine you are an employer, looking at a pile of resumes on your desk, knowing that the person you hire has to answer your needs in the best, most cost-effective way possible. They will want to know everything they can about you. Some employers do a little research online about you the same way as you would them. All employers are going to be watching you during their interactions with you. They believe that how you show yourself during an interview will determine the kind of employee you will be. Do you show up late for the interview? Are you dressed suitably? Do you treat everyone—even those who are not at all connected with the interview—with courtesy and respect?

If you do not do the simplest things during the job interview, where  you are expected to act your best, how would you act on the job when the  atmosphere is more relaxed?

Learn to speak the language and understand  the world of the employer. When you understand the differences between the way you as a jobseeker views hiring and the way an employer is likely to view it, you can better understand how to make yourself more appealing and marketable to a targeted company.

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About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.

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