For 405 club: Dodging the stigma of actively searching for work

yippeee kiyaaa mfff!  Here’s my first post to the 405 club.

I’ve been volunteering/consulting in social recruiting lately – a high demand and growing area – playing both sides of the fence between consulting with HR/recruiters & execs and volunteering with the painfully transitioned in Toronto.   I wanted to offer suggestions to those who choose not to open up their chest cavity and explain why they are out of work…  AND give a new blog post to the 405 club:  NYC’s official unemployment network who’ve just asked me to be a contributing blogger to the site. <blush>

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Perception is Reality

Picture it – you’re sitting in the first interview you’ve managed to get in weeks, its a job that matches your working desires and the promise of pay is in line with your old self – the one that used to work.

The fumble you are trying to avoid is not whether or not you qualify for  the job.  NOOOO its whether or not to pretend that you are not the active job searcher you are.   Damn the stigma of being an active job seeker.

I touched on this in an earlier blog post – social recruiting 2.0.   Quickly – recruiters and hr managers break job searchers into three main groups –

  1. non-seekers – those who have a job who aren’t looking,
  2. passive job searchers – have a job and are mildly searching, and
  3. active job searchers – say no more.

Active job searchers are, at times, avoided under the belief they constitute the undesirable; the belief that they will jump at any job opportunity – qualified or not,  suitable or not and desert jobs when they find what they really want.   I’m sure this stigma is grounded in some reality and yet, in a great recession, employers should not ignore quality candidates regardless of situation.  [Excellent article on out of work stigma fading.]

So.. back to business – HOW TO PRETEND YOU AREN’T ACTIVELY SEARCHING WHEN YOU ARE:

  • Build your own website – not a online resume, a small business site.  Consider using free blog publishing to get up and running fast.
  • Invest in your own domain name.   I wouldn’t necessarily go with your personal name as a domain but if you can’t dream up something cheap and available as a .com, then go for it.  Some instructions in a previous “how to” blog post of mine using godaddy.
  • Volunteer in a relevant capacity and make an “in-kind” deal allowing yourself to claim the organization as a client, and get website or other exposure for your business.
  • Make the bloody most of every volunteer/contract experience – blog about it, status update it, twitter it if you are on twitter, talk about it.  Use popular tag words in your blog title post so that your post gets auto pulled into silly blogs that add posts based on key word terms rather than content.
  • Update all social networking sites to your new business – linkedin, etc.  [I’m assuming here you are on linkedin.. and you should be]
  • Use a powerful signature linking back to profiles, @twitters or blog posts.  Start commenting as the president and chief pipeline filler in relevant forums, questions & answers paying attention to well attended blogs, websites, facebook fan pages or linkedin discussions as they will feed back traffic through the comments you make.
  • Cross pollinate your social networks.  Add linkedin applications that display your blog in your linkedin e.g. wordpress app, then add linkedin badges to your blog.

At the end of the day – an hr mgr and recruiter will still ask you why you are applying for full time moving away from your business.    My response has always been about the opportunity.  Personally, its hard to fill a pipeline as a small business and work on it.  But being committed to playing in a field you love means that you may have to take on different roles to do it.  Some of those roles are full time – others are contract and others are volunteer work.

Good luck.

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