At one end of the spectrum are jobs that require a person to think on their feet, to be creative, adaptive, articulate, persuasive, engaging, and to show initiative. On the other end of the spectrum are jobs that are mundane, routine, rote, repetitive, tedious, monotonous, dull and boring. Jobs at either end are hard. Jobs in the middle are hard. It’s just a different kind of difficult. Spending 8 hours a day repeatedly asking the same questions like “Paper or plastic?” or “Would you like fries with that?” is actually really hard – it’s maddening. The repetitiveness makes it hard. Spending 8 hours a day trying to come up with the right questions to ask in the right order when preparing for a deposition, or when calling on a new customer is also really hard. The creativity, the analysis, the second-guessing oneself, is all very difficult. As a colleague of mine is find of saying: “Jobs are hard. That’s why we call it ‘work’ and not ‘play.'”
In this post I offer the proposition that when you are job hunting, the type of job you are hunting defines the type of hunt in which you should be engaging. If you want a simple, repetitive job – it doesn’t have to be in fast food or a grocery store – it could be at Google or Apple or Tesla (they have routine jobs too), then you should employ a simple, repetitive job hunting technique. Such a technique would have a single resume (or maybe just your LinkedIn profile) that you would use for every job that has a one-touch or Easy Apply application. You wouldn’t waste time tailoring to, or maybe even reading, the job ad – just click and send to as many jobs as possible, repeat, repeat, repeat. On the other end of the spectrum are jobs that aren’t even advertised, that don’t even exist, for which you have to get an appointment, and then go in and convince the company that they need to fill a job they didn’t know they had, and that you’re the person for that job. That would be the “Not Easy” button.
Most job hunters employ tactics somewhere between these two extremes. However, as you tend towards one end or the other, I would suggest your outcomes will also tend toward one end or the other. Those job hunters who tend to apply to jobs online repetitively are more likely to encounter more rejection, but also when they eventually find employment are more likely to find employment that is less creative in nature. Job hunters who demonstrate the initiative to network into growing companies in growing industries are more likely to have jobs structured around their skills, or at least be considered ahead of other candidates for more tailored roles.
So here’s the observational ‘anecdata’ I offer to support my hypothesis. I coach a lot of people through career transitions, especially job searches. I find those who follow a network-heavy approach are more likely to find jobs they find satisfying, tailored to their skills and desires. I find those that follow an approach that is predominantly job-ad responses have a more difficult, longer time to find employment, and when they eventually do find employment, they are less satisfied, and tend to continue their search or within a year, restart a search.
So why do people not network?
There are 4 actions a candidate can take to find a job. Three are easy; one is hard. The hard path is networking, and it requires a candidate to actually demonstrate skills that many people will say they have, and may believe they have, but they actually lack. These are the ability to think on their feet, to be creative, adaptive, articulate, persuasive, engaging, and to show initiative.
Employers will almost always prefer, and pay more for, candidates who come through the networking gauntlet versus the candidates who just push the “Easy” button.