If you’re working with clients who are in job search mode, they’ll want to be sure to have enough interviews in their pipeline! More interviews mean more options. Too often, people in career transition pin all their hopes on just one interview, thinking their ship has come in, only to see it turn into a sunken dream. If you see clients who are experiencing this scenario, you know it can really take the wind out of their sails. On the other hand, there is nothing more empowering than having options.
To help your clients increase their options, increase their opportunities. Notice the emphasis on opportunities instead of the more common terms, postings or openings. There’s a world of difference between the two. Let’s take a look!
Openings: An advertised position soliciting a predefined skill-set to perform specific tasks.
Opportunity: An unadvertised position or situation where a job seeker’s skill-set can contribute to company/shareholder value.
Job Seeker Positioning:
Openings: In openings, the candidate has a tendency to come as a “supplicant” on bended knee, positioned in a role to sell and convince others of his or her worth.
Opportunity: With opportunities, the candidate has the ability to come as a “value proposition,” positioned as a business solution or service.
Openings: Candidates comb through online postings and print want-ads to apply; human resources then winnows to make the volume of resumes manageable, eventually conducting a formal, structured interrogative interview process.
Opportunity: Candidates target companies, then read, research, and conduct “focused networking” with people who will lead them to conversations with decision makers; needs are uncovered and value-based solutions offered through an informal, fluid inquiry/discovery process.
Openings: Traditional resume and cover letter.
Opportunities: Knowledge of company/hiring manager needs and how the candidate’s strengths and brand can deliver a return-on-investment; targeted resume or SOS (solution or service) letter; project proposal.
Openings: Limited and restricted to those companies in hiring mode.
Opportunities: Potentially limitless and unrestricted, as the focus is about building long-term relationships while exploring opportunities and innovations that will benefit the company’s bottom line.
Openings: Typically stiff when advertised broadly.
Opportunity: Minimal; the candidate is often competing only with himself/herself.
Who Controls the Process:
Openings: Controlled by human resources; usually a predictable process 2-6 month process.
Opportunity: Controlled by hiring manager and decision makers; less predictable process.
Openings: Actively soliciting and screening applicants.
Opportunity: The human resources department is often unaware that a “job seeker” is even on the premises.
Openings: The candidate is typically anonymous and an unknown commodity.
Opportunities: The candidate builds relationships that lead to being trusted and gaining insider status because of recommendations by colleagues, employees, and/or friends.
What the Employer Looks For:
Openings: Features (an ideal “wish list,” such as number of years of experience, degree, skill set, and so on).
Opportunities: Benefits (solutions or services offered) that will make the company money or save the company money, making the candidate a valuable asset that boosts the bottom line.
Employer’s Preferred Method of Contact:
Openings: Anonymous submission of electronic or paper resume.
Opportunities: Often email or telephone to start, and eventually face-to-face exploration, although it can start with face-to-face in informal business networking or social networking situations.
Understanding and embracing these differences will give your clients an edge in their search! You, as an experienced coach, already know this. The challenge is helping the client be open to this as well.
- Start with some discussion to increase awareness around the difference between openings and opportunities,
- Ask how effective the client has been focusing only on openings (probably not very!),
- Inquire about what an opportunity would look like, and then
- Explore how they can start looking for opportunities, as well as openings.
Clients will see a major shift in their search when they do!