Most executives I know focus on a key lever to control costs and manage limited resources: automation.
Yes, that big scary thing that is going to take away all of our jobs.
But those in leadership know it’s not about eliminating as many jobs as possible simply to earn pats on the back from fellow Dark-Force colleagues. They know that just as quickly as jobs are automated, there are value-added opportunities created with those resources and often more engaging jobs.
The same is true in a job search. Not automating time-consuming, menial, and low-ROI tasks has an opportunity cost: you sacrifice the time needed for activities that truly build the momentum to land your next opportunity.
Below is one key way to introduce automation into your job search so that you can focus on the opportunity-creating activities that deserve a greater share of your energy.
Job Boards Monitoring: A Minimal-ROI Activity
Job boards are quite the tempting time killer that can suck energy away from the more critical activities in your job search. You can easily spend hours at a time examining vacancies, while the benefits of more fruitful activity pass you by.
If you consider that only 3% of executive positions are filled through posted announcements, it’s not exactly the area to dump such a finite resource as your time into—even if it feels productive.
Not only do job boards and a focus on posted positions entice you to misdirect your most valuable resource, they are extremely taxing on your mental energy and confidence when you think you’ve found the job—to then be devastated when your efforts fail to materialize into an interview.
Although hunting through job boards may feel like the right way to look for a job, that’s simply an illusion.
Consider that most vacancies are filled before a job ad is ever needed. By the time you see a job posted, there may be sufficient referred qualified candidates to constitute the interview pool. This means that despite the carrot dangling, the employer never needs to look at the hundreds of resumes from the unreferred masses that have come in.
Does that mean you should never apply for a posted position and forget job ads altogether? No. But you should minimize and automate this activity so that you can focus on high-ROI activities like building the relationships that could generate referrals for both posted and unposted positions.
Here’s how to automate job board monitoring, one of the many job search techniques I learned in Tom Powner’s Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert Certification (NCOPE).
Conduct a Comprehensive Search & Set Alerts
Using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT, etc.) within Google allows you to generate comprehensive job vacancy results with minimal effort.
Imagine you are looking for vacancies in Los Angeles for a VP Finance / SVP Finance or CFO role in the healthcare industry. You would go to Google and type the following exactly as it appears, including quotation marks, parentheses, capital letters, etc.:
Jobs: (“VP Finance” OR “SVP Finance” OR “Vice President Finance” OR “Senior Vice President Finance” OR CFO OR “Chief Financial Officer”) AND Healthcare AND Los Angeles
The entire collection of jobs found in Google’s results will appear: all of the jobs across the internet. With this technique, you eliminate the need to visit multiple sites. You can filter your results for even greater manageability.
Once you have the kind of results you want, sign up for an alert at the click of a button, and then set the frequency at daily, weekly, or instant updates. Instant updates are never a good idea as they will distract you from other effective job search tasks that require your attention. Even if you are unemployed and your only job for 8 hours a day is to find your next opportunity, instant updates can be a huge distraction.
Instead, if you are unemployed, opt for daily updates that you will check at a very specific time of day. Give yourself a time limit that you’ll spend on this – no more than 10% of your time. If you are employed and your time is even more limited, I would limit this to a weekly scheduled review.
Once you’ve set your alerts and determined their frequency, you can stop wasting your time monitoring multiple job sites and free up the mental energy you were using.
Redirect Time & Energy to Value-Added Activities
Why automate and thus limit the time spent poring over job ads? So that you can spend your time on more meaningful, higher-ROI activity. This activity, which I will detail in Part II, should center around building relationships inside the companies you want to work in (and identifying which companies those are), since we know that upwards of 80% of jobs are found through networking.
Keep the principles of business automation at the forefront of your mind as you conduct your search. Just as you approach low-level work in the organizations you’ve led, streamline low-ROI busy work in your job search and instead apply your valuable resources to activities that will make the biggest difference.