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Posted: November 15, 2009

Five ways to find a job in an employer’s market

You can feed your family or your ego -- not both

John Heckers

 

I hope that you're not gullible enough to believe all the people with wishful thinking who are telling you that this recession is over, and happy days are here again.

It isn't, and they aren't.

Real unemployment combined with severe underemployment is close to 25 percent. That is one-quarter of Americans who have lost their jobs, or are working as greeters at Big Box Store when they have 20 years as an executive. This isn't easily fixed.

Here are five real-world ways to assure that you get looked at by the right employers.

1). Go small. Why is it that so many people want to work for a big, corporate giant when about 70 percent of the GDP is through very small companies? Get your ego out of it and look for the smaller companies. This is especially true if you are over 45. Smaller companies truly value your experience and aren't afraid of your gray hair.

2). Go under the radar. The best opportunities are in companies that are "flying under the radar." There are many ways of finding these companies. The Rockies Venture Club, especially at their capital conferences, is one very good way.

Another way is to get into a very broad and deep network that knows various VCs and other investors who may be looking to replace a management team. A good transition coach can tell you several other ways of looking for these hard-to-find companies.

Kathleen Conners at PeopleHirePeople does a reasonably priced seminar that teaches people to find these stealth companies, as well (www.peoplehirepeople.com). Use every method possible to find these folks. There are literally dozens in the Front Range who have some hiring needs. (There is no connection between Ms. Conners and my company.)

3). Let go of your control complex. So many executives need to be in constant control. I've seen many completely wreck an interview because they were so controlling and aggressive that the hiring manager didn't want to have anything to do with them.

I've had executives hire me as a coach and spend thousands of dollars, who then could not let me coach or mentor them because they always had to be the smartest person in the room. This is absurd. You're not always going to be in control, and control is an illusion, anyway. A good executives knows when to lead -- but also when to follow. Make sure you can follow when it is time to do so.

4). Cooperate with the employer. I've also had executives (lots of them, actually) who just won't follow directions - neither mine nor those of the employer. This is also absurd. Look, this company has the job and you don't. Follow their directions. Speak to whomever they tell you to speak with. Don't fight with HR when they get involved in the process. Fill out any applications they give you. Don't put down "see résumé" on your application form. Fill the stupid thing out!

If you're uncooperative with the employer at the start, it shows that you are clearly not team player. There are too many of those already out there.

5). Show how you are a team player. Employers want team players, not superstars, with some rare exceptions. The age of the irascible and arrogant Rock Star CEO is long over. Carly Fiorina and her ilk ended that time.

I've seen too many executives who just want to run the company without regard to anyone else who works there. If you want to be employed again, you must, through your interviewing stories and conversation, show how you have put together and led teams.

Also show how you've been a good team player and followed the lead of someone who knew more than you did about a certain subject. In fact, if I were an employer, I would ask the interviewing question every time, "Show how you can follow and be a team player as well as a good leader." If the executive can't answer that, I wouldn't hire him or her.

Remember that the employer is in the driver's seat, not you -- and remember my mantra to executives: "You can feed your family by getting employed, or you can feed your ego and stay unemployed. You can't do both."

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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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