The world of work is changing: from how companies operate to how companies find employees, nothing is the same as it was just 10 years ago. For a long time, it was expected that you would view your job as nothing more than a means to an end. Employers gave you money, you gave them loyalty. That loyalty didn’t require you to love your job. It just asked you to show up reliably and get the work done.
But companies, employees and job seekers are now all in the same boat: increasing competition, connectivity and computing power have dramatically altered the world of work. It is unlikely ever to return to those days when just showing up (to a market, a job or an interview) was enough to win.
What we have been discussing over the last five posts is what it takes for you to get a competitive advantage in that new world of work. Your advantage in your job search starts with defining your purpose. Without a sense of purpose you can’t sustainably create unique value, and as we have discussed, without that unique value you are at risk of your job being moved to a lower cost location.
Good recruiters no longer post jobs, sit back and wait for the resumes to come to them. They know that to respond quickly to unpredictable hiring manager needs that they have to be constantly cultivating relationships with potential candidates. But even with new connection and computing innovations, one recruiter can still only effectively manage several hundred relationships. These relationships represent a small fraction of the total talent pool that exists for most jobs. So how does a recruiter decide which relationship to invest in, and which to just maintain? It starts with purpose.
A recruiter knows that their hiring managers constantly change their priorities, needs and job specifications. But hiring managers rarely alter the big business goals that they are trying to accomplish. These big goals become the hiring manager’s purpose: the big thing they are trying to get done. The “big thing” is why the hiring manager’s department exists in the first place. Good recruiters learn to detect this purpose early, because it helps them understand where they should be investing their time.
But understanding the hiring manager’s purpose is just half the battle. Recruiters must match the hiring manager’s purpose with your purpose.
The hiring manager’s purpose doesn’t change with daily planning. It is a compelling future target that they drive towards, regardless of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds their daily life. You need to think of your purpose the same way. Your purpose is the thing that you are doing when you aren’t a zombie. It is the work that gets you up in the morning and that you chose to do in your spare time. It is your big goal.
Here are some examples that define purpose, and some that just define the problems that you have routinely solved as part of your job:
Purpose: In my spare time I compete in global online puzzle challenges.
Problem: I have worked on three system implementations.
Purpose: I stay up at night thinking about ways to improve finance department efficiency, and publish my thoughts on my blog.
Problem: I am a six sigma black belt.
Purpose: A friend and I started an association that explores new ways to use this technology.
Problem: I have a certification in this technology.
But, these purpose statements by themselves will not get you “screened in” to the recruiter’s relationship list. We will discuss next week what else you need to make it behind the velvet rope. But without a sense of your “why” and what your big goal is, you will probably never be one of the critical relationships that a recruiter wants to invest in.