Tag Archives: HJM

What the Hunger Games shows us about the job search

Join me in reminiscing about the first Hunger Games movie and the Hidden Job Market. The scene where all but two of the Tributes–one being Katniss– rush to the weapons is analogous to how the smartest jobseekers go where the majority of the jobs are, unadvertised. 

Almost two years ago I saw The Hunger Games with my daughter and one of her friends. When we got into a discussion about the various scenes in the movie, we all agreed that Rue’s death was the saddest.

There’s another scene I would classify as more bloody and kick-you-in-the-gut than sad. It’s when the tributes race from their platforms and charge to the Cornucopia to get the weapons of their choice.

Wham, like 12 kids get wiped out. It’s at this point when I thought this is not an appropriate movie for two 14-year-olds or, for that matter, me. It began to look like a scene out of Platoon or the Deer Hunter on steroids.

Prior to this scene, Haymitch tells  Katniss to head for the high grounds, not the weapons. “Water will be your best friend,” he advises. The things-career-related freak I am, I immediately saw a parallel to the career search and this scene.

Obviously the higher grounds, where the water is, represents networking one’s way to the Hidden Job Market, where 80% of the jobs exist unbeknownst to many jobseekers. It appears only two people in the movie make this wise move, Katniss and Peeta, while the others go for the desirable weapons and other goods.

The Cornucopia and the weapons, on the other hand, signify the advertised jobs, representing 20% of the available jobs. The tributes who race all at once for the weapons are the majority of jobseekers vying for the measly number of available jobs. Don’t you see it?

You may think it’s silly to equate a scene in a teenage movie to the job search and, further, you may think me a lunatic. But you don’t know me; I’m always thinking about how the job search relates to…almost anything. In this case, it’s about taking control you your job search. Shuck off the job boards (the Cornucopia), The Hunger Games tells us, and unlock the HJM.

Haymitch’s advice was wise and followed by Katniss, thus saving her life. Certainly the makers of The Hunger Games didn’t devise that scene with the job search in mind. It was merely to point out the best and worst way to survive in a battle to the death, albeit a bit extreme to compare it to the job search, that’s the way I see it. Are you as obsessed with the job search as I am? Probably not.

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Soccer and doing what it takes; 7 things to do in your job search

The other day, my son and I were shooting the soccer ball at the net. He was loving it, and I was hating it for the mere fact that my feet were numb from the cold. Regardless, I was constantly telling him to shoot with his opposite foot. “Why?”he asked me.

“Because you need to be multi-talented,” I told him. “You need to be able to shoot the ball with whichever foot it comes to. If you have to turn your body so you can shoot with your left, you’ll lose opportunities.” I’ve played some soccer in my day, so my advice was sound, albeit not what he wanted to hear.

While I was “coaching” my 10-year-old kid, I got to thinking about the advice I give jobseekers, most of whom listen and others who don’t. The ones who listen are those who send me e-mails or even stop by the career center to tell me about their upcoming interviews or, best of all, their new jobs. It’s all about the effort they put into their job search that makes the difference. They do the hard work, while I simply provide the theory. Such as:

  1. Network, network, network. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Be clear as to what you want to do and where you want to do it. Clearly explain your occupation (human resources vs. human services is a big difference), your greatest attributes, and your extensive experience.
  2. Look for a job where most people aren’t. In other words, penetrate the Hidden Job Market, which, coincidently, has a great deal to do with networking. “Why?” as my son would ask me. Simple, employers gain a lot more from not advertising than they do from advertising their positions. When they advertise, they spend more money, have to read hundreds of résumés, and interview strange people.
  3. Research, research, research. Always know the requirements for the jobs for which you apply. Know about the companies as well. This will come in handy when you write your résumé and other written marketing material, as well as when you interview for said positions.
  4. Market yourself with targeted résumés for each job, rich with quantified accomplishments and a strong personal profile that makes the employer want to read on. One of my respected contacts on LinkedIn, Laura Smith-Proulx, wrote a great article called Is Your Resume Summary Boring Employers? In it she advises jobseekers to include a substantial, quantified accomplishment in the professional profile.
  5. Send a cover letter with each résumé, unless instructed not to. True, some recruiters do not read cover letters, but many do. And if your job will involve writing, you must send a well-written, targeted cover letter that isn’t boring. Refrain from using a pat opening line that reads something like this, “I was pleased to read on Monster.com of an opening for a project manager….”
  6. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Never go to an interview unprepared. You’ve researched the position and company, so you should have an understanding of what questions might be asked. Prepare your answers for a behavioral-based interview using the STAR formula (Situation, Task, Action, Result). If you are asked traditional questions, you’ll be better prepared to answer them because you’ll have examples to share.
  7. Finally, consider building a LinkedIn, FaceBook, or Twitter networking campaign. Online networking should not replace face-to-face networking; rather it should supplement your networking efforts. LinkedIn is considered the premiere professional networking site, but the other two have garnered results for some people.

I explain some very basic job search methods, yet some jobseekers refuse or don’t understand how to begin and follow through with the basic tenets of the job search. Like my son who shies away from shooting with his opposite foot and, thus, will miss opportunities; these jobseekers will find it more difficult to find a job.