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July 26, 2011

How to Hunt in the Pack

A colleague of mine, Susan Whitcomb, raised an excellent question on Linked In about job search and it inspired me to think about a team approach in this area. During the most difficult period of search in at least the last 10 years I responded to her post and question with some ideas of my own and that have worked for my clients. Here is a primer of that discussion and some ideas for you if you want to hunt or use some of the tactics of the pack or a team approach.

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This looks like an interesting and somewhat difficult dilemma but it’s a good one to tackle. Some of the reasons and tips come from my direct experience leading groups a little bit like this in my practice. I lead a group weekly called Executives In Transition. This group possesses a lot of dissimilar talent but in the last three years leading this group I have seen and continue to see competition within. What I strive to do is to focus this group on the fact that you either look at your competition as complementing you or you may not be able to compete in the marketplace. It’s the iron sharpens iron mentality.

Actually it started as a survival tactic because at certain points in the recession of the last few years and days of high unemployment it seemed nobody was getting hired. Clients of mine were told no or “we are on a hiring freeze” now and often it was the middle of their interview process. Thanks for the discouraging note potential employer!

What were we to do? Did we want to stay focused on ourselves or work in synergy? Look at a flock, a pack of Tour de France riders or any team with oars pulling together. It’s bumper to bumper drafting if you will. Teams – they go faster. So my small group didn’t have much of a choice. Neither did I. We started working together to help each other.

Fast forward until today. Most of my clients who “really get it” now find ways to help each other. Clients now have “lost” jobs to each other. We created a team; that team now works together for the good of each other.

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Leading these groups and knowing that jobseekers today must compete against peers, highly qualified people and those who may hold “relationship advantages” with potential hiring entities could be crucially important. In other words a group with internal competition looks more like a real world scenario. What is the employment landscape today? It’s an employer choice market. What’s the reality and true scenario with any qualified group of talented candidates? It’s competition.

So here are three tips:

1. Get groups to see the advantages of creating a master mind. Push each person to open up to and confess job search or career problems and get the groups to work on solving those problems real time.

2. Create ways in person, online and offline to build relationships personally and professionally. I encourage my clients to comment on each others blogs, participate in volunteer activities, critique each other’s interviews and be a creative resource to each other. If they want to catch lunch, coffee or golf a bit then go to it. Develop relationships in the lab! It will work in the marketplace.

3. We work as a team when we can even if that means “losing” a job to a competing team member. I instill a sense of common focus in people so that they cheer other’s success. They see some evidence in the “success stories” I tell and some in the newsletters I send with evidence of accomplishments.

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