Reverse Engineer Your Job Search

By Catherine Maybrey, CM Coaching Services

I love working with my clients, but sometimes I get frustrated. When jobseekers approach the job search, even PhDs, they approach it from their perspective instead of that of the hiring organization. I have just one word to say on this strategy: STOP! (Tweet this!) If you want to get attention and move forward in a hiring competition, you need to turn your thinking upside down. Reverse engineering is a very cool process that figures out how things work by taking them apart, and, quite often, figuring out how to make them better for your own purposes. If I have one goal with this year’s Beyond the Professoriate conference, it is to encourage everyone at my session to reverse engineer their job search. Here are some of the things we’ll talk about:

Candidate Sourcing: where do organizations find their candidates? When? How? Knowing the strategies that employers use will help you to make sure that you are an attractive candidate in passive searches (the beloved, triumphant and somewhat mythical moment when an unknown hiring manager reaches out to you and asks you if you would consider interviewing for a job) but it will also provide you with tools for ramping up your active search strategies.

The Truth About Skills: wake up all you Humanities and Social Science people! While it might be true that most employers don’t care about the little-known Elizabethan author you’ve written your 300-page dissertation on, they do care about the skills you developed through the process. Whether you’re a STEM, SocSci or Humanities PhD, employers want what you have to offer, though they may want just a bit more. We’ll cover the top skills in demand in the market plus some easy and low-cost (even free!) ways that you can shore up your transferable skills to make yourself more attractive. Employers are hiring people to accomplish their goals; make sure that you have the right tools in your toolbox to get the job done.

The Experience Conundrum: yeah, yeah, I know. You can’t get a job because you don’t have experience, and you can’t get experience because you don’t have a job, right? Wrong! You can get experience. I’ll profile a number of initiatives that are available to you, on your own time, that will help you to demonstrate your awesomeness to any employer, and won’t interfere with your teaching or research duties. Your supervisor will never have to know.

Why do these things fall under reverse engineering? If you’re applying through recruiters, they use tools to find a likely candidate pool, and employers use Applicant Tracking Systems to search by keyword criteria (skills and experience) to decide on who they should interview. To get past these gatekeepers, you have to understand what they’re looking for, and play by their rules.

Want more? Attend the conference, and I promise to give you all of my secrets. Well, almost all. I have a lot of secrets, so you’ll have to be the judge.

Join Catherine for “Reverse Engineer Your Job Search,” Saturday, 9 May 2015, 11:00am-12:00pm EDT during the Beyond the Professoriate online conference! Register to attend.


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