Downsized? Fired? Here are the new rules of finding a job

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Social Media  |  Case Studies

Company lost its funding. Outsourced. Caught in a merger. Downsized. Fired.

It seems like every day I learn of another person who is on the job market. Usually that's because when they need a job, all of a sudden people jump into "networking mode" and I hear from them after years of silence. Hey, I'm OK with that, it's always good to hear from old friends. And I've been fired three times so I certainly know what it's like to be on the job market.

But is this the best strategy to find a job?

Hell no!

If you're like the vast majority of job seekers, you'd do what "everyone knows" is the way to find a job: You prepare a resume, obsessing over every entry to make sure it paints your background in the best possible light. You’d also begin a networking campaign, emailing and phoning your contacts and using networking tools like LinkedIn, hoping that someone in your extended network knows of a suitable job opportunity.

I got news for you. The old rules for finding a job suck in today's market. Well, OK, I admit that is a little harsh. Sure, many people find jobs the old way. Just like credit card companies may sell you a card via direct mail and you may hire some gutter cleaning services from a guy who interrupts you at dinner with a telemarketing call. But it's increasingly rare.

- The old rules of looking for a job rely on spamming your network. (Spam is email that is sent, unsolicited, to a large number of people in substantially the same format. That’s exactly what many job seekers do.)

- The old rules of finding a job required advertising a product (you) with direct mail (your resume that you send to potential employers).

- The old rules of job searches required you to interrupt people (friends and colleagues) to tell them that you were on the market and to coerce them to help you.

You want to find a new job? You have to stop thinking like an advertiser of a product and start thinking like a publisher of information.

Create information that people want. Create an online presence that people are eager to consume. Establish a virtual front door that people will happily link to. And one that employers will find.

As I've said at every speech I give: "On the web, you are what you publish." It's no different when the product is you and you're looking for a job.

It's not just me saying this. Consider Heather Hamilton, who leads Microsoft's efforts to build a pipeline of qualified talent and self describes herself as "Microsoft Employee Evangelist, Quasi-Marketer and Truth-Teller." Get this. Her team at Microsoft searches the Web for potential employees. So if you’re not publishing, you won't be found by Microsoft. Of course, you can always try spamming them…

So what should you publish?

There are many ways to get out there into the social media world. Start a blog that highlights your expertise. Create a Twitter feed. Shoot some videos. Establish a podcast channel where you interview people in your industry. Write an ebook that dives deep into a subject you know. Comment on the blogs and in the forums and chat rooms that are important to the business of prospective employers.

The new rules of finding a job require you to share your knowledge and expertise with a world that is looking for what you have to offer.

By the way, I am on several boards. When looking at candidates for a job, which do you think gets more attention from board members: A resume? Or a well-written blog, or ebook?

If you follow this strategy to find a new job, an added benefit is that you will stay in the mix. You won’t get stale. Instead of sending out resumes all day and trudging to "informational interviews" where you TELL people what you can do, you’ll be publishing things that SHOW them that you’d be a smart addition to the team. You'll stay fresh and connected to your marketplace.

Here are a few examples of people who have done this:

Instead of following the traditional path to finding a job, in September 2007 Steve Chazin started a blog and wrote an e-book, Marketing Apple: 5 Secrets of the World’s Best Marketing Machine, which he offered for free. Then Chazin waited for the world to find him.

He didn't have to wait long; the first day saw 2,900 downloads of Marketing Apple, with 2,100 on the second day and an average of 300 per day in the three months that followed. In a very short time, tens of thousands of people downloaded Marketing Apple, and hundreds of people wrote about it on their blogs. Chazin propelled himself into the world as a recognized expert on the kind of marketing used by Apple, Inc. And he instantly set himself far apart from the rest of the pack of job seekers looking for consulting work or a VP of marketing job.

"I've got a traditional resume, but it doesn't tell people how I think," Chazin says. "They get a sense of who I am from the e-book and the blog in a way that a resume can’t possibly deliver. There is also a sense of importance that the e-book has that a resume doesn't. The e-book is free, but it has a very real perceived value."

When he was caught in the global financial mess in mid-2008 and found himself without a full-time job, Tim Rogers, a well-known expert on the economy and interest rate direction started a blog called Trends + Risk. Rogers’ economic and rate outlooks have put him in the USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters list for four of the last five years. Rogers realizes that just sending out resumes isn’t the only way to find a job so he’s using his blog to continue to provide valuable forecasts to the global financial markets. Potential employers who may want to hire him as a consultant, a speaker, or even bring him on full-time see his valuable work. And they know he will be up to speed and ready to contribute from day one.

Of course, the best time to create your own presence in social media circles is not just when you find yourself out of work. Do it now. You may find yourself entertaining job offers even when you aren’t looking.

Consider Scott Monty, whose frequent updates on Twitter helped land him a new job at Ford. Monty uses Twitter every day and his smart updates are seen by many. No need to convince an employer that you can write when they can see your writing on the Web.

Or how about Mike Lefebvre, a Boston area real estate professional who created some great YouTube videos to sell houses. One of his videos, Steak Out in Franklin, MA won several awards and has been seen nearly 20,000 times, resulting in the sale of the home (at full price). Mike’s online publishing efforts got the attention of executives at Hallmark Sotheby's International Realty who hired him away from his former employer as a result of his online efforts.

Yes, it's tough to find a new gig. I've been there. Three times. But it's a heck of a lot easier if you put yourself out there and generate the sort of information that employers will find valuable in an employee.