Book Review: Review of Job-Search Books for Executives
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring: Take Charge of Your Career, Find a Job You Love, and Earn What You Deserve, by Ford R. Myers, $19.95. Paperback. 202 pages, 2009. Wiley. ISBN-13: 978-0470457412
Job Search Debugged: Insider’s Guide to Job Search, by Rita Ashley, $19.99. Paperback (downloadable). 331 pages, 2009.
Reviewed by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Both Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring and Job Search Debugged are written by career coaches who have successfully field-tested their own advice with their clients.
Ford Myers’s Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring offers two distinctive features — first, a companion Website (“Your Job Search Survival Toolkit”) with many bonus downloadable job-search tools, and second, an explicit understanding of just how bad the current job market is. The book makes 83 pronouncements of advice for the job search and contains a rich section of additional resources.
Here are the top 5 things I learned from Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring (in some cases, not so much new learning as reinforcement of concepts I believe in):
1. Your resume is your least important tool. Specifically, Myers thinks job-seekers pass around resumes too indiscriminately, believing that these documents are a magic bullet — when other strategies are actually more effective. Myers places more emphasis on accomplishment stories than he does on resumes, and he offers an excellent list of prompts for brainstorming accomplishments.
2. Networking is not part of your job search — Networking is your job search. Obviously if your resume is your least important tool, then something else must be the most important. For Myers that something is networking — and no wonder since he says more than 80 percent of his clients get their jobs through networking.
3. Meeting with hiring managers is your No. 1 speed advantage to getting a job as there is a direct correlation between the number of hiring managers you meet with and how quickly you’ll land a job. The technique Myers suggests for meeting and talking with hiring managers is essentially informational interviewing, even though he doesn’t call it that. (Of course, I believe it’s also valuable to conduct informational interviews with people who aren’t hiring managers, but Myers is right that meeting with hiring managers will put job-seekers on the fast track.)
4. The most obvious ways to find a job are usually the biggest wastes of time. Like many career experts, Myers correctly believes most job-seekers focus far too much time and energy on the Internet job postings and help-wanted ads. That’s because sitting on your butt at the computer responding to job postings and posting your resume is relatively easy; networking is hard. But every hour you spend at the computer is an hour of potential face time your lose with warm bodies who can actually help you in your job search.
5. A strong cover letter is designed to get you an interview. In this age of social media, you hear a lot of talk about the supposed obsolescence of cover letters, but the truth is that the majority of employers still read them, and as Myers points out, they provide an opportunity for the candidate to deliver a sales presentation. He describes and gives examples of “the perfect match” cover letter that graphically shows an employer that a job-seeker matches the job’s requirements and qualifications.
Among the strengths of the rich, comprehensive Job Search Debugged is the fact that author Rita Ashley was a recruiter for many years, so she thoroughly understands the hiring process from the employer’s side of the desk. The other distinctive feature is that the book is filled with stories of clients and other job-seekers. Nothing beats real-life examples and anecdotes to get points across. Ashley is opinionated, and sometimes her positions clash with conventional career-expert wisdom. She disdains, for example, the typical advice to be coy and guarded about one’s salary request when negotiating salary.
Here are the top 5 things I learned from Job Search Debugged:
1. The bottom line is the bottom line. Certainly at the executive level, it’s true that employers are primarily interested in how the candidate can generate revenue. Ashley particularly makes this point with regard to resumes, noting that a resume needs to clearly identify ways you can help the employer’s profitability.
2. A post-interview thank-you note is a ruse, but a useful one. Ashley doesn’t totally explain what she means when she calls the thank-you note a ruse, but I think what she’s saying is that offering thanks for a person’s time in interviewing you is just the ostensible function of the note. The real purpose is to further sell the employer on why you’re the best person for the job, show follow-through skills, and fill in any blanks or correct any misinformation that arose in the interview. Ashley calls the thank-you an important part of the job-search arsenal, and she’s right.
3. HR personnel can be valuable members of your network. Most people wouldn’t think of HR folks as helpful network contacts, but Ashley disagrees. They are often part of networks of other HR people and therefore know of openings beyond those in their own companies. (Ashley has a lot to say about networking and has, in fact, written a companion volume, Networking Debugged. In Job Search Debugged, she supports informational interviewing — even for executives — and offers techniques for getting past gatekeepers).
4. Job boards don’t work. Ashley notes that executive jobs are rarely found on job boards.
I’ve purged many books from my collection in preparation for a cross-country move, but these two are volumes I will hang onto for their powerful advice.
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.
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