The hidden job market ...

The hidden job market ...
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I'm strangely excited to be able to bring you an actual job search book this week!  As enthusiastic as I've been for the various Social Media releases that I've been featuring here, I do realize that these are not as to-the-point for everybody else's job search as they are for mine.  The current book, Donald Asher's Cracking The Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in Any Economy, is the sort of thing that would prove useful in anybody's efforts to find a job.

This book is based on Asher's work as a career coach, and expounds his "HJM" (hidden job market) system for getting to the right people in the right positions who are likely to be looking to fill jobs before they are listed, or, in many cases, even defined as openings.  Mind you, this is not a "magic wand", it's a rather intense program of activity which will take most folks well out of their comfort zones, but it sounds like the sort of thing that has a very high likelihood of success, if diligently applied.

I was able to connect with Mr. Asher via the folks at Ten Speed Press (who had sent me a review copy), and here are his answers to my little The Job Stalker e-mail interview:

Q:  Briefly, what's your background?

A:  I spent 20 years in the financial district in San Francisco helping fast-track executives optimize their careers. Now I'm a writer and speaker specializing in careers and higher education. I'm the author of 12 books, and I speak 150 times per year to corporate and university audiences. I'm
pretty busy.

Q:  Have you had notable job-transition experiences?

A:  For myself or a client? My career has evolved over time, but the biggest jump story I can tell was when one of my team members engineered a jump for a client from 30k to 90k in one step. Wow. Even I'm amazed by that one. For me, I moved from Seattle to San Francisco with five days notice to clinch a promotion. That became the foundation for a lot of later success.

Q:  How did you develop your "HJM" approach?

A:  It all evolved from working with those fast-track executives. They don't wait for opportunity to find them; they go out and get it. That influenced my research into how the job market actually works, and that in turn caused me to go in an entirely new direction.

Q:  How do you see the job market in the next 3-6 months?

A:  It will be like a fish hitting the deck of a boat, lots of noise and flopping up and down, but still on the wrong side of the water. There is some movement at the top levels already, deep into six figures, but a rank-and-file employee will still be facing a horrific level of competition for at least another year, and probably longer.

Q:  If you had just ONE piece of advice for today's job searcher, what would that be?

A:  Learn how to find job opportunities before they're posted on the Internet. That's the whole point of my book. Applying for posted openings should consume only 10 to 20 percent of a jobseeker's time. My book is about the other 80 to 90 percent.

Q:  What do you feel makes your book unique?

A:  There is a tremendous amount of "conventional wisdom" in the career advising field, and I wanted to get past that; I wanted to have reliable sources for my advice. I went to the trouble to go back and read 30 years of research on the hidden job market. That's one thing. The other thing is that so many books and job search training firms tell people to network, but they don't really give them the tools to do it well. And there's almost no roadmap at all for those people who don't already have a robust set of contacts. My book tells someone how to build a massive list of contacts, starting from scratch, and get those people to help a person find a job. You don't have to know a soul to do it. That's a major contribution to the field, I think. I truly hope it changes the way people engage with the job market.

Q:  Aside from your book, what resources do you recommend?

A:  You mean besides your own work, right? Of course we have to start with your stuff, getting the word out. Then, we must all pay homage to Dick Bolles' What Color Is Your Parachute?  He updates it every year and it's required reading for anyone on the job market, or anyone advising people in the job market. To shill my own work, I like my resume book, The Overnight Resume, because it's quick and effective, and I like How to Get Any Job: Life Launch and Re-launch for Everyone Under 30, or, How to Avoid Living in Your Parents' Basement for young people trying to decide on a career direction. I like Jason Alba's work on using LinkedIn as a job-search tool. He has books, a web site, and a blog of interest. I like Peter Weddle's guide to online job sites and resources. He's the known authority there. And I like Diane Darling's book, Networking for Career Success. That's a winner. And anything by Joyce Lain Kennedy, especially her career columns. She's one of the good guys, a real advocate for the job seeker. I like Stone Soup Clubs, and I have a starter kit about Stone Soup Clubs I will email to anyone who requests it from me at don@donaldasher.com. Stone Soup Clubs are all-volunteer job clubs. Everyone should belong to one.

Q:  Any additional words of wisdom?

A:  Depression and bitterness are real problems for the long-term unemployed, and we all need to do more to get these people back into the work force. For the long-term unemployed, I have two pieces of advice. First, you have to volunteer and exercise. Volunteering gets you out of the house, gives your life meaning again, and puts you in contact with really cool people, often well connected, who can help you out in ways you may not be able to predict (I'm talking about your fellow volunteers). Volunteering is proven to combat depression! Exercise works the same way. It combats depression, and makes you look and feel good, too. These are both free medicine for the long-term unemployed.

Secondly, take any position at all, and I do mean any position at all, and remain constantly on the market until you rebuild your career one step at a time. It might take you years to get back to where you belong, but if you sit on the sidelines for those years, you'll never get there. This strategy is not new, by the way. This type of career reconstruction is familiar to stay-at-home moms and dads. They've been doing this for decades. Now a lot of people who didn't ever think they'd face this have to use the same technique. Take a job. Keep looking. Keep changing employers and jobs constantly until you get back to where you belong. Millions of moms and dads who've been out of the job market for a decade or more have rebuilt their careers using this technique, and if you've been unemployed for a long time, you can do it, too.

As always, there's more on my take on this book over at my review of it.  There's quite a lot of solid information here, even if you can't quite bring yourself to completely follow Asher's "HJM" system (and there's an anecdote here of how his brother sort of blew it off initially), with the main element being talking to people.  He repeatedly stresses the importance of getting (ideally) into face-to-face communications with people in the industries and companies that you've identified as targets for your search.  Also, this is very reasonably priced, so should be strongly considered by anybody looking for work.

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