Companies like L'Oréal are developing more-complex hiring practices
Author Ron McGowan talks about what and what not to do
The rise of freelancing and contract labour changes not only how we work but how we find work, notes Ron McGowan. “We’re a society that knows how to apply for a job,” says the Vancouver-based employment expert and author. “The challenge for employment seekers today is to become proficient at finding work. That’s a much more complicated process than applying for a job.”
McGowan wrote his new book, How to Find Work in the Gig Economy: A Road Map for Graduates and Precarious Workers, to help the under- and unemployed close the gap. It builds on his previous How to Find Work in the 21st Century with three additional chapters that speak to the new realities of the job market.
WHAT MUST JOB SEEKERS DO TO FIND WORK IN THIS NEW ENVIRONMENT?
For starters, answer the question, “What would a search of social media reveal about me?” As personal branding guru Dan Schawbel puts it, “Your first impression isn’t a handshake anymore. It’s your online presence that will decide the fate of your career.”
WHAT ABOUT DURING THE JOB SEARCH?
Job seekers need to understand the difference between applying for a job and approaching employers on speculation. It requires an understanding of marketing and selling, doing effective research and being connected to what is going on in their field. They shouldn’t be contacting an employer on speculation unless their research and connectivity tells them that what they have to offer will be of interest to that employer. Most don’t even come close to that. Instead they spend their time sending out resumés. It’s a complete waste of time, and inevitably they end up discouraged. They need to be more creative.
CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE?
Employment seekers will be spending most of their time contacting employers on speculation. The objective at this point is to get the employer’s attention or pique their curiosity. The best tool to do this is a marketing letter: one page and no resumé included. It must quickly establish that the sender knows the company and the sector it’s in, and that they have something relevant to offer. It might reference something from the employer’s website, if that is relevant to getting their attention. It must also state that the sender will follow up with the employer within a week. Employment seekers are often reluctant to do this, and that is a big mistake.
WHAT ARE BUSINESSES DOING DIFFERENTLY?
Employers will tell you that advertising for employees is one of the least effective ways to find new hires. When Uber drivers refer new hires, the company pays them a $200 bonus. The French cosmetics company L’Oréal is trying a new approach. On their website, applicants are prompted to answer several open-ended questions. For example, “If you had one month and $4,000 to tackle any project you wanted, what would you do?” They’re finding that this approach helps them to find the right kind of new hire. I think you’ll see more employers adopting similar options.
MANY PEOPLE LOOK AT THE CHANGING JOB LANDSCAPE AS A NEGATIVE. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Here’s how I finish up my book: “Finally, the traditional job has been such an integral part of our society for so long that its demise is almost always seen in negative terms. It’s not that simple. It remains to be seen what the end result of the biggest transition to occur in the workplace in the past 200 years that we’re going through will be. It’s just possible that future generations will say to their parents and grandparents: ‘Tell me about this job thing again. You mean someone else decided what type of work you could do? How much money you could make? And how much vacation time you could take? What were you people smoking back then?’”