Lou Adler: Solve the job’s problem instead of wasting time applying to jobs

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Insights  •  Job seeker

A short history on recruiting

In the 1980s people got serious about hiring. They started to talk about behavioral interviewing. In the 1990s job boards came to being, competency models too. In the mid 1990s, Applicant tracking systems came about and boolean searches became popular. In the 1995, recruiting became in-house In 1998 McKinsey came out with an article that said that the war for talent is critical. You have to hire great people to have a great company.

In 1998 I produced a graphic with a cartoonist: job boards and advertising are pouring money into recruiting, but that doesn’t solve the problem. It moves people from job to job, and will reduce the likelihood that candidates get interviewed.

We’ll never win the war on talent in this job board model. Why, because there’s a mismatch between this model and what it takes to be a great employee.

What does it take to be a great employee?

What does it take to be a good employee? 
1. You gotta be competent 
2. You have to be reliable 
3. You have to be productive 
4. You gotta be a good teammate

How do employers hire?

Since 1990, we’ve trained over 50k hiring managers. I always ask the same question: How many want to hire a great person?

What does a great person look like?

1. They deliver results, they get stuff done
2. They’re good with people. They lead, they fit, … they have good team skills.
3. They manage their work, they get it done on time

How do they find that?

1. Job description with skills and competencies
2. They screen candidates
3. They interview candidates

Have you ever met someone who has all the skills but isn’t a top performer?

The stuff hiring managers look for is not predictive of the stuff on the right. But 99% of people are screened on it. You gotta throw it out and start over. This is the cause of the great resignation.

Why are people quitting their jobs?

Based on a survey of 13,382 employees by McKinsey & Company, the most common reasons given for quitting their last jobs in 2021-2022 are:

  1. Lack of career advancement
  2. Inadequate compensation
  3. Uncaring / uninspiring leaders
  4. Lack of meaningful work
  5. Unsustainable work expectations
  6. Unreliable/unsupportive colleagues
  7. Lack of workplace flexibility
  8. Lack of support of health/well-being

How to Get a Job Interview

Don’t waste time applying to jobs

Machines are automating a process that doesn’t predict performance. Go through the back door. Use the job posting as a lead. 300-500 people apply to every job, 75% are unqualified. Don’t go into that black hole.

Ask yourself: How do I get referred?

Identify the company, their competitors. Bypass HR to get referred to the role. Meet with those people and get names from people. Get referrals from people who can vouch for you.

Prepare a non-resume

Do a two page report on their solution and send it of to their VP marketing. Do a video describing the product and send it out… there’s a risk in hiring someone you don’t know. 

You can also redo the job description

The job description is a person description. Convert it into what you want the person to do instead of describing that person. E.g. I need someone to turn around a manufacture a plant, list what’s needed to be done to do that. Then find someone who can do that work. What does a person need to do to be successful?

Do some non-work

Pick 5-6 jobs that you really want to work or and spend a day or two doing it. E.g. if you’re trying to get a job in finance, spend some time digging through and solving their problem. Prove you’re competent. It’s ok.

Here’s an excellent guide on how to maximize your chances of getting an interview.

How to beat the interview: Turn it into a Problem Solving Session by Asking: What problem are you trying to solve with this job?

Before we go too deep in the interview, ask the hiring manager to clarify the job further, so you can share a few experiences that answer that job.

Specifically, you can ask: What problem are you trying to solve with this job?

By doing this you convert a job into a performance objective. Convert the job interview into a problem solving session. That’s a game changer. Once you know what the problem the job is trying to solve, then share examples of what you’ve done that’s closest to solving the problem. It’s not about how many years of experience you have, it’s about how competent you are.

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About the Author

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a consulting and training firm helping companies implement “Win-Win Hiring” programs using his Performance-based Hiring℠ system for finding and hiring exceptional talent. More than 40 thousand recruiters and hiring managers have attended his ground-breaking workshops over the past 30+ years (more at www. winwinhiring.com).

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