If you read most articles about the world of job seeking, hiring and employment these days, it all sounds so easy. Countless online-business publications snare readers with headlines like “5 things you shouldn’t eat before a job interview” or “How to tell if applicants are lying about their last job” (or even the headline to this article). These litanies of tips and tricks play right into the notion that effort isn’t really required. That somehow just by studying the game, you can avoid the traps and master the tricks. That you can find the job or employee of your dreams and do it with little true investment.
Most job searchers believe that a few key adjustments to a one-page resume, submitted to the best job board and optimized to catch eyes is all it takes. Hit send and hope for the best. Employers too buy into the promise of shortcuts and immediate results. As if it’s quick and simple to find the next man up when someone goes down. As if the employment landscape is a plug-and-play world of new faces claimed on an as-needed basis.
It’s maddening, short-sighted and ironically, it could be a cause of the job crisis in this country. While there are some 10.2 million unemployed in the US, there are also some 4 million open jobs in our country. What we have is a lack of thoughtful pursuit of both quality employees and desirable career opportunities. Because in the torrent of tips and tricks, job seekers rarely get substantive advice on how to connect, engage and relate to an industry or career, let alone build the kind of personal brand that brings employers knocking.
Closing the employment gap requires a radical reimagining of how to navigate the job market. Many employers are less interested in the employment history you’ve polished up on your resume and more eager to see what you can do for them today. Job seekers must work hard to prove that they can offer true value for their industry, their community and their future employer by developing content that’s informative, enlightening, even entertaining. By doing so, they show firsthand the talents and abilities they could bring to the job rather than simply telling employers about them through a resume.
The path forward will be paved by the kind of disruptive change that we’ve seen in the entertainment industry over the past few years, as movies and broadcast TV have been threatened by upstart Netflix.
Once the mail-order version of Blockbuster (without the late fees or the annoying burden of returning a DVD the day after viewing), Netflix today represents 31.6 percent of downstream U.S. Internet traffic. And it’s solidifying viewer loyalty by doing the difficult task of creating its own content. Free from the expectations of the industry, Netflix is producing its own Emmy-award winning program, House of Cards, and the highly popular Orange is the New Black. And they are serving it up in an all-you-can-eat, binge-watching fashion that audiences love to coagulate around during a rainy Saturday or a day off from work.
Netflix’s efforts will forever be linked to the moment in time when viewers shifted their habits toward streaming video content and away from traditional outlets. But more importantly, the company’s knockout TV shows add a new, enticing dimension to its brand while proving to viewers that it’s as creative and artful as the best in the business. It committed time and energy to the work of developing great stories. This is the kind of effort that draws viewers in droves, and one Netflix’s competitors are now scrambling to duplicate.
The job market is primed for a similar disruption, and to some extent, it’s already begun. Candidates are advancing their career opportunities by doing the hard work of creating standout content and singular brands that truly capture attention, loyalty and opportunity. And that’s the secret to getting that dream job: Be like Netflix and create content tailored to your audience to prove you’re the ideal candidate.
That’s exactly what comedian Jack Moore did. Aspiring to be a sitcom and screenplay writer, he demonstrated his talent through the popular Modern Seinfeld Twitter feed, which offers storylines for what George, Jerry, Elaine and Kramer would be up to in today’s world. His months of artful execution have led him to his dream job as a screenwriter.
He shattered the confines of the old resume-centric world of job searching by taking the focus off of himself -- the heart of any resume -- and homing in on his audience. Instead of talking about his skills, he used them. He buckled down and proved he could do the job without being asked and made sure potential future employers would take notice. His efforts parallel those of Netflix, which continues to produce its creative best to box out traditional channels and win wider audiences.
The kind of disruption and success Netflix has achieved -- and the kind the job market sorely needs -- isn’t easy and can’t be neatly summarized in a tip or trick. Because it’s no trick. It’s the sum total of thought, effort and dedication. It’s a new ideology guiding the way job seekers think about their careers and transforming the way employers search for talent.