This is a guest article by D. Alan Johnson.

Today’s economy is a confusing mishmash of crushing unemployment for the job seeker and a labor shortage for American companies. Talking with CEO’s and recruiters, I hear this pounding refrain, “We just can’t find good candidates.”

But when I talk with friends and look on the discussion forums, people tell me they have applied to hundreds of jobs without landing any employment. How can this huge gap exist? On one hand, America has millions seeking employment, and on the other, corporate America spends millions of dollars on recruiters to seek out the best talent.

Of course, the big picture explanation is the global economy is transforming itself into something new, and traditional workers are being displaced during this birthing process. But in the smaller picture, the world where we live each day, there is another factor in play. And most job seekers don’t realize it.

Today’s top management is convinced that if someone is seeking a job, that applicant is less desirable than the “top talent” who are currently employed and not looking. You must understand this mindset of top managers and CEO’s.

•    Hiring is a big risk for everyone involved in the decision.
•    There is greater competition for top people.
•    Those who are not looking for work are the most desirable.
•    Hiring is much more an emotional decision that a rational one.

So what are you, the job hunter, to do? You are constantly applying for every job that seems like even a remote fit, yet you are getting no responses, few interviews, and no job offers. You must get out of the “resume pile” where you are in competition with hundreds of other applicants.

Make the CEO think he is hunting for you.

By CEO, I mean a top manager who is able to hire you without consulting with anyone above. In addition to the Chief Executive Officer, this can be the local division chief, site manager, Chief Financial Officer, or Senior Vice President. I just use the term CEO for convenience.

While companies are spending big bucks on recruiters, there is nothing sweeter to a top manager than to come up with a great new hire on their own. Managers have huge egos, and they love to show off their find, especially when they can rub it in the face of the big recruiter. Plus they intuitively know that if they hire the next star employee, they’ll earn “bullet points” on their resume for the next higher position.

Therefore, the successful job hunt often becomes something more like a seduction or stalking big game than a logical process of presenting oneself to HR as the most qualified applicant for a vacancy. You must make the CEO feel like he or she is hunting you, even though you are the real hunter.

Just like any hunt, you, the hunter must first decide on your objective. Are you hunting deer, or are you hunting tigers? Decide this first, because the hunting strategies and locales are much different. After you decide, then you research your target. Get to know everything about them. The CEO of a local company is easiest. Your network can help you.

Make yourself irresistible to the CEO.

First, you must have a job. Any job is better than taking unemployment checks. Many of my friends tell me they have done the math, and it makes no sense to work at an entry level job when they make more in unemployment benefits. Don’t think that way. Hiring managers see any job as honorable work. Remember, it is not about what makes the most money for you this month; it is about getting a high paying position.

Second, you must do that job better than anyone else. Believe me, people are watching. I have a friend, a construction foreman, who was forced to take a job in a pizza parlor. His fine work and helpfulness were noticed by a project manager charged with remodeling a local shopping center. My friend is now in negotiations for a foreman job with that project manager.

Third, make a connection with your target. One of the easiest ways is to get involved in the community. Volunteer at local charity events where you know you will rub elbows with your target CEO. Show your leadership and your work ethic. Manage the team of volunteers, recruit and encourage others. You will get noticed by the business executives working at or donating to the project. They will talk among themselves, and this will get back to your target CEO.

A more difficult path is to write a white paper on a segment of the CEO’s business. This white paper should not be how you would change his company, but something more like, “The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Marketing Strategies.”

Highlight your abilities, your precise thinking, and clear communication style. Include a suggested course of action along with a projected cash flow and profit statement. The main message will come through loud and clear to the CEO. “Hire me and I will make you money.”

The white paper route is more difficult in that it will take tons of research, some time to write, and then you may have trouble getting the document past the gatekeepers and into the hands of the CEO. The best way is to hand it to your target CEO in person. Get an appointment. You can do it.

When you have made the connection, he or she will believe they have found a “diamond in the rough.” Be ready to talk when you get your chance. Don’t be needy. Show your knowledge of the company, and tell why you have always wanted to work there.

By going around the Human Resources Department, you can make a connection to the CEO of the organization. Be resourceful and persistent in making this connection. When your target sees that you have the passion and drive to get to him, you vault above your competitors. Your efforts will pay off.

D. Alan Johnson

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