Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to job hunt successfully

Photographers are like every other mere mortal on Planet Earth. Photographers need to hunt for work - real work - not photography. Pretty much anybody at least with half a braincell realizes that photography is not a job but a paying hobby. Thus, a real job is needed in order to survive and to finance the hobby job. Certainly, for a few unusually successful individuals, photography might actually pay enough to live off though this is increasingly rare these days.

So how does a photographer job hunt? There are three basic methodologies. The first is the scattergun approach. This is how governments around the world prefer their swathes of unemployed people to job hunt yet this is the most counterproductive method known to man. The second is the targeted approach where the individual identifies their most saleable skills and applies them to search for a specific type of job. The third is the sniper approach where a company is singled out and approaches made for a job that might not exist unless the right person asks about it.

The scattergun approach is a complete waste of everybody's time. Governments like their unemployed to employ the scattergun approach because it makes it look as though something is being achieved whereas in fact just the opposite is happening.

  • Unemployed people are made to fulfil quotas of applications. This means that applications are slapped out for jobs for which they have no interest nor even any qualification
  • Human Resources specialists are swamped by the sheer number of garbage applications
  • Recruitment Agencies are swamped by garbage applications and rude responses from applicants when they are turned down.
  • Government unemployment departments are swamped by the vast number of "applications" that are processed through their systems.
  • Generally just about every recruiter gets worn down and irritated by this time and money wasting approach and curse governments for pushing their unemployed people to do this.
Indeed, years ago, in the Western Mail (A newspaper in South Wales) a Personnel Manager wrote to comment on the "nugatory" applications that the Job Centres had their claimants performing. Apparently somebody had applied to him with a really strong resume and a very weak application letter. The Manager concerned wrote back with helpful suggestions about how to improve the letter and received a response to the effect that the individual had 6 months to go before retirement and was just doing the required number of applications a week so that they could receive their National Insurance contributions before retiring and that they didn't really want a job. This is a classic example of how government policy wastes everybody's time. 

Worse than wasting everybody's time, government policy has trained generations of people that the way to apply for a job is to use the scattergun approach. This is largely why so many people are stuck in soul-destroying menial jobs way beneath their capabilities. It has encouraged intelligent people to play the scattergun game and trap themselves into McJobs. This is an approach to be avoided.

The targeted approach. This is the best approach to use unless the individual concerned has the cajones to pull off the sniper approach. To achieve this approach, the resume has to be tailored toward the job one wishes to obtain. The job specifications have to be analysed and the kinds of things done in the last few jobs that are similar highlighted and those that are dissimilar just deleted. Thus for an administrative job with a sales background one would concentrate on the administrative aspects of the sales process - paperwork, verification, file handling etc. Sales awards and prizes are counterproductive - the recruiter doesn't want to know because they're just irrelevant padding. The application letter is crucially important - this has to highlight that the applicant understands what the company does and acts as a sales approach as to why they are the applicant that the company needs. Notice "needs" - the recruiter wants to know what problem can be solved by employing the applicant over everybody else. What solutions the applicant can provide that are better than other applicants can provide.

The sniper approach. This is where an applicant selects a company and decides what job they would like to perform in that company. The sniper analyses the company carefully - the management structure - the strengths and weaknesses of the management team. This might involve long hours in the bar drinking with members of management, listening and remembering. This is a process that may take many weeks. At the end of this the applicant should have a list of the strengths and weaknesses and should know a good deal about how the company is run, its organization and where it's headed. 

For this approach, charts and diagrams are needed and a cool calculated approach, perhaps in the form of a powerpoint presentation. This will highlight exactly where the company is failing and exactly why the applicant is going to be the right person inserted into the right place to stop the rot and make the company even more profitable. Generally such an approach is best made to the top tiers of management. Perhaps pulling out a tablet during a golf match with the manager concerned. More business is transacted on golf courses and in club houses than might be imagined. The approach has to be accompanied by a suggestive or hard sell.

Which method of job hunting the photographer themselves uses is entirely up to them. An alternative would be to take similar voluntary work or voluntary work within an organization just to get a foot in the door.

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