Today’s Wall Street Journal (March 9, 2009, page B4: Recruiters Use Search Engines to Lure Job Hunters” by Sarah Needleman) reports that recruiters increasingly turn to Google adwords and other forms of pay per click advertising (ppc). That is, they buy ads that you see next to your search results.
Developing and writing these ads is an art form. You need to
- tempt readers to click through to your website or sales letterand
- simultaneously discourage curiosity-seekers and folks outside your target market.
You pay for every click so you want only hot prospects to apply. Too many “bad” clicks and you’re throwing money out the door.
Recruiters say they pay considerably less for every qualified applicant they get through ppc. That’s good for recruiters but not necessarily good for career changers.
Most career change comes about through serendipity, not linear planning. Research shows that nearly every career choice and career change includes an element of luck or chance. For example, you run into an old college friend who tells you about a job opening in his company. You hadn’t considered this field but you take the job and discover you have an aptitude.
A couple of real examples:
- A medical social worker moves to a small town with his partner. Finding no demand for his services, he takes a low-level job with a real estate agency. Getting restless, he studies for his real estate license and gets his first client when he overhears a conversation in a coffee shop. Three years later, he’s the top real estate agent in the county – a career he would never have anticipated.
- Following a long job hunt, an attorney reluctantly agrees to take a job in the finance field. She has never been interested in finance and claims she’s weak in math. But she soon realizes she enjoys the job. Her firm encourages her to take courses and one day she realizes she loves what she’s doing.
Many of us find our new careers by answering an ad we stumbled across by accident. After years of working in corporate jobs, I answered an ad to teach in a small private college. I had taught in a community college but hadn’t considered a full-time teaching career. Teaching came naturally to me and I found myself thinking, “Why not?” So I enrolled in a doctoral program and embarked on a 20-year career.
With pay per click, these opportunities may get harder to find. I have always recommended that clients browse want ads when they’re considering a career change, just to get ideas. By way of analogy, I remember when public libraries used to display all their new books. You could just browse the collections to get what you wanted.
Today’s libraries are so computerized they’re driven by search, not browsing. You have to go outside the library system to find books and audiovisual items. You arrange to have those items held for you.
Now we’ll have to become more creative. New career changers will need to network more broadly, meet new people and search listings that remain live, such as want ads. Many companies list openings for all their jobs in one place.
You may not choose to apply for jobs that are totally outside your field. But once you get a sense of what’s out there, you can start targeting specific fields and jobs, through networking and selective applications.