Job Search
(This content was originally posted on MENGonline.)
Job Search
Job Search

I read a great quote from Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin in an old Fortune article: “About 70% try to work on the core efforts of the company… about 20% goes to adjacent areas and expansion, and for the 10%, anything goes.”

Google has been using this resource management technique for several years, as reported in Business 2.0 magazine’s article about then CEO Eric Schmidt’s “70 Percent Solution.”

While 70-20-10 isn’t focused on career planning or job change, I immediately thought this was excellent advice, especially for those who are out of work.

  • 70% of your job search efforts should usually be focused on getting a very similar job.
    • Basically: same title, responsibility and industry.
    • Search firms and human resource departments will recognize why you’re a good candidate and may even find you on LinkedIn.
  • 20% of your search should be devoted to something adjacent to your recent positions.
    • Obviously, you’re a harder sell here, but many hiring managers can see the value you’re presenting since you can sell a capability they’ve already identified as important in their selection.  This is where you need to have targeted positioning and a story that screams how perfect you are for the opening.
    • As I think back to my own career, I was able to make these types of changes several times:
      • Packaged goods to advertising agency.
      • Advertising agency to marketing consulting.
      • Packaged goods to retailer with data base.
      • Retailer with data base to health insurance.
      • Health insurance to for-profit post-secondary education.

The titles and functions were related… always including marketing… but each time there was a secondary kicker and story that helped me stand out as the best candidate.

  • 10% is for your dreams:
    • I believe that at least 10 percent of jobs are filled by people who can do the job but aren’t qualified according to the job spec.  Admittedly, this is a made up number, but it feels correct.  To land these jobs, it’s typically necessary to have prior experience with the hiring manager or someone they respect.  They know you’re great even if not a perfect fit.
    • When I made a double leap to new category and level, there was an excellent connection that allowed this to happen.

If you’d like to read about a different twist on job search, I recommend you read The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, which talks about his Plan Z.  This certainly is worth your consideration, as is another blog written about his job search advice.

About Richard Sellers

Richard is Chairman Emeritus of the Marketing Executives Networking Group, founder of Demand Marketing consulting firm, and former Sr. VP of Marketing for three multi-billion dollar companies: CEC, WLP, and Service Merchandise. His early career was at GE, P&G, Playtex, and Marketing Corporation of America. He’s also a volunteer counselor for SCORE assisting small businesses in upstate New York. You can follow his communications about marketing, job search and careers here and at mengonlineENTREPRENEURS QUESTIONS, and on Twitter at @Sellers_Richard.



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