Want that dream job? Just waltz into the MD's office and ask for one – it's as simple as that, says Chris Pires. Well sort of. Like many people, you might have found yourself sending what feels like thousands of CVs into the abyss. According to Pires, this is your first mistake. His new book, Shred Your CV And Find A Job Fast, is shaking up the recruitment world with its decidedly forthright approach.
A disheartening diagram at the start of the book shows how conventional job-hunting works, going through internal candidates, sending CVs and multiple interviews. Flick over the page and it goes something like this: Hiring manager needs an employee – asks him or herself "do I know anybody?"; manager calls you and asks you to come in for an interview; you start a new job.
Easy, right? Pires, a Canadian, says: "The book is based on my personal story. I got tired of bumping into people who said, 'I went to university for four years and I can't find a job. I sent out 4,000 CVs over the last few years and still nothing.'"
You might wonder where Pires got his confidence from. He explains: "I finished university in 2004, needing a job. I did what everyone else does and sent my CV off, went to careers fairs and applied online, but I wasn't getting any response. I began to wonder whether I had wasted four years of my life."
Then Spires went to the house of a friend who was a headhunter. "He asked me where I wanted to go and what I wanted to be, and I didn't know," says Spires. On his friend's advice, Spires started consulting people doing the sort of work he was interested in, until he found what it was he wanted to do. "I began going to management events and requesting 15 minutes with people," he explains. To cut a long story short, Spires made friends with a manager at an IT firm who recommended him for a job – his dream job – that he hadn't even applied for.
But this approach doesn't work for everyone. An interview is most people's idea of hell, so why would you want to go through it several times? Pires says: "You can apply the same approach online, using Facebook and LinkedIn, then you build up to a phone call and maybe a face-to-face meeting."
It's important not to confuse networking with contact-gathering, says Pires. "Adding loads of contacts on social networking sites isn't what it's about. It's about building relationships."
And Pires says his approach is anything but cynical. "As soon as I started talking to people, I got to know what sort of work I would enjoy doing. I was genuinely finding out about the work, not shamelessly plugging myself."
Pires's technique could actually help build your interview technique too. He says: "When I eventually met the vice-president of the new company it was nothing like an interview, because I hadn't applied for the job in the usual way and I was so used to the scenario."
Another of Pires's friends had a different approach. "There was a company she wanted to get work for and she was targeting as many people as possible," he says. "She had made several contacts but they weren't hiring. She moved to the UK a few months later, called the people in the Toronto office and said, 'Who do you know in the London office?' They later gave her a call and said, 'We need someone'."
So what does the book advise? Think about it from the hiring manager's point of view, says Pires. "One of the biggest mistakes job-hunters make is forgetting about what's going on in the hiring manager's mind. Hunting for suitable employees is just as difficult as job-hunting itself," he explains.
Other tips include doing your homework on the company, memorising how many staff it has, where it operates, showering three times and setting up a meeting in the workplace so prospective employers get used to you there. The book also lists hypothetical interview questions, a real godsend for those of us who sit there saying, "my worst quality ... hmm ... lying through my teeth?". The questions include "What's your attitude to risk?", "why should I hire you?" and "If I had a dinosaur on an island, how would I feed it?"
Whatever the answer, I'm sure Chris Pires would find a way.
Top tips: Get that job
* Make a list of the companies and managers you want to target
* Spend your first day calling all of those managers and setting up informal interviews to find out more about the company
* Go to as many interviews as possible and always ask for referrals
* Always aim for face-to-face contact