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Need help landing your next gig? Heed Sun Tzu.

Posted by Chad O'Connor  May 7, 2013 11:00 AM

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[Editor's Note: Join former Global Business Hub editors Devin Cole and Meg Reilly at Lir on Boylston Street on May 9th for the "Toast the Press" event to show some #journolove]

You wouldn't think the musings of ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu as found in his book, The Art of War, could be used as an aid in your hunt for a position in IT, Agile Services, Life Sciences Consulting, Workforce Management, Healthcare IT Staffing, and Government Services, etc. But read between the lines, reflect on what Sun Tzu was saying then, to what you are trying to accomplish in the midst of a job search, and you can see that the general could have moonlighted as a pretty fair recruiter in his spare time.

Consider General Tzu's observations and their real world applicability for the modern-day job seeker:

Quote 1 - “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Be as prepared as possible prior to applying for a position at a company or going in for an interview. If you are about to interview, learn everything you can about that company. Do a Google search to see if it has been in the news. Try to find out if the person who is interviewing you is a public figure. Visit the company's website and surf through its different pages. Learn about the personalities in the department where you might be assigned if you are offered the job.

Quote 2 - “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
Tailor your resume to the specific job you are interested in before sending it along to the hiring manager. It only makes sense to structure your resume so that it fits the specific needs of the job you are competing for. In today's job market, this tactic is a strategic imperative if you want to be successful in your search.

Quote 3 - "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”
Check and double-check your resume before applying for each of the positions that you are interested in. Is it accurately depicting your strengths? Your qualifications for the job? Your past successes? Is your LinkedIn profile updated? What does your profile look like? Have you scrubbed your social media presence, so there are no pictures that a potential hiring manager would find offensive if she checked? We could go on here, but you probably get the point.

Quote 4 - “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.”
Always be willing to learn new methodologies and elements of technology that will make you valuable to your current and future employer(s).

Quote 5 - "To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
What is the corporate culture of the company you are applying to? Does everyone wear jeans to work on Fridays? Does it offer massages to its employees every Tuesday? Learn about the culture of the company you are interested in working for. This is important, because you would not want to get selected for a job, go to work at that company, and then realize after a few days you hate the people and the environment.

Quote 6 - “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
The dynamics for every job search are different. No two companies are like, not every corporation mimics the culture of its competitors, etc. Adjust what you do in your job search to meet the circumstances you are confronted with at that time. Flexibility is important.

Quote 7 - “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.”
Are you a team player? Corporations, government entities, and non-profits all want proof of that when you are a candidate for jobs. Talk about the projects you worked on with your colleagues at your last assignment when you are being interviewed. Make a note of the teams you were involved with, and the positive outcomes that were achieved, on your resume.

Quote 8 - "If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”
Recognize your strengths, and be honest about your weaknesses during your job search.

Quote 9 - “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”
Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself when you are hunting for a new job. Try to apply to those jobs where you would be a great fit and excel in the role that is open. Don't set your expectations so high that your job search becomes akin to the pain of sitting in a classroom listening to the teacher from one of the old Peanuts' cartoons speak, while she drags her fingernails across the chalkboard.

Quote 10 - “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
Reluctant to apply to a company that has a "reputation" as a difficult place to work? Or is in the midst of re-structuring its IT department? Or has been sold to a multi-national conglomerate? Don't be. That company and its available job could be a treasure trove of a professional opportunity.

Dennis Tupper (@DennisTupper) is a recruiter for Eliassen Group who focuses on finding the best IT talent he can for his corporate clients who are spread throughout the country. He has also served as an account executive for Fortune 500 companies, which has allowed him to identify and attract some of the best personnel in the field of IT.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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